When the Ministry of Environment issued a stop work order on the construction of the Calabar – Ogoja superhighway conceived by Governor Ben Ayade and commenced after a ground-breaking ceremony by Mr. President some months ago, many celebrated it because in their minds, it is a fulfilment of their asinine predictions that the highway will not see the light of the day.
Let me emphatically iterate here that the highway project has my full moral support because on its completion, it will not be of benefit only to PDP members, everyone and even those shouting themselves hoarse against the project today will use it as well.
Imagine the immense economic benefit that road will bring to the Cross River State Government, the people of the state and the entire country by extension when it is built.
Today, very few people are aware that Calabar has a seaport that can compete favourably with the Lagos port but has been moribund for only one reason – lack of roads to move goods reaching the port.
Presently, there are no roads for cargo imported through Calabar port to reach the hinterland of the State and beyond.
Once the highway is completed, it will serve as the major corridor or artery by which imported items will be moved to the North Central and North Eastern parts of Nigeria as the distance is far shorter than that from the Lagos port which is about the only one being used to serve the whole country presently.
Furthermore, the Republic of Chad and parts of Niger republic will find it more attractive to route their imports through the Calabar port as well, and the dividends this will yield for our state are enormous to say the least.
As a Yala man from the extreme northern fringe of the state, travelling from my hometown to the capital – Calabar, is always a nightmare; the journey which should last just three hours (give or take thirty minutes) takes between six and seven gruelling hours because of the bad federal road. The stress endured by the body and the strain on motor vehicles are indescribable.
Also, when travelling by road from Abuja to Calabar, one is compelled to travel the length of Kogi state, make a wide detour through Enugu and Ebonyi states before entering Cross River.
With the Highway in place, one would merely cut through Nasarawa State, enter Northern Cross River from Vandeikya in Benue state and onward to Calabar in comfort.
The arbitrary fares charged by transporters who take advantage of the poor state of the road will also stop as there would be no excuses for them to exploit.
Owing to all these, I believe that every single Cross Riverian with the interest of the state at heart wholeheartedly supports the highway project and I call on others to bury their differences and rally for the successful completion of that road.
Please, you the disgruntled members of PDP and elements from my Party, APC, who see nothing good in the highway project should give Mr. Governor a break and allow him to focus on that work.
We will not prevent you from travelling on the road on its completion although it would have given me great pleasure to ban you from using it since you never wanted it in the first place.
Our state has been blighted for long. In Nigeria, it is as if Cross River State does not even exist. If you have been observant, you would see that most times even government officials cannot spell the name rightly, they spell it as ‘Cross Rivers’, like we are a part of Rivers State or something; this shows how relegated we have become.
Even the level of poverty presently ravaging our people can only be imagined. How do we develop as an entity, help make life bearable for those at the grassroots who struggle to find two square meals daily and generally improve the state of Cross River State if we cannot grow up from the level of squabbling and rabble rousing at every turn?
The anecdotal saying that ‘there is strength in unity’ is still very valid and we cannot make real progress if we continue to try to tear down everything and pull down everyone in the name of politics.
We should unite, keep politics aside (till 2018 at least) and help to move this state forward.
Addendum: Please note that the foregoing is entirely my personal opinion on the stated matter.
Joseph Oko Odey
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