“In recognizing the challenges that we as a country face, and of course, with the meltdown in the global economy, it is evident that only states that globalize their economy can move forward.”
These were the words of the Executive Governor of Cross River State, Nigeria, Sen. Prof Benedict Ayade while briefing newsmen at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar on his return to the state from an investment drive of 11 countries in 4 weeks. This statement underscores the importance of the trip by the governor and what he strives to achieve for the development of Cross River State and Nigeria.
In the past few months, since the inception of the Buhari led administration, Nigeria has been faced with severe economic challenges as a country. From the falling price of oil in the global market to the rising foreign exchange, the nation has seen her economy failing and this has led to increased suffering by its citizens.
As if these were not enough problems, we have witness dwindling national power supply and return of queues in fuel stations across the nation. All these have resulted in lower production by industries and consequent loss of jobs. Despite all these challenges, this is neither the time to complain nor trade blames but a time to proffer solutions and seek ways to rebuild the economy by all stakeholders.
The economic challenge we face as a country requires that states as critical stakeholders begin to think creatively about strategies that will help diversify the economy, industrialize, create wealth and make the states multiple centers of economic development and growth.
States in Nigeria as sub national entities stand to play vital roles at this important time to help lift the country from this doldrums. Cross River State under the leadership of Sen. Prof. Ben Ayade has chosen to blaze the trail with innovative strategies to bring life to the economy of the state and nation.
It is indeed inspiring to see that at a time like this, while many other states are crying to a struggling national government for bailouts, Cross River State has taken up the challenge to unveil a fast track economic development strategy by globalizing the state economy and seeking through this strategy to help save the nation’s economy also.
This strategy can be seen panning out in the unveiling of the Signature Projects; the Deep Seaport and its evacuation corridor, the Super Highway, the driving of Foreign Direct Investment to Cross River State, strategic partnership with reputable International Corporate Organizations and Agencies etc.
This is expected to not only bring development to the Cross River State but also catalyze national economic development and inspire other states to emulate Cross River State, leading to a situation where every state will harness its potentials fully, maximize its developmental opportunities and contribute optimally to sustainable development of the nation.
The fact that Cross River State is a sub national entity in Nigeria does not in any way limit its potential to develop fully and become a global player, competing internationally with its peers and providing world class living standard for its citizens and residents.
With all these, it has become lucid that Governor Benedict Ayade is committed to the Cross River State vision “to be a leading Nigerian state with prosperous, healthy and well educated citizens living in harmony with people and nature and pursuing their legitimate interests in freedom moderated by good governance” and as such is working hard to see to the realization of this vision.
Going forward, let us take a look at the meaning of the word so that we could understand better this treatise.
Globalizing according to the free dictionary means to make global or worldwide in scope or application. Globalizing the state economy thus implies achieving global standards and repositioning the state for competitiveness through global partnerships and collaborations in line with the state vision.
It means building structures that will ensure we reach our potentials as a state and compete globally with our peers. The governor of the state has left no one in doubt that he is set to achieve these and more as in just 10 months he has taken on the development of world class infrastructure in the state and made Cross River State the most sought after business and investment destination in Nigeria.
At the briefing of the news men, the governor revealed that four international companies with expertise in deep seaport are currently scrambling to invest in the Bakassi Deep Seaport being developed by the state government.
This is even as feasibility studies and preliminary design and development work for the seaport has begun. Work on the evacuation route, the super highway has since begun with design completed, Environmental Impact Assessment EIA nearing completion and soil testing and earth clearing in progress.
Some other investments taking shape in the state with frenetic speed include the Calapharm project which is a world class drug and pharmaceutical products investment, the Thai Africa Rice Project conceived to boost rice production in Cross River State and Nigeria, the power generation project, the livestock mega farm the banana export plantation.
Others which are at different stages of materialization include cement plant, the ceramic tile and glass production company, the Calabar New City project called Calas Vegas and many more.
In fact, Cross River State is set to become the Dubai of Nigeria. I compare the state to Dubai because it is a sub national entity like Cross River State whose development path has many things in common with the path the state is taking today.
From a small trading village, Dubai has come a long way to become one of the most important ports in the world. Dubai is today a global economic player. Dubai’s formula for development is evident to everyone – visionary leadership, world class deep seaport and airport, standard evacuation corridor, high quality infrastructure, industrialization through Foreign Direct Investment, decision to become international-quality tourism destination etc.
These steps which are been taken today in Cross River State are proven strategies for economic growth at national and sub-national levels.
In the area of healthcare, the governor is set to complete and commission the world class specialist hospital in the state and launch the state health insurance scheme to ensure every citizen has access to quality health care. This is in addition to the development and implementation of a well planned health sector development blueprint.
Education in the state is also taking shape with the ongoing construction of pre-primary, primary and secondary model schools in the three senatorial districts and continuation of renovation and upgrade work in primary and secondary schools across the state. Tertiary institutions in the state are also being given support to meet the necessary standards to provide quality education for citizens.
Time and space will not permit me to elucidate on all the policy ideas and strategies of the present administration to globalize the economy of Cross River State but suffice it to say that in addition to all these, a lot is being done in the areas of sectoral development in Information and Communication technology, creative economy, social security, tourism, youth and sports development, job creation, protection of the environment, public transportation and many more.
The Cross River State government under the pragmatic leadership of our amiable and digital governor Sen. Prof. Benedict Ayade will continue to unveil innovative policy ideas and strategies to restore broad-based and inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity.
The state, working in line with the global commitment to sustainable development, is set to be the catalyst for national economic rebirth and save us from the economic challenges we face as a country today.
All that is required is the support and goodwill of the citizens as we match into a new dawn of quality leadership and prosperity.
Emmanuel Etim is a development consultant based in Nigeria.
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