The views expressed in this article are strictly the views of the author and do not in anyway represent the views of CrossRiverWatch
While at the public presentation of the Environmental Impact Assessment EIA, for the Cross River Super Highway which held at the Channels View Hotel in Calabar on Wednesday last week, I saw a white guy, whose nationality I am not quite sure of, arguing that the Cross River Super Highway should not be constructed because of carbon emissions and global warming and all that.
But a quick search showed that, in 2013, world total carbon emission figures amounted to 35,669,000 metric tonnes.
Out of this, China top the list after emitting 10,540,000 metric tonnes with average per capita of 7.6 while United States came second with 5,334,000 metric tonnes with 16.5 per capita.
The European Union came third with 3,415,000 metric tonnes and 6.7 per capita, India is in the fourth position with, 2,341,000 metric tonnes and 1.8 per capita and Russia follows next with 1,766,000 metric tonnes and 12.4 per capita.
In the sixth position is Japan which emitted 1,278,000 metric tonnes at 10.1 per capita and Germany in the seventh position with 767,000 metric tonnes at 9.3 per capita.
Nigeria is not even on the top thirty list of global polluters talk less of Cross River state which still holds fifty percent of Nigeria’s remaining rain forest and Africa’s largest rain forest, but the world insist that we must preserve this forest to suck the pollution that we are not part of emitting.
But at what cost really? Another question is….How did the West develop?
The land area of Paris is 105.4sq/km, London is 1,570sq/km, and California is 423,970sq/km, while New York City area is 1,210sq/km.
Atlanta is 342.9sq/km, Houston is 1,630sq/km, the industrial city of Guangzhou is 7,433sq/km, China’s capital, Beijing area is 16,410sq/km, Frankfurt is 248.3sq/km, and Istanbul area is 5,343sq/km, while Chicago is 606.1sq/km.
But the total land area of the super highway is only 110.5sq/km, which is a far cry from the size of most of those cities.
Yet, all these cities were developed after authorities cut down massive and large expanse of forests to develop the cities, industries, factories, roads, rails and other infrastructure that is now generating the pollution which the world wants the Cross River forest to suck up at the detriment of our own development.
The Mexico banana farms and the USA wheat and corn farms came from felling forests. Terminal 5 Airport in UK was constructed on a Virgin National Park in spite of protests from civil society and environmental rights groups. In Switzerland and Germany, trees are fell to generate biomass energy and replanting follows.
It’s important to note that capital spending, like the proposed super highway, creates an asset, and this gives a return over time in the form of growth.
I agree like most economists have argued, that infrastructural projects such as rail and roads create jobs, generate taxes and stimulate further spending. This is the economic multiplier effect that capital spending brings.
Therefore, while an increase in public spending may create a deficit in the short term, the resultant increase in productivity will lead to a higher rate of economic growth and greater tax revenues.
According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), for every one billion US dollars invested in infrastructure in developing economies, between 49,000 and 110,000 jobs are created.”
I clearly understand that if forests are destroyed or degraded, large amounts of gases that cause global warming are released into the atmosphere but I don’t see how creating a very vital road, like the superhighway proposed by Governor Ayade, through our forest and re afforesting same will so irreparably destroy or degrade the forest, if that did not happen elsewhere when they were developing their own cities.
The government has said that 275,000 trees will be fell and 5,000,000 will be planted. The Cross River Green Police was created with that in mind and 1,500 cadets have been inaugurated.
While the West through pittances called donor funding, is promoting this attempt to stall development in the name of conservation, in third world nations like Nigeria, Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zambia, there is no corresponding effort to curb the activities of the giant polluters.
Even Trump is promising not to respect the Paris agreement on emission control if he eventually becomes US President.
My advocacy, rather than join those who say they don’t want the road is to say that the Cross River state government should pay heed to genuine concerns that are being raised by communities bestriding the route, activists, and lingering issues of compensation for those who will be losing land, and other related matters should be diligently attended to so that work can restart on the super highway project.
For me I have chosen to support the super highway project and I will do the little I can and God willing, that road will someday become a reality to the good of northern Cross River, the entire state and Nigeria as a whole.
For those who say the project cannot be done, let me end this article with a quote from Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum – The King of Dubai in chapter 2 of his celebrated book: MY VISION: Challenges In The Race For Excellence:
“Many years ago, some merchants came to me and asked me to approach my father, Sheikh Rashid, on their behalf, and discuss the large port he was planning at Jebel Ali. Since the economy was in recession and we already had a large harbour at Port Rashid that met their needs, they thought the emirate did not need a new larger harbour.
“I felt, I should convey the message and shortly after went at dawn to the Jebel Ali area, where I knew I would find my father. He was standing on top of a small hill examining the site. I passed on the message and waited for his reply. He looked at me intently and said nothing, then he fumbled with the ‘midwakh’ he was holding between his fingers. After a few moments, he looked at me again and then to the ground saying nothing.
“I dared not ask him the same question again and waited until he had finished his examination and asked me to drive him home. Once we took off and after relaxing his feet against the corner of the door as usual, he said, “Listen my son, I never answered your question because I did not want the engineers to hear. But I can tell you that the reason I am building this port now is because there will come a time when you will not be able to afford to do so.”
“Before my father conceived and implemented this project, nobody had thought of executing one of such gigantic proportions. Even now, I have no simple explanation as to how the idea occurred to him, but if I had to explain it in one word, I would use the word, ‘vision’.
“In his great wisdom, God gave each one of us a share of material possessions, capabilities and talents. Some people may aspire to little more than their daily earnings, while others have far greater vision.
“Just like mature trees, capabilities and feelings have deep roots, if we do not know the roots of things or how to explain or define them, this does not mean they are rootless. An enlightened leader is capable of developing a vision and using his imagination to perfect it.”