By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Commissioner for Information, Rosemary Archibong, supported by her colleagues in the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development, Dr. John Inyang, Ministry of Finance, Asuquo Ekpenyong, Ministry of Climate Change, Dr. Alice Ekwu, and Ministry of Water resources, Gabriel Odu Oji
The Government of Cross River state has stated in clear terms that it will recommence the construction of the 260 kilomtres Super Highway if by the second week of March 2017 or thereabout, the Federal government has not approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to start the full construction of the road.
Commissioner for Information, Rosemary Archibong, supported by her colleagues in the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development, Dr. John Inyang, Ministry of Finance, Asuquo Ekpenyong, Ministry of Climate Change, Dr. Alice Ekwu, and Ministry of Water resources, Gabriel Odu Oji, in a press conference held at the Media Center of the Governor’s Office, Calabar on Friday, frowned seriously at the continuous politicization of the star projects of Ayade tagged, the “Signature Projects” by some detractors within and outside the state.
She warned in unequivocal terms that the state will not continue to allow itself to be dragged down by distractors of the Ayade’s government from carrying out projects that are meant to create massive employment for the people of the state and lay solid foundation for the industrialization of Cross River as well as get the state and Nigeria out of the recession woods, adding that the state’s patience has been over-stretched and that the government of Cross River may not be able to wait any longer beyond the end of March, 2017, at most, if the approval refuses to come.
Archibong disclosed that President Muhammed Buhari as a person has shown a lot of good will and commitment towards the signature projects of the state by coming personally to flag off the projects and that before leaving for medical vacation, the President has declared his passion for the projects, and stressed the need for Cross Riverians to pray for the quick recovery and return of Mr. President to bolster the projects.
“We are here to plead with the Federal government and all those who have been opposed to the super highway that concession have been made and there is now the need for all of them to join hands with government to ensure that the projects commence as soon as possible and become a reality”, adding that the lands of Cross River State are constitutionally vested on the Governor and the people, though approval is to be sort from the federal government, they cannot continue to wait forever.
Speaking, the Commissioner for Lands and urban Development, Dr. John Inyang, disclosed that the state government has recently listened to the voices of the people of the state and rescind its earlier decision to reserve 10 kilometers on both sides of the super highway for development control.
He explained that the state government never meant to dispossess the people of the areas of their lands, but that some stakeholders, international bodies and NGOs etc. capitalized on the publication and started to create deliberate obstacles, and that after due consultations, a public note was placed in the Punch newspaper on February 4, 2017 and other papers, stating the revocation of the earlier revocation order published in the Punch newspaper of Friday, January 15, 2015 and the Nigerian Chronicle edition of Friday January 22, 2015, which acquired 10 kilometres on both sides of the road from Bakassi to Bekwarra.
Dr. Inyang further explained that as a result of the new development, payment of compensation shall be limited to the new 70 metres of both sides of the road of the super highway corridor, and that the government expects that with the new development all those who had opposed the earlier stance of government will now come to terms and reason with the government and people of Cross River state through full cooperation to ensure that the super highway become a reality as it will bring rapid development to the state.
On his part, the commissioner for Finance, Asuquo Ekpenyong, said that the administration of Senator Ayade and the people of the state are very self-determined to take our destiny and those of our children and their own children into our hands, and that Ayade has the mandate of the people to tell the world that “we are tired of playing the traditional role of a victim, from the loss of Bakassi to the 76 oil wells associated with the loss of revenue from the federation account and the untold hardship it has caused with ever increasing dwindling allocation but increasing deductions from the federal government.
He said that it is clear that we cannot continue this way hence an outlet and a new thinking to sources for funds and established a firm industrialization foundation to decouple the state from dependent on federation account allocation is the way forward which the signature projects are meant to achieve.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Water Resources, Gabriel Odu Oji, said that the signature projects have been delayed due to the unwillingness of Federal government to grant the necessary approval for the projects to commence in full force and that on its part the state government has done all that is necessary and require of her as far as the super highway and the deep seaport are concerned.
Oji stated that the state has provided all the needed requirements and adjusted to the demands of the federal government and other international, national and local stakeholders, yet new unnecessary encumbrances were still being deliberately placed on the path to ensure that that we do not realize the vision of a super highway and a deep seaport, and warned that the state will no longer wait if by the second week of March or at most end of March, 2017 the EIA approval is not granted, it will go ahead with construction.
The Commissioner for Climate Change, Dr. Alice Ekwu, on her part said that there is nowhere in the world where development has been checkmated because of forests preservation and explained that all over the world especially countries such as South Africa, Brazil, India, Canada, among others, highways rather complement and boost tourists/visitors in flock, the viability of the forests and the revenue profile and not destroy it.
She stated that the super highway when completed will greatly boost the Cross River National Park and not negates its progress, explaining that the super highway is not even passing through the National Park as insinuated by some persons, stressing that shifting the goal post every now and then by the federal government and other stakeholders from the conditions that were placed ab initio is counterproductive and most unfair and wondered why this is happening and asked rhetorically, “is it because it is Cross River”?
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