By Jonathan Ugbal; Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, Saturday, performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of 5000 housing units for the displaced people of Bakassi with funding from the Africa Nations Development Bank.
The houses are to be sited at Ikpa Nkanya village in Ikot Eyo, Akpabuyo local government area of southern Cross River State with Governor Ayade pointing out that the project was the product of his open weeping before international bodies to ensure that live is meaningful to Cross Riverians.
It will be recalled that, Ayade had momentarily wept a few months ago when he saw the living condition of a Bakassi returnee which drew the attention of the media with critics describing it as one of his “shows”.
“The Bakassi people have been dislocated from their ancestral homes, denied the pleasure of worship and decent accommodation, reduced in want and in spirit just because they are not strong enough to fight back. I come as a child from that humble beginning to say that we must all come together to make a difference and that difference must start now” Ayade said.
Ayade who said action will be taken first by the Cross River Government while the initial funding regime is being expected from the ANDP disclosed that he had made a case for the Bakassi people when he was a Senator in the Seventh Senate and said it would be unwise to seek help from the federal government if as governor, he has not done anything for them. He said construction will begin by Monday, February 27, 2017 (Yesterday) and he will spend his birthday which is March 2, with the returnees.
“While we wait for ANDP, we will hold the fort, Cross River will also give the stimulus so that ANDP will recognise the fact that they have attracted us to support them.”
He continued; “It is also natural in scientific agglutination that we must all come together and prove that indeed, we have come to support them not just by doing the groundbreaking but also getting to the ground and starting the construction.
“Thursday, March 2 will be my birthday, I am going to spend my birthday with my brothers and sisters that have been displaced by the government of Nigeria that showed little care but much disdain for humanity.”
“What value is government when your people are in pain and penury and you sit back and hope that within a passage of time their problem will be addressed?” Ayade asked and posited that the problem can only be addressed when “A step is taken and that is why government is taking the step to ensure that this pain unleashed on innocent people must stop.”
He urged the locals to sustain the peaceful nature of the state while putting an end to internal crises in order to drive the program and expressed hope that; “In no distant time, Bakassi will be a city center were people will like to live.”
The Director General, ANDP, Ambassador Samson Omojuyigbe, in his remarks lauded the government and people of Cross River for being the first beneficiary of the project which involves 5000 units of modern two bedroom houses, hospitals, schools, church, shopping mall, market, fire station among others.
“Our interest is to put in check poverty which is a complex phenomenon indicated in the inability of man to survive,” Omojuyigbe said while the country director, Thomas Ajikwa, said that; “ANDP works with the less privileged, indigent and excluded people in Africa, promoting values and commitment in civil society, institutions and governments with the aim of achieving structural changes in order to eradicate injustice and poverty in Africa.”
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