By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
The Governments of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states have said they will in the coming months explore areas of economic integration in a bid to shore up revenues.
This comes on the heels of the approval of for the total reconstruction and dualization of the Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road by the federal government with Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade saying the resolution is for the good of residents in both states.
‘We have raised concerns about frontier explorations because very little is being done in the direction of trying to expand the oil reserves and production in the direction of Cross River State and other parts of the Niger Delta,” Ayade told Government House Correspondents shortly after hosting his Akwa Ibom counterpart, Udom Emmanuel and Minority Leader of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio in his private residence, Saturday in Calabar.
He continued: “I must say also that our discussions and emphasis was on how to deepen the unity between us and how to strengthen the South-South love in relationship to the Nigerian Question and we have also agreed that very soon that we would call a meeting with the South-South leaders.
“We have come a long way and we are a very good example of what unity should be. We must demonstrate it and that is why through this unity and this bond you are all seeing today we are telling the world that Cross River and Akwa Ibom are one.”
He called for a forum of South-South leaders to discuss issues relating to the region and commended Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari for the award of the Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road.
“We must have a South-South forum where the Governors of the South-South and the National Assembly members as well as other leaders must sit and discuss the National Question.
“Let me use this medium to commend the President for the Ikot Ekpene and Odukpani road contract that has been awarded. It is one special point that we agreed that we from Akwa-Ibom Cross River will go as a team to pay a visit to Mr. President to thank him for the project that we have been waiting for in a long time,” Ayade said and thanked Udom for commiserating the state over the loss of 8 lives at the Calabar viewing center tragedy.
“We are looking at possible economic frontiers between Akwa Ibom and Cross River States to develop the two states. Rather than engage in war, we want to channel the vast energies into useful ventures to better the lots of our people because we can’t continue to pay lip service to poverty alleviation,” Udom said and warned elements fermenting trouble to desist from such acts.
“Nothing will divide us or separate us, we remain one, very accommodative and peaceful people,” he said.
Also, Akpabio expressed optimism that the meeting is the beginning of greater unity in the South-South Geopolitical zone, beginning with states of common origin that will lead to economic development.
“Cross River has a vast land mass that if properly harnessed is capable of employing a large army of unemployed youths and take them off the streets.
“If we are able to engage in commercial farming, apart from employing our people, we can also become the food belt of this great nation and it will go a long way to deepen the unity of these two great states,” Akpabio said
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