By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has said that the reason for establishing industries across the state is because it was the best way to create jobs.
The governor disclosed this at the inauguration of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN)/ Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) program at the Calabar Rice City project located in Calabar, the Cross River State capital where he averred that the path of industrialisation was the right one as constructing a road from the city to Burkina Faso will not create as much jobs as factories will.
“I know what I am doing when I made a choice to go into industrialisation. I can build a road from here to Ouagadougou, it would not create jobs, but when you build a factory it creates jobs,” he said, and asked rhetorically, “why are you a governor when your people go to bed hungry?”
Now, Ouagadougou is the capital city of Burkina Faso, a West African country formerly known as the Republic of Upper Volta, and is located 1,751.3 Kilometers away from Calabar.
The country has an estimated population of 20.1 million people which is five times more than the estimated population of Cross River State.
And, going by the fact that a kilometer of road costs an average of NGN400 million to construct in Nigeria, the construction of such a road would have cost about seven hundred billion and four hundred million, (NGN700,400,000,000).
However, Mr. Ayade maintained that some of the industries built or been built by his administration including the toothpick factor, cosmetic factory, the Cross River Garment factory, the Calabar Pharmaceutical factory, the rice seed and seedlings factory, a 30,000 tonnes per annum cocoa processing plant, and the ultramodern rice mill in Ogoja were better off.
“These factories have been built in just under three years in a state where we get near zero allocation from the federation account, a state that is the first to pay salaries ever since I came into office in spite of the fact that I have brought thousands of people into the pay roll through appointments,” Ayade said.
The governor characteristically went philosophical and intimated that his spirit and commitment to the citizenry stands above every other consideration.
He averred that: “When you put smiles on human beings, when you see somebody come to you in pain and you take away that pain or burden, that is when you are truly serving God. The Bible is clear on this as you can not fail to give because you don’t have enough.”
His choice of words drew cheers and applause from the farmers.
And, on rice farming, he maintained that: “Anybody who has never believed in farming, this is the time to believe. It is the future, it takes the federal government NGN460 billion and additional NGN60 billion in the month of December to import rice. Cross River is ready to harvest a whole chunk of that money as we are producing seedlings in this big factory and from our NGN1.3 trillion budget, we know for sure that the minimum of N100 billion of that money will come from this factory.”
On the federal government’s decision to support about 25 thousand rice farmers in the state with N10.8 billion, the governor said: “We appreciate the gesture but what we will appreciate more is when our farmers don’t have to till or toil under the sun. Let them have the opportunity to use the latest technology in farming and not put them through the mercy of rainfall to be able to have their yield and harvest. Let them not toil in vain because by the time they harvest, there will be nobody to buy off the crops from them.”
He then charged CrossRiverians to, “rise above the physical reality of the cash but focus more on what will bring value and sense of progress. Let us be committed to the fact that you cannot go back to the farm as our parents did as I will like to see our young men go to farm in their cars, drive their tilling machines and tractors and get a harvester to harvest the products.”
Earlier, the National Deputy President of RIFAN, Mr. Segun Atoh applauded Ayade for embarking on agricultural ventures that will boost food sufficiency for self reliance.
He said Cross River was blessed with “a good governor in Ayade. He is truly a leader because a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. Rice farming in Nigeria is the largest employer of labour in the country,” and urged the people of the state to avail themselves of the “opportunity created by the governor to key into the program.”
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