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I choose to write to you via this medium, which in recent times has become more effective than other forms of communication.
I recall exactly 2,503 days ago on the 29th day of May 2015 when you took to the podium at the now comatose Calabar International Convention Center to announce your vision for Cross River shortly after being sworn in by the then Chief Judge of the State. You promised to decouple the State from depending on the monthly allocations from the Federal Government. Part of your strategy was to use agro-allied projects to achieve that.
A few days later, tractors moved to the site for the Calabar Garment Factory, which set the tone that left people like me worried whether you actually understood what you wanted to do or it was all deceit.
From one missed deadline to another, Memorandum of Understanding and Action to the next, and like the rest that came after it, kept missing timeframes which only became public as cameras rolled before you.
In all, fourteen agro allied projects were okayed by you with the projected total cost for full take off – that is, the cost of project, backward integration cost and operating capital totaling NGN56.68 billion.
While the Calabar Garment Factory and the Rice Seedling Factory with a combined projected cost of NGN12.2 billion have had some semblance of life, the rest remain either under lock, if completed like the toothpick factory in Yakurr; or facing delays despite claims of completion like the Cocoa processing factory in Ikom or exist in a universe only imagined like the Glucose Syrup factory in Obubra and the Pharmaceutical Starch factory in Calabar.
Ukandi, while it is true that projected costs are almost always different from actual costs, the shadowy approach your administration employed in the procurement process, the execution and running of some of these projects suggests that there are skeletons in the cupboard.
It is a fact that asides the media reportage of bogus and opaque orders for products from the Garment factory and seedlings from the Rice Seedling factory, the budget performance reports of your administration do not indicate any inflow of revenue from these places. Yet, with 419 days left, you are talking about a non-existent military biscuit factory?
Citizen Agba Jalingo, Publisher of CrossRiverWatch and a rights activist, is a Cross Riverian and writes in from Lagos.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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