Worried by the lack of support from the federal government for the ongoing construction of the state’s superhighway, Cross River State governor, Sir Ben Ayade has enlisted the support of northern Nigerian leaders for the project.
Ayade also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfill his earlier pledge made while performing the groundbreaking for the project.
Expressing what he described as righteous anger with the federal government’s indifference to the superhighway project, which was conceived to bring the northern region closer to the Atlantic Ocean, Governor Ayade said: “As I watch time run and my tenure runs to a close in a couple of years, as I watch the superhighway and indeed, the deep seaport which form the basis of a new Nigeria, a generational and a philosophical change I had envisaged for this country, being treated with indifference by the federal government, I seethe with rage that a country so awash with solid mineral deposits, crude oil deposits, huge human resources, young, intelligent and smart minds, is being reduced to want in body, in spirit and in soul, occasioned by the poor exploitation of our own resources.”
The governor, while calling on northern leaders to prevail on the federal government and indeed, President Buhari to support the ongoing construction of the superhighway, insisted that Nigeria had no business with poverty given its resource endowment.
According to him, “As a country, we are so rich and so blessed that we have no business with poverty. I believe that this is the time to say it before it is too late, that as the entire people of Northern Nigeria, you have a reason and you have a responsibility to join me in this cry, to seek and ask President Muhammadu Buhari to recognize the value of export agriculture, to recognize the value of solid mineral for export, to recognize the vast mineral resources from coal tar to Cobalt to titanium to columbite to bauxite and iron ore. The list is endless.”
Charging the region to take advantage of the huge opportunity being thrown up with the construction of the superhighway, the governor said: “Agriculture is also in excess in the northern part of the country. But the North will continue to remain in turmoil until there is a direct connection and access to a maritime domain and that can only be provided by the superhighway. The superhighway will connect the northern part of Nigeria to the Atlantic Ocean, shortening their travel time, increasing their business and making them an export oriented region, particularly the North East.
“It is important for us to note as a nation that God, in His own mercy made us the richest country in Africa and Africa the richest continent in the world in terms of mineral resources. The avalanche of resources available to us as a country is sufficient for Nigeria to have no business borrowing money or have any business with poverty.”
Calling on President Buhari to demonstrate statesmanship and redeem his promise to support the construction and actualization of the superhighway during his performance of the groundbreaking, Ayade reminded: “With the same respect, may I remind you, Mr. President, of your promise, while you were in the state for the ground breaking ceremony of the superhighway and the Bakassi Deep Seaport to see to their construction and commissioning.
“I call on you today with the spirit of God that the people of northern Nigeria who are dying to evacuate their solid minerals, who are dying to evacuate their agriculture resources for export, the people of Bakassi who are dying of the opportunity to have a deep seaport to assuage their frustration and agony occasioned by the loss of their oil wells are looking up to you and are looking up to your commitment that indeed you would do what you are doing in Ajaokuta, Kaduna, Kano (AKK) gas pipeline project to the superhighway and the deep seaport.”
Continuing the governor said: “And as far as you have the muscle, the tenacity, the capacity as President to be able to source over $2 billion to support the AKK project, we believe that you still have the infinite power as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide for the superhighway, the evacuation corridor, the solid mineral base, the mining corridor of Nigeria.”
Maintaining that Nigerians have no reason to be hungry, Ayade said: “It is only those who lack understanding that will be hungry in the presence of plenty. Nigerians are intelligent people, we believe that the superhighway and the Bakassi deep seaport is a major way out to end poverty and to strengthen our local currency because once we become an export oriented country, the strength of the naira will be restored and the value and dignity of Nigerians will be restored. Until that is done, the continuous devaluation of the naira will only cause more cataclysm for the economy of this country.
“I believe that at this point, Mr. President, your emphasis will be on the macro economic policy of Nigeria with focus on strengthening the naira that has become very imperative and urgent as capacity utilization drops with factories and shops closing down occasioned by the high cost of the dollar.”
Ayade further appealed: “I prevail on you and I know you have the capacity and the goodness of mind and I know you have the soundness of character, the firmness of purpose to insist on the immediate recalibration of the value of the naira. This is so because if that is not done and the naira continues to slide, we might get to a state where it becomes unbearable for the young people who are under very severe pressure and because that pressure is uncontrollable, they will reach their maximum tolerance limit and we might have a high concentration of deviance which we are beginning to witness today.”