By Charles Kumolu
CALABAR—GOVERNOR of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, has commended  efforts of the United Nations Children’s Fund in the state,UNICEF, describing it as his administration’s  most consistent UN partner.

He also appealed to the UN to assist in capacity building in order to help in achieving the state’s maximum potentials.
The governor said this at a dinner in honour of Nigeria’s UN Resident System’s Coordinator,  Dawda Toure.
Senator Imoke, who was represented by his Deputy, Efiok Cobham, expressed gratitude at the gesture of the UN, even as he spoke extensively on the state’s untapped potential, especially on environmental issues.

According to him,“about 60 percent of Nigeria’s forest reserves is found in Cross River State. The state has one of the highest deforestation rates globally – about two percent per annum, which translates to a “crisis,” given that it has few other resources to depend on.

“Unlike other parts of Southern Nigeria, Cross River State gets little from oil revenue. We cannot do it alone, and this is why we call for strategic partners. We want to see the UN working with us in capacity building.”

It will be recalled that UNICEF recently put together a package for the Destiny’s Child Centre (DCC), a shelter that rehabilitates street children.

The DCC initiative is the brainchild of the Wife of the Governor, Obioma Liyel- Imoke.
Earlier Toure noted that the state is foremost on UN plans this year, just as he said this would the first time the UN has done anything of this kind in Nigeria, the System’s Coordinator noted

Also at the event was Roy Ndoma Egba, the State’s Special Adviser on International Donor.
He spoke on the financial projections of the State, some of which include: N39bn over the next three years for poverty eradication, about N571m for the eradication of child mortality over the next three years, N232m to improve maternal health and 5bn to combat HIV/AIDS.

“We also aspire to ensure the availability of potable water across the State this year.” Ndoma Egba also highlighted the challenges in executing some of these initiatives. “There have been challenges. The State lost her oil wells, which resulted in a loss of 80 percent of the State’s revenue.”

According to him, “The agencies involved in this historic mission include: The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)  United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Others are  International Organisation for Migration (IOM), The joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Food and Agriculture Organisation ( FAO) United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) .

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