By Charles Kumolu
CALABARâ€”GOVERNOR of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke, has commendedÂ efforts of the United Nations Childrenâ€™s Fund in the state,UNICEF, describing it as his administrationâ€™sÂ most consistent UN partner.
He also appealed to the UN to assist in capacity building in order to help in achieving the stateâ€™s maximum potentials.
The governor said this at a dinner in honour of Nigeriaâ€™s UN Resident Systemâ€™s Coordinator,Â 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 stateâ€™s untapped potential, especially on environmental issues.
According to him,â€œabout 60 percent of Nigeriaâ€™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 â€œcrisis,â€ 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.â€
It will be recalled that UNICEF recently put together a package for the Destinyâ€™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 Systemâ€™s Coordinator noted
Also at the event was Roy Ndoma Egba, the Stateâ€™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.
â€œWe also aspire to ensure the availability of potable water across the State this year.â€ Ndoma Egba also highlighted the challenges in executing some of these initiatives. â€œThere have been challenges. The State lost her oil wells, which resulted in a loss of 80 percent of the Stateâ€™s revenue.â€
According to him, â€œThe 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)Â United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Others areÂ 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 Childrenâ€™s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) .