The immediate past governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke made a rare public outing when he witnessed the groundbreaking of the Superhighway, the signature project of his successor, Prof. Ben Ayade.
In an interview with newsmen on the fringes of the event, Imoke spoke on life after office, his assessment of his successor and how he is spending time with his family. Excerpts:
What do you make of the governor’s vision for the state and the recent visit of the President to the state?
The governor graciously invited me and other eminent people from Cross River State to receive Mr. President. I am glad because the governor is coming with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He has great vision for the state and we want to support him to realise that vision. In working with him to become the governor, we identified that energy. So, we want all Cross Riverians to give him that support.
Are you not concerned that the projects he has chosen to embark on may be too daunting to achieve?
The challenges ahead of him are arduous. He must enjoy support and cooperation from the people of the state to be able to realize some of these signature projects.
Of course, while all this is going on, the governor must still run the state at various levels. So, for us, we are not only standing behind him, but also commending him in all his efforts so far. We pray that he will continue to take Cross River State to greater heights while ensuring that there is social inclusion and that people feel the impact of his administration.
What is your exact view about the recent visit of President Buhari to the state?
We also commend the governor on the August visit of Mr. President. That he was able to bring the President of the country to Cross River State within so short a time after assuming office was a masterstroke. Most commendably, bringing Mr. President to an opposition state for a significant event like the groundbreaking of that project.
The project is a signature project that, when completed, will have tremendous impact on the economy of the state. It will open access from the seaport in the South to the northern part of Nigeria.
Not just for transportation, but a huge commercial corridor that is along the road.
You do really think the road will impact on the economy of the state?
Yes! The people of Cross River State will be the greatest beneficiaries of the project.
The project has tremendous potential, and that is why I strongly support it. The visit of Mr. President and his comments were very encouraging.
The President, I must say, was very statesmanly, not just for coming but in pledging support for the realization of the project. I think that is unprecedented.
I think, for us, that is indicative of a president who is truly committed to national development.
He is able to identify critical infrastructural projects that have economic benefits and provide the necessary support for the realization of such projects.
Any appeal to President Buhari?
We must give kudos to Mr. President for the visit. And I appeal to him to continue to provide the necessary support and enablement to the governor and the new administration in Cross River State.
I am certain that every Cross Riverian who sees this type of support coming into the state from the federal level will have no choice but to support this administration.
As long as Cross River people are benefitting from the relationship; as long as Cross River State will feel the impact of the Federal Government through these initiatives, then all of us will continue to ensure that we give Prof. Ben Ayade and the Buhari administration the necessary support for the realization of these projects.
We hope that the President will continue to give the needed support for the project to be realized. For the governor, we stand behind him and his team to drive this project to conclusion.