Cross River State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, weekend, performed the groundbreaking for the construction of 5,000 housing units for the displaced people of Bakassi.
The project is funded by the Africa Nations Development Programme, ANDP, in partnership with the Cross River State Government.
Speaking at the site for the 5,000 housing units in Ikpa Nkanya village, Ikot Eyo ward, Akpabuyo Local Government Area of the state, Ayade, who noted that the day’s event was a product of his open weeping before international organisations and institutions, stressed the need for all to come together to make life meaningful for the people.
He said: “The Bakassi people have been dislocated from their ancestral homes, denied the pleasure of worship and decent accommodation, reduced in want and in spirit just because they are not strong enough to fight back. I come as a child from that humble beginning to say that we must all come together to make a difference and that difference must start now.”
Insisting that he would not want a groundbreaking ceremony that will take a long time for action to start, he said: “While we wait for ANDP, we will hold the fort. Cross River will also give the stimulus so that ANDP will recognise the fact that they have attracted us to support them.
“It is also natural in scientific agglutination that we must all come together and prove that indeed, we have come to support them not just by doing the groundbreaking, but also getting to the ground and starting the construction.”
To this end, Ayade announced that construction work will start at the site today, adding, “March 2 is my birthday. I am going to spend my birthday with my brothers and sisters that have been displaced by the government of Nigeria that showed little care but much disdain for humanity.”
“What value is government when your people are in pain and penury and you sit back and hope that within a passage of time their problem will be addressed?” pointing out that “problem can only be addressed when a step is taken and that is why government is taking the step to ensure that this pain unleashed on innocent people must stop.”
Recalling his days as a Senator, Ayade said: “On the floor of the Senate, I cried for Bakassi people, God has given me opportunity to do something now as the governor, while I look up to ANDP, I look at myself most.
“As you go to the Federal Government to seek favour, you must ask yourself as a state governor what you have done for your people who are displaced before going to Abuja?” asked, the governor.
Urging the citizenry to sustain the peaceful nature of the state while putting an end to internal crises in order to drive the programme, Ayade expressed hope that “in no distant time, Bakassi will be a city centre were people will like to live.”
ANDP Director General, Amb Samson Omojuyigbe, in his remarks lauded the government and people of Cross River for being the first beneficiary of the project which involves 5000 units of modern two bedroom houses, hospitals, schools, church, shopping mall, market, fire station among others.
“Our interest is to put in check poverty which is a complex phenomenon indicated in the inability of man to survive,” Omojuyigbe said.
For ANDP Country Director, Thomas Ajikwa, “ANDP works with the less privileged, indigent and excluded people in Africa, promoting values and commitment in civil society, institutions and governments with the aim of achieving structural changes in order to eradicate injustice and poverty in Africa.”