Governor Ayade lays foundation stone for 5,000 housing units
By Emmanuel Una
IKOT IKPAYANG—SINCE the expulsion of the people of Bakassi by Cameroon from their ancestral home in 2010, following the transfer of the Peninsula to the nation’s neighbour, a development that automatically turned them into internally displaced persons, the unfortunate locals have been living pathetically in makeshift houses at the camp allocated to them at Ekpri Ikang, Akpabuyo Local Government Area.
Their plight was so deplorable that in October, 2016 when the Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, visited the camp, he broke down in tears and on the spot, promised to seek better accommodation and health facilities for the refugees.
Groundbreaking ceremony: Penultimate week, the cries of the people were seemingly answered when the governor performed a ground breaking ceremony for 5,000 housing units, initiated by a former Ambassador and Director General of Africa Nations Development Programme, a subsidiary of World Nations Development Programme for the displaced people, Dr Samson Omoroyigbe. Governor Ben Ayade, who performed the ceremony, said the houses would go a long way in addressing the hardship facing the internally displaced people of Bakassi and assured them of more development projects.
Our mission—Dr Omoroyigbe
Dr. Omoroyigbe said he decided to build the 5,000 housing units at Ikot Ikpayang in Akpabuyo Local Government Area in order to combat the housing challenge facing the refugees, who squat in dilapidated and makeshift structures at their camp in Ekpri Ikang. “Our mandate is to redress oppression and deprivation and the worst forms of those two are in Africa and Nigeria experience, which have brought hardship and poverty to majority of the people is worrisome. That is why we have undertaken the task of reducing the burden on our people and the housing programme is part of it.”
Developing a city: He said if the rate of poverty in the country continues, the future of the next generation of Nigerians would be lost, which was the reason the Africa Nations Development Programme has undertaken the task of initiating housing, skills acquisition and farming programme to empower the less privileged in the society, starting with Bakassi refugees through developing a city for them. “Each of the 5,000 housing units will comprise of two bedroom flats, which would be handed over to beneficiaries, who have been scanned through social survey and the city will also accommodate primary and secondary schools along with a hospital to cater for the educational needs of the children of the refugees as well as health care needs.”
“With the exchange rate of the naira today, somebody on level 10 still falls under the poverty index because he cannot build a house and send his children to good schools unless he steals the money that is the more reason we have to build schools alongside the houses to ensure that the children of the poor are educated in good schools and in the next 10years, they too can rise up,” he asserted.
Dr Omoroyigbe observed that with the level of poverty in the country, millions of children were not interested in their future, but food to eat, saying that is why the Bakassi refugees would be taught skills and provided farming inputs to boost their revenue base to take care of their children.
“The skills acquisition centre would be fully equipped to train the refugees on what they can do with their hands and after acquiring the skills, they would be given funds and equipment to work with, while those who want to farm would be given farm inputs,” he added.