By Ashie Osor, Calabar
Cross River State governor, Sir Ben Ayade, Monday, announced the payment of two hundred million naira as compensation to the people of Bakassi for the donation of 35,000 hectares of land for the development of the Deep seaport.
The governor announced the monetary compensation during a stakeholders meeting held at the state executive chamber, Calabar, with leaders and traditional rulers of the area led by the Paramount Ruler of Bakassi, Etinyin Etim Okon Edet.
Ayade, who was overwhelmed by the donation, said: “We as parties have come together to say we will support the people of Bakassi local government area with a token of N200m for donating 35,000 hectares of land for the development of the Bakassi Deep Seaport.”
The governor pointed out that, “while we appreciate that the ultimate beneficiary of the port is Bakassi local government area, it is noteworthy to state that it is for the good of the nation and indeed Africa,” adding that, “the N200m is not value for the land but a token as compensation.”
Recalling that President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2015 promised during his first term campaign to Cross River that he will not only deal with the issue of the loss of the state oil wells, but will find an adequate and proper solution for the Bakassi people if he assumes office as President, Ayade appealed to the President to fulfill his commitment.
According to the governor, “we look on to President Buhari to grant as a matter of national urgency a special sovereign guarantee to support us as we move to the final business with the commencing of the process of getting a core concessionaire who will start the investment on the development of the port.”
Ayade maintained that “without a sovereign guarantee we will have to stretch our intellectual money to its limit. We believe that President Buhari understands the plight of the Bakassi people, the security and strategic importance of the Bakassi Deep seaport, the need to have an alternative evacuation corridor and a maritime domain from Nigeria, understands the sensibilities and challenges that have bedeviled Lagos in the last six months and the urgency and need for an alternative Port.”
Earlier, Paramount Ruler of Bakassi, Etinyin Etim Okon Edet told the governor: “The land is all yours, it is for the Deep seaport project. We have given the land, all we need is the assistance of the federal government to enable the project come to fruition. I am the Paramount Ruler and the people concerned are all here.”
Applauding the federal government through the Ministry of Transport for the approval of the outline business case (OBC), Etinyin Edet who is also the chairman, Cross River Traditional Rulers Council said: “We hope that the project will start in earnest making not only Cross River to be proud but the entire nation and indeed Africa.”
According to the royal father, “Bakassi was forcefully ceded, we were driven from our ancestral land and nobody asked us anything and we left. How much more a project of this nature? And now that the governor is looking for land to construct a deep seaport, why can’t we support it? What about the land that was taken away forcefully? If this one is coming as a consolation we have no doubt in our mind that we have no objection to it.”
Assuring that Bakassi remains peaceful and awaits foreign and local investors, the monarch asserted: “If our governor, Prof Ben Ayade is coming to do what he wants to do in order to assuage our feelings after the ceding of our land, we also need the support of the federal government through Mr. President. Please Mr. President, be ready to support this deep seaport project and even superhighway as we are donating our land once again.”
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