*Decries shabby treatment of C/River by NDDC
Port Harcourt — Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, has decried what he described as Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC’s shabby treatment of the state in the scheme of things, as a result of losing some oil wells to Akwa Ibom State.
Governor Ayade who disclosed this when the Minister of Niger Delta, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, paid him a courtesy visit in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, regretted that ex-agitators in the state have not been captured in the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
The governor appealed to the Minister to reverse Cross River’s fortune and see the state as its major priority in order to show it is indeed part of the Niger Delta.
“Cross River state lost 76 oil wells, we lost our land; Cross River state is the only state in the Niger Delta where ex-militants are not captured in the Amnesty programme, yet NDDC spends billions of Naira on the programme.
“Cross River is the last in the consideration of the NDDC, Cross River is the last in the consideration of Niger Delta Ministry. Please, reverse our fortunes, please reverse the fortunes of Cross River. Show us that you love us. We are suffering.
“We earn N2.7 billion in terms of federal allocation and we pay out N1.7 billion every month for debt servicing, yet we are 35 in terms of revenue allocation,” the governor lamented.
The governor also disclosed that his administration’s investment in agriculture stemmed from its believe in President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy of economic diversification.
“The President is championing a Nigeria beyond oil and he is creating a roadmap for Nigeria without oil. Cross River state has keyed into this through agricultural value chain. The only way you can keep the Niger Delta peaceful is to assist in creating jobs. From the experiences of industrialised countries, all industrialisation starts with agro-industrialisation.
“We can actually turn Niger Delta into the largest rice producing hub. Our agro-industrialisation drive is a model. It puts food on the table, creates jobs, it reduces militancy and insurgency, keeping our pipelines safe.”
Earlier, the Minister of Niger Delta, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, indicated his Ministry’s interest in partnering with Cross River State to turn the Niger-Delta region into a hub for rice production in the country.
Akpabio who toured the rice seeds and seedlings factory by Ayade, applauded the governor’s strides in agricultural value chain, saying the state has attained unparalleled height in industrialisation.
“l see a great future for the people of Niger Delta through Professor Ben Ayade. He has shown exceptional leadership by the great works he is doing in Cross River State.
“We (Niger-Delta Ministry) will explore areas of collaboration with the state. You have proved that it is not so much about the amount of money you collect, by way of federal allocation, but so much about the quality of your ideas. I want to assure you that under my watch as Minister of Niger Delta, Cross River will never walk alone. My Ministry is focused seriously on Cross River.”