- As CSOs, groups raise alarm over stalled projects
BY UBON EKANEM, CALABAR – Amidst scathing criticisms that continue to trail its performance in projects conception and delivery, Cross River State Government has assured that all development projects initiated by the present administration would be completed and commissioned before 2023.
This is even as the government admitted that State faces dire financial straits given its dwindling monthly revenue accruals from federation account that stands at a paltry N2.7 billion, inclusive of debt’s servicing.
Reacting to widespread reports that the state government is busy embarking on white elephant projects that will not fully materialise within its eight-year tenure of Governor Ben Ayade, the State Commissioner for Information, Comrade Asu Okang said no responsive government will deliberately embark on development projects that are not relevant to the needs and yearning of the people.
According to him, the 24 industrial projects, spread across 14 of the 18 Local Government Areas in the last four years, have direct bearing on the economic development potentials of the state and therefore there was no cause for concern about their completion and subsequent commissioning before the administration eases out in 2023.
Speaking at the maiden monthly ministerial press briefing in Calabar, the State capital, Comrade Okang, however acknowledged that concerns being expressed by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the people generally are not misplaced considering the State’s present precarious financial outlay, with dwindling monthly federal allocation.
He also stated that going by the level of misgivings and misrepresentation in the public space, the monthly ministerial media briefing is initiated to allay such fears through regular interfacing with the people on the workings and policy trust of the state government.
Updating the media on his Ministry’s activities at the event, State Commissioner for Works, Engineer Dane Osim Asu said they are charged with the responsibility of providing technical expertise to the infrastructural cluster of development activities being embarked upon by the government to scale down the cost of each project due to the State’s lean financial purse.
He said comparatively, the state currently undertakes construction of roads at a minimal cost with active participation of the various ministries and parastatals that provide required expertise in technical, architectural and equipment leasing for every project to minimize cost which under normal circumstances would have been built into the original contract sum.
The Commissioner said the cheering news for Cross Riverians is that despite the lean financial resources, the state government has not sourced for loans anywhere to finance any of its projects, hence the need for direct labour participation in the execution of such projects.
According to the Works Commissioner, most of the development projects embarked upon are at the gestation level and efforts are being geared towards their completion before 2023.
However, physical work on ground and the atmosphere at some of the projects’ sites visited by Forefront in Calabar did not seem to capture the hope and assurances coming from the State government circles.
Apart from the Garment factory, other projects located around the Industrial Park on Goodluck Jonathan bye-pass; and the 23 megawatts power plant along Lemna Road in 8 Miles, Calabar, as well as the Cocoa Processing factory at Ikom Local Government Area, are still under lock and keys with no serious signs that they will be coming on stream soon.
Also, remaining a source of concern for many are the hitherto much-talked about Ayade’s signature projects as encapsulated in the Super Highway and Bakassi Deep Seaport. “Almost five years into his tenure, Cross Riverians are still patiently waiting for Professor Governor to deliver on these promised goodies”, one of the vocal CSOs chieftain in the State told Forefront