THURSDAY, 17TH OCTOBER, 2019
Mr. President, I wish to use this occasion to congratulate you in person on your successful re-election as President, Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the overwhelming victory at the election tribunal. Although I had sent in a congratulatory message when the success story was fresh, I firmly believe that it will not be out of place to mention it one more time, now that I am before you.
I, on behalf of the good people of the Efik Kingdom and Cross River State at large, thank the Almighty God for his mercies towards you. It is my humble prayer that He perfects his healing in your life and makes you good as new; with renewed strength to shoulder the huge responsibilities of our nation, which you hold in trust.
Mr. President, as you know, the Efik kingdom is over 850 years old, with 200 years spent during their sojourn in various host communities and 650 years since their discovery of Calabar in 1350 AD.
My ancestors, Kings and Chiefs of Calabar, worked that part of Nigeria into what it is today and played a very significant role, through signing the highest number of treaties which culminated in the formation of the polity now called Nigeria.
The kingdom of Calabar served as the capital of the Oil Rivers Protectorate (1891-1893) which included all the coasts and streams on the Niger Delta. In 1893, the Niger Coast
From 1899 to April, 1906, Calabar served as capital of Southern Nigeria and only lost that status to Lagos in May, 1906 when Southern Nigeria and Lagos Colony were merged. Calabar subsequently served as provincial headquarters in the wake of the amalgamation between the Southern and Northern Nigeria. The demotion in status following amalgamation led to the eventual neglect of Calabar which is still continuing today in many respects.
Mr. President, I would please, like to re-echo some of what I whispered to you earlier during your brief visit to Calabar and possibly add a little more, as follows:
1. Federal Roads: Apart from stripping Calabar and her people of everything including status, infrastructure and federal presence, the federal government has sat and watched Calabar become completely disconnected from the rest of the country over the years. As we speak, Mr. President, the Calabar-Itu road built since the early 1970s is in a deplorable state, likewise, the full length of Calabar-Ogoja to link Makurdi -Abuja roads which connect the North to the South Eastern part of Nigeria has failed.
2. Dredging: The Calabar River is in dire need of dredging which is vital to socio-economic development. In particular, it is vital to the construction and the maintenance of much of the infrastructure upon which our economic prosperity and social well-being depend. Because of poor and infrequent dredging activities in our waters, Calabar port and habours are not functioning.
3. The Free Trade Zone established by the Federal government to generate employment and boost the inflow of foreign exchange has been grievously threatened by the clogged waterways and unattractive trade conditions and restrictive regulatory environment.
4. Interstate boundary crises: The boundary problems between Cross River and Akwa Ibom, and other neighboring states have not been fully resolved thereby creating perennial skirmishes and unrest.Lives are lost and property destroyed at will especially at Ikot Offiong and other places. Although approval for the demarcation of the boundaries has been given by the federal government, the actual process of physical demarcation is yet to be implemented by the National Boundary Commission.
5. The Bakassi Question .The fall out of the cession of Bakassi to Cameroon continues to threaten the security of my people who occupy the southern most part of the Niger Delta region because of the lack of a well coordinated blue print for the resettlement of the displaced populations . We welcome and commend the establishment of the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry which is a demonstration of Mr President’s commitment to assuaging the sufferings of distressed and disadvantaged Nigerians. Also the maritime zone of Bakassi has become vulnerable to kidnappers, pirates and illegal bunkerers owing to the absence of a well coordinated security task force to man the maritime zone
Deep seaport/super highway projects: I wholeheartedly appreciate and thank you for approving the deep seaport and super highway projects of the State. I please request that the projects continue to receive Mr. President’s attention and support until it is successfully completed.
6.Electricity generation: The power station at Ikot Nyong, Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State was completed some years back but remains un-operational till today. As such, the station stands not utilized and the power situation of the state and country not improved.
Mr. President, my people and I pray as follows: That,
i. The contract for the reconstruction of Calabar-Ikot Ekpene and Calabar- Ogoja-Abuja roads, if not awarded, be awarded and contractors mobilized to sites to reduce the suffering of my people.
ii. Mr. President should please direct Ministry of Transportation in collaboration with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to commence regular dredging of the Calabar River to facilitate movement of ocean- going vessels
iii. Mr President Should please direct the Minister for Trade and Investment to look into revamping economic activities in the Calabar Free Trade by introducing more incentives to attract investors to the zone.
iv. The National Boundary Commission should be made to implement the demarcation as approved without further delay.
v. Mr President should direct that the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs ensures that a comprehensive resettlement plan akin to that of the IDP program be articulated and implemented in order to find lasting peace for the Ikot Offiong and Bakassi returnees .
vi. Mr President should direct a task force to be stationed at the maritime zone of Bakassi as a security intervention measure to protect not just my people but the entire Niger Delta region.
vii. There should be continuous support to the Deep Seaport and super highway projects of Cross River State government.
viii. Mr. President should please direct the Minister of Power to look into the problems of the said power station and handle accordingly.
Thank You Mr. President and God bless.
His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V Obong of Calabar
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