Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River has expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari over the official approval for the Bakassi Deep Sea Port.
Ayade spoke with State House correspondents after a private meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said that the Bakassi Deep Port, started by his administration, would be of immense economic benefit to the state and Nigeria in general.
Ayade said that the Super Highway, which he initiated, would provide a link between the North and Bakassi Deep Sea Port and boost transportation of farm produce.
“Every one of you should thank President Muhammadu Buhari for me; thank the Transport Minister; thank the Managing Director of Nigeria Ports Authority; thank the permanent secretary, Ministry of Transport, thank the Minister of Finance for the approval of the Bakassi Deep Sea Port.
“We have got the official approval for the Bakassi Deep Sea Port Outline Business Case which means that the Nigerian government has now officially recognized the Bakassi Deep Sea Port and has given us the impetus to go for the full business case.
“The Bakassi Deep Sea Port is the only port in Nigeria that has an evacuation corridor; so you have a port in Bakassi with a six-lane super highway taking you direct to Northern Nigeria.
“So, what Cross River State is trying to do is take the Atlantic Ocean closer to Northern Nigeria; the whole idea is that the Northern part of Nigeria particularly, the North-East and North-West cannot see the desired prosperity unless they get access to the deep sea port.
“Otherwise, the wonderful sesame seed we have in Borno and Yobe lie prostrate; the solid minerals we have in the North-East is lying waste because you cannot travel 2000km to a seaport carrying such materials on road; so definitely the Super Highway will shorten all of that.”
Ayade said that the Super Highway and the Deep Sea Port were supposed to be Federal Government’s project as they had potential to succeed.
The governor expressed optimism that the Super Highway and the Deep Sea Port would come into reality before he left office.
According to him, he is hopeful that the President, at the right time, “will come to my rescue if the Super Highway becomes difficult.”
On Nigeria’s 59th Independence celebration, Ayade said there was every reason for Nigerians to celebrate.
He urged Nigerians to stop looking at where the nation had failed but where it had done well, adding that with unity and love, the nation would excel.
On rice production in Cross River, the governor said he was a digital governor and had brought a rice revolution which had taken the people away from analogue farming to the use of seedlings.
He explained that seeds had a lot of internal dormancy while seedlings would boost yield four times more.
“So, why would you expect your parents to use the same tonnage of rice seeds and cultivate in two hectares for example and get a value that a quarter of that hectare will get if you use seedlings.
“Therefore, Cross River State is leading the direction to say look, if Nigeria must continue to lead and feed itself, it is time for every single farmer in Nigeria to migrate from seeds to seedlings.
“Our people grow grains for eating as a seed; that is part of the major challenge and that is why I have brought in this technology; and it is not something you can go and buy in Japan or Taiwan or buy in Thailand.
“It is a combination of my own professorial knowledge and research to come up with a design that is peculiar and specific and sand sensitive to the West African climate; so what I have got is patent just like my research patent for my PhD.
“More importantly, agricultural infrastructure is a responsibility of government; if a farmer is saddled with getting access, getting his fertilizer,; getting water to his farm; getting somebody to buy; getting the harvest done, that is beast of burden,’’ he said.
Ayade said he recently ordered seven million dollar worth of farm equipment from US to provide tractorisation mechanisation support services to farmers in the state.