Governor Benedict Ayade of Cross River State has stated the commitment of his government to partner with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for the development of the state.
Speaking during a courtesy call on him by the board and management of the NDDC in Government House, Calabar, on Thursday, Ayade said fighting the commission was against his style.
“Cross River State has been very cautious on comments about NDDC. For me, aggression and fighting is not my style. For me, it is always better to sit down and share thoughts. For me as a professor, I cannot be involved in boundary politics. I like the new spirit of NDDC and if you can sustain it, it will be good. We are partners in progress. All the nine member-states and NDDC must work together,” he said.
The Governor lamented that Cross River State had the least number of NDDC projects and appealed to the commission’s leadership to allocate more projects for the state.
He appealed particularly to the NDDC Board Chairman, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, and the Managing Director, Mr. Nsima Ekere, both of who he described as his close friends and sons of the soil, to use their good offices to help the state.
“Ndoma-Egba, do something. Nsima Ekere, do something. I believe NDDC can bail out Cross River State because truly I have four of my friends on the board of NDDC, four sons of Cross River State. Cross River and Akwa Ibom are one. I am at home with the NDDC team. I speak to your soul beyond politics. Please look at the plight of Cross River State. Unfortunately, NDDC operates on the quantum of oil production in allocating projects. So, Cross River State has the least number of projects. MD, you run the day-to-day affairs of NDDC. You are my very good friend. In the NDDC, Cross River State is the weakest partner. That should engage your attention the most. Afrocentric fathers place more emphasis on the weakest child in the family. But now, I see NDDC putting much more projects in states that already have billions,” he said.
Ayade particularly urged the NDDC to partner with the State Government in the development of the Bakassi Deep Seaport and the Super Highway, two signature projects of his administration.
He also solicited the commission’s collaboration in the exploration of large gas and oil deposits across the state as revealed by preliminary investigations.
The Governor charged the present NDDC leadership to deliver, saying, “I can’t see how two young people like yourselves and the two Executive Directors cannot surprise the world. NDDC under your watch can’t be NDDC as usual. You have the capacity. You have the drive. You must make a difference. I want you to leave the place as shining stars.”
The Governor said he was developing the state despite his government’s lean financial resources.
“Cross River State has zero allocation most times. We are financially challenged. I run this state barely from my teeth. But I take projects above regional projects because when you put your soul above your body, your body will follow. I will rather aim high and miss than aim low,” he said.
Ayade listed some of the projects to include the largest industrial complex and the largest banana farm in the country.
Responding, Ekere, who spoke after Ayade on the Governor’s insistence, promised that the commission would work on more projects for Cross River State.
“I felt inspired when I listened to the Governor of Cross River State speak. We are encouraged because the Governor of Cross River State has spoken today about the need for collaboration with NDDC. We will re-engineer our processes so that we can collaborate more with the Cross River State Government. In an environment where some Governors say they don’t need projects, we find the Cross River State Governor saying he needs more projects. Your Excellency, we will give you more,” he said.
Apart from projects, the NDDC boss said the commission was working on human capacity development especially of the youths of the region, hence the recent collaboration with NEXIM Bank and NDDC.