“All three villages have been given about 6 million naira in total as compensation for 9km square (which is roughly 600k for a square km of land) how ridiculous!”
I have watched with consternation and disbelieve the uncanny acts of intimidation and humiliation of the people of Atiekpe, Ikwumikwu and Ukambi communities and the violation of the sanctity of their ancestral lands under the guise of constructing what might be the third airport in Cross River State (CRS) Nigeria.
Let me begin by putting things in perspective. Cross River state which is commonly (and rightly) described as a civil service state has a population of about 3.7 million people and a workforce dominated by civil servants, which puts the average salary of a worker in Cross River state at about N65,000 (sixty five thousand naira) per month (source; https://nigerianfinder.com/average-salary-in-nigeria-details-and-analysis/).
The present administration has done exceedingly well in the area of payment of salaries and emoluments of civil servants and other government appointees, although the same cannot be said of most pensioners. In terms of exposure, Cross River State is the 4th most indebted state in Nigeria coming only behind Lagos, Edo and Kaduna states with a foreign debt portfolio of $188.77 (67.9 billion naira) and a local debt stock of 168 billion naira, making a total of 235.9 billion naira (Source; https://punchng.com/lagos-edo-kaduna-criver-owe-over-half-of-states-foreign-debt/).
The average monthly receipts from the federation FAAC allocation is about 2.5 to 3.5 billion naira monthly, and internally generated revenue stands at about 15 billion naira annually (1.25 billion naira monthly). The monthly salary obligation of the state is over 2 billion naira. It should be pointed out that there is a standing order for a monthly deduction for debt recovery purpose, which is currently about 1 billion naira monthly (Source; BudgIT).
Now this is the state whose most pressing need at the moment appears to be an airport – an international airport.
Here is why this decision is puzzling and will not make any sense to a 5th grader:
Should an international cargo airport be a priority project for a government that is so indebted that paying monthly salaries has been described severally by the governor as a miracle?
Who are those with the financial wherewithal to fly internationally, and to where exactly on an average income of N65k, bearing in mind that a one hour flight here in Nigeria averages about N40k return?
The administration of President Muhamadu Buhari has approved the construction of a coastal Rail Line whose route is Obudu – Calabar – Uyo – Aba – PH – Yenagoa – Otuoke – Ughelli – Warri – Sapele – Benin – Agbor – Asaba – Onitsha – Benin – Ore – Ijebu Ode – Sagamu – Lagos.
Nobody needs a cargo airport when this rail line is completed (if anyone should know, I believe that a sub- regional government such as this should know better).
The state has an existing airport with only two half-filled flights per day. This is in addition to an existing air-strip – Bebi air-strip which was constructed by the former governor Donald Duke in Obanliku (about two kilometres from Obudu Township) and upgraded by Former governor Liyel Imoke to include an Instrument Landing System.
Liyel Imoke also acquired an aircraft for shuttles between Calabar and Obudu, but this aircraft was sold by Governor Ayade, only three years after assuming office. It is the same Ayade who did not see why funds were being ‘wasted’ to subsidise the cost of flights between Calabar and Obudu at the time, that now wants to build an international airport?
One would have thought that the fantasy of an international cargo airport will be driven by need, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. In Cross River state, it appears that, it is the tail that wags the dog, not the other way round.
The governor has secured approval from the State House of Assembly to build a 6 lane “super highway” believed to have an embedded 4G internet network (whatever that means) which according to him, will reduce the journey time between Calabar and Obudu from 4 hours to 2.5 hours.
The question now is; why will you spend over 700 billion naira of money the state doesn’t have, to build a road that they do not need?
Or has the super highway project become a pipe dream like the rest of them all? (Cally Air, Cally Vegas, Deep Sea Port, etc).
Keep in mind that there is a coastal rail line in the mix, which ordinarily, should invalidate the need for a so-called super highway.
What is the budget of the new international airport and how is it being funded?
What is the budget set aside for compensation and relocation of most people in these three villages affected by the 9km square land acquisition?
Or does it end with the pocket monies currently being distributed by one Mr. Joseph Adie (alias Jungle Joe) and Mr. Eric Akpo (the governor’s inlaw)?
Where is the EIA for the construction of the airport (or does the professor not know that a development of this magnitude requires a standard EIA?)
Why has the expression of interest for the design and construction only been published on the 15th of May, but with closing date for submission slated for the 8th of May (which is clearly an obvious afterthought).
What comes first in government acquisition of land for a development of this magnitude?
Is it the deployment of earth moving equipment to obliterate people’s crops and farmlands or a formal engagement to weigh-in on the designs, predicted environmental, health and socio-economic impacts and proposed mitigations and possible alternatives to the proposed development?
Here is why this madness must not be allowed to take roots: