Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs and ad-hoc Committee on Ports, Hon Yusuf Buba Yakub, has said the committee will do everything possible to ensure that the Deep Seaport project comes to fruition.
Speaking when the committee paid a courtesy call on the state governor, Sir Ben Ayade in Calabar at the weekend, Yakubu said the Bakassi Deep Seaport project should not be seen as that of the state, but rather as one that would benefit the entire country, especially northern Nigeria and neighbouring countries of Chad and Niger Republics.
The committee was in the state as part of it’s oversight functions to investigate why ports in the eastern part of the country were not functioning optimally.
According to him, “a country like China wants to bring in a lot of heavy machinery to start up the industrialization of Nigeria but because we don’t have deep seaports some of the big vessels cannot bring in these equipment.”
He also commended Ayade for also initiating the 275 kilometers six-lane superhighway as a solution to the road connectivity between Cross River and the northern parts of the country and neighboring countries as an evacuation corridor for the deep seaport.
His words: “This is the first time I am meeting a governor that has great insight not only for the people of the state but for the entire Nigeria and even Africa at large.
“In this 21st century, the only solution to the myriad of problems engaging our seaports is a deep seaport, and this man has already put this dream to use and it is practically on ground that in four years, Cross River is ready to go and to give Nigeria a deep seaport,” he stated.
“This committee will do everything it can to support and see that this great dream of the governor of Cross River is brought to fruition,” adding that “I am sure when we present our recommendations, Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari will grant the sovereign guarantee for this project.”
On the state of the present Calabar port, the lawmaker explained that they were visiting the port to ascertain “why it is not functioning optimally and make recommendations.
“The Calabar port will serve as a service point when the Bakassi deep seaport comes into existence. It will also be very strategic and key in delivering the required services in the state, region and Nigeria as a whole.
The lawmaker, therefore, called on the Federal government to grant Cross River State a sovereign guarantee to ensure the construction of its deep seaport, the Bakassi deep seaport.
Responding, Governor Ayade disclosed to the committee that “the Bakassi deep seaport is urgent, critical and is for national security interest,” adding that “in some of the countries of the world, where I have been to, it is in such ports that strategic reserves of economic products and food are kept.”
The governor noted that “for economic, security and strategic reasons, for political consideration, to put an end to Boko Haram, to increase productivity and help in the full value of our mineral resources, the Bakassi Deep seaport is the only solution.”
Making a plea for a sovereign guarantee from the president through recommendations by the visiting committee, Ayade said: “Cross River has 58 percent of the entire forest cover of this country. If you took our oil wells by force, took our land by force, if you ceded our territory by force and we never fought back, the sovereign guarantee which is a signature is just not too much to grant.”