The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs has indicated interest to partner with Cross River State on rice production to turn the Niger Delta region into Nigeria’s rice production hub. Disclosing this in Calabar at the weekend after a tour of the state’s Rice Seeds and Seedlings Factory, the minister, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, applauded Governor Ben Ayade’s strides in agricultural value chain.
He said, “l see a great future for the people of Niger Delta through Professor Ben Ayade. He has shown exceptional leadership by the great works he is doing in Cross River.“We will explore areas of collaboration with the state. You have proved that it is not so much about the amount of money you collect by way of federal allocation, but so much about the quality of your ideas.
“I assure you that under my watch as Minister of Niger Delta, Cross River will never walk alone. My ministry is focused seriously on Cross River.”Ayade, who served as tour guide to Akpabio, decried what he described as shabby treatment of Cross River by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in the scheme of things.
“Cross River is the last in the consideration of the NDDC. It is the last in the consideration of Niger Delta ministry. Please, reverse the fortunes of Cross River. Show us that you love us. We are suffering.“We earn N2.7 billion in terms of federal allocation and we pay out N1.7 billion every month for debt servicing, yet we are 35 in terms of revenue allocation.
“Cross River lost oil wells. We lost our land. Cross River is the only state in the Niger Delta where ex-militants are not captured in the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), yet NDDC spends billions of naira on the programme,” Ayade said.
According to the governor, the only way you can actually keep the Niger Delta peaceful and safe is to assist in creating jobs.“From the experiences of industrialised countries, all industrialisation starts with agriculture. The president is championing a Nigeria beyond oil and he is creating a roadmap for Nigeria without oil. Cross River has keyed into this through the agricultural value chain.“We can actually turn Niger Delta into the largest rice-producing hub. Our agro- industrialisation drive is a model. It puts food on the table, creates jobs, reduces militancy and insurgency, keeping our pipelines safe,” he added.