Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State in South-South Nigeria has said that the time has come for Nigeria and other African countries to take full control of their natural resources, including forest reserves, and utilise them in a manner that drives development as well create wealth.
He made the submission Marrakech, Morocco on Tuesday, 17 November 2016 while fielding questions from media executives shortly after the Nigerian delegation to the UN climate change talks (COP22) unveiled the country’s plan of actions towards implementing the Paris Climate Agreement.
Ayade, who was defending the state’s super highway project that has attracted local and international criticism, observed that environmental issues in Africa are politicised to the detriment of the continent’s development, even while worse environmental abuses go on in other climes.
“We cannot continue to be poor, in the midst of the plenty that we have got. We drove in from Casablanca to Marrakech, to the left and right; where are the trees? When you go to Mexico, as you go to Mexico City to Tabasco, go from left to right, where are the trees? Nigeria can’t continue to dramatise everything and convert everything to politics. The Super Highway only takes 85 metres with 35 metres and somebody goes to the press and says we are de-bushing 20 kilometres. It is most ungodly. Normally, this is a time that no state is doing any developmental project, so for me to develop a six-lane super highway on 35 meters’ corridor across 261 kilometres, it calls for celebration not condemnation. It calls for appreciation and not cheap blackmail,” he told local and foreign media at the African Pavilion of the COP22 arena in Marrakech.
The governor said he would go on with the project despite protests and widespread condemnation and by both local and international environmental activists, as well as pressures on the Nigerian government to stop the destruction of the country’s remaining rain forest in cross River State, for the construction of a 260km super highway project.