President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Federal Government was ready to support development of the historic City of Calabar and open it to the rest of the country.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu in a statement yesterday said President Buhari gave the assurance during an audience granted His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi, Otu V, Obong of Calabar, at the State House, Abuja.
The President said that altthough the City had lost its preeminent status as the first capital city of Southern Nigeria to Lagos, his administration would not shirk in ongoing effort to open the City to the rest of Nigeria.
He said the Federal Government was determined to increase the effort to ensure happiness and betterment of the people of the City in particular and Cross River State in general.
“We will open up that part of Nigeria to the rest of the country,” President Buhari assured his guests, adding that a number of projects were being executed by the Federal Government in the State.
According to him, “three road projects – Calabar-Ugep-Ikom-Ogoja; Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene and Sapele-Ewu – are at various stages of completion.”
The President noted that in order to speed up work on the Calabar-Ugep-Ikom-Ogoja road, plans were underway to incorporate it in the Sukuk Bond to increase the level of funding of the construction work.
He also said that dredging of the Calabar harbour would be undertaken as soon as some legal issues were settled by the Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Ports Authority with the contractor.
President Buhari, however, pledged full support to the Calabar Deep Sea Port project of the State, adding that a number of electricity projects would soon follow after a visit to the State by the Ministers of Power in the upcoming two weeks.
In his address, the Obong of Calabar decried the disregard and neglect of the Calabar Kingdom in spite of its national historical significance, and called for the reversal of the “demotion” through the execution of projects in the areas of roads, power, maritime access, security and border issues as well as the plight of displaced persons from the Bakassi Islands.
The royal father congratulated President Buhari on his “overwhelming victory” in the February election and at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, and urged his administration to restore Calabar to what it lost to Lagos and Abuja.