The federal government has given a thumb up to the Cross River State government for the construction of a 260 km super highway in the state.
Environmental activists have, however, kicked against the project which they say would destroy several species of plants and animals and also displace the indigenous people of the areas where the road will traverse.
The highway, which will cut across at least 16 local government areas when completed, is one of the signature projects of the administration of Governor Ben Ayade.
The state government has been accusing the federal government of frustrating the project through the delay in granting necessary approvals, like the Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA.
“That we have been playing the good boy so far for the federal government does not mean we do not know our right,” the Commissioner for Water Resources in the state, Gabe Orji, had said in February at Calabar during a press briefing that was organised by the state government to explain why the project didn’t commence as scheduled.
Three other commissioners were present at the press briefing which had the state government threatening to go ahead with the project if they didn’t receive approvals by March from the federal government.
The acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, during his visit to the state on Thursday described the highway as being “very important” and said that the federal government was interested in it.
Mr. Osinbajo said the highway represents “creativity” and “big vision”.
“There’s no point building a one-kilometre road, I mean that can be done anywhere,” Mr. Osinbajo said.
“It takes courage, it takes vision, it takes farsightedness to say I am going to build a road that passes through 16 or so of the 18 local government areas. That’s a big vision.
“We will provide as much support as it is required.”
Mr. Osinbajo’s remarks drew applause from the crowd inside the newly built International Convention Centre, Calabar, which was earlier declared open by the acting president.
Mr. Osinbajo said he was excited that Governor Ayade was working to build a deep sea port in the state and assured him of the federal government’s support to ensure that he finishes all his “big projects”.
He also praised the state for its famed hospitality and cleanliness.
“Everybody that comes to Calabar must talk about the cleanliness here, and I am so excited to see that.
“You have set a standard in this country, not just for the green you see all over the place, the beautiful trees you see all over the place, but also for the cleanliness. And I really hope that you will maintain that high standard.
“I am glad that I am in the home of Afang and Edikan Ikong soup, I’ll be enjoying myself and I am looking forward to dinner this evening.”
Mr. Osinbajo visited Cross River State as a continuation of the federal government tour of the troubled Niger Delta region in order to restore peace in the region.