The Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade on Tuesday shed tears over the squalid and subhuman conditions he discovered at one of the camps inhabited by the displaced people of Bakassi.
The governor, who was accompanied by the Mayor of Dortmund, Germany, Mr. Fuss Friedrich, immediately made a cash donation of N3 million to ameliorate the sufferings of the displaced persons.
He also promised to take care of the daily needs of the over 3000 displaced people at the Ikot Eyo Edem camp in Akpabuyo Local Government Area.
Amid profuse sobs, Ayade said: “I am in tears. I am in pains as I look round this camp. What is the importance of me being a governor? Of what value is humanity without love for fellow humans? Why will I continue to live when I see my own brothers and sisters living in such circumstances?
“I am your governor, your problem is mine. The primary person you should cry to is me. That is why I am here with our partners and we have seen things for ourselves. We will solve your problem, that is why I have gone round the world looking for people who can partner the state to provide homes, and today we have a team from Germany who will help us kick-start the construction of the social housing by the end of August.”
Ayade, who earlier had a technical session with Fuss Friedrich and his team from Germany, informed the people of his effort at seeking the support of President Muhammadu Buhari in ensuring their proper resettlement.
He said, “We thank Mr. President whom I have already briefed of your deplorable conditions for his support so far and we will work with you to ensure that you get your full liberty from this hardship and pains with adjustment in our budget to accommodate the social housing scheme.
“The partnership between the state government and the City of Dortmund will ensure the construction of houses as well as the provision of education, skill training for the people on areas of building and maintenance.”
Speaking through an interpreter, the Mayor of Dortmund, Mr. Fuss Friedrich who could not also hold back tears said: “I thank you for the warm reception accorded my team. It really touches my heart, given the circumstances I have found you today. I assure you that the government of Germany will gladly work with your government to improve your living conditions.”
In his remarks, the Paramount Ruler of the Bakassi and host of the project, Etinyin Etim Okon Edet, who is also the chairman of Cross River State Traditional Rulers Council, commended Governor Ayade for what he said is his passion and commitment to addressing the problems of his people.
“We have gone through very traumatic conditions over the years. I think the time has come under the leadership of our present governor to lead us to that freedom that we have been looking for over the years. I want to first and foremost thank him for his passion, he has been very passionate about Bakassi people because I know and he also knows that the welfare and security of the people is paramount,” he said.
In their separate presentations, the camp coordinator, Mr. Ene Etim Ene and community leader of Akpap, Dr. Etim Edet, called on the federal and the state governments to ensure their permanent resettlement while also assisting them with an alternative source of livelihood so as to reduce their dependence on donors.
They promised to cooperate with the team to actualize the social housing project.