From Judex  Okoro, Calabar

Federal Government has inaugurated 40 housing units at Obutong, Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River, as part of efforts to ameliorate the plight of Bakassi natives.

Besides, 20 farmers and 28 physically challenged persons were empowered with farm implements, wheel chairs, clothing materials and other items in Bakassi and Akpabuyo communities.

This is part of the intervention scheme embarked on by the Ministry of Niger Delta aimed at improving agriculture, food sufficiency and to make life more comfortable for the physically challenged and other less privileged persons in the region.

While handing over the estate to beneficiaries in Obutong, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Uguru Usani, said the gesture underscored the commitment of the government to the welfare of the displaced people, especially in the area of accommodation.

Usani said the estate is one of several being developed in the nine states of the Niger Delta Region and is the first to be completed to underscore the commitment of the government to the welfare of the displaced people.

He explained that the housing estate is being constructed in phases and the first phase which consists of 40 units of two and three bedroom bungalows is being distributed free of charge to the people of the area. He implored them to make proper use of the estate to reciprocate the good gesture of the Buhari administration.

“Part of our key mandate is the improvement of housing and shelter for the needy, downtrodden and indigent people in the area. The commitment of the President Buhari administration to the welfare of the people is irrevocable and it is important that we see it as a concrete determination to improve the lives of the people of this area.”

Also speaking while donating various items to the people of Akpabuyo, the minister said the decision of the government to donate farming items is to enhance the cardinal programme in food sufficiency.

Usani, who donated items including 80 tillers, 28 wheel chairs, 96 sewing machines, five laptops and 77 wrappers for women, enjoined the beneficiaries to make proper use of the items and always contact officials of the ministry when they have issues with the utilisation of the items particularly the tillers.

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Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Aliyu Aminu Bisalla, who was represented by the Director, Community Development and Education, Mrs. Lauren Braide, said the ministry was strategising on how to reach out to the people at the grassroots in the region.

Paramount ruler, Calabar Municipality, Ndidem Patrick Inok Oqua Agbo V, represented by Etiyin Francis Effiom, commended the Federal Government saying the administration has impacted their lives positively.

Chairman, Cross River State Traditional Rulers Council and paramount ruler of Bakassi, Etim Okon Edet, thanked the Federal Government for giving succour to the Bakassi returnees. He said the people did not leave Bakassi on their own volition and appealed for proper resettlement.

Chairman of the Security Committee of Bakassi Local Government Area, Iyadim A. Iyadim, said the people were excited that the project, which suffered series of delays, has finally been inaugurated, adding that the project is significant for the people of Bakassi as it underscored the premium government placed on the welfare of the people.

“Today is significant because the minister has come down to see the project and provide shelter for the people.  It shows that the ministry understands the importance of shelter. The project started during the time of Godsday Orubebe and we felt it will be completed six years ago and I must commend the Minister for prioritizing this project,” he said.

Paramount ruler of Bakassi, Etinyin Etim Okon Edet also thanked the government for demonstrating its commitment to the development of the area and appealed that since the people did not leave Bakassi on their own volition, there should be proper resettlement for them.

“We left Bakassi not out of our volition but out of federal government decision to cede the area completely. I must say that the government has continued with palliatives but not the real thing promised.  We are still crying out to the Federal Government to resettle the people who they asked to leave  their ancestral home  and implore the government to redress the anomaly,” he said.

HRH Francis Effiong, who represented the paramount ruler of Akpabuyo, said the people were elated and in full support of the government in its agricultural initiatives and appealed  for the provision of agrarian communities in the area to enhance food sufficiency.

“The people of Akpabuyo are very happy with this gesture by government and are fully in support of government initiatives particularly in agricultural sector. However, we need government’s intervention in the area of infrastructure  in some of our communities like Esuk Mba as no road construction firm or equipment has entered there for over 70 years,” he stated.

One of the beneficiaries, Daniel Nyong, said: “I feel happy to be one of the beneficiaries. The wheel chair would enhance my movement and surely give me more life.”