“Stop Playing Politics with the Lives of Nigerians: Ministry of Environment Time Up on the 23 Conditions”
Following controversy generated by the proposed Cross River Super highway project, the Federal government through the Ministry of Environment in July 2017 gave the Cross State government 23 conditions to fulfill before embarking on the project. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, the state governor and his cohorts; as well as supposed reputable media agencies jumped into jubilation as if the project have been approved, absent the conditions which are to be met before project commencement.
It would not be a surprise if the Federal Ministry of Environment succumbs to political pressure and give a final approval to the questionable EIA for the proposed Cross River Super Highway, after its outright failure three (3) times. Such approval would be without monitoring and ensuring that the 23 conditions given to the Cross River state government in July 2017 are met. These conditions were to ensure that due process is being followed and compensation given to the poor Cross Rivarians, whose lands and livelihood is been grabbed away by the state government. While all quick reasoning Nigerian who knows the political interplay of the APC versus PDP; and the North aligning to the Southern Eastern agenda would be quick to know that the ruling party would not want to be seen in the bad light by the Southerners or be considered a deterrent to South Eastern development (at least in a PDP state). Where do all of these politicking place the concerns and interest of the average Nigerian, especially those most affected by such project? When are we going to forget sentiments as a nation and uphold fairness, justice, truth and an honest respect and compliance for laws and set procedures to avoid anarchy?
Among the condition is that Cross River State Government GAZETTE The REVERSAL of The LAND REVOCATION order which the state government signed and published on 22nd September 2016 in the Chronicle Paper. The gazette must reverse the acquisition of 10km on either side to the 70km span of the road corridor as well as the gazetting of the boundary of Cross River National Park within two weeks. The Governor Ben Ayande must gazette 70metres wide of the road and not to expand beyond the permitted area, as well as not allow the project to pass through Ekuri Forest Reserve, among others. This is against the previous 20km by 275km community lands which the Cross River state government claimed and revoked on the guise of boofer zone or right of way for the proposed super highway against the standard 50meters. This is three (3) months after the conditions were given, yet cross rivarians and other honest Nigerians are yet to see the gazzetted reversal of revocation. Ministry of Environment wake-up!!!
The Cross River State government as a condition is also to ensure that the updated maps in the new EIA show the “re-routed road corridor cognisance of the boundary of Cross River National Park and Ekuri Community Forest as well as conform to international best practices on setbacks for highways in critical ecosystems such as the proposed corridor.” Similarly, the road should neither cut through Ekuri nor the Cross national park. Pray the Ministry of Environment presents to Nigerians the rerouting as submitted by the Cross River State Government within the stipulated time…. We doubt!!!
Smart Chukwuma Amaefula is the President, Climate Transformation and Energy Remediation Society (CLIMATTERS), Abuja