Governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress(APC), in Cross River state, Chief Chris Agara says he will take the state to greater heights if elected as governor come 2023.
Agara who made the promise in an address he presented to mark his public declaration for the office of Governor, at Ikom,on Saturday, sued for support from Cross Riverians to enable him achieve set objectives.
” I am in this race to win, not just because I want to win an election, but because of the deep seated conviction that our state truly needs to make much more progress. When you go home, please appeal to the conscience of all our party delegates. The take-off point for this new Cross River is for me to clinch the ticket of our party for the main election. After God, the next person that can make this lofty dreams come true is you. And I trust that together, we can make it happen”, he said.
The APC governorship hopeful, further said he will not only strengthen the unity of the state but inject more proactive approach to issues of governance and development, promising to promote the well being and interest of all Cross Riverians.
He also said he has always been in the fore front of changing the fortunes of people for the better, stressing that the same will be witnessed in Cross River if given the opportunity to lead the state.
“For the better part of my adult life, I have endeavoured to touch lives and change the fortunes of people for the better. There are thousands of people that I do not even know, who have benefitted from my modest benevolence, particularly through the Chris Agara Scholarship Foundation. As an entrepreneur, I have used my contacts in Nigeria and outside the country to attract development programmes and projects to our state. I have partnered and supported our leaders in government at various levels to improve the living conditions of our people. I did these because I love my state and I pledge on my honour, to continue to do this and even much more”.
Furthermore, he said he will come up with programmes and projects that will create jobs and employ thousands of youths and women, adding that in these plethora of jobs opportunities that Cross Riverians would not be left behind.
He added that if elected he would be a strong voice for the entire cross Riverians, to engage the federal government and international community towards accelerated development of the state.
He pointed out that he has developed a 5-point development and reconstruction agenda that will focus on the following areas; agriculture, tourism, social engineering, security, peace and unity, research and development.
“I have developed a 5-point development and reconstruction agenda that will guide my activities once I have your approval to get into office as your next governor. My focus will be in these areas: agriculture, tourism, social engineering, security, peace and unity, research and development.
On agriculture, he said, “This will form the fulcrum of my people-oriented government. I have a well thought-out plan to re-invent and re-calibrate agricultural architecture in this state. As a private citizen, I have been able to work in partnership with the current state government and will continue to collaborate with stakeholders towards the promotion of agro based projects. For example, I was privileged to be involved in the design and construction of two of such mega state government owned projects-the rice processing factory in Ogoja as well as the cocoa processing factory in Ikom, both of which are ready for commissioning and commencement of production activities any time soon.
“I am glad to also inform you that I have used my contacts and connections to attract a mega agro industrial processing project to our state. It is called Special Agro Processing Zone(SAPZ), a federal and states government and African Development Bank programme, which is also supported by other financial institutions like the Islamic Bank and the International Funds for Agricultural Development(IFAD). For a clearer understanding, let me inform you that this same project is approved to be sited in all the six geo-political zones in the country. Through my efforts, our state was approved as the location for the south-south region. Again, I ensured that it is located in Ikom because it is central to all the three senatorial districts of the state. It is basically intended to add value to the farm products of our people and by implication, put more money into the pocket of these farmers.
“It is common knowledge that most of the farm products-banana, cassava, plantain, yam et cetera-are perishable. If they are not sold by the farmers within a particular time, all their efforts become wasted because their farm yields would have gone bad and become totally useless. The SAPZ is therefore to mitigate this type of losses. This is my dream of a production economy and that is what you will see in our state when you give me the mandate to become your governor.
For the avoidance of doubt, let me restate that this project which is government enabled but private sector driven, will boost development of agro business in our state, generate employment for our people and give life to our economy. I call it the game changer because of the impact it will make in the pockets and bank accounts of the people of Cross River State.
” I invested personal funds into making sure that this project is located in our state because I know that once it takes off, our children will gain employment directly and indirectly, while the farmers from Cross River and beyond will be able to process all their farm products and make so much money from there. Cross River will boom. Power supply, IT, research and development facilities that are coming with the project will give life to this state. There can’t be a better time to be a Cross Riverian”, he stated.
On tourism,Chief Agara said, ” A special attention will be paid to this sector and deliberate efforts will be made to ensure that the world connects with our state. Of course you know that we have all the attractions. I can assure you that through some of the underlisted and many other strategies, the gains from tourism will sustain this state and put food on the table of our people. With your support, I will reinvigorate the Calabar Carnival, Leboku & other festivals in the state tourism calendar, create a corridor for entertainment between Cross River and Akwa Ibom through the deployment of cruise boats for traditional boat regattas, cuisines and cultural displays, ensure a conducive environment to encourage these initiatives and ensure that they are government enabled but private sector driven. Also, encourage a deliberate policy to transfer ownership to Cross River indigenes, give more than a passing attention to the Obudu Ranch Resort and midwife the birth of many more of such resorts, develop a sustainable power supply system for the ranch and seek the involvement and use of experts and consultants as a way of achieving international best practice.
On Social engineering, the APC gubernatorial aspirant said he will ensure that Cross Rivers state has at least two tertiary health facilities in all the three senatorial districts, strengthen the infrastructure in the existing general hospitals in the state, create and sustain an effective linkage system for the state health care chain.
On education, he promised to create dedicated special schools to cater for specialized education in Science, Agriculture and Information Technology across the three senatorial districts to make them centers of excellence, build a state of the art IT Center in the state to guarantee proper grooming of our children in information technology knowledge for the citizenry,
He also promised to create a highly functional government enabled but private sector driven transportation system for the state, design and develop a modern logistics service center in designated towns to facilitate an effective transport system, provide enablement for the procurement of coaches and buses to sustain a functional system.
On sport development, Chief Agara, said a special attention will be given to sports development through full renovation of Calabar sports stadium in line with modern realities, rejuvenation of the game of football by strengthening the Calabar Rovers, Pelican Stars, Black Cats of Ogoja and Crains of Ikom, among others.
*Reintroduction and enhancement of schools sports activities.
On security, peace and unity, he said, “I am aware that without peace and security, whatever we achieve can be wiped off in a single day. In any case, I am aware and very conscious of the fact that the primary duty of a government is to protect the citizens. Accordingly, I will secure the state by creating and Sustaining a responsive and responsible relationship with security institutions in the state, develop a mechanism to seriously address inter and intra communal crisis for sustainable peace across the state and work towards erecting a functional security architecture for the state.
On research and development, Agara said, “In this area, I am committed to doing the following, and more:*Design and develop a world class research and development center to support government programmes and projects in Agriculture, IT, Quality Assurance, Quality control and other sectors, create and sustain a linkage system for all government programs with the research and development center”.