Cross River State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade, at the weekend handed over an ultra modern housing estate comprising 52 units to displaced Bakassi indigenes including widows.
The fully furnished 2-bedroom housing units is a reprieve to the refugees who have for almost two decades been living in squalor at a primary school in Akpabuyo Council Area of the state.
Speaking at the event, Governor Ayade expressed delight at the completion of the housing scheme and subsequent delivery to the displaced persons, adding that their suffering has always tugged at his heart.
His words :”My first tears for the people of Bakassi was when I was a senator on the floor of the Nigerian Senate which prompted me to push for a bill for the establishment of social housing and the making of provision of housing a right.
“I have a sense of fulfillment to see my sons, my aunties, my mothers and fathers who lived in a clustered accomodation in a primary school with mosquitoes feasting on them now moving into their new homes.
The governor decried the loss of the peninsula, saying the ceding did not follow internationally prescribed process.
Ayade said : “Today is not just about the joy to the people of Bakassi, it is the supremacy of the governance of a sensitive people over the failure of the federal government to be responsible for the pain of the people of Bakassi.
The ceding of Bakassi did not follow any legal authority.It is inconsistent with the provisions of our constitution because the constitution is very clear that for you to cede any territory of Nigeria you must have a proper plebiscite.
“You must have the domestication of such ceding and ratified by the National Assembly. Until you do so whatever you have done is null and void,” he said
The governor stated that by resettling the returnees in decent houses, their misery has come to an end.
Speaking further, he announced the donation of N50million and other economic incentives to them to enable them earn a living.
“This is the first social housing scheme in Nigeria in absolute terms where the ownership is in perpetuity, where the property is yours to keep forever.
“But today I am going to assure you that we have acquired boats which are by the water side to enable you do fishing for those who can fish.
“We have also made provisions for a take off grant of N50million to support all of you who live here who want to start small businesses. And the good news here is that I have no elections to run so you can see clearly this is not politics, it is from my heart,” he said.
Governor Ayade appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfil his campaign promises to the Bakassi people whom he said have suffered untold neglects in the last 18 years.