Determined to boost the revenue base of the state as well as decouple it from its over dependence on federal allocation, the Cross River State Government has concluded plans to float an airline as well as a shipping line.
Speaking with journalists in Calabar, Governor Ben Ayade said the state was taking full advantage of its huge tourism potential and vast maritime resources by going into both airline and maritime services.
The governor noted that while Cally Air is expected to transport tourists from all over Nigeria to the beautiful tourist sites doted across the length and breadth of the state, particularly the famous Obudu Ranch Resort, the shipping line would concentrate primarily on cargo services, especially along the shoreline of the Gulf of Guinea.
Ayade maintained that “Cross River State is only taking full advantage of its huge maritime resources by focusing on maritime trading particularly, cabotage services by providing merchant vessels that will ply the Gulf of Guinea and provide services to countries along this shoreline.”
Offering further insights, the governor disclosed that “in our 2017 budget, there is a provision for a merchant vessel that will provide maritime businesses with Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroun and the entire stretch of the shoreline. There is another provision for Wharf landing and other support services. So, we are also going to have a fabrication yard and other allied maritime services as we refocus on broadening the maritime sector in the state.”
Justifying government’s venturing into maritime services, Ayade reasoned: “With the maritime trade and connectivity along the region, we are confident that the return on this investment will definitely be huge and contribute immensely to our budget of infinite transposition.”
According to him, “Our vessels are already berthing in Calabar as part of investment in 2017 because we are establishing business outlays in some West and Central African countries dealing mostly on petroleum products.”
He also stressed that “because the state is looking at an aggregate of driving an industrialised, business-like module for governance, soon, you will see us go into full time trading and that is why in our budget, we have budgeted about N14 billion to expand investment in this direction to The Gambia.”
On whether the state has the capacity to handle the huge investments, Ayade said: “I know that It is a very delicate combination of public/private service administration structure running it from a private business perspective, we will succeed because all this is to create a new revenue base that will allow us to go into social infrastructure by 2018, knowing consciously that our focus is on diversification of the income base of the state.”