Cross River highway project threatens over N300b donor funds to Nigeria
Nigeria may lose about $1 billion (over N300 billion) grant from the United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) and others if the proposed 260-kilometre super highway project of Cross River State is executed . The planned construction, environmentalists feared would destroy virgin vegetation and forest along the road route.
The state government had on January 22, 2016 revoked the Certificate of Occupancy of the land along the highway from Esighi, Bakassi Local Government Council to Bekwarra Local Government Council. This covers a distance of 260 kilometres approximately and having an offset of 200 metres on either side of the centre line of the road and further 10 kilometres.
The state government’s action has generated concern from many stakeholders, which include the NGO Coalition for Environment (NGOSE), whose objectives, among others, include promoting environmental sustainability through education and community participation and to conducting research on environmental issues.
A member of NGOSE Board of Trustees, Dr. Odigha Odigha told newsmen in Calabar that Nigeria’s plan to access UN-REDD and other programme funds on climate change is in danger due to inconsistent government policies.
According to the environment expert, Nigeria has endorsed a lot of international treaties and domesticated some of them, which include diversity climate, the climate change agreement lately and the UN-REDD programme using Cross River as a pilot.
Odigha maintained that it is only proper and show of integrity that the nation honours the agreement that it has endorsed.
“Cross River State is a pilot site to the REDD programme, which is operational here and as I speak we are at the stage of submitting the REDD strategy and there is a validation going on that will open Nigeria up to accessing some good funds and some other things,” Odigha added.
He explained: “The UN-REDD programme, talking specifically is in its readiness stage. To get to this stage, I know very authoritatively that Nigeria has received $10 million to get ready, held meetings, began to put structures together to monitor the forest. A series of meetings has been holding in Calabar in this regard. Last month, we were privileged to attend the UN-REDD meeting where they are trying to get inputs from the people. When these strategies are constructed, Nigeria can now access a substantial amount of funds.”