Governorship candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Amb. Wilfred Bonse, has said that Cross Riverians should expect nothing short of a new deal under the NNPP if elected governor in 2023.
Bonse who hails from Boki local government area reeled out his plans on Wednesday to some journalists in Calabar on what he intends to do differently to put Cross River on the path of sustainable development.
The NNPP flag bearer revealed that he had in the past attracted a 200 million dollar agricultural grant from the Mexican government, but it was however scuttled by the corruptive disposition of Cross River government officials. He said if he could do that as a private citizen, he was sure of doing even more if given the mandate as governor.
“Two years ago, I was approached by the representatives of the government of Mexico towards securing for this state, my state, a 200 million dollar agro industrial grant and because I am a Cross Riverian, I had hoped that we could sweet tongued them into releasing it to Cross River State at that time, unfortunately it didn’t worked that way. They declined because they didn’t feel confident that it will be executed to the later. We have friends who have done similar things across other parts of the world.”
While identifying direct foreign investment as cardinal to the development of a Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) disadvantaged and debt ridden state like Cross River, the NNPP candidate said his government when inaugurated would immediately incentivize willing investors with extraordinary tax holidays in order to sustain DFI inflows.
He said adequate laws would be enacted to give investors confidence on the continuity of their investments whenever there is a change in government, while also adding that effective security that is technology driven would be set up at the community level to guarantee general safety for everyone in the state.
“We are talking of direct foreign investment because the truth is this, any state, Cross River especially, that is wallowing in a very pungent level of debt, that thinks to survive on the money from the center, is simply not ready to grow. The only way you can actually do the things we claim we can do is by bringing direct foreign investment into the state. It’s no rocket science. Direct foreign investment comes on two legs: the goodwill of whoever is in the position to attract the direct foreign investment; the comfort that you give to the investors that their investments are safe. Just that.
“The comfort can be subdivided into other areas: laws are the first point. When you make the appropriate legislation that gives them the confidence that any other government after you will, for instance, not sit on their resources and waste all the time they have spent in trying to make sure that some things happen within that time. That’s just one aspect of what legislation can do.
“Also, the enabling environment within the environment that guarantees their physical and personal safety, both to themselves as well as to their physical infrastructure. These two things we will carry them on our shoulders. Anybody who really has the state at heart can find things… Let me tell you, there’s no local government around the 18 local governments of the state that does not have sufficient raw material to set up an industrial hub of an international standard which will create jobs, better our economy, accentuate our position on that radar of visibility.
“I’m not simply talking of the same usual creation of companies. Let me just give you an instance. Let’s say you want to build something for cocoa and just keep it there and it’s struggling. I’m talking of something that can make maximum use of the EPZ.”
On how he would bring the Calabar port to life to complement the development drive of his administration, Bonse said, “This particular Port here has been concessioned to one very big northern politician and he’s sitting on it, joyfully so in a state of deadness that it is in.
“This is one of the first ports in Nigeria. We hear for instance that it needs to be dredged. If the government doesn’t have the money to dredge it there are ways of making it. There are institutions, bodies that will gladly take over and turn this port to one of the most modern ports in the world. It’s just for a BOT concession agreement. And how does that work to favour you? They use your labour, they bring in their money and share profits with you and eventually they turn it over to you. So it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Speaking further Bonse said having worked as a consultant for the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission for some years, he was therefore no stranger to the rudiments of development finance and revenue generation, which he expressed the willingness to bring his wealth of experience to bear in moving the state forward.
“I’m a consultant. I consult for the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission. That comes with some heavy baggage of experience. I decided to take this foray into politics basically to rescue the state. When I say rescue the state I choose my words very carefully. This is the only state I have. I am a Cross Riverian front and back. I’m fortunate to have both parents from Cross River.
“I am here to play my part, to offer my service to the people of Cross River State towards giving them what I think they deserve. Cross River deserves better than what we have. We have been served the very bad end of the stick for too long.”
He, however, regretted that Cross Riverians were wallowing in abject poverty even in the midst of abundant resources. This he attributed to the failure of governance in the state.
“This is a paradise city, but I don’t see any paradise. This is a state, without stressing the imagination, should have been ranked among the highest in the country.
“We have structures that are totally moribund. We have institutions which should have been active now, but they are more or less comatose. Our people are wallowing in so much poverty with all the resources that the state has. I answered the call to step up to the plate and give Cross Riverians a new deal under the New Nigeria Peoples Party.”