By Our Reporter
Governor Bassey Otu of Cross River has called for closer diplomatic ties between Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon.
The Governor made the call when he played host to the Consuls General of both countries in Calabar on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Speaking when he received the Consul General of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, His Excellency Iideonso Ondo Mchama, Governor Otu disclosed that plans are underway for the commencement of flight operations as well as marine transportation to the Republic.
“We are happy to receive you on behalf of all Cross Riverians. I believe that your main aim is for us to build stronger ties with the Republic of Equatorial Guinea,” he said.
Stressing the need for aviation and maritime transportation between both countries through Cross River state, the Governor stated that “at the moment, there are a lot of gaps we should be able to fill that would be mutually beneficial.
“We are planning to get some international flights that would be flying direct from Calabar to Equatorial Guinea. I believe it will do our commerce a lot of good.
“Statistically, Nigerians are the highest number of immigrants in Equatorial Guinea; and flying through Calabar to Equatorial Guinea is about 20-25 minutes, unlike other longer routes.
“The marine economy is also something that is majorly lacking. And what we need is a vessel that would convey cargo between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea directly. And there is a lot of cargo movement between these two countries.”
Speaking earlier, the Equatorial Guinea envoy, Mr Mchama, said the visit was to identify with the Cross State Government for its hospitality and how to strengthen the relationship between his country, Nigeria and Cross River in particular.
Also, Governor Otu hosted His Excellency Patrice Onana, Consul General of Cameroon for the South-South, South East and Benue State, on Thursday, 8 February 2024.
The Governor noted that Nigeria and Cameroon have had a long long-standing relationship and there was a need to strengthen it in the face of security threats that have undermined trade and commerce between both countries.
He said the state was keen on boosting security, especially along its maritime corridor, welcoming a meeting of the Nigeria/Cameroon Mixed Commission with his counterpart across the border.
Governor Otu assured his guest that Nigeria will not harbour separatist elements in the country, but Cameroon must work hard on border control.
Delivering his message at the visit, the Consul-General, Patrice Onana, noted that Governor Otu’s leadership has been exemplary as the Calabar, the State Capital, was showing signs of progress, hinting at his desire to continue in the state.
He commended the Cross River State Government for hosting over 60,000 Cameroonian refugees following the crisis in two of its 10 provinces.
The Consul-General stressed that the visit is to maintain good collaboration with the State, assuring that the peaceable nature of Cross Riverians will not be abused.
The Envoy also maintained that the long maritime border between both countries requires robust security collaboration to safeguard and boost trade and business.