By; VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Cross River State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade, has commissioned an ultramodern toothpick factory at Ekori, Yarkurr Local Government Area of the state.
The state-of-the-art factory is capable of producing 31 million toothpicks in a day.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, Ayade disclosed that his administration was “trying to create an economy that will radically alter the economic landscape of the state.
“The country does not just change by mere promulgation of policy, the country changes by systematic, active but very visionary step by step approach towards the realisation of a set objectives”.According to him, “one of the set objectives is to move Cross River State from third world to first world under my eight years in office”.
The governor explained that “the Ministry of Agriculture in 2016 decried an average of 18million dollars spent annually importing toothpicks into Nigeria, hence the federal government put toothpicks importation under the dollar access prohibition list, which means it cannot give you dollars if you intend to import toothpick, so we decided to take advantage of the policy to set up this factory”.
Continuing, Ayade disclosed that only Cross River has such a factory as a state owned project with one hundred per cent management by indigenes of the state while creating jobs for the teeming unemployed men and women.
While urging indigenes of the area to go into massive commercial cultivation of bamboo which is the raw material for toothpicks, the governor said: “It has a short gestation period that is why it belongs to the grass family and it grows veraciously with wide growth”.
Ayade directed, “cultivate enough bamboo trees, we can produce 31 million toothpicks in a day, that is lots of business and lots of money with massive turnover”.
General Manager of the company, Dr Ignatius Atsu, earlier disclosed that “the factory, one of the many factories conceived by the Ayade administration produces the finest, strongest, organic and beautiful toothpicks which has brought significant economic value, creating wealth and introducing socioeconomic development in the area”.
He added that the company which has injected several millions of naira into the economy shares the vision to produce a world class toothpick that would meet consumers’ demand at a minimal cost.
At the palace of the Obol of Ekori where the governor stopped over for Royal blessings before the official commissioning ceremony, the Royal father, Obol Donatus Ibor Ofem, lauded Ayade for his industrialization drive spread across the state, a record, the Obol said, “no governor had ever beaten over the years”.
Obol Ofem intimated that “since 1611 when Ekori came into existence, no governor has ever visited this palace except Ayade,” explaining further that, “Ayade’s feat in citing a factory in the area as well as the offer of appointments to our sons and daughters has tremendously helped to put food on our tables while reducing the rate of crime”.
The monarch who was at the ceremony said thus of Ayade: “This is the first industry in Yarkurr. We are happy with Ayade, we have had governors but this one is too much.”
On the directive by the governor for the indigenes to go into massive cultivation of bamboo, Obol Eteng said:”We have much bamboo, we used to burn them but now we will bring them here to sell, the economy will improve, youths restiveness will be put in check and more of our children will be employed”.