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The Cross River governor, Ben Ayade, has created a ministry of foreign affairs in the state.

The new ministry was announced on Tuesday when Mr Ayade swore-in 39 commissioners in Calabar.

Apart from foreign affairs, Mr Ayade also created ministry of robotics and artificial intelligence, ministry of humanity and social welfare, and ministry of grants and economic empowerment.

Other new ministries are ministry of establishment and payroll, ministry of special duties, ministry of aviation, ministry of commerce, ministry of sports and cinematography.

Among the already existing ministries in the state are ministry of training and doctoring, ministry of infrastructure, ministry of rural transformation, ministry of climate change, and ministry of new cities development.

PREMIUM TIMES asked the state government why the creation of a ministry for foreign affairs which is under the exclusive list of the federal government.

Asu Okang, the commissioner for information in the state, told PREMIUM TIMES, Thursday, that the job of the new ministry is to harness foreign investment opportunities for Cross River.

“The governor has made quite a number of foreign trips in the last four years, there were some encumbrances because there were other engagements, sometimes more than five functions in a particular state of visitation.

“It became very important that the governor needed another person who would speak of the government perspective and engage investors as it were at any point in time, either with the governor or alone,” Mr Okang said.

On foreign affairs being an item under the exclusive list of the federal government, Mr Okang said “Cross River is an independent state of its own under the federation. Are you saying a state does not have the right to source for foreign investors for its own state?

“How exclusive is exclusive? What is exclusive about foreign affairs?” he added.

Governor Ayade wanted to create a ministry of defence and internal securities but dropped the idea when the issue of the exclusive list came up, the commissioner said.

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“Every state is independent enough to be able to drive its own agenda as a state,” he said.

The commissioner said the ministry of robotics and artificial intelligence is just another name for science and technology.

“The governor in his wisdom refused to call it science and technology because it would be limiting the real essence and the intent of the creation of that ministry.

“Artificial intelligence as a major issue is what the state is leveraging on, we have young people who are very innovative in our state who are doing a lot but are not seen. If you now call it science and technology, it will completely be a stereotype. So to run away from the stereotype of science and technology which is not delivering, we want to be specific in our mandate.”

Having a ministry for climate change gives the impression that the governor is passionate about the climate but building a super highway through the state’s forest somehow contradicts this, PREMIUM TIMES told Mr Okang.

“We have planted over one million new trees in the course of building the super highway,” he responded.

The commissioner said “trees are made for mankind and not mankind for the trees”.

“We cannot say because we are fighting global warming we cannot create infrastructure for our people,” he added.


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