French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jerome Pasqùier, has assured of his country’s readiness to collaborate with Cross River State government in developing its economy and other critical infrastructure in the state.

Giving the assurance shortly after an inspection of some key projects across the state, Pasquier expressed excitement at the level of industrialization so far undertaken by the Governor, Ben Ayade.

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The Ambassador who said his two-day visit to the state was the outcome of several interactions on phone and in person in Abuja, disclosed that “we have already had several meetings on phone and in person in Abuja, but of course it is not compared to being here in the state and seeing things for myself.”

He expressed his pleasure at being in the state “with my economic councilor because I think we have quite a lot of economic issues to discuss because we want to strengthen the French economic relationship with Nigeria and I believe that Cross River is one of the states that has big projects to bring this relationship to life.”

Promising to get French companies on board in the development of the state following presentations by the various MDAs at the conference centre of the Obudu Ranch Resort, Pasquier said: “We are confident we can get French companies involved in the development of Cross River State.

“We have already discussed that with the governor and we will provide him with names of companies that are interested in coming here because there is plenty of work to be done that can be beneficial to both parties as well as the locals because ultimately this partnership will create jobs for the people.”

Promising to return to the state very soon, following the inspection of ongoing construction work at the international Cargo airport, British/Canadian and the specialist hospital all located in Obudu Council Area, Ambassador Pasquier disclosed that “We have discussed a lot of issues and from my understanding, there are many more projects which present an opportunity for me to come back very soon. But in the past two days, we have seen so many viable projects.

“We have taken record of all these projects and we will provide you contact with French companies with the idea to develop and create business opportunities in Cross River. And I hope we will deliver on this and very soon we will come back to commission projects in Cross River.”

Expressing happiness with the visit of the French Ambassador, Governor Ayade quipped: “I feel very happy. Ambassador Pasquier is a man of high character and honour and integrity and we have been talking about this visit for quite sometime but due to bad weather, it had not been possible.”

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On the economic spinoff from the visit of the Ambassador, Ayade voiced his optimism, noting that “I am sure that the economic benefits of this visit and the collaboration we intend to put together will be successful . We look forward to a very wonderful two-day session with the French Ambassador.”

The governor also disclosed that “we have a very special relationship with the French Ambassador. We know he is very proactive and committed. we also know the French government has a strong understanding that they have focused so much on the francophone countries and they needed to diversify into the anglophone countries.

“So we are cashing in on that to create an opportunity for us a sub-national to relate directly with the Ambassador and I believe that it will be fruitful at the end of the day.”