In a bid to position the state as an investment hub in terms of service delivery, the Cross River State Government has set up a state-of-the-art survey and town planning department with a status of an extra-ministerial outfit.
Surveyor-General of the state, Mr. Eyo Oboko Oku, who disclosed this in Calabar yesterday, said, ?I came in here to revamp, reform and transform the survey department into a reputed extra-ministerial department, an MDA that can function like any other 21st century survey office globally.?
He further disclosed that ?the government decided to carve out this department from Ministry of Lands so that we can cut off unnecessary bureaucratic bottle neck to enable us render services to the public and meet up demands of the state. In fact, by law, we were supposed to be a stand-alone department, following the ratification by the state exco in November 2013.?
Oku maintained that ?with the installation of basic modern machineries in the office, access to land in the state for whatever purpose is now done in record time with the collaboration of Geographic Information Agency (GIA)  which is now up to it billings.?
According to Oku, ?Geo-special information is hinged on geo-special data which is basically data acquired by the survey office that gives the agency the back bone to ride on and render  the needed specialized services to the citizenry.?
The Surveyor-General further stressed: ?Since the reform process started, revenue profile of the department has increased tremendously and the governor now signs an average of 30 Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) monthly as against the old practice of once in a while . We have made land acquisition easy and less cumbersome to investors.?
Oku said as a result of this, ?it has now placed Cross River as one of the fifth most accessible states by investors and donor partners in the country.?
?I dare say that through this reform, I?m proud to announce that we now have an authentic Calabar streets map which was recently launched by government under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative. What we put in there was a wet equity by stamping our authority on it, and I can assure you that government will derive revenue from its sales. That?s the beauty of the new face of this MDA. As you are aware, in every economy, the only way you can progress is if your maps are okay and this office has achieved that for the state.? He pointed.
Mr. Eyo Oku averred that ?When we came on board, what we did first was to change the aesthetic of the office and made it look like a world class business outfit. Because when you want to change people`s mindset, you start with the environment. I had to make my staff believe that they were in a working environment so we embarked on reorientation and physical change of the environment and today, we have put in place a conducive environment.
?As we speak, this MDA has been approved as the pilot for civil service reform in the state by the governor. for me, civil service reform is not about coming to work early but providing the staff with the right tools to work with and in a conducive environment and with the right motivation.?
According to him, ?In addition, the Presidential Technical Committee on Land Reforms, was in the state for an awareness campaign partnership with other relevant agencies to assist Nigerians in acquiring C of O on their lands even in the remotest parts of the country with the view to alleviating poverty. Giving peasant farmers opportunity to add value and tittle to their landed property to enable them access facilities and grow their businesses.?
While decrying paucity of fund as a major challenge in expanding their services, Oku raised the hope that the mechanism put in place when fully embraced by relevant stakeholders, will unlock lands for investment in the state as well as enable government have clear data of its landed property once they are captured in the Geographic Information System.


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