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Roads: Senators quarrel over alleged N1.7bn diversion

By Emmanuel Aziken
Controversy over the alleged diversion of N1.7 billion meant for the rehabilitation of federal roads in Cross River State from the 2009 budget has pitched the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Iyiola Omisore, against National Assembly members from the state.

Against accusations of unilateral diversion of the fund, Omisore, yesterday, stoutly defended his committee’s action, saying the senators were merely applying tactics to deceive their constituencies.

Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw, Chairman of the Cross River State National Assembly Caucus, had at a town hall meeting in Calabar last Tuesday, reportedly accused the committee of diverting the fund meant for the rehabilitation of Calabar–Itu and Calabar–Ikom roads.

But, in a telephone interview yesterday, Omisore said:“I am not aware of that.Diverted to where?

When I was in Calabar for the Second Inclusive national budgeting workshop you heard what the governor said, that Cross River State benefited more than any other state in this year’s budget. All that is just stories, they are just defensive tactics to deceive them.’’

Noting the appreciation of Governor Lieyl Imoke of the Governor’s efforts, he said:

”He was showing appreciation to us that for the first time and ever that they are benefiting, that they don’t have money from oil that it is only the money from the National Assembly that they are getting.’’

Senator Ewa-Henshaw had at a town hall meeting last Tuesday was quoted as upbraiding the Omisore led committee for diverting the funds meant for the rehabilitation of federal roads in the State.

He had said:

“As the Chairman of the Cross River State House of Assembly Caucus, we came together, all of us in both houses and agreed that we would take all our N1.7bn and put it on Calabar – Itu and Calabar – Ikom roads so that the people can have access to Calabar and the rest of the State.

“We finished the budget and handed it over to the committee on Appropriation. When it goes there, it is outside your control. The people in charge of the committee, one way or the  other, took the money that we as a caucus had agreed to put on roads and applied it elsewhere.”


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