UYO— COMMISSIONER for Works, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Ephraim Inyang, has said that some persons have embarked on a smear campaign against the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, because he refused their insatiable plan to continue looting the state to the detriment of the people.
He said it was surprising that despite turning the state into a massive construction site in the past five months with money released for some abandoned projects and works ongoing to turn Eket to a model city, some people could still describe Udom as a non-performing governor.
Inyang, in this interview with Niger Delta Voice, exposed the intrigues, saying that even President Muhammadu Buhari knows that Governor Emmanuel is working.
There are widespread rumours that all the projects that government has been boasting of are mere speculations and propaganda.
It is a difficult thing to realize that even when people see things practically, they still deny the obvious. If they are saying that Governor Udom Emmanuel has not started doing anything, it means that something is wrong somewhere.
But let us take it from this perspective. You will agree with me that when this administration came on board on May 29, contractors had abandoned some of the previously-awarded contracts because of paucity of funds. I will mention three of them that this government, on coming on board, has re-awarded.
On the Eket/Ibeno Road, work had stopped completely but Governor Emmanuel released funds by June to CCECC for the Eket-Ibeno Road and ever since, he has consistently, on monthly basis, given them money.
That was what gave me the audacity to go to Ibeno and demand that the contractor complete the project latest June 2016. I will be going back to Ibeno to see the pace of work on November 26. So if you are willing, you will go with me to Ibeno to go and see the level of work, where work had stopped, but is now near completion.
As I speak, we had issues with the relocation of poles on that road and we had to reassign someone to take out those poles to ensure completion of the job. I am saying publicly that we are expecting CCECC to deliver that job in June 2016.
They left Etinan/Eket Road untreated due to paucity of funds but Emmanuel reactivated that job and CCECC has gone back to site. I guarantee you that if you drive through that road today, you will see CCECC back on site, working.
If you go to East-West Road, where HAMACON is working in Oruk Anam Local Government Area to connect East-West Road through Oruk Anam and Ikot Ibritam, Emmanuel has rejuvenated the abandoned project. They are in two phases. Phase 1 was stopped. The administration of Udom Emmanuel has released money to HAMAKON and they are back on site working.
Coming back home to Eket Remodeling Project, if they said what the governor is embarking on is not true, why did the government pay compensation to people? Will government just wake up and pay compensation to people for doing nothing?
If you go to Eket, from Atabong Bridge to Urua Fiong Etok, all the structures are down. Is government pulling down those structures just for the fun of it? Is it interesting to pull down structures for the fun of it? Therefore, work is ongoing for the remodelling of Eket. The doubting Thomases doubt because they choose to doubt.
If you go to Ikot Udom in Ibiono Local Government, compensation has been paid and VERINI is working. Therefore, the 3.5km road in Ikot Udom in Ibiono Local Government is ongoing, full compensation paid and we expect to take delivery of that project in February 2016.
Talking about Mkpok-Ukat Road, we have paid from zero point through Ukat to where we have the boundary between Ukat and Mkpok, and Hensek Uwem Okoko, a son of this land is working there day and night.
He is taking part of the road from the East-West Road through Secondary School, Ukat to meet at that T-Junction to enter Ukat town.
If they say all these are façade, would government be doing façade with that level of work that is going on there? As I speak with you, the consultant just left my office. At Tropicanna, we are taking care of the flood situation between Four Lanes/ Two Lanes through Nsikak Eduok Avenue to the front of Tropicanna. We plan to link up with the back to go to Obot Idim. What was remaining to pay for crops is N2,164,000 and government has approved it. It has paid for other structures and Julius Berger is working on that site.
If they say the package for Uyo/Etinan, Etinan/Ndon Eyo is also a facade, when we finish this interview, you will see the final draft of the agreement between Akwa Ibom State Government and Julius Berger.
The Ministry of Justice just sent it and the Managing Director of Julius Berger will be in my office at the end of this interview to pick up his copy to move to site. WISHTINO had already moved to site on Etinan/Ndon Eyo Road and as we speak, we are at the final stages of getting ready to go and pay compensation to the Estate valuers on Etinan/Ndon Eyo Road. Uwmedimo Billy is on that road.
On Uyo/Etinan in Isua Akpaso, too. These are valuers of repute, so, when people say they doubt what government is doing, I believe that it is by choice. But if it is in practical terms of what is on ground, there is sufficient documentary evidence for anybody to be convinced that this governor means well and is working very hard and I will say without fear of contradiction that by 9p.m., 10p.m., I am in this office.
Would it be just for fun for people to see or is it because of the scope of work that we are doing to be able to meet the expectations of the Akwa Ibom people?
As if that was not enough, last week Friday, I was in Nsit Atai with Mark Esset, the member representing Nsit Atai in the state House of Assembly with Otuekong Raphael Bassey, their political leader to inspect the Idiaba Road to Nnung Udoe.
Will that also be a façade?
It is so overwhelming that we are doing so much but a few people have just chosen to blackmail the governor of Akwa Ibom State. A few days ago, we saw some sponsored stories that Udom Emmanuel is one of the non-performing governors. I want to put it on record that even the President of Nigeria knows that Udom Emmanuel is one of the most focused governors. So, I do not know the parameters through which those people arrived at their data or conclusions.
However, I want to put it on record that with the level of funding that we are getting, government is committed to the level of work that we are doing currently. Sometimes, I wonder where he will get all the monies from when he says he will create wealth.
All those roads I have mentioned, except for the Nsit Atai Road that the drawing is ongoing, have been fully mobilized. At least, I have listed not less than eight roads. We have mobilized for the Ikot Usop Road in Mkpat Enin; BENEX Engineering is handling the job.
We had problem with the valuer we sent there; he came out with figures that did not come across well and this government is about transparency. I rejected those figures and demanded that we physically show up for him to convince me why those bush tracks to the village should have those figures and I tell you now, those figures have dropped by more than 80 percent and by next week, Tuesday, we are going to move in to pay.
I say without any fear of contradiction to the people complaining about compensation payment in Akwa Ibom that His Excellency’s only issue was that he did not want things done the traditional way at exorbitant cost to the people of Akwa Ibom.
He simply wanted a trend that would bring down the cost of doing business and he has saved Akwa Ibom lots and lots of money in terms of the value for compensation. Most of the earlier values brought were on the high side and he decided to use other consultants and they came forward and their figures were more realistic and with documented evidence.
Therefore, with all due respect to everyone, I believe that those, who probably would have benefited from the exorbitant cost, are the ones busy carrying the blackmail story around.
Issue of transparency
Government is determined to be transparent in the interest of Akwa Ibom people. Akwa Ibom people must have the benefit of having government run at a realistic cost.
Therefore, if someone was doing something at N20, this government has come forward to say let this thing be done at a more realistic cost and more transparently and some people are now trying to blackmail the governor; it will not work, it will not stand because the people will see through these facts.
Consequently, as we sit here today, the compensation payment issue is transparent and if anyone has any data, not the general blanket blackmail, let him or her come with the substance.
One of the media houses said there was an issue of fraud in the payment of compensation and that my humble self, Ephraim Inyang, has a case to answer. I called a top officer there and said sir, if you publish those things, I have the right to take you to court because it is assassination of my character that I have taken time to build.
A few people stepped in and said no, it should not be so. I am sorry, it is wrong because there is no element of truth that your property is undervalued.
Government does not pay for land, it pays for only the structures that are on the land. Now, if you bought land for N20 million and built a N5 million house, when government shows up, it will pay compensation for the N5 million house, not on the N20 million land that you bought.
That is the confusion of a whole lot of people. If you buy land for N50million to build a filling station, when government comes, it will give you the opportunity to remove the underground tanks and pumps. What government is going to pay is for that small bungalow or story building. Government is not going to pay for the underground tanks; government is not going to pay for the pumps that you have removed.
So government simply pay for the block work, the ceiling, the roof of the bungalow and we all know that if a bungalow is N5m and you say you built it with N25m, it is the same Akwa-Ibom people that would say how can a bungalow be N25m?