Chief Nduese Essien, former minister of lands and housing, had before then been the leader of the South-South Caucus in the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2007.
He is presently the leader of the PDP in Eket Senatorial District. In this interview, the normally reserved gentleman ventilates what he asserts as the anger and disappointment of Akwa Ibom people with the defection of Senator Godswill Akpabio.
By Chioma Onuegbu
There are speculations that Akwa Ibom is now going to be APC, do you agree with this?
Well to some extent what happened at the time he left, people thought that he was influential in Akwa Ibom. Grant it to him, he was influential, but since then, his popularity has waned.
Right now the party in Akwa Ibom is even happy that he left and a lot of people who are in the other party are beginning to return to the PDP.
There are allegations among APC Stakeholders that this governor has not performed, how to you react to this?
I think that is mere propaganda to bring down the governor and his government. The governor was handicapped initially by what he found on ground. The state was heavily indebted and he has to try to find a way of clearing this debt before embarking on his own projects, and he had to do this without having to hurt the person that brought him into office. So all along, for the past three years he has been trying to play this balancing act of trying to create projects without hurting the person that brought him into office. Now that the obstacle has moved, he is free.
The governor has done a lot of projects all over the state beginning from road development. He has done roads in all three senatorial districts. He has also started some industrial projects, he has made a lot of impact in the health sector by trying to revive several major hospitals in the state.
He has also provided avenues for the youths to come on stream to create a life for themselves. So whoever is trying to run him down is doing so with the intention that they can succeed so that the opposition can come into power.
But unfortunately, the opposition in Akwa Ibom was virtually non-existent before Akpabio joined the APC and it was believed that he will be able to beef up the opposition strength, but because of the character he brought into APC, the party has even dwindled to a lower level in Akwa Ibom.
And there is no way the APC can win the governorship in Akwa Ibom because of the belief of the people here that PDP is the best for them; that is why they call it a religion in Akwa Ibom.
It is claimed that the governor failed to complete the Tropicana, the Sheraton Hotel, the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road. Are these not failures on his part?
Well people who are told that he failed to complete this or that will think that he deliberately did so. Like I have said earlier the governor was confronted with series of debt. In the case of Tropicana, Tropicana was commissioned at the point that it was not even completed. Tropicana was awarded for N33 billion at the time it was awarded, but by the time that Akpabio left we understand that they had already put in more than N180 billion, yet it was still uncompleted.
In the case of the Four-Point by Sheraton, so much money was spent, the building was commissioned as a hotel while the facilities to run the hotel were not even there. So this governor was expected to come and hurriedly rush, complete the place and commission it. At the point of commissioning they had to go and bring in services from Le Meridie n in Uyo. Food and other services were brought from Le Meridiem for commissioning which shows that the place was not ready at all.
So, most of those big projects were not economically viable. So the new government had to pay off debts in all those places before getting them to function. Take for example, the Specialist hospital. That was a project that could have been self sustaining. But because of the agreement that was entered with the management, whatever revenue was earned was not paid to government, but government was expected to continue to pump in money for the running of the place indefinitely.
Nobody runs a business that way. So that is why all those projects could not function.