Mr. Ephraim Inyang is the Akwa Ibom state Commissioner for Works; in this interview with UDEME UTIP stresses that the administration of Udom Emmanuel is transparency driven and will defend every project embarked on to the letter. Excerts:
There are speculations that all the projects that Government has been boasting of within this administration are mere speculations and propaganda can you point out some of the achievements of this present administration?
It is a difficult thing to realize that even when people see things practically. They still deny the obvious; if they are saying that the Governor has not started doing anything, it means that something is wrong somewhere but let us take it from this perspective; you would agree with me, because I want to be very real that when this administration came on board on May, 29 2015, some of the project awarded by the previous administration were still uncompleted as a result of paucity of funds. I will mention three of them that this administration has rewarded…
Eket/Ibeno Road project, work had stopped completely, his Excellency Mr. Udom Emmanuel came on board in May and by June he had released funds to CCECC on that road and ever since then, he has consistently on monthly bases given them money. That was what gave me the audacity to go to Ibeno to demand that that project be completed latest June 2016. I will be going back to Ibeno to see the speed of work on the 26 of November so if this team is willing, you will go with me to Ibeno to see the spade of work which is nearing completion.
As I speak, we had issues on that road with relocation of poles; we had reassigned someone to take out those poles so that the job will be completed. I am saying publicly that we are expecting CCECC to deliver the job by June 2016 in specific.
Etinan/Eket Road was equally left untreated due to paucity of funds the present administration has reactivated that job, CCECC has gone back to that site and as we speak, money has been released to them to go back to work and I guarantee you that; if you drive through that road today, you will see that CCECC is back on the site and working.
If you go to East/West road where HAMACON is treating in Oruk Anan Local Government, the road is to connect East/West Road through Oruk Anam, through Ikot Ibritam, there are in two phases. Phase one has been given out; work had stopped but as we speak; the administration of Udom Gabriel Emmanuel has released money to HAMAKON and they are back on site working.
If you go to Ikot Udom in Ibiono Local Government, compensation has been paid 100 per cent and VERINI is working. Last night I called him and asked; Mr. Ini, is there any problem? Are you encountering any issue and he said no that the people are cooperating and he is working. So 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 by February 2016.
The Mkpok Ukat Road, from zero point through Ukat, through where we have the boundary between Ukat and Mkpok have been fully paid for and HEMSSEK, is working there day and night. He is taking part of the Road; from East West Road through Secondary School Ukat to meet at the East/West junction to enter Ukat town.
If they are saying all these are façade, will Government be doing façade with that level of work that is going on there?
As I speak with you this morning, the consultant just left my office because at Tropicanna, taking care of the flood situation between Four lane/ Tow lane through Nsikak Eduok Avenue to the front of Tropicanna to link up with the back and to Obot Idim; what was left was N2,144,000 to pay for crops and that has just been approved for him to go and pay and as we are sitting here, the consultant has left to go and pay that amount to the people, which is all that was left in terms of compensation and Julius Berger is working on that site.
If they say that that was also a façade, the package of Uyo/Etinan, Etinan/Ndon Eyo You will see the final draft of the agreement between Akwa Ibom state Government and Julius Berger, the final draft, because it was thorourly done in the interest of the Akwa Ibom people; has just been brought to me from the ministry of Justice and the MD of Julius Berger will be in my office at the end of this interview to pick up his copy and to move to site WISTINO had already move 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. Estate valuers on Etinan/Ndon Eyo Road is Uwmedimo Billy, on Uyo/Etinan is Iua Akpaso.
These are valuers of repute. So when people say they are doubting what Government is doing, I believe that it is by choice. 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 are just choosing to make an attempt to blackmail the Governor of Akwa Ibom state. A few days ago, we saw on the press 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 the country knows that Udom Emmanuel is one of the focused Governors so I don’t know the data, the parameters at which they arrive at their data and conclusions but I want to put it on records that with the level of funding that we are getting; and Government is committed to the level of work that we are doing currently, sometimes I wonder where he will get all the money when he say his job is to create wealth.
Except the Nsit Atai Road that the drawing is ongoing, the rest; all the contractors have been fully mobilized. At least I have listed not less than eight roads. The Ikot Usop Road in Mkpat Enin has been mobilized. BENEX Engineering is handling the job. We had issue with the valuer we sent there; he came out with figures that did not reflect it 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 as I tell you now; those figures have dropped by more that 80 per cent and by next week Tuesday, we are going to move in to pay. I sit here to say without any fear of contradiction that the people that complain of compensation payment in Akwa Ibom; let me put it to the whole world to hear; his Excellency’s only issue was that he did not want things to be done the traditional way at exorbitant cost to the people of Akwa Ibom. He simply wanted a change that would bring down 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 value brought were a little much on the high side and he decided to use other consultants and then they came forward, their figures were more realistic and with documented evidences so with all due respect to everyone, with all modesty, I believe it is those who probably would have benefited from the exorbitant cost that are busy carrying the blackmail story around.
The Government is determined to be transparent for things to be done on the table for the interest of Akwa Ibom people.
A man in Awa came out to say his property is N141m so I asked him sir; did you build an estate? The truth is that this property, by our videoing position was an uncompleted building that was standing by the side of the road when we videoed to road. He failed to understand that the day I took an inventory of that road, I videoed it. So when you rush to do development after that; sorry, it will not be there. When I explained to him; he said that is how it used to be, that we should pay after all Government has money. And I told him no, that we have determined that anything we do in this Government; that is the instruction the Governor has given me as a person; that anything I sign here I should be able to stand in the public and defend it.
Some of the erosion sites that were inspected at the inception of this Government are still begging for attention and some getting even worst; a typical example is the one at Calabar Itu Road , Enen Atai in particular; what is your ministry or the state Government doing about gully erosion in the state?
They are not going to get worst because the Senate committee on works had the state sometime visited most of the states in the South East and South-South and in our state, I happened to have received that team, I think two Fridays ago and on Friday, I personally took them round most of the sites. I took them to Anua hospital, the team was led by the former National chairman of PDP Banabas Gimadie who is now in APC and is in the Senate, I took them to Dominic Utuk, Uyo Village Road, which is almost cutting across the road and eventually we ended up at Calabar Itu road. It was at Enen Atai that he actually promised to put that report across to the Federal Government but in practical terms, we have restored Nigerpet to the site at Dominic Utuk. They have gone back to that site, I was on a visit to that site on Friday, we are mobilizing funds for him because you must not forget that Government is managing funds at an extreme level which is part of the complains but they are back at Dominic Utuk, we are looking at what we could do again at Anua hospital with the little funding available.
As we speak, work has started at the independent hall that almost caved in at Abak and the other entire gully positions like the Calabar Itu Road case; it was the state Government that arrested the situation. The one on Uyo village Road, we are about this time sending a team to that place to see the temporary measures we can do because gully is a little very expensive, unlike roads; you must trace it to the origin and if don’t follow the channel through you will have issue. If you go to Dominic Utuk, about 80 per cent of that job has been done but if we don’t finish it up; it will even affect the Government House. So as we speak, Ngerpest has gone back to that place and is giving us a completion period; by February, we shall take delivery of that project with dualized road linking up with Willington Bassey Way. But the truth I; with the level of funding that the Government is presently receiving it would be the question of managing and the tackling them one after the other. It is not possible for Government to do everything it would have loved to do at the same time.
If we had all the funding in the world; it would boost the image of the Governor even though when he is doing it some people will not agree he is doing it but then; funds are being channeled into most of these things but all of them cannot take off at the same time. Let me show you that this Government is doing so much in terms of Road infrastructure; two months ago, I was directed by his Excellency the Governor to go to Uruan, the House member representing Uruan, Ime Bassey just left my office, he has done the design of the market, I went to look at from that Beach to Uruan, which today is the largest fish market South-South Nigeria, he just brought in the drawings of the market which I am sure that by the time I show it to the Governor, it would be adopted. That road from that beach has been fully drawn, designed ready to go to FGPC as we speak by VERINI Nigeria. It is about 12 km road. We are not just doing that road from the Beach to the Timber market behind Anua Hospital, we are also going to link up Oron Road to Le Meridian, so as you are coming in from the airport, you can turn into Le Meridian without entering the town. That road is about to be flagged off by the Governor.
When we talk about decking new roads with solar lighting system, what becomes of the stable electricity the state is working on?
I will not want to contradict that issue but let me tell you, if Akwa Ibom has sufficient power generation, don’t also forget that transmission is by the federal Government. It does not mean that we are going to use all that we generate. This is some of the issues that we must consider when we are doing our analysis. When you generate; you first transmit into the national grid, the shearing dimension is in the hand of someone that is not you and that becomes little of a problem.
Currently, the PHED covering our light in Port Harcourt came up with a proposal, that we should allow them to build 15 sub stations that with 30 generators, they would be able to give us light to be 12 hours; five hours backed up by generator and seven hours by PHED. My idea and opinion like I told you, the current supply to the state is not reliable and when the light is available; it is not full voltage because the transmitting channels themselves are not in functional condition. So even if you generate, and you are not able to transmit we would still have the problem. Except federal Government that is responsible for transmission will come up to do investments in transmission equipments so that whatever is generated is properly transmitted or we may still have problems. What every state is doing including the federal Government is creating generating capacity but the federal Government is not appropriately creating transmission capacity. We have a situation where we generate and we are not able to evacuate so what you generate will just be there. I feel for us to enjoy we need the solar lighting system.