Godwin Ntukude is the Akwa Ibom State commissioner for Transport, in this interview with UDEME UTIP, he commends the state Governor, Udom Emmanuel for deeming him feet to be in his cabinet among other comment on issues affecting the ministry.
You are popularly known to be a “carpenter” what has been your driving force to the level you are presently?
It is very important to note that nobody is able to become anything except someone tells your story, and you have told my story for many years now, courtesy the press. I love your credibility that you have established.
Any man who wants to survive should be informed, and if you are not informed, you are then deformed.
I owe everything to God who has made it possible for me to be here in the executive cabinet of the administration of governance of Akwa Ibom State. I recall that after my reign in Mboho Mkpatawa Ibibio, I took up wonderful strives, fights and advocacies, and was able to be part of the governance under the tenure of Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio as governor of the State.
Due to one thing or the other, I couldn’t make the first and second executive councils and had to wait for about six and a half years without being thrown away or opted in. So you can imagine that state of confusion.
I commend His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, for standing up to defend me, because it almost happened again when his executive council was to be instituted. I was almost being made to face the same tribulation and embarrassment, but at the end of the day, he (Gov. Udom) was able to defend me. Therefore, after God, I owe this first privilege of joining the first executive council of this administration to the Governor as a person. To God is the glory.
I will do whatever it takes no matter the odds and challenges to ensure his governance and administration succeed, because, as a church, the leaders, prophets and bishops, hold their hands perpetually to the heaven, praying for the wellbeing of the flocks, the elect, elders, lieutenant, etc hold the Governor the duty to constantly support him to succeed.
For me, my duty is to support Governor Udom’s hand 24 hours, 7 days of the week and throughout the year as long as he allows me to be in his Executive Council. Even if he pinches me, he must succeed so that my conscience will rest that indeed I am able to reciprocate the goodness he did in making me who I am.
As commissioner in the transport ministry, what are you foreseeing of the ministry under your watch and what are your plans to make the parks in the state more organized and conducive for travellers?
As the Commissioner in the Ministry of Transportation, the economic wheel of a new transformation, development or progress of the society is the wheel. Without that wheel, we would not have come here. Everybody needs one mode of transportation or the other. Even when you work, you will still enjoy the transportation made possible by the roads that have been created.
It is critical, core to development, advancement, civilisation and transportation. Therefore, giving it an empirical approach making more civilised, modern, moving from the stone age or orthodox method to a more scientific approach is why we must have a ministry of transportation with a new face so that everything that we see in Akwa Ibom State, by our teeming tourists, investors, our indigenes – those who stay here, it should be totally in compliance to world class so that we will not be left out of civilisation. That is the challenge of the present administration in the Ministry of Transportation in accordance with the ministerial responsibility and directive of His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
We have a ministry that has to take care of orderliness, coordination and management of transportation and traffic on the road for ease of movement. So that when you set out for one appointment or the other, you can arrive without stress. You should arrive comfortably, secured, and access your belongings; should you miss or forget any of your belongings in whatever mode of transportation you embarked upon, it should be brought back to you by means of identification.
A visitor should be able to locate a particular street through Road Signage, which will save the embarrassment, harassment and misdirection while trying to some other person for direction. We want you to follow the right signage and description to arrive your destination.
Embodied in all of this ideology is why we explain the methodology of achieving these scientific principles. The park must be organised in such a way that it becomes a well organised airport or rain terminal. You should be able to find comfort in the park. There should also be accommodations in case someone who is not conversant with the city arrives late at night instead of venturing into the city that you don’t know so much.
We have also made the park to come alive with solar energy light to illuminate the park at night. Also, we have made sure that every route in the park is well described. All the illegal road side operators have been relocated so that every vehicle should get to the load and offload in the park.
In terms of security, we have ensured that every vehicle that moves within the state is captured under biometric capturing process with portal in the ministry, so that if there is there is any complaint, it will be easy to trace the vehicle, owner and the location. With this, we have been able to trace and track down a stolen Keke and brought back.
We have engaged in altitudinal re-orientation, particularly to build capacity, by conducting seminars and workshops for the taskforce members, drivers and everyone who has duty in passengers’ cargoes so that they will be in compliance with human relation and avoid being abusive and disrespectful which could be a disgrace to the State. Through the seminar/workshop, we have been able to touch the heart of the operators in line with civilisation.
Our aim is to ensure ease of movement, coordination, control, security and comfort in Akwa Ibom State.
The tricycle that replaced the hitherto motorcycles (keke) is fast constituting nuisance in the society especially the capital city; what are the plans of your ministry to control the menace of keke in the state capital?
The Governor Udom Emmanuel-led administration has directed us to ensure that we continue to manage our lives vis avis the existence of Keke NAPEP which has become, though an essential part of our economic development for today, in terms of providing the means of transportation. That is not to say that we are not aware of the order challenges posed by the existence of Keke NAPEP, which is why we are effectively engaging them, interfacing with them to educate, realign, reposition, warn, counsel and to restrict them from certain areas that are of greater significant.
It is expected that the government’s new intention to introduce civil-driven air conditioned vehicles – Intra-City Township – which are still negotiating with the company and banks for comfortable interest rate to run the project, so that visitors, tourists and investors into the state can reach a taxi driver wherever they are through the mechanism installed in the taxi for ease of location.
You recently flagged off registration for licensing of sea transportation operators, amazingly, the issues of sea piracy has been rampant in recent times. You would demand an update on how far the registration and licensing went?
Concerning piracy and registration of licenses, we came up with a consultancy preposition to be able to register and conduct the biometric capturing of all the boats and speedboats from their creeps to joining coastal villages and towns up to Calabar and Cameroon, because a whole lot of them did not go with the safety gargets. Some of their boats were dilapidated and shouldn’t have been used for such operation. So we went for that registration, biometric and to check, and procured some safety gargets and life vests and supplied to them. These were done through the consultant who went further to acquire surveillance boat to enable them fight the piracy, because when we went for it, the people refused to comply.
The government has done so much to engage the Navy and allied personnel, and that has reduced the rate of piracy. We have remedied the greater effect of piracy used to pose at the sea to Governor Udom’s intervention.
What is the plan of Government in view of introducing taxies to face out keke from the city centre and how soon are we expecting the reconstruction of Oron Jetty for boats to ply the sea routs?
Concerning the Oron take off, we have acquired a letter of intent to revalidate the Oron license for the Government of Akwa Ibom to operate. The Memo of Understanding (MoU) will be signed as requested by the investor, after which government will pay off the token as arrears since abandonment.
Before the end of the year, it is going to take off, and will include the refurbishing of the terminal building, pump station, jetty, tank farms, etc, and so many things will come to play.
Touching the taxing issue, the only challenge we have is the current bank interest rate, and Governor Udom is very desirous of seeing this project launched as part of his one year anniversary. We are working tirelessly to ensure that it is settled.
What is your ministry doing to check the issue of overload by taxies and passenger buses plying the routs within the state, which is not giving the desired aesthetics considering the tourism drive of the administration?
The overloading issue is a challenge that we are working on. The taskforce are on the watch to ensure compliance with the regulation. Even Keke must not exceed the number of passengers authorised for it to carry. The Uyo/Ikot Ekpene Road is a strategic project; what is the problem with that road and we know that Shelter Afrique area has a problem of traffic congestion, what happens to the design by the former administration of Obong Attah to construct a link road to cut across Aka Road to decongest that road?
The problem with Ring Road that ought to have been, and other infrastructure can’t be traceable to any other thing than the new economic down turn. You must come to terms with the fact that the era of oil has gone, and the new language is taxation. Any nation that does not rely on taxation for its development is faking.
Tax is a small portion, but according to your capacity to afford. No sanitation payment, property tax, land rent, etc. Everything should be taxed to justify with what you do with the money so that someone would be encouraged to pay again. Anyone who violates tax payment faces the highest penalty of life anywhere in the world.
We should leave oil because it will soon go. It has threatened us thrice. The first time it threatened us, we got SAP; the second time, we got austerity measure; and the third time brought about bailout. When God calls a man three times, he should be careful. It is important to ask ourselves that in all of this, what lesson we have learnt to put some structures on ground that whether there is oil or not we can still move.
Agriculture and manufacturing is the key. Once a place is manufacturing, it means you are adding value to a raw material. You can also add price and make money.
Let us do what is globally sustainable. Let us be committed in tax payment. You cannot garbage out what you did not garbage in.