The Akwa Ibom state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has expressed deep frustration arising from his financial commitments to the construction giant, Julius Berger Plc, handling the dualisation of the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road. The governor made his concerns known at a gathering of worshippers at the government lodge.
The governor told the gathering that he has been committed to the completion of the project, but has met with serious financial issues that needed to be attended to, even in the face of the dwindling state of the national economy and the huge indebtedness on the road by government.
He noted that he had made appreciable payments, yet it appears as if nothing has been done and people keep writing and saying he has abandoned the road.
“Everyday they will write that the governor has abandoned Ikot Ekpene Road. Do you know how much I have paid to Julius Berger (on that road)? There is no single month I don’t give money to Julius Berger; no matter how poor. Believe me!”he told his listeners.
The governor noted that due to the commitment entered into by the previous government, it was difficult to let go of the company, as they are still in charge of a lot of jobs and maintenance jobs in the state.
“I borrow money to give to Julius Berger so that they don’t go. Because the whole premises is being managed by them. They maintain the stadium, they maintain everywhere. If they leave, I will be in trouble,” he said.
He assured that he has been consistent in servicing Julius Berger, adding, “I give those people, on the average N1b (One Billion Naira) every month. “Immediately I came into office, I went and borrowed from Zenith bank the sum of N6b (Six Billion Naira) and gave to Julius Berger to continue with that Ikot Ekpene road. They took it and said it was for past indebtedness. They did not put one Naira on that road. But now they write all kinds of things”.
Continuing, the governor said, “I keep calling the guys (Julius Berger). Ask him (pointing at the Finance Commissioner). There is no single month I don’t give them at least N1b (One Billion Naira) to run that road. But look at what they have done.
“What happens is that when you are building a house, when you get to the completion level, you may put in N10m (Ten Million Naira) and it looks as if nothing has been done and you may end up quarreling with the labourers.
“Only God knows how much I have spent, but a lot of people don’t know this. So they write all kinds of things. I am not deterred by what they write, but I just owe you people this explanation; that everything we do, we do in good faith and with our hands and conscience clean.”
However, several weeks after Gov. Udom Emmanuel made these observations, his predecessor, who started the road, Senator Godswill Akpabio, had raised issues on the road. While addressing stakeholders of his Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District at Abak during an end of the year fete organized by the deputy governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, the former governor, expressed concern over the delay in completing the project.
The senate Minority Leader, who on the eve of his departure as governor, had commissioned a section of the road, lamented that at least by now, even one lane should have been completed.
“The road from Uyo to Ikot Ekpene, is still the way it was”, he was reported as saying, lamenting further the marginalisation of the district.
“In the 2018 budget, what is the percentage for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District?” he asked and called on the governor to stop stifling Development in the area or face the consequence in the 2019 general election.
“2018 is less than one year to election, all is not well, don’t allow anybody to deceive you that all is well. If the hotel in Ikot Ekpene rots after so much money had been expended on the project, would that be a good thing?” he queried,
It will be recalled that sometime last year, the governor, represented by the Commissioner for Works, Mr. Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, had while addressing the youths of the senatorial district, assured of the completion of the road.
He told the youths, “I stand here to assure you that the Four Point by Sheraton will commence operation fully this December 2017 and as we have completed payment of compensation on the remaining portion of Ikot Ekpene Road, construction has commenced and the road will be commissioned come May 2018”.