The Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly has finally spoken up on the controversial Akwa Ibom state Governor’s Lodge proposed for construction in Lagos. The house says only N700m was proposed by Governor Udom Emmanuel and was accordingly approved in the 2017 Supplementary budget bill recently passed by the house. The clarification was made by the Chairman of the House Appropriation committee, Hon Usoro Akpanusoh in a telephone interview with National Newstrack.
The committee chairman said that under the 2017 Appropriation, the sum of N500m was budgeted for the project and an additional N700m provided for in the supplementary budget, bringing the total so far appropriated for the project to N1.2b only.
He noted that the house also approved funding for projects domiciled under the state ministry of Special Duties. The projects include, N300m approved for the completion of the Akwa Ibom airport power station; N300 for the airport VIP hanger project. Also captured in the supplementary budget is another N6b approved for “Airport Development”.
Hon Akpanusoh also stated that N3b was proposed and approved for the completion of the Four Point by Sheraton Ikot Ekpene, adding that the ministry of Special Duties got a total of N9.6b, which may have been construed to be for the construction of the Lagos governor’s lodge.
“A total sum of N9.6b was approved for all the projects in the Special Duties ministry and it is possible that as soon as they heard N9.6b, they took it to mean it was meant for the Lagos lodge. That sum was for all the projects in the ministry of Special Duties. There is no way the governor would have budgeted that kind of money for building a governor’s lodge in Lagos knowing the type of person he is. The governor has so far proved himself as a man committed to transparency, frugality and openness in the administration of this state”, the committee chairman maintained.
He revealed that there were other approvals in the supplementary budget that was meant to stimulate economic growth. He said that N10b was approved for the construction of the Coconut Refinery in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area and another N10b for the construction of High Rise office complex at the location of the former Uyo market.
“This house is a responsible house that would always put the interest of the state first. There was no way we would have approved the sum of N10b for the construction of a governor’s lodge in Lagos without asking questions. Our people should always ask questions to clarify issues before they rush to criticize and condemn. The sixth assembly is committed to ensuring that the state’s overall interest is at all times protected”, the Appropriations Committee Chairman concluded.
This insight, coming from the house may help to resolve the conflicting figures that have been thrown up in official and unofficial quarters.
For the better part of the week the controversy was built around N9b, others said it was N9.1b. A former commissioner for special duties, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem, who claimed to have proposed the construction of a new lodge way back in 2010, said that N2b was approved.
Mr. Charles Udo, commissioner for Information and Strategy, also corroborated Enoidem’s N2b, until this further clarification by the House of Assembly.