A former councillor in Itu local government area of Akwa Ibom State, Hon. Bernard Ekpenyong has led hundreds of his people to call on the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to show compassion on them by urgently approving funds for the construction of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene-Aba road.
This is just as a wide gully was fiercely carving into the road, specifically in Ikot Akpan Itam of Itu, along the strectch of the federal highway.
Bernard Ekpenyong who led his team to approach the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, during a multi sectoral assessment of the road on Friday, pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to be merciful towards the people.
Ekpenyong lamented their plight, saying as a leader, known for his interest in changing pathetic situations, president Buhari, in line with his promise of linking all economically viable roads, should make funds available for the project.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has been announcing his interest in developing the local communities and linking them up with cities to boost economic viability. The government has promised to prioritize the development of every part of the country.
“You can recall that in his Democracy Day Address on June 12, 2019, President Buhari repeatedly stated that his government would ensure the construction of critical feeder roads in the local areas so as to facilitate the transportation of food and other commodities.
“It is only logical that if feeder roads are of interest to the president, one should believe that he would readily be willing to do major roads that aide economic growth. We are dying here. Everything has come to a halt, no movement; no business. We are sunk in this ‘deep pit’.
“Sometimes we wonder whether we are no more part of Nigeria. We use this medium to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to come and help us. Let the president source for funds and pay Julius Berger to rescue us from this pit”, he said.
According to the presidential aide, Senator Ita Enang, only 22 kilometres of the road has been awarded with the cost of N54 billion naira of which only N7 billion has been released.
Enang noted that while the funds have not been enough for the contractor, Julius Berger to remain on site, he took it upon himself to assemble the various agencies of government to collaborate in providing interventions on the road.
During the assessment however, the federal ministry of works, the Federal Emergency and Road Management Agency, (FERMA) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) all offered to perform palliatives on the yet to be awarded decayed portions of the road between Odukpani of Cross River and Itu of Akwa Ibom States.
Accepting as its responsibility to stop the gully, Julius Berger, through her Project Manager, Engr Christian Kloeptol only promised to return to site when government is ready to fund the project.