By Tokunbo David,
Not every Public officer understands their briefs. But for Ephraim Inyangeyen, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Works, he appears to have a firm grip of his turf. He exudes this and more in this encounter with Ismail Omipidan, recently.
The APC says it will take over the state in 2019. What is your take?
I know that a man who holds his PVC in Akwa Ibom has an independent opinion, and what the man in Ikot Ekpene would think is different from what the man in Abak or Oruk Anam would think. And with the passage of the amendment to the Electoral Law, which I believe Mr. President will sign, it means that the use of electronic device which we call card reader will become mandatory. They are even going further to say that if the card reader does not function, then the election in that unit should be postponed for the next 24 hours until the card reader works, which means that every man will have one vote. I don’t think that anybody in Akwa Ibom will ignore the fact that Governor Udom Emmanuel has done exceedingly well in several areas.
Let me leave my projects and talk about the peace that he has restored to the state. This was a state that many of us never showed up because of kidnappings and reckless killings in the past. You remember when the group which we call the Business Group of Akwa Ibom Indigenes came to see the governor, the leader of that group said in very clear terms that his mother warned him never to show up in Akwa Ibom before now. So if nothing else has happened, Governor Udom Emmanuel has restored peace to the state, and people can now sleep with their two eyes closed in Akwa Ibom. I don’t think any Akwa Ibomite would want to send away that peace, because it is not something you get so easily and find commonly around.
Flowing from that, your governor has been asked not to bother campaigning in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district because they would not vote for him since he has no project to show in the area. Tell us why the Uyo-Ikot Ikot Ekpene road has not been completed?
I don’t want to go to projects across Ikot Ekpene senatorial district because they are so many, but I will take one particular project, and for the first time we are going to give details of what happened to Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road to further establish that what has been said about Udom’s performance or non-performance as per Ikot Ekpene senatorial district is absolutely false. Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road was awarded by the previous government on the 19th of December, 2011. It was awarded at the cost of twenty eight billion, three hundred and sixty four million, five hundred and seventy-five thousand, eight hundred and three naira, and twenty two kobo to Julius Berger. As that work started on the 12th of September, 2013, it was reviewed upwards by the sum of twenty three billion, five hundred and sixteen million, two hundred and twenty eight, and three hundred and thirty nine thousand. Again there is what they call additional works, it was reviewed again on the 25th of September, 2014 with the sum of nineteen billion, four hundred and forty eight million, three hundred and seventy three thousand, two hundred and seventeen naira, sixty-seven kobo, bringing the total value to seventy-one billion, three hundred and fifty nine million, one hundred and seventy-seven thousand, one hundred and fourteen naira, fifty nine kobo. And this was as at 25th September, 2014. Governor Udom Emmanuel became governor on the 29th of May, 2015. I want to state here very clearly that the bulk of this money had been released and they didn’t achieve 50 percent of that road construction because as at the time that road was hurriedly commissioned early April, 2015 they were at kilometre 15 and that kilometre 15 did not have the wearing course, which is the final asphalt. That final asphalt is what really holds the road firm.
I want to, for emphasis sake, say that the structure that stood at Ikpe Annang that you turn to go to Essien Udim is at kilometre 15.16 and that building never went down until February, 2017 when this present government sourced money, one hundred and forty one million naira and paid the owner of that property to take down that property, so it is not possible for the previous government to have gotten to kilometre 18, when you have this structure at kilometre 15. That was a major challenge.
Also, a case in court was still standing and we were made to understand that he had gotten to kilometre 18 and that this government did only 3 kilometres. I am saying that even at kilometre 18 we couldn’t have done only 3 kilometres because we are now at kilometre 23 remaining 2 kilometres to Four Point Sheraton, so 18 minus 23 would have been at least 5 kilometres but that is not correct. What we have done is that since the coming of Governor Udom Emmanuel, we have done the final asphalting of kilometre zero to 15 and we are taking it from kilometre 15 to kilometre 23, that is 8 kilometres and the remaining 2 kilometres, we are paying compensation. And most important of all, I want to state clearly that all these did not even take into consideration the flood, the outfall drains that were supposed to have been done on that road. It is this administration that is coming up to consider constructing drains because all the communities on that road are having flood situations. We are considering how to now do the outfall drains. So my question would be; if you say this road was awarded at N71 billion and the duration was three years, it was supposed to have been completed in December 2014 and with two revisions, why was it not completed? Where did the money go to? These are very simple questions.
Like I have said in my previous interviews, the only challenge we have on that road that kept the road was that there wasn’t any money in the bill one that we were supposed to use to pay compensation. And these facts have to be given to the public with figures and dates because you cannot deny the truth; it has to be brought out. I have the responsibility to bring out these details and I am determined to bring out all the details of other such awards when the need arises. If anybody contradicts what is on ground, just like the Ikot Ekara road in Oruk Anam, or anybody comes to deny the fact that road construction was not properly handled by Haamakop, and they want to contradict the fact that the payment for that job was not properly done, we will come out with the figures. So for the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene today, the figures are out. I want someone to contradict them.
Are all these enough to return Udom Emmanuel next year?
If I wouldn’t support Udom for anything else, I would have supported him for the peace he has brought on this land. Most of our sons and daughters who usually don’t visit home in the days of killings and kidnapping are all visiting now. Many have transferred their PVCs back to the state. Every Local Government Area that had no taste of infrastructure from 1987 till 2015 are now enjoying infrastructure. Today Ini people can go to Arochukwu with their cars. If you were from Ini; who would you have voted for? If you were from Ikono which had nothing for eight years, and in three years they are having so much, who would you have voted for? If you were from Obot Akara, where children from Nto Edino were cut off schools, but now have the best of bridges, who would you have voted for? If you were from Oron, with all the abandoned excavations which later became a death trap and an eyesore, and the governor promptly responded to your SOS and within few months cleaned it up, please tell me who you would have voted for? If you were from Udung Uko that could not access Mbo, if you were from Oruk Anam that had no road but now having four contractors cleaning up communities around your area, who would have been your preferred candidate? If you were a student of Obio Akpa campus of the Akwa Ibom State University, and now your campus is wearing a new look, if you were from Uruan with a zero road level and now you have four new roads, your guess is as good as mine. If you were from Ibiono Ibom, where your paramount ruler had no road to his palace, and within the first year on the saddle, both your paramount ruler’s road and the bridge got fixed, If you were from Nsit Atai and now you have a new road that is dualised, who would you have voted for?
If you were an Akwa Ibom youth, and a governor is building industries to wipe off the civil service mentality and give you massive job opportunities, if you had witnessed the dark ages of this state and now you are welcoming new power substations all over, with improved power supply, please judge for yourself. Tell me who wouldn’t vote for a governor who is constructing a super highway to open up the Ibom deep seaport. If you ask all the genuine Akwa Ibomites, they want Udom Emmanuel to continue. If he could do all these in three years, I am convinced that Akwa Ibomites would ask that he be returned next year to do more.
Having done all these, if the governor wins a second term, what is going to be the focus?
Well I won’t speak clearly for the governor because he will still articulate his second term agenda. But what I think the governor will do would be a further expansion of what he has started. He won’t in the middle of the road change direction. If it is industrialisation, he will drive it further to achieve more results, if it is expansion of infrastructure, most of the ongoing projects will be driven to conclusion so that their beauty would come out and the benefits would accrue to our people. So I think that the governor would basically do an expansion of his five point agenda in his second term so that the true expectation, the real dividends would become manifest for everyone to see.
In Governor Udom Emmanuel’s three and the half years, we have the coconut refinery which is almost nearing completion; it is on the Ikot Abasi-Eket express road, it is not hidden. The flour mill will start production at Mkpok Ukat in December. The syringe factory as at today is producing. The metering factory is producing. Tell why such a man does not deserve a re-election?