Governor Emmanuel’s Transparency, Accountability Have Attracted Investors – Ephraim Inyang-Eyen

-Road Projects Currently Undertaken By Gov Emmanuel Are Futuristic



Mr. Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, the Honourable Commissioner for Works in Akwa Ibom State and the founder of Transformation Initiative for the Empowerment of Ibom People, is a cerebral, hard-working and focused public servant with a knack for positive results in all his undertakings, Inyang-Eyen in this interview with Crystal Express explains the rationale behind some of the ongoing road projects initiated by Governor Udom Emmanuel and also addresses some topical contemporary issues. Excerpts:

Governor Emmanuel has shown extraordinary zeal to improve the airport project.What will Akwa Ibom State gain from the investment?

There are three gateways to a state or nation namely: by seaport, road and airport. What we had before was an airport we addressed as international without requisite facilities to truly address it as such. The governor with his wide connections decided to upgrade it to meet the international standard to the delight of travellers, tourists, investors and other people. The international terminal building that is coming up will crown the efforts of the Governor at meeting the standard requirement for a world-class international airport.

We have noticed the road expansion at the major highway leading to and from the airport. Why that at this particular time?

The expansion along the airport road has three major advantages. We are upgrading the city as we are futuristic in our plans. The gateway into the city tells you what to expect in such a city. The quality of the airport entrance is very important, especially with our plans to expand it and fix street lights to enhance aesthetics of the city. Secondly, the airport road, presently a 25km long, has no drainage and that is the reason I have refused to sign the completion certificate for Ghitto Construction Company. If we fail to build side drains along the airport roads and construction kick-starts around it in the future, the likelihood is that people will construct buildings on the present grasses sucking water when it rains.The implication is that with high building foundation along that stretch all rain water will find their way back to the road and become a source of embarrassment to the state. I heard that Senator Ita Enang said the project is not necessary.Maybe he wants the road to be taken over by flood first such as the kind of hardship the people have experienced along IBB Avenue before something will be done. The airport road currently does not have outfall drains and with the volume of rainfall experienced yearly in Akwa Ibom, it will be sad to have such an important road with no side drains or outfall drains. As the expansion is taking place, we will do both side and outfall drains and add beauty to the road. The expansion of that road will also address the problem of flood at the entrance of Shelter Afrique Estate. There will be an outfall drain around the Customs Office behind the community there where all waters collected around Oron/Airport Road will be discharged. There will be another discharge point in a swamp around Airport-Okopedi Road. At the completion of the expansion, the government would have succeeded in not just beautifying the city entrance, but also succeeded in the channelisation and collection of water into outfall drains which are all basic requirements for good road construction. Any road construction in the South-South without side drains and out fall drains is only waiting to fail. So the expansion of the airport road is absolutely necessary. Let me also tell you that there has never been a time the governor has had enough money for any project.What Governor Udom Emmanuel is doing is projecting into the future, managing the resources well and spreading development across the state. If he had waited for the money, he would not have been able to execute most of the numerous projects, he has spread across communities in the state. He has made it easier for people to move freely and avoid traffic with the wide connection and network of roads in the state. Ring Road Three upon completion will help decongest traffics along Oron Road and Edet Akpan Avenue as people can get to Nwaniba Road by Ibom Hotels without these busy roads. Every road project currently undertaken by Governor Udom Emmanuel is futuristic as he looks beyond the present. There will never be a time any government will have enough resources, but prioritization and good management can allow government to execute these key projects.When we started the 29-kilometre dualised road from Etinan to Ndon Eyo, a lot of people saw it as being very ambitious. But today we are in Ndon Eyo and less than 220 metres away from the East-West Road. What is delaying us from hitting the target is the wearing course at some locations and the piling of two bridges while Ekpene Ukpa Bridge is almost done. Once we are through there, and with the one in Mkpok, then the 29-kilometre road would have been fully delivered. When we started the flyover at Ikot Oku Ikono in Uyo, it was considered ambitious but as we speak, we have finished the piling. Most government projects are done not because there is enough money but because of what the leader sees which others don’t. When we started the superhighway road project, some people criticized it. But I can tell you that one of the things that made the Federal Government knew that we are serious about the Ibom Deep Seaport was the creation of the superhighway for the influx and outflux of the materials from the deep seaport. If we don’t build the superhighway, there will be no qualify access into the deep seaport. All our efforts all spoke in our favour. The superhighway is now a booster on the part of government that we are committed to building the deep seaport. Therefore, the airport road expansion is absolutely necessary and government is all out to execute the project.

Within the confines of the completion agenda of this administration, what is it that propels the government and where does the government intend to take Akwa Ibom to?

Now let us look at road construction under infrastructure in three dimensions. First, there is what we call the dualised or trunk roads which are created for exceptional development. With theAirport-Okopedi Road being handled by DPL and Okopedi-Uya Oro Road handled by CCECC, you can actually come into Akwa Ibom State without coming into Uyo enroute Port Harcourt or Benin or outside the state.You have is to move from the airport to Okopedi – to Uya Oro which is the terminal point of section 5 of East-West Road and once you hit there, it is straight drive to Benin and beyond. If that is not done, the implication is that our visitors from the airport will confront traffic between Oron Road and Udo Udoma Avenue before hitting Ekparakwa enroute their journey. The least requirement is dualised road. If you come to the city centre on dualised road, at the flyover, you have a dualized road that takes you 20 kilometres to Etinan and from Etinan you can move another 29kilometres to East West Road. You can take another 23.5 kilometres to Eket, on ward on dualised road to Liverpool and from there into East-West Road. Now back to Uyo, I can tell you that the much publicized Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road is nearing completion. In the earlier commissioning done there was a big fraud because the road earlier constructed was just without wearing course. What was commissioned was the binder course.The real asphalting of the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road was done by the Governor Udom Emmanuel Administration. As we speak today, we are at Four Points by Sheraton Hotels, 25 kilometres completed; even though there will be a little expansion to Ikot Ekpene roundabout to allow easy traffic flow. We are redesigning to take care of drainages that were not on the design. If we succeed in doing the Abak-Ekparakwa-Ette Road, we would have succeeded in opening up our state in totality to the north, south and centre. The next set of roads are the ones we do in all local government areas except Urue Offong /Oruko which I am working on at the directive of the governor. Every other local government enjoys a minimum of 5 kilometres road and some more. Essien Udim Local Government Area where the former governor came from has had the opportunity to have some more roads and we want to take on other local government areas with none to closely measure up. About 29 local government areas have either completed or commissioned roads. Newly completed roads in Udung Uko, Mbo, Oron, Ini and others will be commissioned in May 2020. The other key component which is the third leg are the other roads within the metropolis where we all live. Shelter Afrique Estate had no roads before now and that kept people away from the estate.But with the permission of the governor we have created several roads which have also encouraged massive development of property around the estate. Out of the 201 direct roadinterventions around Uyo, Eket and Ikot Ekpene, Uyo has witnessed over 40 completed and commissioned roads and still counting. The three dimensions of these roads constructions were going on simultaneously and rain negatively affected their progress at a point last year which prompted our ordering the contractors back to site to start work. The Governor is also doing his best to raise funds to ensure the completion of the projects. And there will be harvest of roads. All the dualised roads we have in the state came with street lighting.We are presently fixing street lights from Mbioto to Ikot Akpan Eshiet and the light will get to Etinan. We will have a situation one can drive from Uyo through Ikot Oku Ikono flyover to East-West Road with street lights at night and any other route you move through and that will make the entire state, a metropolitan city. We must develop the entire state not just the capital city.We can’t afford to have a state that goes to sleep by 6pm anymore.

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Do you have the specific numbers of roads done so far in terms of number or kilometres?

I will tell you that for direct labour job, as at today we have 201 number.We have commissioned about 42 of them and I am very sure that about 28 of them will be ready by May 2020. The other major jobs that are more than 3kilometres are awarded by the Finance and General Purposes Committees (FGPCs) chaired by the governor and we have them in 29 local government areas of the state. Oruk Anam has Ikot Ekaide-Ikot Okoro, Ikot Ebritam handled by Total Engineering; Ikot Ebritam-Ekefe by Almadal; Ikot Ebritam-Ibesit Okpokoro by Nsik Engineering and Ibesit Okpokoro by Ikot Ikara by GNK. Four in that local government before the coming of this administration. Even though people said it was slow in delivering the projects, I assure you that by May 2020, OrukAnam will be enjoying 3 completed roads. So FGPC- awarded contracts is 58, direct labour jobs is 201. If you sum them up, then you will see that there was no error when I said that we have done over 1,700 kilometres of roads; if I flag off newly awarded jobs, then we will be heading to about 1800 kilometres of roads, some completed but most of them ongoing.

How has the governor changed the narratives in the Nigerian system by making governance exemplary?

That is not far-fetched.The quality of reports coming from the international community which money cannot buy says it all since they say you can buy anything in Nigeria. Look at the commendation from the World Bank that Governor Emmanuel is running the best economy. Before the coming of Governor Emmanuel, investors were not coming to Akwa Ibom and the state then was the least to be considered by investors. Money, as said, is a big coward and only goes to where it will be protected.So the governor has changed the narratives which made money to be comfortable in Akwa Ibom, prompting the influx of visitors. Again, investors don’t go to where there is no good governance. Governor Emmanuel has brought transparency and accountability into governance and that attracts investors. No serious-minded investor will put his hard earned resources in an unpredictable environment. If there is nothing else you will see, then it is clear and obvious that international investors are attracted to Akwa Ibom State. The investors trooping in to invest in Ibom Deep Seaport are private concerns.All the industries springing up in the state are private concerns. If for instance we had 10 industries from the inception of democracy and another 10 with the immediate-past administration and Governor Emmanuel attracting 20, we would have been sitting on 40 industries by now. Governor Emmanuel’s government started under recession yet he was able to attract 16 industries. And with the investors that are coming to build the Ibom Bluesea Industrial Park which if it comes to fruition means that the governor has succeeded in bringing international best practices into governance where transparency is priority and people are in tune with government activities. Governor Emmanuel is one of the best governors in Nigeria and that has been agreed beyond party affiliations.

There is a massive intervention going on on IBB Avenue presently. Is the World Bank here to finance the project and secondly, what is the situation at Calabar-Itu Highway where the major portion collapsed at Ntak Inyang?

The World Bank is an entity that works with strict procedure.They don’t give out projects over night but take their time. The World Bank is still determined to work with the state government to take out water from IBB Avenue which is a major project. If the flood at IBB Avenue is taken to Ibesikpo Asutan, it will be 13.5 kilometres but if taken to Tropicana outlet, it may be 8 or 9 kilometres and the World Bank is processing it. If you take a casual look before now, you’ll discover that the environment had become too dirty for a beautiful city we are trying to build and government intervention there is to make it motorable for people to use the road once again. The gullies that developed there became unbearable and I sought and got the permission of the governor to clean up that place and give respite to motorists. Therefore, what we are executing there right now is not the World Bank project. The World Bank project will come. What we are doing is to make the portion motorable till World Bank takes over.We are using cement as against asphalt in the construction of the road. When the Calabar-Itu portion within the capital territory collapsed, the governor was not in town but being a proactive leader, once I sent the picture to him, he asked that immediate intervention be done on the road. We did it and he returned, inspected it and paid for it.The place is now good for vehicles to ply once again.

I wanted to extend the basin so that there will not be re-occurrence of what happened again. However, the situation at the main Ikot Ekpene – Itu-Calabar Highway is sad and deplorable.Our brother, SenatorItaEnang, has told us all the stories but they have all failed. I remember I told him during my debate with him on Inspiration Radio that the Federal Government awarded contract for the road because of election and that it was going to be abandoned. I may not be a prophet but I knew few things and it was abandoned. It is sad that it is the only link road between Akwa Ibom and Cross River states and if the road construction in Nigeria is anything to go by, I think Akwa Ibom, being a principal contributor to the national purse, deserves a new road. If you want to see what the Federal Governmentis doing in Akwa Ibom, they went to Ekparakwa and started applying asphalt on the roadbut couldn’t pay the CCEECC and abandoned the project. On Calabar-Itu Highway, the money they initially released can only pay for a kilometre or two and as if it was not enough, in this year’s budget the road was completely omitted. I don’t think the Federal Government has any interest in doing that road. For whatever it is worth, the state governor will continue to do its best to ensure the best for Akwa Ibom people. I must emphasize that there is no single Federal Government project in this state in the road sector.When the federal comptroller of works, Mr. Ukpong, came to my office recently, I told him he cannot meet me because we have nothing to do together. I told him that I can’t take state’s funds and intervene on federal roads. The only thing we did was to write the minister that the road be a trunk B road because it won’t be a trunk A road when the Federal Government has no input. The federal comptroller of roads in Akwa Ibom State today is idle without job. Today Akwa Ibom generates 42 per cent of what goes to the centre but has not single structure to justify that. Let me shock you, they came to do erosion control at Ndue Otong/Ntak Inyang Road. An event which the Niger Delta minister attended and didn’t show us the project but only the tent where people were seated. Every project during commissioning is the major focus of the camera, not the people who came to attend the event.If you ask me, that project was a fraud and non-existent because here in the state, if we want to commission a project more focus will be on the project than the guests who attended.They never showed the erosion control project, in pictures.

Three communities in the state (two in Obot Akara and one in Nsit Ubium) with collapsed barley bridges linking them with the rest of the state sent a Save Our Souls (SOS) to the governor to rescue them.What is their fate at present?

I think you can go and see for yourself. I went to Nsit Ubium the following day after it happened and stopped the contractor from continuing but to go and do the bridge. The work on the bridge has advanced tremendously while there was a temporary access created for them to pass. In Obot Akara, even before government awarded the contract we got Seyang Construction Services to build them bridges where vehicles can even pass. So the two communities are accessible. The delay we experienced in commencement of the main bridge is because we wanted input from the contractor in charge of the projects in that axis, not just a Ministry of Works thing. So both contracts have been awarded by FGPC while awaiting flagging-off.

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Are you impressed so far with the performances of the indigeneous firms doing contract jobs on road construction in Akwa Ibom State?

Absolutely. The road that generated some tension recently wasn’t being handled by a local but foreign contractor. Can’t you see the beautiful work being done by Hensek on Ring Road 3? If they are not doing well, I would have raised the issue. Sometimes while construction is on, especially at the point of laying asphalt, if there are little errors and the contractors take responsibility, there is nothing to worry about. In all the roads across the state done by the local contractors, nobody has come to complain on their quality. Only Awa Iman-Ukat Road had that issue because the asphalting was done in the rain.The same contractor did Awa-Osong to my village and there is nothing wrong with the road. It was done under the same condition but at different timing. The contractor has assured that soon he will complete the resurfacing of that road. Governor Emmanuel is the first governor of this state that, as a matter of policy, ensures that all roads constructed by his administration are networked and done with drainages; it has not happened before. IBB Avenue has no drains and that is part of the problem of the area.Even UdoUdomaAvenue has no drains. They are both good roads but without side drains, they will collapse. So I am completely satisfied with what our indigenous contractors are doing and I stand with them.We must build our own people too – so far so good.They are committed and many of them raised money to get the job done.

One of the wars you championed in the recent past was to stop dredgers from excavating sands from rivers, streams and under bridges across the state. How successful was that effort?

I didn’t champion it alone. The governor directed me to support the then Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Iniobong Essien, to execute that job. We seized the dredging machines of violators and there was so much pressure on my colleague to get the dredgers back. I wanted them to be prosecuted and unfortunately our people don’t see the danger in the business and because we were not allowed to get to the end of it, I personally pulled out.The job is under the Ministry of Environment but I wanted giving my weight and experience to ensure its success. There are many locations along Mkpat Enin and East West Road which are completely damaged as at today as a result of sand dredging.If care is not taken, that environment can go under. The people did not understand it and regrettably sand dredging is still going on and it is not good for the environment.

There is the fear that the amount of roads currently undertaken by this administration may not be completed before Governor Emmanuel leaves in 2023. Do you entertain such fears?

Do you know how many roads we inherited from the last government?It is a continuous process.Eket- IbenoRoad was awarded by the last administration and nothing was done even when ExxonMobil claimed to have paid in N8 billion, nothing was done.So when Governor Emmanuel took over, Eket-Ibeno Road was taken from point zero and completed. When I took over as works commissioner, Etinan-Eket Road had been awarded, it was less than 3 per cent done. Today it is at 55 per cent completed. Uyo-Ikot EkpeneRoad was awarded by the last government and was commissioned by the same administration, however, there were buildings from Ikpe Annang including a two-storey building on the right of way, the Control Post was in disarray. Notwithstanding the commissioning, we know the road was not properly done and not the meaning course on the road because it was on binder course and was completed. Governor Emmanuel will continue to create.If Udom Emmanuel does 35 per cent of the superhighway and constructs about 70 per cent of the deep seaport, will it be right for the next government to come and abandon them?So if they are economic projects that will help the economy of the state, it therefore behoves on the next government to come and finish it up to usher in the much expected economic boom. What the governor has done is to cast a vision that goes beyond his administration. If the governor finishes the airport road expansions, ring roads two and three, there is nothing wrong in taking up ring road 4 that will take us from along the airport road by the right and straight to Etinan Post Office in Etinan Local Government Area. The likely roads to be abandoned are political roads but the governor has never asked me, not even once, to construct a road leading to somebody’s house. He told me in clear terms to come up with roads that will bring about economic development and that the roads must be networked. Every road we have done including those done under direct labour has been networked.

You were largely misunderstood when you criticized the way Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) operations were undertaken here in the state.Do you feel justified with the revelations on the failed activities of the agency?

I fill absolutely justified. I was excited when the current minister of the Niger Delta, Senator GodswillAkpabio, said no road should be constructed in the South-South without drainages and that is what I have been championing alone.When I said NDDC was a fraud, people thought I was crazy.But I have the courage to speak my mind because we must come to the society as leaders to call a spade a spade. Today a minister in the APC government has come to affirm what I keep saying earlier. I didn’t speak as one in the opposition. I speak the truth and believe me a lot of Nigerians were actually amazed that those words were spoken.Forensic audit can only be done where there is certainty that a sizeable level of fraud has been committed. It is not a daily affair.So I have been justified by the things I said earlier. I won’t mince words that the purpose of creating NDDC has not been achieved in the South South, particularly in road construction in Akwa Ibom State. The roads they constructed between 2015 when I was privileged to assume duties as commissioner for works have not been commissioned here in Akwa Ibom State.

What is your advice to the authorities on how to help the agency perform better after the forensic exercise?

I think what NDDC requires are square pegs in square holes and that is my advice to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. He should look for men of integrity who are desirous to perform and etch their names in gold and not those who are looking for opportunities to make money.Unfortunately in our society we have lots of people who want money first before jobs are done. We need men who want their names in the sands of time and desire to be remembered even when they have finished contributing their own quota. What drives me is that when I leave office as works commissioner, my conscience should tell me that I have done very well, not people’s praises. I want to also drive on the roads which I help construct and at least express gratitude to God for being part of the history. I will rely on my conscience in ensuring that I do the right things always. I am still petitioned for stopping the fraud in compensation payment and I have asked those who feel offended by my action to go to court and stop spreading falsehood

Governor Emmanuel is driving home the completion agenda but some politicians have started beating the 2023 election drum already. How do you view their actions?

I think it is too early and I believe that the governor should be supported and given space to justify the last mandate our people gave to him. They gave him that mandate for four years and just six months into the new administration drums of another election is on. That is desperation and desperate people have nothing to offer; men with content are not desperate. We should spend the next two years working for Akwa Ibom people and let the governor bring all that God put in him to the front burner so that the people of Akwa Ibom will be better for it and it would be reasonable to go back and explain to the electorate what we have achieved with the last mandate. In my own opinion, the noise is absolutely unnecessary.Let me say that probably, the person that will be governor is yet to come into the picture as he may be somewhere doing what God has destined him to do and at the appointed time, God will bring and reveal him. How many people in Akwa Ibom knew that Deacon Udom Emmanuel will be governor? The time they started fighting for the position, he was busy at Zenith Bank going round the world transacting businesses and when it pleased the Lord, He led him into the hands of the former Governor and the man broke all protocols and procedure for him. Let us be silent and allow God to do His work. The state is guaranteed that no man will take Akwa Ibom any longer by force; the state will remain in the custody of God Almighty; that is all I will say.

The governor lost his dear father who will be laid to rest this weekend, how will you describe late Elder Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang?

I will describe him in few words: he was a great teacher, mentor and leader in the community. More so, he was a child of God. That is what gave rise to him raising his children in godly manner. If you don’t have anyone to guide you at childhood on the right path to follow, you may likely miss it. The discipline you see in the lives of the children including our dear governor is not what they picked in the streets of Lagos. The man imputed them there as you can’t give what you don’t have for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouthspeaketh.So the man gave his children discipline. My governor will tell you that you can’t embark on anything as a young chap without his permission, he was a disciplinarian. The result of his efforts is clear he has six children and all are doing very well. This was a man who was given the slot of village head through which he could rise to clan head and even paramount ruler but he rejected it to remain as an elder in Qua IboeChurch, saying that he cannot mix God’s words with tradition. Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang is one man whose virtues we must all emulate and look up to. He was a great man not for producing a governor but for successfully raising six successful children.

And what is your message to the Governor your boss at this moment of grief?

I want to tell him that his father raised him up well with his siblings and died at the ripe age of 90 years. He died at a time he was not faced with the pressure of 2nd term and not when he was in court.Right now we will try hard to manage the crowd that will come from all over the world to bid his father farewell.He has become a national and global citizen and former presidents will come and a representative of the sitting president will be here.What more can a father ask for than to have a son who will bring the nation to bid him farewell? He must mourn that he has lost a loved one but not to the extreme because his father lived well and has left a legacy through them that even the next generation will recognize.So for me he left at the right time and peacefully too. One of the things the governor told me that excited me was that the father after his dinner on Saturday demanded to be worn his attire which he used to go to church and wore it for the first time to sleep, meaning he went to church and transited to the other world. He died peacefully. He transited without any problem. Pa Gabriel Nkanang lived a good life and died in the Lord in peace.

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