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Opposition Desperate For Power In A’Ibom – Inyang-Eyen

Ephraim Inyang-Eyen is the Commissioner for Works in Akwa Ibom State. In this interview, he speaks on the activities of Governor Udom Emmanuel in the last eight months. Excerpt:
What is your take on the recent Supreme Court judgement that validated Governor Udom Emmanuel’s election?
I was excited and elated by the judgement but I can still remember that when the Appeal Court asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in December to conduct a re-run for Akwa Ibom State, the governor said to us on arrival from Abuja that he has taken his matter to the supreme God.
So, what happened on that fateful day was the supreme God directing the Supreme Court to give voice to that which Heaven had already sanctioned.
The victory was a total package and knowing what the governor has in stock for the people, everybody should be happy for it. But there is something that I will like to mention here.
I have heard some wicked insinuations about the judgement but let it be on record that the Supreme Court justices took a decision which they have followed to the end.
They established in the case of Akinwunmi Ambode vs Jimi Agbaje that the card reader was not the only means of accreditation. That was why Agbaje lost the case in Lagos and the APC people were excited.
In Ebonyi, they came out with the same judgment that the card reader is even strange to our constitution and could not have been the only means of accreditation. So, I don’t know why they expected the case of Akwa Ibom to be different.
But if you know the Supreme Court justices well, when they set precedence, they cannot go against it. They are men and women of integrity and there was consistenccy in their judgment from the beginning.
Are you not worried that members of the opposition are yet to congratulate the governor on his victory?
It is unfortunate because when judgment was given in Rivers State on a similar case, Dakuku Peterside, a good sportsman offered a hand of fellowship. So, if it is not done in Akwa Ibom, then shows an act of desperation.
If there is a contest, there must be a winner and in this case Governor Udom Emmanuel is the winner and it behoves on the other contestant to extend a hand of fellowship. In Lagos, Rivers and Ebonyi states; opponents congratulated the winners but if it was not done here, it shows the quality of those who wanted to lead us.
During his state-wide broadcast after the Supreme Court victory, the governor said he has opened his doors for opposition members to work with him. How sincere is he about this after the prolonged legal battle?
From the beginning of this administration, the governor promised to run an all-inclusive government no matter the party one belongs to. The governor will not turn people down for playing opposition politics because opposition strengths government to perform.
The activities of the opposition have strengthened the governor, so when he said the doors are open; he meant the doors are open to genuine indigenes who want to offer services to the state.
Even in my ministry, the doors are open to members of any political party who have better ideas on how we can move the ministry forward. But for those who come for bad politics, we don’t encourage that.
There is controversy on the issue of payment of compensation to property owners affected by the ongoing projects in Eket Zone, what are you doing about this?
The so-called controversy is propaganda from opposition elements. When we assume office, we discovered that those who valued those property were the one who also pay the owners and there were lots of issues.
But the governor said this time we must do something differently. So, what we have done is that if you are a valuer, you only do that. A consultant was appointed to do the payment.
So, when the valuer does his work and reports to the ministry, it is not in our place to effect any changes.
What we insist on is to ensure that all the property along the affected areas are recorded and we transfer the list to the consultant to pay the beneficences and that have not allowed the room for the usual manipulations of property that do not exist to be brought into the system.
Those complaining are not property owners but those who had benefitted illegally from the system but who have now been shut out.
The administration in eight months has imitated so many projects amidst dwindling resources. How will the government sustain these projects?
The secret is the governor’s passion for service and development of the state. He did not come for self-aggrandizement but to help to further advance the development of the state.
This is a man who is at the cruising level in his banking career. If it is for self, he wouldn’t come to serve. To offer service is not an easy task. So, he came to create wealth and to continue from where the former governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio stopped. To justify his coming, he has been focused to achieve all you see today.
In four years’ time when he will go round again soliciting votes, he wants to go to each council showcasing projects executed, not giving reasons why he couldn’t perform. He is determined to make a difference, block all loopholes for leakages and ensure that Akwa Ibom’s resources are managed well.
There is a report that you said that government spends N600 million yearly to hire generators to power street lights in the state. How true is that report?
That report against me was because I have refused to pay for the hiring of generators. I don’t understand why government should be hiring generators when that money could buy them.
We have about 129 generator scattered across the state and what we did in this year’s budget was to drop the hiring by up to 85 per cent to enable us use the money to buy our own generators, while 15 per cent will still be to hire because you don’t break the cabal at one full-swoop.
We do not want to collapse the system at once to avoid technical issues, so as we buy, we drop the hire agreement further.
Again when we start buying you will see a major difference. Ours will be well protected to avoid sabotage and vandalism.
The true story is that government is using this year’s budget to phase out hiring of generators and in the next year’s budget there will no longer be hiring of generators.
Before the judgement, the Emmanuel administration had embarked on several projects across the state prompting people to think he was doing so to attract sympathy in case of a rerun. Will Government have capacity to complete all this in four years?
If the governor has not kickstarted the way he did, people will say he has no programme and ill prepared to govern the state. But here you have a man who already knows the end from the beginning, well prepared to foist good governance and quality projects.
Let’s start with Oron projects which either prompted their disdain against the government. It is presently at 95 per cent completion. In Ikot Udom, 3.5 kilometres with a bridge is almost delivered, the Ukat road etc.
If you have for instance 12 projects and three are ready, and many others including the information drive that hosts many establishment including Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) will be ready including the Atan Offot road.
We embarked upon all these road projects to create access roads to several investors expected to the state.
For instance the 3.6 km access road leading to Ibaka Deep Sea Port has been awarded because if not so, there will not be any sea port as people cannot fly to the project site.
You can’t have such gigantic project without access road. We must look for funds to continue these projects. We are awaiting the governor’s approval to sign a PPP document with a company that has come to partner us work on Ini-Arochukwu road.
They agreed to bring 60 per cent of the funds while government provides 40 per cent. If properly packaged; the job would be done and a brand new road given to the masses.
There is no magnitude of project that cannot be realized by government if you block leakages and unnecessary waste in the system.
There are insinuations that the governor will opt for the APC platform to contest for second term, and what is the fate of the four state constituencies lost at the Appeal Court by PDP?
We never lost the four state constituencies; they were upturned at the Appeal Court not lost. It would be a lost when APC wins the elections. I can guarantee that PDP candidates will all return after the rerun.
Akwa Ibom is a PDP state, everybody in APC today in the state became a politician because of PDP. Again saying that Governor Emmanuel will go to APC is wishful thinking and mere conjecture.
The governor is a man of character; he is not a politician that will like to jump ship because of what he will gain. The time to have jumped or give commitment would have be the time the system wants to hold him to ransom, not when he has performed to the admiration of the people.
The political platform is just the platform but the candidate is critically important. Governor Emmanuel won beyond the party platform, he used the PDP and the people accepted him.
The platform for his second term will not be too relevant. The most relevant thing will be his performance and when Akwa Ibom people say he should continue, no platform can stop that.
So, the APC issue is a conjecture. Governor Emmanuel will remain with PDP because men with character don’t jump around.
(Culled from New Telegraph)


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