Ex-Special Adviser to President Buhari Chided over Construction of Calabar/Itu Federal Highway

Okon Bassey in Uyo

Aides to the Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel, have defended the state government over payment of compensation owe to property owners on the Calabar-Itu federal highway which links Akwa Ibom, Cross River and other states.

The governor’s aides were reacting to claim by former Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Ita Enang, on the payment of the compensation.

Spokesperson for the aides, Mr. Essien Ndueso, told journalists in Uyo that Enang claims were unfounded and capable of causing disaffection among property owners on the road and threatening the peace of the state.

Essien wondered how the Senator came up with such claims even when there was no documentary evidence to any agreement between the federal and state government to that effect.

He said: “How can Ita Enang not know that the same federal government is constructing roads and railways worth hundreds of billions of naira in the North and even into neighbouring countries, and none of the benefitting states have been made to pay any compensation?

“Why is this ridiculous style of road construction by the federal government only applicable to Akwa Ibom State?

“In the first place, who even undertook negotiation for the compensation that Ita Enang wants Akwa Ibom State Government to pay? Who appointed property valuers to evaluate the cost of the property in the right of way?

“This is a contract that is expectedly to be funded with petroleum profit tax. And in the first place, Akwa Ibom State is losing revenue from that. Yet, Enang wants the state government to pay compensation for the road to be constructed.

“Where does he want the state government to pluck the extra money to pay compensation for the federal government? Ita Enang should bury his face in the mud that there is no federal government presence in Akwa Ibom State which has 36.1 percent oil and gas reserves in a country that depends solely on oil and gas revenue.”

The aide expressed sadness that such a claim should emanate from a highly placed Akwa Ibom indigene at a time other states with minimal contribution to the national purse have benefitted more from federal roads without condition.

According to Essien, “As we speak, the federal government is constructing 21 roads projects in Kano State totalling about 960 kilometres, notably Kano-Abuja Highway, Kano–Katsina, Kano-Maiduguri and others.

“The federal government is currently on phase 3 of the housing scheme is Kano State. There is no news anywhere that the governors of Kano, Kaduna, Borno or Katsina States were asked to part with a dime in the name of compensation or counterpart funding of the projects there.”

But in a swift reaction, Enang expressed surprise at the state government stance, because according to him, he had raised no issue against the state government.

He said: “I only informed and pleaded with the communities on the road corridor to allow the construction go on as compensation was not released to the contractor as it was not part of the bill for them.

“The video is there and it was in the presence of state government functionaries. I was conscious of their sensitivity and was cautious in presentation as the purpose was to appeal to the communities, and not to inflame passion nor invite.”

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