Akwa Ibom Governor Faults Federal Govt Over Rehabilitation Of Highways

The Akwa Ibom State Government has criticised the federal government for asking it to pay property compensation for the construction of the Ikot Ekpene – Odukpani Highway in the state.

The State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, said the “N189 billion’ meant for the construction of the federal road were proceeds from petroleum profit tax, which the state has been the highest contributor of 36.1 per cent for the last 35 years.

Mr Emmanuel said this on Monday in a media briefing at Government House in Uyo as part of activities to mark the 35th anniversary of the state.

“Who are the owners of petrol? In Akwa Ibom (there is) no (petroleum) depot. Mention one thing, even an office the NNPC has in Akwa Ibom, mention where it is located,” he said

“And then you are taking my petroleum profit tax saying that you want to construct the road, I agree but why should you tell me to come and pay compensation?

“Is that how compensation is being paid everywhere that road construction is going on? There are certain things we don’t want to say because we believe in one Nigeria.

“It is not right to ask me to pay compensation. If you are taking N189 billion of my tax revenue, I deserve something.”

The federal government had said it would not execute the road project at some sections of the highway where communities in Cross River and Akwa Ibom were agitating for payment of compensation for their property.

“Following the resolution of the Federal Executive Council held on 2 October 2019, I am advised to inform you that the Federal Government projects would be executed only on locations where the state government has provided the required land at no cost to the Federal Government.

“It is pertinent to inform you that the timely resolution of the pending compensation claims on the dualisation Oku-Iboku-Power Plant section of the Odukpani junction- Itu-Ikot Ekpene road in Akwa Ibom State will facilitate early completion and delivery of the project with the associated diverse socio-economic multiplier effects and benefits, which would certainly place your state in good stead to attract more Federal Government projects,” The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said in a letter to Governor Emmanuel, according to a report by the Guardian newspaper

Besides the letter, Ita Enang, a former aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, told reporters that the road project was stalled because the Akwa Ibom government has refused to pay compensation to property owners, a claim the state government said was capable of threatening peace in the state.

Essien Ndueso, a media aide to Governor Emmanuel, challenged Mr Enang a few days ago to provide documentary evidence on such an agreement between Akwa Ibom and the federal government on the matter.

“How can Mr Enang not know that the same federal government is constructing roads and railways worth hundreds of billions of naira in the north and even in the neighbouring countries and none of the benefiting states have been made to pay compensation?” He said.

The contract for the construction of Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Road which links Akwa Ibom and Cross River State was first awarded by the federal government in 2017 at the cost of N54 billion.

Work could not commence on the road for several years because of a lack of funds.

The Federal Executive Council in October 2021 gave the NNPC approval to spend N621.2 billion in tax liabilities on 21 road projects in the country, including the Odukpani-Calabar-Itu Highway.

Governor Emmanuel said the state should not be asked to pay compensation to property owners on the road since the funding for its construction is from petroleum tax which the state contributes 36.1 per cent.

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