THE REPORT OF GOOD GOVERNANCE TOUR OF EKET LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA BY THE CIVIL LIBERTIES ORGANISATION (CLO), AKWA IBOM STATE BRANCH ON TUESDAY, 30TH JUNE, 2020.

1. Introduction:

As part of its civil society engagement and good governance advocacy, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Akwa Ibom State Branch embarked on a good governance tour of Eket local government area, Akwa Ibom State on Tuesday, 30th June, 2020. The tour covered the four (4) clans of Eket and extended to Iwuochang and Upenekang in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. In spite of the generally inclement weather, the CLO team, led by the State Chairman, Comrade Franklyn Isong, carried out in-depth appraisal of government projects in Eket and Ibeno local government areas. The tour lasted about five (5) hours, commencing by 11:20 a.m and ending at about 4:30 p.m.

The CLO team included the following:

1. Otuekong Franklyn Isong – State Chairman

2. Comrade (Barr.) Christopher Ekpo – State Secretary

3. Comrade (Barr.) Eyibio Okon – Legal Secretary

2. Findings:

The first project visited by the CLO team was the Eket Stadium. The Stadium is located along Holmes’ Street, Off Udo Umo Street. The CLO team found that construction of the Stadium is ongoing but could not assess the stage or state of construction having been blocked from entering the Stadium by security guards at the Stadium. Upon the disclosure of CLO’s identity and mission, two (2) of the guards softened their stance but the personnel claiming to head the Stadium security, who gave his name as “Captain,” remained adamant, stating that he had been instructed by the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Mr. Monday Ebong Uko, to prevent members of the public from entering the Stadium for the reason that people used to enter the Stadium to point out errors in the ongoing construction or to go on to publish comments critical of the State government over the construction.CLO had no choice but to view the Stadium from the sides, take photographs as mementoes, and beat a retreat. But from the CLO team’s assessment of the steel stands welded to the main structure, it was found that one of the steel stands has detached from the point it was welded to the main structure. While “Captain” was furiously “ordering” CLO out of the Stadium, a senior member of the Eket Community, who was attracted to the scene by the furore raised by “Captain”’ informed CLO that the community had initially been dissatisfied with the fact that at the inception of the construction of the Stadium, there were no consultants and construction engineers at the project site, a cause for concern considering the magnitude of the project.

From the Stadium, the CLO team inspected the roads within the vicinity of the Stadium and in other areas of Eket. Most of the roads were found to be in deplorable conditions while most areas of Eket were found to be flood-prone.

CLO found Holmes’ Street, which provides access into the Eket Stadium, in a deplorable condition, with potholes dotting the road. Udo Umo Street is another road that is in a deplorable condition. The road leads to Holmes’ Street and is said to be perennially flooded. It has very narrow drainage channels and inhabitants of the Street have had to erect concrete barriers to ameliorate the impact of flood on their houses.

Another road that CLO found in a state of deterioration is the Etebi Idung Iwak Road. It is usually flooded and the area of the road by the Government Secondary School, Afaha Eket is the worst affected. CLO found the area of the road by the School heavily flooded.

The CLO team toured the Eket–Ibeno Road and found most areas of the road abandoned and untouched. The five bridges on the road are at various stages of non-completion. There is no streetlight on the entire stretch of the road from the beginning in Eket to the end of the road at Ibeno. No provision is made for streetlight as CLO did not see any foundational pedestal for the fitting of streetlights on the road. The entire stretch of the median of the road is dirty and overgrown with giant weeds. Strangely, CLO found evidence that the road had been commissioned. Signs of the non-completion and poor state of the road is seen even from the beginning. Part of the road leading to the first bridge from Eket has not been completed. The first bridge itself has not been completed. CLO found heavy equipment, including a crane apparently owned by CCECC, and some workers and a soldier at the site. Members of the host community and road users who spoke to CLO alleged that the equipment and workmen have been on that site for about three (3) years now without any visible work being done on the road.

Along the Eket-Ibeno Road, CLO found the intersection to the much-hyped Super Highway. The Super Highway appears to have been abandoned upon the clearing of the site. As CLO was inspecting the ground cleared for the Super Highway, some youth, led by one Mr. Kingsley Udoh, youth leader of Iwuochang community in Ibeno Local Government Area, approached CLO and demanded to know the mission of the team. Upon being told the identity and mission of the CLO, Mr. Kingsley Udoh became excited at the coming of the CLO. He lamented the abandonment of the Super Highway project and decried the appalling condition of the Eket-Ibeno Road, which asides other noticeable lapses, has no drainage channels.

At an area of the road within Upenekang, the CLO team saw the huge site cleared by State government for the construction of a refinery opposite the Ibeno Local Government Secretariat and the Ibeno Cottage Hospital. CLO found that acres of land where oil palm trees were raised for economic purposes were cleared for the construction of the refinery. The refinery project was abandoned upon the clearing of the land.

Metres from the site of the abandoned refinery project, the CLO team found the bridge at that point of the road in Upenekang to be in very bad shape, having been abandoned without completion. CLO saw three (3) uncompleted portions of the road at Upenekang, including a very bad portion by the bridge crossing into the Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT). Immediately after the bridge, by the QIT gate, is another bad portion of the road. Signs of heavy flooding on the road by the gate of the QIT is embarrassingly glaring. A quagmire settles terribly within that area of the Eket-Ibeno Road.

When CLO raised the issue of the seeming apathy of Exxon Mobil to the poor shape of the road, including the area of its main gate, a community leader in Eket, Mr. Jack Ette, asserted that during an investigative hearing at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on the destruction of Exxon Mobil billboard along Grace Bill Road, it was revealed that Exxon Mobil pays the Government of Akwa Ibom State N30 billion annually for community development and that the destroyed billboard itself proclaimed the fact that Exxon Mobil paid N8 billion to the Government of Akwa Ibom State as its contribution to the fund for the construction of Eket–Ibeno Road. Mr. Jack Ette is a member of the Eket Elders Forum and the Assistant National Secretary of Ekid Peoples Union, the apex socio-cultural organisation of the Ekid People. A huge swathe of the lanes of the road from Ibeno to Eket is in various stages of non-completion or abandonment.

On its way back from Ibeno, the CLO team took the famous but deplorable Grace Bill Road. The road, said to be part of the Eket Remodelling Project, is in very bad condition. Grace Bill Road is supposed to link Eket–Ibeno Road to Eket–Oron Road (East-West Road) but its present condition reminds one of the Biblical valley of the shadow of death.

There are so many potholes and depressions on Grace Bill Road that one wonders about the security of the banks in the area. Ironically, all the banks in Eket are situated along Grace Bill Road. The road collapses into a rocky valley with a stream at the area where Graven Servicing Company is located.CLO found that Atabong Road, the epicentre of the Eket Remodelling Project, is abandoned right from where it begins from Eket–Oron Road. The roundabout at the beginning of the Atabong Road is overgrown with weeds.

CLO found that the contractors, Nigerpet, has moved equipment from the Atabong Road, leaving behind a lone, disused crane. CLO found that only a negligible portion of the Atabong Road has been reasonably done, the larger part being abandoned. The only portion that has been reasonably done, although not fully completed, is the area between Urua Fiongetuk roundabout and the Atabong bridgehead. Atabong bridge remains in its original narrow state without any marking or structure to show that it will be dualised to link Etinan–Eket Road with Atabong Road. Atabong Road itself is a 1.5 kiliometre stretch. The construction of Atabong road, which contract was awarded and the project kick-started in June 2015, was billed for commissioning within the first 100 days of Governor Udom Emmanuel and was envisaged as part of the celebration of the epochal event. Sadly, five years is gone without an end in sight to the construction of Atabong Road.

Some persons affected by the Atabong Road remodelling project approached CLO and complained that they were under-paid in respect of compensation for their property acquired by State government for the remodelling project. They called for investigation by government into the disbursement of compensation funds.

CLO found that Hospital Road, which is part of the remodelling project, has been abandoned. The remodelling of the Hospital Road is distorted at Market Road Junction, where the dualisation is abruptly terminated and inelegantly fused into the old single lane. The construction does not cover the entire stretch of Hospital Road, a length of less than one kilometre.

CLO found that China Market, said to have been conceived by the Member representing Eket State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr. David Lawrence, to replace the popular Urua Nka market, has been abandoned, putting the traders and Eket people into avoidable distress and unwarranted hardship.

CLO found that Edoho Street (off Park Road) is being constructed. The road, with drainage on both sides, has been dressed awaiting asphalting.

CLO visited the famous Immanuel Hospital, Eket and found that the hospital has been massively transformed by the State government under Governor Udom Emmanuel. Massive renovations are still ongoing in the hospital and new equipment have been acquired by State government and installed in the hospital. The Lutheran Church within the hospital has been renovated and refurbished. The psychiatric section of the hospital is undergoing renovation. The Doctors’ Quarters, which the CLO team was informed was built in the past administration, is being renovated. CLO commends the state administration for the remarkable work done in the Immanuel Hospital.

CLO was disturbed by the continuing abandonment of the Qua Steel Mill and the Qua River Hotel. During the inspection visit, CLO found Qua Steel Mill and Qua River Hotel in states of decay.

At the Qua Iboe River bridgehead, where the East-West Road crosses from ONNA into Eket, CLO was disturbed that the East-West Road, a project of the Federal Government under the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, has been abandoned at that point.

CLO found Udo Idua Road, which leads to Etebi Road, in very bad shape. The road is dotted with potholes and depressions just like Etebi Road.

Idua Road is in a very deplorable condition right from Urua Fiongetuk roundabout. Contract for the construction of the road is said to have been awarded to a group of people called “Fathers of Faith” in the State. Although “Fathers of Faith” did not perform the contract, part of the road still bears the markings mischievously preparing the road for commissioning by the State Governor.CLO found the Eket–Oron Road (purportedly the Eket end of the East–West Road) in very deplorable condition. The area of the road by Mobil air strip is heavily flooded.

CLO found that Ikot Udota Road, commissioned in 2019, has not been completed. The completed section terminates at Qua Iboe Church, Ikot Udota, which is about one kilometre. While the abandoned and uncompleted section of the Ikot Udota road is about three (3) kilometres.

CLO found Afaha Atai Road in a deplorable condition. The stretch of the road leading to Ikot Ibiok is not tarred and needs urgent attention. Iko Ekwa Road is also in a deplorable condition and begs for urgent government attention. Assam Assam Crescent is about the road with the worst condition. Drainage channels have been constructed on both sides of the road but the road itself remains in a valley having not been filled, leaving the upper level of the drainage channels a couple of metres higher than the surface of the road. It took the curiosity of the CLO team to descend into the valley that is the road on Assam Assam Crescent.

The CLO team marveled as to how inhabitants of the Crescent, including Chief Assam Assam, SAN, manage to access their houses. Driving through the Crescent seriously damaged the CLO vehicle, a 4-wheel drive (Lexus Jeep). Ironically, the contractor, HENSEK, is said to have been recommended for the project by Assam Assam, SAN. What might have led to the abandonment of the project is not known to the residents of the area who spoke to the CLO team during the inspection tour.

CLO was pleased to find that Afaha Uqua Obokidem-Iko Ekwa link Road is well constructed and asphalted, with drainage on both sides. CLO gathered that the construction of the road was done by KEFAM NIG LTD. The road is about one kilometre. Afaha Uqua Obok-Idem Road is one other road in very deplorable condition. It has very many potholes and deadly depressions. Government Primary School, Afaha Uqua is seriously affected by the poor state of the road. Access road to the school is heavily flooded and inaccessible.

Edem Udo Street is about 650 metres and is partially completed even though commissioned. About 500 metres was completed and commissioned by the governor leaving about 150 metres uncompleted and in very deplorable state. One of the residents, who lamented the bad state of the road, told the CLO team that the state of the road would have been different if, on the day of the commissioning, the State governor had driven through to the end of the road to assess the level of job done before commissioning.

Akpaisang Street is being constructed by KEFAM NIG LTD. It has been dressed awaiting asphalting. Akpaisang was abandoned during the Victor Attah administration but was rewarded to KEFAM NIG LTD by the Udom Emmanuel administration. Akpaisang is about 500 metres.

CLO found that only surfacing remains to be done on the road.CLO found the end of the Etinan–Eket Road, before the Atabong bridge, in very deplorable condition. Motorists told CLO that the Ministry of Works usually hurriedly patch the road with stone-base to make that portion of the road motorable whenever occasion demands the Governor’s presence in Eket.

CLO found that the construction of Etinan–Eket Road commences around Etinan Institute, where it is immediately abandoned up to Ikot Edibon in Nsit Ubium Local Government Area. The road is half-heartedly done from Ikot Edibon and abandoned completely within Ikot Edibon and about 200 metres into Okon Eket.

CLO observed that the Etinan-Eket Road still has about 7 kilometres to its final completion. CLO notes that the construction was kick-started in Okon Eket while the actual construction started in Etinan. The construction of Etinan-Eket Road was flagged off in 2013 by former Governor Godswill Akpabio at Primary School, Ikot Okudom, Okon Eket. Immediately after flag off, equipment meant for the construction were moved away to unknown destination. When Governor Emmanuel started the construction in 2015, it was at a point in Etinan. Till this moment of the CLO tour, the construction of the road is yet to get to Eket.

CLO observes that the Atabong bridge, which links the Etinan axis of the road to Eket, has not been reconstructed. Of concern is the fact that there is so far no indication of intention to reconstruct the bridge even in the nearest future.CLO found Ikot Abia Road by Strabag junction in very deplorable condition. The road is said to have been constructed by Mobil about 25 years ago.Generally, the roads in Okon Clan in Eket Local Government Area were found to be in very deplorable conditions. The roads to, and around, St. Francis Secondary School, Ikot Ataku are in very deplorable conditions, some of them totally unmotorable.CLO found that only a negligible part of the famous Urua Fiongetok Market is left untouched by the remodelling of Atabong Road.

CLO is aware that Urua Fiongetok Market was the largest market in Eket. Having demolished Urua Fiongetok Market, the Eket community generally feel that government ought to restructure the remaining part of the market instead of turning the place to a plaza, as government allegedly plans. The market, CLO was informed, was a major historical landmark in Eket and is of utmost importance to the people of Eket. The market is likened to Itam Market in Itu local government area, Akpan Andem Market in Uyo local government area and Ukam Market in Mkpat Enin local government area, et cetera.

3. Conclusion:

CLO observes that the good intention of this administration to beautify and remodel Eket, one of the ancient cities in Nigeria and a resource base of Akwa Ibom State, appears stalled by the ubiquitous abandonment of several road and other infrastructural projects in the area by contractors.

CLO believes that this regrettable situation owes to the lack of proper project monitoring and supervision by government. CLO is worried by the fact that most of the uncompleted road projects was actually commissioned by the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.

CLO wonders whether the state governor was not aware of the actual state of the roads before commissioning or whether the state governor was misled to commission the roads by unconscionable government officials who hid the true state of the roads from the state governor.

CLO, therefore, calls for a probe into the abandonment of projects in Eket. CLO urges the state government to prioritise the Eket Remodelling Project and see to its timely completion, as the original masterplan of the ancient city has been distorted, not to mention the disruption of the flow of economic activities.

Signed:

Otuekong Franklyn Isong

(State Chairman)

Comrade (Barr.) Christopher Ekpo

(State Secretary)

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