PRESS RELEASE

NUJ PARLEYS CHRAN

  • AS CSO URGES GOV UMO ENO TO MITIGATE HARDSHIP IN AKWA IBOM

A civil society organisation in Nigeria, the Center for Human Rights and Accountability Network (CHRAN), has urged the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Umo Eno, to take urgent steps to mitigate the economic hardship being faced by the citizens of the State.

The CHRAN made the call in its office in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State when the recently-elected executive members of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) paid a courtesy call to the human rights group on Tuesday, 19 March, 2024.

According to a Press Release issued by the CHRAN after the visit and signed by its Director and Secretary, Otuekong Franklyn Isong and Barr. Christopher Ekpo, respectively, the CHRAN used the occasion to advocate on a number of issues affecting the people of Akwa Ibom State.

The CHRAN expressed dismay that despite the sharp increase in monthly federal allocations to the State Government and the 31 local governments occasioned by the fuel subsidy removal, an overwhelming majority of the people of Akwa Ibom State are living in abject poverty and enduring untold hardship.

The CHRAN lauded the Akwa Ibom State Governor on the establishment of the Bulk Purchase Agency, adding that the good intention of the Governor might be defeated if a non-partisan approach is not adopted in its implementation process.

The CHRAN advocated for the inclusion of a representative of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Board of the Agency to allay fears of members of the public that the Bulk Purchase Agency is intended to serve only the interests of members of a particular political party in the State.

The CHRAN asserted that it has petitioned the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Udeme Otong, on the need for the intensification of the oversight responsibility of the House of Assembly by, as a first-line measure, embarking on an assessment tour of the 31 Local Government Areas of the State to appraise the state of development at the local government areas.

The CHRAN noted with worry that construction work is yet to commence on some road projects flagged off by Governor Umo Eno over five months ago. The CHRAN listed such roads to include Tabernacle Road, off Ikot Ekpene Road, Uyo and Ikot Ada Idem/Ikot Oku Ikono Road. While commending the Governor for flagging off the construction of Ikot Ekan/Ediene Abak Road and the Idoro Road (Berger Junction)/Okobo Ibiono Ring Road, the CHRAN urged that government should ensure that roads are constructed according to specification and completed within time.

The CHRAN drew attention of government to its observation that contractors handling road construction across the State, particularly, within Uyo metropolis, usually left the approaches to the constructed roads unaligned, thereby putting the lives of road users, especially motorists, at risk.

The CHRAN listed the unaligned approaches to include all approaches to the roads along the Oron Road (Airport Road) Expansion Project from Mbiabong Timber Market junction to Victor Attah International Airport; all approaches to the roads along Idongesit Nkanga Dual Carriage Way (Ring Road III), Uyo, from the Roundabouts at Nwaniba to the Roundabouts at Oron Road and to the Roundabouts at Aka Nung Udoe Road; all approaches to the roads along Chief Sampson Udo Idiong Dual Carriage Way (Ring Road II) from Aka Road to Abak Road; all approaches to the Ikot Oku Ikono/Etinan Dual Carriage Way, among others. The CHRAN observed that so many streets, like Akpa Ubeh Street along Chief Sampson Udo Idiong Dual CarriageWay (Ring Road II), have been rendered inaccessible after the construction of Ring Road II, Ring Road III, Oron Road (Airport Road) Expansion project and Ikot Oku Ikono/Etinan Dual Carriage Way projects. The CHRAN urged that the contractors that executed these road projects be directed to return to these projects to correct these anomalies. The CHRAN called on the State Government to always ensure effective monitoring and supervision of road projects to ensure that approaches to roads under construction are properly aligned to check erosion and safeguard the roads.

The CHRAN demanded transparency and accountability in the affairs of AK-CARES Phase 2 Programme, an intervention of the State Government, Federal Government and World Bank, so as to ensure that the people of the State are positively impacted without regard to partisan affiliation. The CHRAN noted that apart from large billboards mounted at strategic locations across the State with photographs of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Umo Eno, and that of the Commissioner for Economic Development, Mr. Emem Bob, nothing much is heard of the Programme. The CHRAN called on the Government of Akwa Ibom State to make public the full list of the beneficiaries of the AK-CARES Phase 2 Programme with their detailed information, including their addresses, and the processes of their selection.

The CHRAN stated that a Chinese firm operating at Ikot Ekpene Road, Uyo, which the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Umo Eno, had directed, months ago, to relocate its operations to the Itam Industrial Park, has ignored the directive and is still operating at Ikot Ekpene Road, Uyo, within a residential area, thereby posing both environmental and health hazards to residents in the area. The CHRAN frowned at the action of the Chinese firm and urged the relevant government agencies to ensure that once a lawful directive is issued by the State Governor, it is enforced to the letter.

The CHRAN drew attention to the plight of the people of Afia Nsit No.1 in Nsit Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State who lack access road and who have recently lost the only public school in their community to the Nigerian Army, and whose stream, the only source of water supply, has been polluted and destroyed by the uncompleted and abandoned drainage embarked upon by the Akwa Ibom State Government.

The CHRAN stated that it had tracked the Federal Government palliative rice and other items given to the National Assembly members for distribution to their constituents in Akwa Ibom State.

The CHRAN condemned the killing of sixteen soldiers in Delta State, calling on the military to exercise restraint in the process of fishing out the perpetrators so that innocent lives are not harmed or wasted in the community.

The CHRAN congratulated the newly elected executive members of the Correspondents Chapel of the NUJ, promising to sustain the long-existing partnership it has had with the Correspondents Chapel and members of the Press in the State. The CHRAN lauded the Chapel for living up to the billing as members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria by carrying out their constitutionally guaranteed responsibility in line with the ethics of the journalism profession, urging them to continue to maintain the tempo.

Earlier, the Correspondents Chapel of the NUJ led by Mr. Anthony Bassey had said that the visit was to solicit continuing partnership with the CHRAN, expressing the belief that the CHRAN will continue to extend its hand of fellowship to the Correspondents Chapel.

The members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm used the occasion to commend the CHRAN for its sustained advocacies in the State and for always holding public office holders accountable to the people, being an effective watchdog of the society.

The Correspondents Chapel team was led by its Secretary, Comrade Udeme Utip, who represented the Chairman, Comrade Anthony Bassey, and included other officers, namely: Comrade Emeka Samuel, Financial Secretary; Comrade Lovina Emole, Assistant Secretary; Comrade Iniobong Ekponta, Treasurer, and Comrade Isaac Job, Auditor.

The CHRAN team included Otuekong Franklyn Isong, Director; Barr. Christopher Ekpo, Secretary; Comrade Usen Johnson, Assistant Secretary and Comrade Linus Udoma.

Signed:
Otuekong Franklyn Isong
(Director)

Comrade (Barr.) Christopher Ekpo
(Secretary)

Dated: Thursday, 21 March 2024.

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