AN OPEN LETTER TO THE MINISTER, MINISTRY OF NIGER DELTA AFFAIRS, SENATOR GODSWILL AKPABIO ON THE ABANDONED CONTRACT FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF EKPARAKWA, UKANAFUN, AZUMINI-ABA HIGHWAY.
The Honourable Minister Sir,
- It is with great sense of respect to your highly revered office as the Minister in charge of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs that we write this letter to draw your attention to the abandoned contract for the construction of the Ekparakwa, Ukanafun, Azumini-Aba Highway which has resulted in the total collapse of the said Highway. We are fully away of the policy thrust of the current administration in the country in terms of rebuilding critical infrastructures especially in the transport sector. This is clearly reflected in several completed and ongoing road projects in several States and geopolitical zones in the country. We are equally aware that one of the core mandates of your ministry is to build, sustain and maintain critical infrastructure in the Niger Delta region especially in the area of road construction.
- As forum hardworking sons and daughters of community under the aegis Ukanafun Professionals, we have a heavy moral burden to draw the attention of Mr Minister to the very pathetic state of the above-mentioned road through this open letter. After all, there is an Annang proverb that says that “it is pointless to ask a woman that put to birth at a market place to close her legs”. That is why we chose this medium to cry to you to come to our rescue.
- Whereas, contract in the sum of N33, 230, 319, 728 was awarded for construction of Ekparakwa, Ukanafun, Azumini-Aba Highway to Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company, (CCECC) Nigeria Limited in 2010. The road is now in a state of total collapse without any words from the Federal Government of Nigeria as to why the contract has not been executed 11 years after it was awarded and announced in full glare of national televisions.
- The unexplained silence on the part of the Federal Government of Nigeria, who is actually the owner of the Highway and also the authority that awarded the contract is quite baffling. This has forced us to seek answers from the Ministry of Niger Affairs, which is the federal government’s ministry that the contract emanated from. Mr Minister, please, we are eagerly desirous of knowing what is happening to the contract for the construction of Aba-Ukanafun Road.
- The 50-kilometre road is a Federal Highway, linking Akwa Ibom, Abia and Rivers States. The road cut across ancient semi-urban towns of Obehie, Akwete, Azumini in Abia State that links Aba-Port Harcourt highway; Ukanafun and Ekparakwa in Akwa Ibom State. The road was divided into two sections for the purpose of the contract and was separately awarded to the same company. The contract for the construction of Obehie to Akwete was awarded in March 2010 for the sum of N12, 257, 556, 596, while Azumini to Ukanafun was awarded in November 2010 for the sum of N20, 972, 763, 132.
- Owing to the fact that all the communities along the road are agrarian communities, the economic viability of the people along the corridor is replete with history of self-sustainability, just as semi-urban market places along the road has created commercial hubs that have been maximally explored by farmers, traders and artisans for many decades; subsequently, the road also has centuries-old enrichment of cultural unity.
- The fact that Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), another agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria, sometimes provide palliatives by filling potholes in certain portion of the road heighten our curiosity on what could be the rationale behind awarding the contract in the first place by the federal government through the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, only for another agency of the federal government to turn out to be filling some potholes once in a while. The palliative is a serious slap on the faces of the people of Nigeria, as it provides no cure but portrays the federal government’s self-conflict approach, levity, inconsiderateness and directionless in fixing the road.
- As it is always the case in such a situation, the brunt from the federal government’s negligence of Aba-Ukanafun Road is borne by the Nigerian people, especially citizens along the axis of South-East and South-South part of Nigeria. It causes loss of human lives through avoidable accidents while social, cultural and economic life of the people is on paralysis.
- Since it is a statement of fact that from history anywhere in the world, government is characterized by continuity, the fact that the Aba-Ukanafun Road was not awarded by the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari should not in any way be advanced as excuse, just as embarking on blame game would amount to the Federal Government taking Nigerians on rigmarole trip and that would imply continuous heightening of insensitivity on the part of the Federal Government
- Notwithstanding that it falls within our constitutional rights, and compelling as the worrisome situation tends to sway us into, we have chosen, at this point in time, not to impute our opinions as to why the contract for the construction of the Aba-Ukanafun Road has been abandoned while the federal government that awarded it remains alive and the CCECC that the contract was awarded to is growing in leaps and bounds in its construction business in Nigeria. Our resolute point is that the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is the sole body that owes the Nigerian citizens all the answers needed on the abandoned contract.
- All what we are asking is: why is the Aba-Ukanafun Road not executed more than 10 years after it was awarded by the federal government to CCECC?
- Let it be noted that whatever answer would be provided to our one-and-for-all question would not be believed to have been answered until it dovetails to construction of the road to appreciable standard without any further delay. Let it also be known widely and loudly that as an advocacy group for betterment of Ukanafun community and anything connecting with it, Ukanafun Professionals’ Association is determined more than ever to demand, as a matter of rights, for the construction of the Aba-Ukanafun Road in no distant date, and that on the strength of this self-tasked mission, we are stepping up effort to synergise with all relevant persons and authorities to ensure that any person or group of persons that rip the Nigerian people off by abandoning the construction work of the Aba-Ukanafun Road will be held accountable within the frameworks of our laws.
- Mr. Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, while we are eagerly awaiting your emphatic answer on the context of the question raised above, please, be well assured that Ukanafun Professionals’ Association holds your office in high esteem.
Prince Ekong Udom
Mr. Obot F. Obot