Tuesday, 5 June 2018

UDOM: A GOVERNOR IN DELUSION By Edet Eyo Bassey (Opinion)

"The world bank have made their assessment of the IBB avenue and environs flood situation. They have told me we will need at least 56 billion naira to do a comprehensive drainage system. It is that costly. I have spent so much to tackle flood like the Nsikak Eduok underground drains I did".


The fore-going statement is the response of Governor Udom Emmanuel in a recent media chat marking the third anniversary of his administration. The Governor was asked what he was doing about the perennial flooding of a section of IBB Avenue in Uyo.

Udom's sincere and unpretentious response offers no hope for the flood situation to be abated atleast not in the remaining one year of his administration. By his admission of failure, Udom has again demonstrated his cluelessness and tact in handling sensitive issues of governance. A peep into the construction of his mind as he gave the response, one can glean a governor thoroughly overwhelmed by the challenges of governance and the pressure of office. It is written that ?out of the heart the mouth speaks. This is one rare moment that Udom has spoken his mind; that is saying it the way it is about his government failure and inability to tackle the flood along IBB avenue.

Residents of the city are not oblivious of the unique topography of the area. It is a water basin that collects rain water from adjourning environs and locks it up at the spot hindering free flow of traffic due to the large volume of water trapped at the location. IBB avenue is one of the four major routes that leads to Idongesit Nkanga secretariat and the Teaching hospital. It is also a major artery in and out of Uyo capital city. The road is key to free flow of traffic in the city and a landmark in the tourism infrastructure of the state.

Udom's comment has arouse public indignation against a governor/government that hardly see through the needs of his people and is acclaimed for poor conceptualization and improper prioritization of projects. Last year, discerning Akwa Ibomites cried their voices hoarse over non-priority projects budgeted by Udom but nevertheless, undertaken and made popular in government circle as ?signature projects. Amongst these projects are the new Lagos lodge, the worship centre and a 21 storey building in Uyo.

Udom's comment is a clear resignation of his inability and failure to fix the drainage and control erosion along IBB avenue. Or what else can the people say when the Governor laments spending state funds to control flood along Nsikak Eduok avenue. The flood control measure at Nsikak Uduak enhances drainage from Uruan street, Ewet Housing, Osongama and environs. What could be more people oriented than proper channelization of flood water away from homes and businesses to save lives and property. Would Deacon Emmanuel prefer loss of lives and property of ordinary folks to spending state funds on Nsikak Eduok drainage (or anywhere else) because it is not a priority or signature project? Recall that few months ago, a young lad got drowned in flood water in that axis.

Obviously, considering the magnitude of the cost and technical know-how required for providing a permanent solution to the IBB avenue flood challenge, Udom reached out to the world bank for assistance. Upon appraisal of the project the world bank gave an estimated cost of N56Billion for a comprehensive job. The Governor did not disclose what constitutes the terms and conditions of engagement of the bank in respect of technical partners, mode and tenure of payment, time of job completion etc. Udom exclaimed that the erosion control along IBB avenue and its environs is that costly?. How costly? Could it be costlier than all the wasteful and non-profitable projects embarked upon by government dotting the landscape more like abandoned projects? What could be more important and of concern to the governor than fixing the flood along IBB avenue. Does it matter if after proper assessment, the world bank facility is taken to address a critical urban infrastructure that will bring succour to road users in the state? After all, did Udom not convert billions of Naira in debt incurred by his predecessor for non-accountable projects to bond payable by the state over a period of more than 20 years? Admittedly, that debt management mechanism reduced the monthly debt repayment burden of the state but pushed the debt obligation to future generations of Akwa Ibomites. In the words of Senator Ita Enang, what is Governor Emmanuel doing with our money? N17billion monthly allocation in contrast with other states of the Federation who receive as little as N2billion monthly.

Mr. Emmanuel has demonstrated absolute lack of capacity in the management and maintenance of existing infrastructure in the state contrary to his campaign slogan of continuity. It took public out-cry for the governor to fix street lights left in disrepair and cannibalized by vandals. It also took the aggressive intervention of NDDC in the rehabilitation of Uyo urban roads before Udom?s government could wake up to the night-mare that connecting roads and sides streets in Uyo had become.

Considering the importance and need for drainage control along IBB avenue, one expected the governor to take advantage of the media chat to brief Akwa Ibom people of his negotiation with World bank wherein knowledgeable Akwa Ibomites and experts in the field would make input by proffering solution and advice. But nay; not the Harvard school graduate who is all knowing and holds the prerogative of knowledge with the rest of 4 million Akwa Ibomites being ignorant and stupid?. Four years into Udom's administration, no person(s) of substance has been identified as advisers/members of his kitchen cabinet. The opacity of government and the fact that government is tied to Udom?s apron string and master is clearly not in doubt thereby posing serious concern about the focus and direction of government.

It is crystal clear to discerning Akwa Ibomites that what befell the state in 2015 was a tragedy of some sort. That is, having an unfit, ill-pre-prepared Deacon Emmanuel with hyped credentials spotted as governorship material and foisted on the state by his predecessor. Events of the last 3 years has shown that Governor Udom is devoid of character, courage, tact and deluded in his performance and governorship of the state.


Disclaimer: Comment expressed do not reflect the opinion of Isaac Yoma