Controversy over Akpabio’s constituency projects

Controversy over

Akpabio’s constituency


Senator Godswill Akpabio has been a subject of malicious attacks by detractors over the handling of constituency projects he attracted to his district between 2015 and 2015, reports EMMANUEL OLADESU

Godswill Akpabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom State and senator between 2015 and 201, is in the eye of the storm.

He is battling to reclaim his senatorial mandate from his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenger, who was declared winner by the electoral commission. Also, his foes have continued to ask him to explain his position on the allegation that he diverted dialysis machines and other items meant for the Cottage Hospital, Ukana, In Essien Udim Local Government Area of the state.

These items were meant to be part of the senator’s constituency projects in Ukana, his home town, which he had positively impacted upon during his tenure as governor. According to Akpabio’s supporters, the senator was not involved in the supply of the equipment. The items were supplied by Beacon Creative Idea Nigeria Limited.

Some weeks ago, there was an alarming report that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) carried out a raid on a business premises allegedly owned by the senator, following complaints that he diverted generators and hospital equipment. Later, the allegation paled into fabrication and false accusation.

However, Akpabio’s aides disclosed that ICPC operatives and officials of Border Community Development Agency have held investigative talks with the contractor handling the contract for the supply of hospital equipment to Cottage Hospital.

On July 9, 2019, the investigators informed Akpabio’s aide that they were tracking constituency projects, adding that they wanted to have access to the projects executed by the senator. The projects inspected by the team included a Skills Acquisition Centre in Ikot Ekpene and  the Recreation Centre at the Federal Polytechnic, Ukana.  They also inspected the medical equipment and generators, which were kept in a warehouse sharing the same fence with the hospital.

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According to sources, the officials were impressed by the execution of the projects. They also praised  Akpabio for their execution, noting that the full contract sums were yet to be paid. They promised to make recommendations to the appropriate agency for the payment of the outstanding contract sums.

The ICPC and Border Community Development Agency officials also visited the Cottage Hospital, Ukana where the Medical Superintendent, Dr. Mary Paulinus Udoh, was said to have acknowledged receipt of the medical equipment. He also praised Akpabio for his interventions in the hospital, including the donation of a dialysis machine, and all the parties agreed that the generators should be formally handed over to the hospital on July 10.

To constituents, Akpabio can hardly be faulted on the execution of the constituency projects. According to them, the former governor has initiated and completed 88 constituency projects in Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District. Some of the projects were even extended to Udung Ukoand Ibiono in Eket and Uyo districts. Although many of the projects have not been fully paid for, the beneficiary communities have been savouring their facilities.

However, while the contractor, as agreed by the hospital management, was making arrangements for forklift to carry the heavy duty generators and formally hand them over to the hospital, some political  jobbers went to town about a purported raid and diversion of the equipment that have been acknowledged by the hospital.

Community elders, who applauded Akpabio’s contributions to the development of the Northwest District, said he had offered effective representation.

Many constituents who said they were taken aback by the wilful allegation pointed out that, although senators can facilitate projects, the projects are not executed by them. Project execution is usually the product of long processes, starting with bidding. Most times, the senator may not even know the contractor handling the constituency project. Also, payments are staggered.

However, according to sources, the contractor used the warehouse belonging to Akpabio’s relation’s business premises to store the equipment, pending final payment and donation by the appropriate agency. The investigative team tracking the constituency projects were shown 15kvA generating sets, one dialysis machine and accessories at the warehouse. There are over 60 completed projects, which have not been fully paid for. But, the inspectors only visited four sites.  Akpabio’s aides complained that eyebrows were raised over the items that were yet to be installed, but which were kept in a facility not far from the hospital.

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There are some puzzles: why is the contractor not contacted o shed light on the contract execution? Why are the investigators silent on the balance of the supply contract sum? Why only Akpabio out of 109 senators? Is the timing linked to the struggle for appointments?

On July 12, Akpabio had written a letter to the Border Community Development Agency requesting for the status of the items billed for supply, as awarded under the 2017 budget.

Also, in response to his telephone enquiry, Dubem Okereke, Managing Director of Creative idea Limited, explained that the items were commensurate with the 70 per cent received from the agency, but it was agreed that, to avoid vandalism and pilfering, the items would be stored, pending the final 30 per cent payment, which will enable the company supply and deliver all items in full.

He added: “However, following your phone call, we have gone ahead to supply and deliver 100 per cent of the items in the Bill of Quantity far and above the amount of oney released to us by the agency. This we did in good faith.

“Your Excellency, we want to use this opportunity to assure that we will not be a party to any mischief makers and want you to be rest assure that all of our above claim can be verified through the sponsoring agency-Borders Communities Development. Please, use your good office to help us with the release of our balance of 30 per cent as owed us since 2018.”

(C) The Nation

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