The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly today approved the requests by the state executive to guarantee a contractor’s finance scheme for the dualization of Etinan-Ndon Eyo road as well as secure a facility in the sum of N5billion to enable the government complete ongoing road projects in the state.
In the first of two separate letters addressed to the Speaker of the state assembly, Rt Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke, and read on the floor of the House by the Clerk of the House, Mrs Mandu Umoren, Governor Udom Emmanuel urged members of the House to “give approval for Akwa Ibom State Government to guarantee a term loan facility of N10Billion to enable the state finance 29km dualization project of Etinan-Ndon Eyo road awarded to Wizchino Engineering Limited.” The governor noted that the “United Bank for Africa (UBA) has agreed to offer the facility to the contractor – Wizchino Engineering Limited at an interest rate of 14.5% p.a within 36 months tenor.”
According to the governor, the dualization of Etinan-Ndon Eyo road is with two bridges and spur from Mbioto Ekpene Ituen to Ikot Akpan Ishiet junction. The letter stated further that “the facility will offer the State Government the opportunity to make payment in trenches of N344,209,774.43 at most per month to the contracting firm, Wizchino Engineering Limited, instead of making lump sum payment thereby ensuring that the project is completed on time and also freeing funds for other uses on monthly basis.”
The governor invited the lawmakers to consider his request noting that “it will allow the contractors to sustain the current momentum of work and meet critical timelines before the rains set-in heavily.” The letter also read that the state will benefit immensely if the road is completed on schedule as it will stimulate greater economic activity through speedy movement of goods and services and create new jobs through better access to the farming communities in the state.
Members of the House all spoke in favour of the request by the governor. The Leader of the House and member representing Oruk Anam state constituency in the House, Rt. Hon. Udo Kieran Akpan noted that the requested approval for contractor’s finance scheme is not an outright loan facility. He said:
“This is an arrangement between Akwa Ibom state government and the contractors. What this means is that Akwa Ibom state government has entered into a contractual agreement with the contractor to fast-track the progress of work in Ndon Eyo Etinan road. I have observed that if Akwa Ibom state is to depend on IGR and allocation from federal government to finance this kind of scheme, it means that this job cannot be completed with speed. So what the governor seeks to do is to say let these contractors go to the bank, get this money to do the job and we pay back in installments.”
Also speaking in approval of the request by the governor were Hon Mark Esset of Nsit Atai who said there was no need to deliberate on the issue but to give approval; Hon. David Lawrence of Eket; Hon. Nse Essien of ONNA; Rt. Hon. Friday Iwok of Abak, who pleaded with his colleagues to see reasons to grant the governor’s request, among others. Both requests by the state chief executive were granted after the Speaker opened the floor for contrary opinions on the request but none spoke.
The Speaker, Rt. Hon. (Barr) Onofiok Luke, commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for always involving the state legislature in contractual matters. He urged respective committees saddled with oversight responsibilities to ensure they are not found wanting with regards to following up on various projects by the state government. He also appealed to contractors handling road projects in the state to be committed to the timely delivery of the projects