The Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Charles Udoh, in this interview, bares his mind on claims by the management of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) fixing appointment with the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, through text message.

Excerpts:

There has been a session in the media that there have been attempts by the management of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) especially the Managing Director, Nsima Ekere, to have access to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, and the spokesperson for the NDDC, Anietie Usen, in a recent interview, said that Mr Ekere tried corresponding with the Governor via text messages. How true is this?

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That is laughable because, for someone as high as the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Obong Nsima Ekere, who was once the Deputy Governor of the State, to insinuate that he is having difficulties accessing the Governor, is not true. We all know how the Governor embraces and gives direct access to senior citizens of the state in public functions and every situation. It is improper for anybody to insinuate that the NDDC boss wanted to visit the Governor by text message. Even in my small office, I receive nothing less than 100 text messages a day. Unless you do nothing else than to seat and read text messages, there are chances that some of those messages will fall off the radar.
What I expected of the NDDC was, if they seriously wanted to have an appointment with the Governor, to write a formal letter with acknowledgement sheet. If they presented that to the public that they wrote the Governor and he did not grant them audience, then it’s legal. But when you wake up and send him text messages and he doesn’t read, that is totally illogical.
Governor Udom Emmanuel has clearly stated in one of his five-point agenda – political and economic inclusion, and has demonstrated it. Ask this same NDDC boss, where was he when the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, visited Akwa Ibom State with other APC chieftains? Has he ever attended any government function before; even when invited? His claim that he tried reaching the Governor through text message does not hold water. It is just an escapist ploy to distract people from the course of governance.

There seems to be personality clash between NDDC and Akwa Ibom State Governor. Sometimes projects that are supposed to be shared to be developed are being politicised. What is really happening?

Any serious-minded state or country has her developmental plan which includes roads network. For anybody to want to infiltrate the state to want to build road, you need to align with the government to be sure that your roads lead to the major economic nerves of the state otherwise, you will disrupt the economic plan of the state. It is like saying that you want to build a house in Abuja, you must seek approval to know where to build, so that you won’t build a business office in a residential area. We are not saying they should not come and execute projects, but talk to us to show you where we need those things. There are too many abandoned roads in the state. Even the ones completed, few rains wash them out.

We are not at loggerheads with NDDC. We are entitled to NDDC projects because we are a major oil producer in Nigeria. All we are saying is do it right. Don’t come and give us one generator and be proud to say that you have done something for us. That is nothing. I can buy that generator on my own. Don’t come and disrupt our developmental plan. We are not building roads for fun but to link major nerve centres.

For example, in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, which is to host industrial city and the jetty project of the government, government’s plan is for a dual carriage way to that area. Recently, we had NDDC going on the media to say that they wanted to construct a road there and Governor is not allowing them. What kind of road are they trying to construct there? A single carriage way? Whereas the government wants a dual carriage way to evacuate traffic and enhance free flow of economic activities in that area. That is where dialogue comes in. So that if you want to construct a bush track, we can easily show you where would be appropriate. Don’t build a bush track where we need an expressway. This issue is not only in Akwa Ibom, other states in the Niger Delta region are also complaining of the same issue.

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