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Group tells Wike to stop injustice, advocates equity in road infrastructure in Rivers

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A social justice group, Kengema Unity Forum has faulted Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike in the award of road contracts in the State which he claimed were in the interest of Kalabari people.

Commending the governor for embarking on strategic road construction, the group noted that the road linking Krakrama up to Mina-Ama was no near in the interest of Kalabari people, neither was it meant to uplift their socio-economic fortunes.

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In a statement by the group’s leader, Sobomabo Jackrich on Tuesday and which was made available to journalists, he called for equity in road and other infrastructure in Rivers State.

The statement noted: “While We commend the Rivers State Government for awarding this very important and strategic project aimed at improving the socio-economic fortunes of Kalabari land and its people, it is worrisome that the overall description of the said contract by the Rivers State Government does not in any way align or reflect the reality of what the Trans-Kalabari road ought to be. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

“Constructing a road to link up Krakrama, Omekwe-ama, Angulama, Omekwe Tari-Ama, Sangama, Mina-Ama and others known as central group, can best be described as Asari-Toru internal link roads.

“Just as we have the Isiokpo internal roads, Bolo Internal Roads, Okrika Internal roads and others. Will our people board a boat to Krakrama or the 1st phase will be Pontoon to convey the cars over in order to have access to the roads?

“If Rivers State Government is sincere about the Trans Kalabari road project, it would have been convincing when the 1st phase commences from Tema, Ifoko and Sangama so to be able to connect those rural communities at the central group to be able to drive from port harcourt through Tema down to there various towns.

“Alternatively, the Trans Kalahari road should have started from Abonnema town crossing over to Krakrama through the rest communities, that also one can consider.

“As it affects project funding, the state government said the projected cost of the road is N13.48 billion and will be funded at N1 billion monthly by an irrevocable standing payment order against the state’s internally generated revenue.

“How did the Rivers State Government arrive at the said N13.48 billion contract sum for the project? Which firm carried out the bill of quantities survey?

“Which medium was a capital project like the Trans Kalabari road bid advertised that brought about the contract being awarded to Lubricks Construction Company?

“The Okoro-Nu-Odo, Rebisi and Rumuogba flyovers at Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor awarded to Julius Berger was at the cost of N21 billion according to the government, and seventy percent of the contract sum as and that of the rest flyovers were paid upfront, flouting the law of the state restricting down payment of contract sum to thirty percent (that was yet to be reviewed at the time).

“Yet these were projects not previously captured in the 2020 budget of the state, but were only introduced into the fiscal document while reviewing the performance of the 2020 budget during presentation of the 2021 budget estimate on the floor of the State Assembly last December.

“If projects of such magnitude not previously captured in the budget of the state would be given such prompt attention, why earmark less than fifteen percent monthly payment for the Trans-Kalabari road that had been captured twice in the fiscal documents of the state even after review of the Rivers State Public Procurement law which allows advance payment of up to seventy percent of contract sum as mobilization fee.

“More worrisome is the fact that despite recent Seventy Eight Billion Naira federal government refund, with our contributions to the socioeconomic sustenance of the state, why do we have to depend on monthly IGR to complete our projects?

“Meanwhile, award of the construction of the second phase of the Sakpenwa – Bori road by the Rivers State government has vindicated us on our earlier position that the road was commissioned only at forty percent completion.

“It is however worrisome that despite the budgetary provisions for the full funding of the project to its completion stage as provided for in the 2020 budget, the road project was only forty percent executed.

“There was no provision of the construction of a second phase of the road in the 2020 budget which it was originally captured, neither was it mentioned as a project to be embarked upon in the 2021 budget.

“By implication, the road construction ought to have been one hundred percent completed and fully funded in the 2020 revised budget.

“Our state revised appropriation law number twelve of 2019, section six, states that the money granted by this law is intended for the services in respect of which money will become payable within the financial year ending on the 31st day of December, 2020, and no part of the amount set out in the consolidated revenue fund shall be issued after the end of the 2020 financial year.

“If this is anything to go by, it means that the Rivers State Government arbitrarily appropriates funds for capital projects otherwise not captured in the state’s annual financial plan, without any attempt to give account to citizens of the state on how our collective resources are expended.

“This is to say that major ethnic nationalities of the state, Kalabari and Ogonis who carry the burden of the socio-economic sustenance of Rivers State on their shoulders deserve more than being treated as second class citizens.

“There is no gainsaying that ninety percent of all annual budgets of the state are funded through proceeds of oil explorations mined from the Kalabari soil and that of our Ogoni counterparts, yet we are the most impoverished part of the state.

“No part of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor has a substantial oil mineral deposit, yet all proceeds derived from oil mining operations in our area and in the Ogoni land are used to transform Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor to the imaginary ‘Houston Texas’ of the Rivers State Government.

“It is high time this injustice stopped.

“Recall that the Niger Delta struggle for resource control emanated from gross injustice meted to the Niger Delta people by the federal government who took away all proceeds generated from oil explorations in our region to develop other regions leaving us to wallow in abject poverty till date.

“It is a big shame for the likes of the Secretary to the state government, Dr Tammy Danagogo and other representatives of the Rivers State government of the Kalabari extraction to betray their ancestral land by choosing to wage a media war against their kinsmen in order to score cheap political point to please their principal.

“If Dr Tammy Danagogo the Secretary to Rivers State Government is a true son of Kalabari land, what was his problem with the collaborative meeting of Kalabari people soliciting for the support of their Ogoni brothers and sisters to enable them have a slot at the brick house in 2023, that would have warranted his verbal attacks on worthy ambassadors of our land, Alhaji Mujahid Asari Dokubo and High Chief Ambassador Sobomabo Jackrich?

“In the said publication, Dr Danagogo described Alhaji Asari Dokubo and Sobomabo Jackrich as criminal elements, miscreants and self seeking militants who are seeking relevance, and that they lacked the capacity to speak for the Kalabris.

“May we remind Tammy Danagogo that it is on record that these same persons he describes as irrelevant were the same people he ran to, to desperately solicit their help to get the support of the Kalabari people which brought about the bulk vote of our people, resulting to the victory and enthronement of Governor Nyesom Wike in 2015.

“That being said, there is nothing wrong with evenly spreading development to all parts of the state by citing critical infrastructure in other local government areas other than Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor, in order to ease the pressure on the infrastructure in the state capital and its environs, as well as decongest both cities and halt rural/urban migration.

“The narrative on the lips of all representatives of the state government that everyone in the state resides in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor, hence the need to deprive or starve those providing economic sustenance of the state of development, is the height of deceit, wickedness and deliberate marginalization of the Kalabari and other parts of the state.

“We therefore call on the Rivers State Government to stop the perpetuation of these injustices against the Kalabaris, Ogonis and other ethnic nationalities of the state”, the statement concluded.

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