Andy Esiet, Calabar
The immediate past Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and a presidential aspirant under the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Godswill Akpabio has denied widespread allegation that Akwa Ibom state took over the 76 oil wells from Cross River state.
Putting the records straight, Akpabio said, “as governor of Akwa Ibom State for eight years, there was never a time in my life that I took Cross River State to court, instead I fought against it. But politicians will not tell you the truth because they have to tell you something to make sure you vote them into power. I advised against going to court. 40 per cent of Calabar is made up of Akwa Ibom people, so why fight each other”.
Akpabio who said this on Wednesday night in Calabar while soliciting for votes from delegates for his presidential ambition, stated, “I wrote a letter to the then president and said whatever Cross River State was getting on the oil wells continue to pay them, and the sum of 18.6billion was deducted from Akwa Ibom’s money and sent to the government of the day in Cross River State at that time. But still, your government decided to go to court. The youths here, some of them were probably 7 or 10 years old, they won’t understand. The next thing they will come and say is ‘they took my oil wells, they did this…’ did you understand the circumstances that your government went to court and lost against the advice. I set up a committee made up of Assam Assam, Anietie Okon and others to come and advise the government that we are too close, that there’s no way I can collect money or anything that belongs to Cross River State”.
The presidential hopeful said, “nobody has given me the opportunity to tell the truth. Today in APC we are a progressive party. We want to move forward, that’s why I’m telling you this. Go and cross check, if you find out that throughout my tenure as governor in 8 years I ever took a lawsuit against Cross River State then don’t vote for me on the 29th. When they lost that case they also ran to me. I negotiated a political solution with the power that be then… I was chairman of the Governor’s Forum at that time. I negotiated that Cross River State cannot be left out.
“But has anybody given me credit for it? Nobody. I love Cross River State with a passion. You don’t need to like my face. But when you know the truth, the truth shall set you free. So I stand in front of you to let you know there’s no way God can take me to the Villa, because God is taking me there, that I will not carry Cross River along. It is not your fault that Bakassi was ceded to Cameroon. A child of rape should not allow the circumstances of his birth to mar his future. It is time for us to close rank as Akwa-Cross”.
On the 5th section of the East-West road from Oron to Calabar, he gave the impression that the contract for the road has been suspended by the federal government due to a reviewed cost of over N4000 billion.
He said: the contract that “was signed under Minister Usani (former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Usani) by the Federal Executive Council; and that was supposed to be the 5th section of the East-West road, starting from Oron to Calabar with 13km of bridge and about 10km of road, but the story was that it ended in Hawkins street, where you have the cemetery and that people protested that there were so many things to be touched. The Federal Executive Council signed that contract at the cost of N265 Billion but I think your son, I am not criticizing him, reviewed it to about N400 billion and so that contract was rested”.
He gave the assurance that if he is elected president the road will be ready as “it is time for you to move from Calabar to Oron and get your fresh fish and come back here and get your crayfish” adding that …there is no way we will continue to suffer on the Calabar-Itu road. Or don’t you know that that road can carry a nylon tarred road? Don’t you know that Odukpani Junction can become a major flyover or an intersection, so that when a car is coming from the Calabar area towards Ogoja or Ikom you go on top, if you are going towards Uyo you go under, if you are going towards the next road by your side you curve”.
Akpabio who promised 35 percent position for women in his administration, said his capacity to lead Nigeria was however not in doubt because as governor he was able to develop the human capacity of an average Akwa Ibomite and impacted positively on the infrastructural landscape of Akwa Ibom with monumental projects such as the international stadium, international airport, standard roads and modernization of the capital city, which have all contributed to change the economic fortunes of the state making it an investment hub.