Edet Edet – Eket.
Community leaders from Eket Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State have raised an alarm over the 8billion Naira alleged to have been contributed by ExxonMobil to the Akwa Ibom State Government, as counterpart funding for the construction of Eket-Ibeno road.
The community leaders drawn from Eket, Ibeno, Esit Eket, Onna local government areas asked the oil giant to refund the money immediately, saying it was part of their oil spill compensation.
According to High Chief William Mkpa, Caretaker Committee Chairman of Ibeno Local Government council, who spoke with The Oracle Today, the NDDC originally awarded Eket-Ibeno road to Foundation Construction Company (FCC).
“The company held the contract for about four (4) years with no progression. The communities then appealed to the then Governor now senator, Godswill Obot Akpabio to come to their aid, and he heeded to the appeal after expressing displeasure over the poor quality of work that was done by FCC, during one of his visits to Ibeno.
“To Godswill Akpabio, before he could commence immediate job on the road, the contract with FCC had to be terminated, which was eventually done after some time, and the road was taken over by the state government under Joint Venture (JV) agreement and re-awarded to Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), and ExxonMobil was to contribute counterpart funding for the construction.
“Suddenly, there was an oil spill that devastated the livelihood of residents in the oil communities, and an insurance company paid to ExxonMobil 36billion, meant for palliatives, awaiting the rightful amount to be used for compensation” – he stated.
He stressed that the community demanded the release of the 36Billion for palliative to communities, but ExxonMobil refused, stating they wanted to sponsor projects in the communities to the tune of the money meant for palliatives.
“To this end, a technical committee was setup, and I was one of the members. We made modalities of projects funding, and it was adopted by the oil giant. I am so shocked that ExxonMobil through its Public Affairs Manager, known too well to me as an APC member, is now formulating lies to misinform the general public with intent to malign their support from Governor Udom Emmanuel”- Mkpa stated.
Obong Iwaad Emmanuel Mbong, Eket Chapter Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party and Special Assistant to Governor Emmanuel on Election Matters, confirmed that, in actualizing the proposed stance of the oil giant vis-à-visthe utilization of the palliatives, a technical committee was inaugurated with Senator Godswill Akpabio as Chairman, former minister, Rt. Hon. Ndueso Essien, Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachukwu, High Chief William Mkpa, among others as members.
He affirmed that the committee procreated strategies of fund appropriation, and there were some propositions; 8billion for Eket-Ibeno Road,1b for Ibeno beach, some money for the construction of Engineering blocks Akwa Ibom State University, etc. ExxonMobil assented to it, and 8billion of the palliatives was paid directly to the purse of the new contractor (CCECC) and not the state government.
IReporters gathered that the community leaders were displeased with the sudden erection of a gigantic signpost by ExxonMobil at the entrance of Grace Bill Road in Eket L. G. A. with an inscription, 8billion ON EKET-IBENO ROAD).
They described the inscription as preposterous and an attempt by ExxonMobil to incite the Akwa Ibom Community against the PDP led administration of Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, who felt the plight of his people and decided to fund the Eket-Ibeno road to 100% completion with the tune of 46.5Billion, reiterating that ExxonMobil had not contributed a dime to the construction of Eket –Ibeno road rather; they are claiming the people’s rightful contribution as theirs.
“The 8billion alleged to have been spent by ExxonMobil belonged to the people. Their operations marred the source of livelihood via the consistent oil spillage, and accrued to the people 36billion as palliatives, pending when to pay compensation. If 8billion of the 36billion is used to fund the Eket-Ibeno Road, would you now say it is ExxonMobil that sponsored the road?” – Mbong asked.
Mbong and High Chief Mkpa, etc. urged ExxonMobil to make refunds of the palliatives to the communities for derailing from the agreement that was made, or face a protest and legal action that might mar their further operations in the oil communities.
Speaking to the former Minister, Chief NduesoEssien via mobile, he confirmed that the 8billion alleged to had been contributed by ExxonMobil, was actually the people’s money, and it was wrong for the company to claim they had contributed.
He warned the oil giant to desist from this act of misinformation, as it is capable of hoodwinking the populace to believe that Governor Emmanuel’s multi-billion insertion towards the completion of the said road is a mere propaganda.
Every attempt to reach Mrs. Regina Udobong, Public Affairs manager of ExxonMobil, proved abortive as she wasn’t picking her calls nor replying text messages.