Orubebe: FG Needs N200b To Fix East-West Road

AmaechiAmaechi Accuses Minister Of Gross Ineptitude

RIVERS State Governor Chibuike Amaechi has refuted allegation by the Minister of Niger Affairs, Chief Godsday Orubebe, that he lacks respect for President Goodluck Jonathan.

Rather, Amaechi accused the minister of trying to divert attention from his own gross ineptitude and abysmal failure to deliver on the deplorable East-West road as Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs.

“Orubebe should please tell us what respect, regard and show of love is bigger than that (leading Rivers people to overwhelmingly vote for the President in the 2011 election). Orubebe’s attack on the person of Amaechi is a dubious, but obvious attempt to divert attention from his abysmal failure to deliver on the East- West Road as minister of the Niger Delta,” Iyofor said in the statement.

The minister on Thursday night had taken a swipe at the governor for saying the South-South states governments want the federal government to hand over the construction of the road to them.

He was particularly piqued by what he saw as Amaechi’s disrespect for the person and office of President Goodluck Jonathan, a behavior he stressed would no longer be tolerated.

Orubebe who was visibly angry at the suggestion, asked Amaechi to mind the business of governing Rivers whose capital city, Port Harcourt, he said has degenerated since the he assumed office.

“The resources of Rivers State are so enormous, but I can tell you that there are so many villages in Rivers that have not been connected by road,” he stated, after conducting selected media men from the Niger Delta states and Abuja on a tour of the road, which has become a sore point between the people and Jonathan.

“Port Harcourt used to be the Garden City of this country. Today, Port Harcourt is a slum; you cannot move in Port Harcourt.

“I think he should concern himself with utilising the resources that are in there to develop Rivers and the people of Rivers.

“I expect him to talk, if he is performing like (Akwa Ibom Governor Godswill) Akpabio. If today the governor of Akwa Ibom is talking about those things, I will tend to listen, sit down and reason with him.

“But not the governor of Rivers. He is only talking. Almost all the roads he is talking of are abandoned. Nothing is going on in Port Harcourt; the people are crying. He should think of doing that.

“Unfortunately, the man has forgotten that it was by the grace of God that he became the governor of Rivers. He has forgotten so soon. He has arrogated to himself, powers that he does not have. It is God that has powers.”

Orubebe continued: “Today, he sees himself as the governor of governors and he begins to feel that he is even bigger than the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But I want to let him know that God is still God. He must have respect for the Presidency. He must have respect for the President of this country.

“It is sad. It is unfortunate that people from the South-South, even governors, particularly Amaechi, have no respect for the President of this country.

“I think this is the right time we should let him know and I have decided to speak, because this is the time to speak now.

“Let him use the resources of Rivers to develop Rivers. Let him not use the resources of Rivers to bribe people in Nigeria; to give to people in Nigeria. That must stop. He should understand that God is still God.”

But Amaechi, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), David Oyifor, noted that contrary to Orubebe’s position, Amaechi has tremendous respect for the office of the President of Nigeria and Jonathan.

“The office of the President of Nigeria is a big institution that deserves utmost respect and it would be grossly irresponsible for anyone to disrespect the President, which unfortunately

Orubebe is doing by dragging the President’s name into his inability to deliver on the East-West road,” he said.

Iyofor accused the minister of conveniently forgetting that as the governor of Rivers State, Amaechi led Rivers people to overwhelming vote for and gave Jonathan the highest votes by any state in the country at the last presidential elections.

“Orubebe should please tell us what respect, regard and show of love is bigger than that? Orubebe’s attack on the person of Amaechi is a dubious, but obvious attempt to divert attention from his abysmal failure to deliver on the East- West road.

“This attempt to drag the President’s name into it is what is most disrespectful and irresponsible,” he said.

The governor challenged the Orubebe to show the world projects he started and completed in the Niger Delta as Minister of Niger-Delta affairs.

He also demanded that Orubebe show the world one project he started and completed in Rivers State with the huge resources allocated to his ministry, wondering whether Rivers is not part of the Niger Delta Orubebe superintends as minister.

In the same vein, the governor challenged the minister to come to Rivers State at anytime of his choice to see Amaechi’s developmental strides and projects.

He said the governor would be delighted to show him the kilometres upon kilometres of new roads and bridges, new world-class hospitals and health centres scattered all over the state, the exquisite primary and secondary schools that have become the model for many, the robust urban renewal programme and many more projects of his administration.

“What an irony, for an appointed minister, who has failed woefully, who has been unable to complete one single road, to cast aspersions on an elected governor, who is judiciously using the resources of his people to better their lives and develop their state.

“It is no longer in doubt that Orubebe does not like Rivers State. Orubebe should please face the simple task of completing one road, just one road—the East-West road—as this diversionary attempt to attack Amaechi will not complete the road that is most dear to the hearts and lives of Niger-Deltans,” Iyoor said.

Meanwhile, Orubebe has disclosed that the federal government needs over N200 billion to complete the road by December 2014, even as critics said this was not realistic, given the slow pace of work by contractors.

Briefing journalists in Uyo on Thursday night after an extensive tour of the 338 kilometre road that starts from Warri, Delta State and terminates at Oron in Akwa Ibom State, the minister said over N134 billion has so far been sunk in the project put a total costs of N348 billion.

The minister, who disclosed that contract for the extension of the road from Oron to Calabar would be signed in the next one or two months, following directives from the Presidency, said the three contractors- Satraco, RCC and Gitto- are being owed over N20 billion.

The minister assured Nigerians and the people of Niger Delta on the resolve of the federal government to deliver the road by 2014 without fail, saying “the road was one of the three intervention projects by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the need for government to intervene on roads and East west road was one of the projects.”

He disclosed that because of the pressure at that time, the road was awarded in 2006 without detailed design.

He explained: “It was when we came on board in 2009, as a ministry, that we sat back and said the right thing must be done. So, we had to provide detailed design and drawings for the construction of the road project.

“Some of the bridges today were not there when the project was awarded. Some of the culverts that are being done today were not known by the consultants.

“Today, we have 40 bridges along the road, covering 338 kilometres and if you take the dual carriage way, you are talking about 676 kilometes.

“As I speak today, 32 of the bridges have been completed and the remaining eight are at various stages of completion.

“Out of the 768 culverts, about 750 have been completed and all these were done from 2010. It was from 2009 we started planning and budgeting for this road… and we were able to commit N15 billion, N23 billion for this road and we have had meetings with the contractors and we assured them that this ministry and Mr. President is committed to seeing that this project is committed.

“When we took over this project in 2009 it was less than 10 per cent job that was done but today over 50 percent work is done.

“Most of the tarred areas is over 125km…the flood came and most of the areas that were sand filled were washed away.”