By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
The private conference room of Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade was on Friday filled with dramatic emotional comments as the State Government signed the contract papers for the construction of the 36 kilometers Yahe-Wanakom-Benue link road in Yala local government area of the state.
The project is valued at NGN3.8 billion with the Commissioner for Works in the state, Engr. Dane Osim-Asu saying that it will be executed using direct labor with Sydney Construction Nigeria limited as service providers.
“Because of paucity of funds, this is not a direct contract per se. This is a direct labor job. We are using Sydney construction as a service provider to ensure that Ministry of work does that job with direct labor and because they are already on ground handling one of our major projects covering all the five local government areas and so they don’t require any form of mobilization and they are going to move to site to ensure that this project and vision is realized,” said Osim-Asu.
The contract was then signed with Osim-Asu announcing that the project sum is “3 Billion, Seven Hundred and Eighty-Five Million, Four Hundred and Eighty thousand and Nine Hundred Naira (NGN3,785,480,900 USD10,663,359 GBP8,157,469).”
And, indigenes of Ukelle community who were given opportunity to react to the development.
“Today is the fulfillment of that social contract that you entered with the Ukelle people, in fulfillment of your promise to the people. I believe that his excellency the former governor will be very happy. The people of Ukelle would be superlatively happy,” said Mr. Ogana Lukpata, the Member Representing Yala 1 state constituency in the House of Assembly who told Ayade that the road was enough to convince the electorate to vote him for a second term in office.
The Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Mr. John Ulafor who could not contain his excitement said that: “On this particular occasion your excellency, the joy is overwhelming, when this approval was done in exco, it was announced that since it was the eve to my wedding, it was my wedding gift and I accept it,” Ulafor said adding that: “I have mobilized almost everybody in Ukelle to come to Calabar today, in fact my house is almost filled to the brim as I speak.”
For Mr. Mike Usibe, the former Chairman of Yala; “The project it is a dream come true. We dreamt that in a number of years, we believed that someday the messiah will come and today the messiah is you your excellency.
“This project is going to emphatically and definitely improve on the lives of the Ukelle people in terms of their economy, political activities, social activities and security wise. The incessant wars we have been having in Ukelle, let me say that it is because of that road, poverty, incessant poverty. On this note your excellency we are sure that these security challenges that we have been hearing in Ukelle, say war, crimes and all that will come to the barest minimum.”
Also, Mr. Ayade’s aide on electronic media, Beatrice Akpala sobbed while expressing her joy for the award of the contract.
She said: “I don’t know what to say, the major challenge of the Ukelle people has always been that road and as I am (sobbing) talking to you. Your excellency I want to say thank you for taking the pain off of Ukelle people. That is what has been a major challenge and I know that their lives will never be the same. God will bless you, thank you very much.”
Governor Ayade who explained the choice of Sydney construction in his remarks, did not state the duration of the contract but said that he believed the road will be ready in 2 and a half years and averred that despite the state having projects totaling over 1.5 trillion Naira, there was a will to implement all.
“Wherever you have a will, wherever you have a very very very good mind, whenever you are committed, God will always have a provision for you. Let me put it on record, the Ukelle people will never see stoppage to that work.
“If you study my program very carefully, since we started the Yala to Obudu ranch project, the contractor has never pulled out of site for one day. If they tell you their story then you will know the challenges they have faced in terms of commitment on the part of government to pay them but they have maintained the consistency.
“And so, having our one year history with them, they are people who will stand with you even when times are tough, they are there for you. And so for us taking this job through Sydney that is already a tested and proven hand is one way of guaranteeing that this Ukelle road must be done.”
He also announced that the Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu will perform the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 as earlier disclosed by Osim-Asu.
The General Manager of the construction firm, Fady Fady in his remarks said that: “To assure that our job will be as you are expecting on the level of quality. And as commissioner has said before, our projects is very very near to Yahe. We don’t need mobilization, it is an honor from us to you.”