by crossriverwatch admin
Legor Idagbo is a lawyer by profession and the commissioner for works in Cross River State. He was still serving his second term in office as Executive Chairman of Bekwara Local Government when Senator Imoke plugged him and made him works commissioner. Since then, speculations have been rife about a ploy by power brokers in the state planning to use him as a spoiler for the ambition of the northern senatorial district to produce a governor for the state in 2015. In this exclusive interview with crossriverwatch, he says, he is innocent of all speculations and insists that those who say the governor is not working do not live in the state.
CRW: People have been saying the governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke is not working because he has not commissioned any project. Is that true?
Legor: How can that be true? People that are saying the governor of Cross River State is not working don’t reside in Cross River State. There is no way you reside in Cross River State that you will not see firsthand, what the government of Cross River State is doing. In every sector of the economy, the government of Cross River State is working. From infrastructure to schools, to agriculture, to healthcare; you name it, government of Cross River State is doing very very well.
In fact, if I talk about infrastructure which is my field apparently; if you take our rural roads for
instance, the government of Cross River State is doing 474 kilometre rural roads from Bakassi all the way to Obanlikwu. In every local government, there are roads passing through going to the interior areas of that local government in areas where before now one would not imagine that an asphalted road would pass there. The CR-RAMP (Cross River Rural Access Mobility Project) is a project that the Cross River State government is doing in partnership with the African Development Bank, ADB.
In other states where ADB intervened; what they are doing there are earth roads. In Cross River State, our governor insisted that because of the nature of our terrain and the kind of rainfalls we experience here that earth roads would not be sustainable so we decided to bear the asphaltic component of these roads. So that leaves Cross River State government committing N13.6billion into this partnership and ADB committing just about a little over N7billion. So you can see what Senator Imoke is doing.
If you look at our urban centres; we have some designated urban centers , Calabar, Ikom, Ugep, Ogoja; we have Ekori, recently we have Obudu. These are areas where before now if you go there, you will not see any serious infrastructural presence but under this administration, Senator Imoke is doing massive road net work. We are presently working in these urban areas as I mentioned we’ve done the phase one. We are doing phase two in Obudu, we are working in Ugep, we are working in Ikom, ogoja, Ekori and all that.
So, plenty of work is being done. If you look at channel two drain, that’s a massive underground drain that is meant to stop flooding in Calabar. Before now anytime rain falls in Calabar; water gathers around MCC road. There’s always flood for sometime before the rain subsides. But with the channel two drain, it’s going to ease up the pressure on channel one drain.
Calabar had just one major drainage system before now. But because of the volume of development and amount of rainfall and intensity in our rainfall, the channel one drainage had so much pressure on it and part of the drain collapsed in certain areas so this administration saw the need to construct a second drainage system and that’s the reason for channel two drain.
It’s a project that is costing this administration some two billion naira and its likely going to be completed sometime in February. There are also some projects which include, airport by-pass, the road leading from Atimbo passing through MCC road coming out through Parliamentary road and it is called the Margret Ekpo Airport by-pass. It is a major project costing this administration close to 3billion Naira.
We have a swampy stretch of over two kilometres which we are tackling presently and before the year run out, our contractor should deliver on that project. There are a couple of other projects this administration is doing in terms of infrastructure. Also in terms of beautification and street lights all the way to Calabar South. Almost every nook and cranny of Calabar is covered with street lights. In the night you drive through Calabar it’s a beauty to behold. All these things I think we should commend his Excellency Senator Liyel Imoke.
CRW: There are also complaints that some of these projects you have mentioned are not durable. For instance, the portion of parliamentary road done by the previous administration up to women development centre is still in good shape but the extension stretch done by this administration is failing. Most of the rural roads too are said to be failing as quickly as they are constructed. That means the jobs are poor quality jobs and Crossriverians are not getting value for their money?
Legor: In Parliamentary for instance, there is no difference between the road done by the previous administration and this administration. It is one contract and that contract was awarded to Lemna Nigeria Limited. If you’ve been following what has been happening in the state, we had cause to revoke all Lemna contracts in Cross River State because we have not been satisfied with the outcome of their jobs. They have given us poor quality jobs that are not sustainable and lasting and that Parliamentary road is one of them. You know the road is failing from the Efiete Junction roundabout all the way down to Parliamentary. That road came with drains but if you look now you will not see any drains because they have collapsed. The problem is with the contractor not with the administration.
In the rural areas, I don’t know why people would say the roads are not durable. For example the Mbube road done by RUDA (Rural Development Agency), was meant to carry low level of traffic because the roads are not stone based. And if you have a road without stone base in a rural area, that road should last you as long as twenty years but the problem is that there is a quarry opened by the Chinese so all their heavy duty trucks are plying that road which is not meant to carry that kind of traffic. Of course the road would collapse. Recently we have written to the Chinese and asked them to remove the asphalt and put stone base and re-asphalt it. If they are going to continue running their quarry there.
The road in Akamkpa is now used as a by-pass. Any time there is a gridlock at Odukpani road, most heavy trucks pass through the Akamkpa road. That is why the road is caving in and many other roads. The one in Bekwara that was not meant to carry heavy duty vehicles; trucks are now plying those roads. The problem we have is that federal roads in Cross River State from Obudu to Calabar and across the eighteen local governments have out lived their usefulness.
All have collapsed so all the patch works on the roads are not helping and any vehicle plying federal roads particularly heavy duty trucks divert to our own roads using it as by-pass thereby destroying our rural roads. What we need to do is to barricade our rural roads to stop vehicles with high tonnage from using them.
CRW: The state government proposed a budget of N151billion for 2013. And your ministry takes the highest share of the budget after security. How do you intend to spend the money in the 2013 fiscal year?
Legor: We are trying to see how we can complete all the ongoing projects of this administration. We are presently embarking on a lot of projects; the urban renewal programs are ongoing, our airport by pass project, channel two drain, the Okuni okoroba road is a major road we are embarking on. We must ensure that we complete these projects before embarking on new projects in 2013. We believe that in 2014 we should bring in new projects again.
CRW: It is widely believed in the state that you are close to the governor so you should know his whereabouts. Where is Senator Imoke and what is his state of health?
Legor: Just because he is a governor so anything he does makes news. There is nothing wrong with a man taking a vacation. People take vacations every day. He has decided to take a vacation for two months and he said so expressly in his letter to the House of Assembly. The two months have not expired. If after those two months he doesn’t come back then we can begin to ask questions. For now let us allow the man to take his vacation in peace. There are a lot of rumours and insinuations about his health. I don’t think they are necessary.
CRW: The Governor said in 2015, the person to succeed him must come from the northern Senatorial district and people are already saying that you were brought from Bekwara where you were LG Chairman to Calabar to be groomed to either contest for governor yourself or become deputy to Gershom Bassey in the spirit of the so-called ‘Lagos Accord’. Is that correct? And please tell us about this Lagos Accord and the three musketeers where you are said to be the fourth leg.
Legor: Honestly, I have no idea of what people are talking about. I have a mandate to deliver on as a Commissioner for Works and that is what I intend to concentrate on. I know that His Excellency has a few years to go and in selecting people to form his cabinet, he was very careful with his selections. He needed people that could deliver and I am sure that was what informed him bringing me on board.
His Excellency had had cause to come to Bekwara sometimes and looked at my projects and I am sure he was satisfied how we were able to manage our projects and ensure that our contractors delivered and the quality of the jobs he saw there. I am sure that is what informed him bringing me on board to act as his commissioner for works. I cannot begin to include myself in anything concerning governorship or deputy governorship. Besides 2015 is still far away let’s just concentrate on our work and deliver on our mandate and then take it up from there.
CRW: Thank you for talking to us
Legor: Thank you.
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