By Jonathan Ugbal, Government House Correspondent
The signature projects of the Cross River State governor, Senator Benedict Ayade’s administration have been received with mixed feelings across the socio-political and socio-economic divides in the state with the issue of funding dominating every discourse regarding the projects.
The Special Assistant to the governor on Technical Affairs, Eric Akpo in an exclusive interview with CrossRiverWatch says plans for the projects were made with the issue of the state’s lean resources in mind.
“From the technical appraisal of situations, you will realize that we can save cost by looking inwards. There has been a tendency in public procurement where everything has been given out by way of contract but this administration is looking towards the House of Assembly granting permission for us to explore the option of direct labor and utilization of our raw materials which is why His Excellency is interested in setting up a quarry and cement factory which would produce the two basic things required in road construction, granite and cement.
“We are not going to be purchasing materials because we are going to be using our own God given natural resources in construction which is going to reduce the cost of the signature projects and many more by more than 50 percent. I am as I have been always, optimistic about it”.
Akpo who is an architect by profession says his office was upgraded from the position of Personal Assistant to Special Assistant considering Ayade’s vision in developing the state and describes his principal as a business minded leader who is passionate about ameliorating the pains and sufferings of Cross Riverians and developing the state despite the current economic challenges.
“The issue of paucity of funds is known to every Cross Riverian but the governor is a business minded person with a background in the private sector who long before the campaigns began, saw it as a personal principle and ambition to develop the state without recourse to state funds.
“He thought of it and decided the state be developed with investors funds with the state owning these projects in a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement. The state will make its own equity contribution in terms of land and provision of the necessary legislative architecture which a phase has been completed with the signing of the infrastructure bill into law”.
Responding to questions regarding the legality of the projects, Akpo maintains that “The budget is a law made for the state and if the need arises, there is provision for amendment of the budget to cater for projects if they require state funds, but that is not the issue here, don’t forget the regulatory backbone for the Cross River State Infrastructure company limited has been signed into law”.
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