Senator Ita Enang, former Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs has urged communities within the Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene highway corridor to support the Federal Government to ensure the completion of the road assuring that compensation would be paid soon.
According to him, when he engaged stakeholders of Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State in a dialogue for the settlement of the compensation, a dispute erupted.
Speaking on Monday, Enang noted that the FG was committed to the completion of the highway, urging communities to avoid an unnecessary dispute that will distract contractors handling the road project.
Enang stated that there was nowhere he didn’t go to get a loan until a miracle happened, they were able to get a loan from the tax credit window of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC).
The former Presidential Aide said that the bill of quantity given to Sematech Company did not include payment of compensation, as Cross River and Akwa Ibom states, were supposed to pay compensation to property owners.
He, however, said that compensation would actually be paid, advising that communities should maintain peace while the project was ongoing.
“We are going to pay compensation. Let us keep the peace. Let the contractors have their right of way to do the job. I assure you that government will pay compensation.
“I took that opportunity, telling myself, ‘if not now, then when?’ We got the project in the budget. It was awarded to Julius Berger for the entire stretch: the Cross River end and the Akwa Ibom end.
“After we suffered for some years because of the lean funds that were available in the budget, I went to African Development Bank to get a loan for this project. They told me what to do and I went to Debt Management Office, where I tried to get a loan for the project.
“It is called a tax credit scheme and is facilitated by the federal government. Dr Joe Udoinyang is here with us. He is a Director at the Federal Inland Revenue Service. This tax is collected in advance from the NNPC from the tax they have to pay to the government from oil profit,” Enang said.
Earlier speaking during the meeting, the Chairman of Itu Local Government Area, Mr Etetim Onuk commended Sen. Enang for working out ways to bring the project on board.
Onuk said that no development can take place in an atmosphere of rancour and appealed to communities to allow peace to reign in order for the contractors to do their job.
“Let me publicly thank you for singlehandedly working so hard to bring this road. Through you, God has brought this road to us.
“I have spent six hours on the road before. But last Sunday, we travelled the same road, spending only two hours. That’s why we have to thank God.
“Two days ago, we received a report that contractors are threatening to shut down the site and leave. That’s why we are here, so you can hear our side of the story.
“Doing the road is good. But people still want to be compensated for their properties that may have been destroyed in the course of doing the road,” he said.
Also speaking, the Paramount Ruler of Itu LGA, HRM Edidem Edet Inyang, sued for peace for the continuation of the road construction.
The paramount ruler appealed to Federal Government to work out modalities of paying compensation.