FGN allocated N9b for failed Ekpoma road in both 2016 and 2017 budgets – Senator Ordia.
By Sunday Danladi Sado, Abuja.
Senator representing the Edo Central Senatorial District (also known as Esanland), Senator Clifford Ordia, has made extensive clarifications about the true state of affairs of the Benin – Auchi Express Way, especially as it relates to the failed alignments at Ehor, Ekpoma, Irrua – Ajaokuta axis, which has rendered the roads totally impassable for a few weeks now. Motorists now travel from Benin to Auchi through Agbor or Ugoneki, completely avoiding Ehor and Ekpoma.
Speaking exclusively with multiple award winning Urhokpota Reporters’ crew who interviewed him at his office in Abuja, the 57 years old qualified Engineer who is a member of Senate Committees on Works, Rules and Business explained that about 9 billion Naira was appropriated for the road in the 2016 budget and again appropriated for the road in the current 2017 budget. Yet the road is still totally impassable.
He explained what both the Edo State and the Federal government have done so far about the rehabilitation of that failed road, and also talked extensively about other issues, including his account of stewardship to the people of Edo Central Senatorial District of Edo State.
Below is a transcript of the verbatim interview with Senator Ordia, a Civil Engineer who obtained his West African School Certificate in 1979 at Esan Grammar School, Uromi, studied Civil Engineeing in 1986 at the former Bendel State University, Ekpoma, now Ambrose Alli University, AAU, Ekpoma and obtained a CEP in 2009 at the Lagos Business School.
URHOKPOTA: What is your assessment of the Benin-Auchi road situation especially as it affects your Senatorial district?
SEN. ORDIA: Well thank you very much. I’m Senator Clifford Ordia representing Edo Central senatorial district in the Eight Senate. Let me thank you very warmly for that apt question at this point in time. For me the road is in a deplorable situation and let me say that, that alignment; the Ajaokuta-Auchi-Benin alignment is a major gateway to three geopolitical zones from Abuja. That is the South-South geopolitical zone, the South-East geopolitical zone and the South-West geopolitical zone, you can see that, that alignment is a major economic route in this country. This is why the Federal government must do anything humanly possible to quickly do something that will make that road motorable, because as it is right now a journey that takes approximately two, three, four hours is now more than 12 hours. That shows that there is a very fundamental problem on that particular alignment. That is why we’re getting more frustrated.
At the initial stage when we started noticing some very serious problems on the road, I move a Motion on the floor of the National Assembly to bring Federal Government’s attention to the deplorable road. Senate mandated us to visit the site which we did few weeks ago and on my visit I did mention that the Federal Government needs to come and start serious work on that road even though I know based on that Motion they were able to ask the contractors to mobilize to Ekpoma to commerce remedial work.
But as I speak with you now, information reaching me shows that the contractors are no longer on site apparently because of rainy season, and poor funding on that particular alignment.
URHOKPOTA: What is the Edo state government’s commitment towards the road?
SEN ORDIA: The Edo state government, and the senators, as well as the National Assembly members from Edo State, are very much committed to making sure that the road is urgently attended to by the Federal Government. And as a party, of course we all from different political parties, we have resolved as collective representatives of the people, to put our heads together to put all our efforts together in making sure that road is motorable because what Edo people need from us is to attract federal government projects to Edo State irrespective of our political lineage. That is what we have resolved to do. You know as senators and as government representing Edo State both at state and national levels this is our commitment. We are all fully committed to this course.
URHOKPOTA: What is the Minister for Works, Babatunde Fashola’s disposition to the Edo State road projects?
SEN ORDIA: If you want a straight answer I think the Minister is favourably disposed to funding that road if he had the money to do so. You know it is for the Minister to say these are my key projects the next thing is for government to fund these project. That is the level we are right now.
Let me say here that as a Senate, the federal government is to provide estimate for yearly budget, ours is to approve and appropriate it properly. As far as that alignment (Ekpoma axis) is concerned, we have appropriated good money for the contractor to be able to do reasonable work on that project. For your information we have about four contractors on that alignment and what we have in the Budget in 2017, it will be able to go a long way in carying out remedial works on the road and continuing the dualization of that project. As it is right now the problem is how federal government can appropriately fund that road. The problem is the funding as we speak.
URHOKPOTA: Has money been allocated for the repairs or the reconstruction within the last two years? And how much?
SEN ORDIA: Well, for us in 2016 budget it was not one of the priority roads that the federal government submitted for approval from the Senate, but on our own we decided to provide some funds on that particular alignment. I think in 2016 we had almost about 9 Billion (Naira) that we appropriated for that particular alignment and also this year. We have also appropriated a little above 9 Billion (Naira). Like I said, we have done our part as the representatives of the people. What is important now, what remains now, is for government to fund that project. That is the truth of the matter.
The Governor is interested. We are interested and we have made our point known to government through Motions and appropriation. So because I know the scarcity of funds that we are experiencing in the country right now, of course that alignment is no exception – it is going to affect it. That’s where we are right now.
URHOKPOTA: Who stopped the dualization process, started by President Goodluck Jonathan, on that road?
SEN ORDIA: The dualization process has not been stopped. Nobody stopped it. It’s still ongoing. That’s why we appropriated funds. What we do is that once an old road is dualised or approval is given for the dualisation of that particular road, while the contractor is working on the new alignment or the new dualisation, they are supposed to carry out remedial works on the old alignment. That is how these contracts were structured and that’s exactly what is in place. While they are continuing the dualization process they can also as well carry out remedial works on the road that’s how the work is structured. Nothing has changed.
URHOKPOTA: What could the Edo state government do or not do about the failed Ekpoma road?
SEN ORDIA: Well, there are so many options available to the Edo State Government. One is either they decide to fund sections that is covering Edo State. But that is a big project for a State government to handle at this point in time. It is going to run into billions of naira. That’s exactly why we are all working together on this main project because we believe that a State government does not have that financial disposition to construct that road. That is why we are putting effort together to see how the Federal Government will be able to continue with the project as it were.
Well I’m not in Edo State Government, maybe the governor might have other sources of income, if he is able to do that of course it would be possible for the federal government to refund the money meant for road if the state government decided to take over the road. That is why we are talking about devolution of powers. These are projects that the state government can easily handle, if federal government has to share some of her powers with state government. Federal government cannot do everything. They should delegate some of these powers to the state at least. If Edo state is funding that road up to Okpella and Kogi State government is doing the remaining one it would take a shorter time for them to implement these things. So we are talking about Federal government shedding some of her powers to states. But people are misunderstanding what devolution of powers is all about. This is the problem.
URHOKPOTA: In your capacity as a most distinguished Senator, what have you been able to do within your capacity and your limitations about the road situation in Ekpoma, Irrua and elsewhere in Esan Land?
SEN. ORDIA: Well for me, am doing my best to add value as far as road construction in my Senatorial District is concerned. For me, all the roads that were awarded by the previous administration have provision in the 2017 budget, and I’m very much sure that once the Federal government start releasing funds under the 2017 appropriation, of course they are all going to benefit from it. But let me say here as far as Ekpoma road is concerned it’s as a result of the diversion, the entire road structure in Ekpoma has been completely damaged and we have moved a Motion to that effect, by asking the Federal government to see how they can be able to carry out remedial works in Ekpoma town. But I’m sure from all indications that the state government has already awarded that road inside Ekpoma Town. So we don’t want to be seen as duplicating, while we are focusing on the main alignment which is the main dual carriage way. The state government, I think, it is part of their program also under the 2017 budget. So we are working hand in hand like I told you we believe that our people need a lot from us and the only way we can be in a position to actually serve them very well is if all of us irrespective of our political linage can come together and have a working agreement. That working agreement would make Edo state benefit maximally from the federal government. This is our mission statement. I’m sure, by the special grace of God, this is what is going to be as far as this dispensation is concerned.
URHOKPOTA: What is the Edo state government doing about the other state roads in Ekpoma that are very bad.
SEN ORIDIA: The state government has published some roads for rehabilitation in Edo state. I’m sure some of those roads are included in the rehabilitation programme. What we are trying to avoid is where there would be a duplication. If they are working on a particular road we from the federal don’t need to embark on or provide funds for that same rehabilitation. We are trying to make sure there is no conflict whatsoever. We are putting our heads together to make sure we streamline our activities so that our people can benefit maximally from our regime.
URHOKPOTA: Lastly sir, what words of encouragement do you have for your constituency?
SEN ORIDIA: I want to thank them for finding me most worthy to represent them at this stage in my life or this political dispensation, because of the confidence they have in me. We are doing our best, what is important here is that we represent them in a manner that would bring development to Edo Central.
Few weeks ago I had a town hall meeting where we had to now brief them on all what we have done in the National Assembly. From all indications, I think they are very happy with what we are doing.
Within the first two years we have been able to impact positively in the lives of our people. We have been able to give employment. We have been able to intervene in the area of education. We had primary schools built in all the five local government and we have been able to also embark on some road rehabilitation especially the one from Agua to Ibore. As we speak right now work is still on going there. We have tried to intervene in Ukpenu – Ekpoma road but we had issues relating to too much rain. I’m very much sure that by the next dry season the contractor would come and complete the work. We have also been able to empower some of our youths by provision of motor bikes. We have also trained them in small scale businesses and we have empowered some. We have made special provision for them in 2017 budget so that we can be able to empower some youths and women who are very hard working.
We have provided some transformers to some of the communities in the last two years. We have been able to employ some of the youths in the Police Service. We have also been able to provide some amenities in some communities especially in Ifoko Island. We bought a twin engine boat for them because during my campaign I found out they were using canoe to ferry on the water way.
The first thing we did within the first six months was to make sure we provided them with a twin engine boat that can take at least 21 passengers, and we tried to set up a committee to manage it to see how they can use the proceeds to buy other boats.
I just hope that when we give out some of these things, management is one of the things and problems we have. To my knowledge they are making very good use of the boats. We also provided some medical facilities for Otibhor Okhai Teaching Hospital (Irrua Specialist Hospital). That’s the only teaching hospital we have in our Senatorial District, at Irrua.
The first thing I did was to provide an ambulance. There was an occasion one day when we had cause to be at the hospital and they had an emergency case and they did not have an ambulance to take the patient to where he could get medical attention, so I had to provide them with an ambulance.
I have also brought a container load of surgical equipment to that same hospital. I pleaded with them to reduce the cost of treatment of our people. I have also been able to kick start the building of town halls in Irrua. I did an extensive renovation of Uromi Town Hall. I am very sure that under the 2017 appropriation, I will be able to complete those Town Halls. I believe that every community should have a place to sit down and discuss issues of common interest. We are also going to adequately equip those Town Halls to international standard.
We have asked the NDDC to do a number of projects. As we speak right now the projects are being tendered. So in the next few weeks award letters would start coming out to contractors to start rehabilitation of these roads – these so many numerous projects.
We have given out scholarships to some of our students who are outstanding. What I believe as Senator is giving adequate attention, considering the harsh economy realities, and that is why most of the time every other week I’m always at home to sit down and attune to issues of family.
When they see you they are able to heave a sigh of relief. So we have tried as much as possible to let them know what is happening by the special grace of God. We should be able to achieve a lot. We also provided a borehole at Irrua market. In a few weeks, I will be commissioning that project.
For reactions to this interview or constituency feedback or contact with the Senator, call his official line 0 803 840 3877 or visit his constituency office at No. 1 Uhaekpen Quarters, Usugbenu, Irrua, Esan Central, Edo State.