By Wole Arisekola
Contrary to the report on the reason for the recent purported raid by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) of a business premises reportedly owned by Senator Godswill Akpabio over alleged diversion of generators and hospital equipment, the report has been refuted in its totality by sources close to the Senator, adding that the report is totally unfounded, fabricated and baseless, as Senator Akpabio does not own any business premises in the said vicinity, or anywhere for that matter.
The fact of the matter, according to the source, is that some operatives of the ICPC led by one Mr. Tiku and the Border Community Development Agency, led by Engr. Susan, have been in communication with the contractor handling the contract for the supply of hospital equipment to Cottage Hospital, Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area, a project initiated by Senator Godswill Akpabio.
On July 9, 2019, the said officials of the ICPC and Border Community Development Agency informed an aide of Senator Akpabio that they were tracking constituency projects and would be glad to be shown to projects which Senator Akpabio has executed, a request that was received with great enthusiasm by the aide of Senator Akpabio.
Among the projects visited by the team included a fully built and completed Skills Acquisition Centre in Ikot Ekpene and the Recreation Centre at the Federal Polytechnic, Ukana. They were also shown the medical equipment and generators which were kept in a warehouse which shares the same fence with the hospital. It should, however, interest the public to know that the officials were very impressed with the execution of the projects and praised Senator Akpabio for the faithful execution of the projects, even when the full contract sums were yet to be paid. They promised to make recommendations to appropriate agency for the payment of the outstanding contract sums.
The said ICPC and Border Community Development Agency officials also visited the Cottage Hospital, Ukana where the Medical Superintendent, Dr Mary Paulinus Udoh, acknowledged receipt of the medical equipment. The Medical Superintendent, before the officials, praised Senator Akpabio for his interventions in the hospital, including the donation of a dialysis machine, and all the parties agreed that the generators should be formally handed over to the hospital on July 10,2019 by 10 am.
Senator Godswill Akpabio can hardly be faulted in the execution of constituency projects. He has initiated and completed 88 constituency projects cutting across Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District and even extending the projects to the other two Senatorial Districts in Akwa Ibom State with projects in Udung Uko and Ibiono in Eket and Uyo Senatorial Districts respectively. This is unprecedented. Even though most of the projects have not been fully paid for, most of them have been completed and put to use by the benefiting communities.
The officials of the Border Community Development Agency created the impression that after the verification and tracking of the projects, they would make recommendations to appropriate agencies for the payment of the outstanding balance of the contract sums to the contractors. It therefore smacks of mischief taken too far that while the contractor as agreed by the Hospital Management was making arrangements for forklift to carry the heavy duty generators and formally hand them over to the Hospital Management, some political jobbers went to town about a purported raid and diversion of the same equipment duly acknowledged by the Management of the hospital.
The sources, therefore, urged the general public to discountenance this malicious report as fictitious, baseless and unfounded. Senator Godswill Akpabio remains committed to the welfare of the good people of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District whom he had given effective representation as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In the same development, it should be noted emphatically here, that constituency projects are not executed by Senators. They go through general bidding processes. Most times the Senator concerned does not even know the contractor handling any aspect of his constituency project as in the instant case. Payments are equally staggered.
The contractor used the warehouse of Senator Akpabio’s relations business premises to store the equipment pending final payment and donation by the appropriate Agency. A combined team of Border commission, ICPC and others tracking constituency projects of Senator Akpabio were shown 15kvA generating sets, one dialysis machine and accessories at the warehouse, untouched and still in crates and yet to be fully paid for. With over 60 other completed projects though huge outstanding payments, the inspectors visited only four sites and proceeded to politicize supplies not installed, but kept within a stone throw of the benefitting Cottage Hospital.
The posers her are: Why try to damage or link none supply to an excellent performer, Godswill Akpabio? Why not ask ICPC the balance of the supply contract sum? Why only Akpabio out of 109 Senators? Is the timing linked to political struggle for appointments? Let them speak to the contractor and let Senator Akpabio alone. As a Senator, he has done marvelously well, just as he did when he was a Governor!! It was even just heard that the first tranche of the payment, being 70%, was made in 2018.
Moreover, it is the job of the contractor and the Agency that awarded the job to present or donate the procured items to the beneficiaries. The Senator may or may not be invited. This is simply a case of mischief being taken too far.