A group of observers in Cross River State have come out to say that no rational government in the 21st century will award a contract up to the tune of five billion naira (N5bn) without budgeting for it.
This is in response to Governor Bassey Otu’s statement on Sept. 8, 2023, during a press briefing in Calabar, in which he said the Governor’s Office in Calabar, Governor’s Lodge, Liaison Offices in Abuja and Lagos are to undergo renovation for an estimated sum of N5bn.
Otu’s statement has been surrounded by controversies owing to the fact that the state and the country are struggling to meet citizens’ needs.
In a statement titled “Renovation of Governors Office, Lodge Liaison Office; An Urgent Necessity or Waste of Public Resources?” and signed by Hon. Eyo Nsa Ekpo Esq., Sir Maurice Effiwatt ksji, Hon. Victor Okon, Hon. Mrs Ada Egwu, Prof. Emmanuel Eyo Esq., Rev. Hon. James Anam, Hon. Chief Ani Esin, and Hon. Joe Etene Esq., and made available to CONVERSEER on Tuesday (Sept. 19), the observers appealed to Cross Riverians to understand Governor Otu will invest in vital and critical areas of need.
“The opinion represented above, though not totally out of place, is welcomed and in line with the transparency promised by the current administration.
“It is, however, expedient for us to peruse and examine the context in which this projection was made by His Excellency.
“Firstly, it is important to note that no rational Government in this era of accountability and transparency, will award a contract of 5 Billion naira, without budgetary provision being made for such a major expenditure. It is on record that the first budget to be presented by this administration to the Cross River State House of Assembly is still undergoing preparation at this moment. The Assembly will perform its constitutional duty by appropriating monies for these renovations, without interference by the Executive Arm of Government.
“There is no doubt that these facilities listed by His Excellency and described as in need of urgent renovation, facelift and furnishing, are the first point of contact for visitors and investors who desire to do official business with the State Government.
“In retrospect and as observers, a state that was once the tourist attraction in the country cannot neglect these iconic facilities. A visit to these facilities in their current condition speaks for itself, as they have deteriorated and are in dire need of renovation and furnishing, both internally and externally and consequently a poor reflection of who we are as decent people.
“We appeal to Cross Riverians to understand that His Excellency Senator Prince Bassey Edet Otu, in line with his “peoples first” agenda, will invest robustly in vital and critical areas of need such as security, road rehabilitation and construction, education, health care etc., subject to due process, appropriate and transparent budgetary provision,” the statement read in part.
Meanwhile, a statement by Hon. Erasmus Ekpang, Cross River State Commissioner for Information on Saturday (Sept. 16), said the renovations will cost between N3bn and N5bn and not as speculated.
Ekpang said the forthrightness of the Governor should not be underestimated, adding that critics should consider the galloping inflationary trend in the Country.
“What are the facts? Governor Otu at a media parley on Friday, 8th September, 2023, stated that the renovation of the Governor’s Office and the State Liaison Offices in Abuja and Lagos would gulp between N3bn and N5bn. People should take into cognisance the forthrightness of the Governor and the galloping inflationary trend in the Country that informed the estimate of the project.
“Government further wishes to clarify here that the Governor Otu led-administration since inauguration on May 29, 2023, has not awarded ANY SINGLE CONTRACT to any Contractor. The ongoing renovation work at the Governor’s Office Complex is pro-bono by some Stakeholders in solid support of the “People’s First” good governance mantra of this administration.
“The Government of Senator Prince Bassey Edet Otu is hugely committed to follow due process in awarding contracts in all sectors of the State. The Ministry of Information that has the mandate to publish all Procurement Notices via the Cross River State Tenders Journal and the Due Process and Price Intelligence Bureau that issues Certificate of No Objection for all contracts have been properly constituted to deliver creditably and members of the public are free to verify all Contracts so awarded,” the statement read in parts.