By Ekemini Simon
THE Government of Akwa Ibom State has commenced the reconstruction of the Divisional Library, Ikot Ekpene three months after an investigative report.
The government has also opened Four Points by Sheraton hotel for business seven years after its inauguration.
The reconstruction project of the library and the opening of the hotel for business is coming on the heels of a John D. and Cathrine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (The ICIR) funded supported investigative report that exposed how the administration of the Governor, Udom Emmanuel underfunded public libraries but continued to spend billions on a luxury hotel even without being put to use seven years after the inauguration.
The investigative report by The Mail newspaper had shown how the Divisional Library in Ikot Ekpene inaugurated in the 1960s has remained under lock for over a decade due to poor funding which led to its gross state of rot.
After the report was published in mid-November 2022, reconstruction work of the library commenced. Citizens of the area have shared Facebook photos and comments about the fast pace of construction work going on at the library .
One of the posts made on March 7, 2022 by a teacher, Alison Peter reads ” I passed through Cardinal Ekanem way this evening and was elated that renovation work is advancing at the Divisional Library, Ikot Ekpene.”
Credible sources in the area also confirmed the post.
It was gathered from residents of Ikot Ekpene that the reconstruction work commenced in February 2023.
Ikot Ekpene leaders delighted over impact of report
The Paramount Ruler of Ikot Ekpene, Obong Okon Udo Ukut has expressed delight over the reconstruction work.
Contacted, he told TheMail that he and the people of Ikot Ekpene and neighbouring local government areas appreciate the fact that the library which was shut down for long years is finally coming back to life due to the impact of journalism.
He added,” Immediately after the report, we heard rumours that the library will be renovated. We are happy that it is now undergoing reconstruction. This shows the power of good journalism. We thank The ICIR for their support for making the report possible. We also thank you and your organisation for showing interest in our library “.
The Council Chairman of Ikot Ekpene, Unyime Etim also expressed delight over the development. He stated, “The reconstruction of the library is a welcome development. It means that His Excellency, the Governor, takes the plight of the people here seriously because the library has been there for a while.
” The whole community, everyone is happy. It is a plus for students at the state polytechnic here. It will add value to their studies. We thank all who have been instrumental to the reconstruction of the library”.
N25 billion naira Hotel Opens for Business seven years After Commissioning
The doors of Four Points by Sheraton, Ikot Ekpene, was opened for business on December 12, 2022 after inauguration in 2015. The government of Akwa Ibom state said the high-rise four-star hotel, with 146 rooms and suites was built at the cost of N25.4 billion.
The opening took place a month after investigative report had revealed how Udom’s administration had controversially spent billions of naira on projects before its inauguration in 2015.
Our report had shown that the government of Akwa Ibom state began the process of opening the hotel after the newspaper had sent a freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Special Duties which is responsible for the hotel project, seeking for evidence of the billions of naira retired on the controversial items.
We had also reported that a month after the FOI request, the governemnt for the first time after inauguration of the hotel by the Akpabio’s administration considered a report on the state of the hotel during the State Executive Council meeting.
*This was republished from The Mail, read the original here.