By Sunday ELOM
YOUTHS of Ukelle in Yala Local Government Area, Cross River State, under the aegis of Ukelle Youths Development Forum (UYDF) have berated Commissioner for Grants and Economic Development, Ulafor John Onoh, over his claim that construction work is ongoing on the abandoned Yahe-Wanokom-Wanikade-Wanihem-Benue border road.
Onoh had on May 29, in a goodwill message to Governor Ben Ayade on his 6th year in office, amongst other achievements in Ukelle Nation praised the governor for “The (ongoing) construction of Yahe-Wanihe-Benue State road.”
Reacting to the commissioner’s claims, the youth forum in a statement signed by Festus Ogana and Ogar David and made available to The ICIR, described Onoh’s claims as “misleading, unfortunate and unfounded, an act best described as a total disservice to the entire Ukelle people.”
The statement corroborated by the Wanokom Clan Head, Dennis Ugede, Barrister Alex Edim and other stakeholders of the forum also recalled that on October 1, 2020, the Cross River State government in independence day celebration message claimed that the road was at the stage of completion.
In the statement, the angry youths and leaders of communities affected by the abandoned road refuted the claim of Hon. Ulafor John Onoh, Commissioner for Grants and Economic Development, on his assertion that the North Ukelle road is under construction and near completion.
“Contrary to the Commissioner’s claim, the North Ukelle Road that passes through Yahe-Ebo-Ezekwe-Wanokom-Wanikade-Wanihem–Benue border road has suffered several setbacks since the first intervention that took place in the early 90s, up to the era of the most productive Governor of Cross River State Mr. Donald Duke, former Senator Liyel Imoke’s administration and the current dispensation of HE prof Ben Ayade.
“Asides the award of the road project in 2011, in conjunction with Cross River State’s government and the African Development Bank (ADB) under Governor Imoke that never saw the light of day, Governor Ayade who is also the present Governor of Cross River State awarded the road for 3.8 Billion with an elaborate groundbreaking ceremony at the Yahe axis on November 9, 2018.
“During the 2018 groundbreaking ceremony, Hon Ulafor who was then the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs remarked that if Ukelle road is not completed by the first quarter of Governor Ayade’s second term in office, he Ulafor should not be taken serious if he comes seeking for any elective position across UKelle,” the forum said.
The forum continued by saying that during the same groundbreaking ceremony, the SA to Governor Ayade on advocacy and publicity Miss Beatrice Akpala also said, “The North Ukelle road which stretches up to the border of Benue State has remained impassable for several decades without any ray of hope in sight.
“Previous administrations have awarded contracts for the construction of this road but none saw the light of day. Today, we have witnessed the award of contract and signing of the agreement and ground-breaking ceremony of the road project simultaneously,” she reportedly said.
According to the forum, “In 2019 Hon Cynthia Nkasi who is the member representing Yala II State constituency in the Cross River State House of Assembly also in a deceitful manner, embarked on a false grading of the same road during her campaigns, with a claim of easing vehicular, human and any other form of movements on the said road, a situation that has brought untold hardship to the people of Ukelle, as the hap-hazard executed grading worsen the condition road during the rainy season.
“On October 1st last 2020, during Nigeria’s independence day anniversary, the Cross River State government through the Ministry of information in her speech made same false claims that the 47 km North Ukelle road is 210 km, adding that it was at the stage of completion alongside other roads in the State.”