The controversy between Akwa Ibom State and ExxonMobil has risen to a fearsome crescendo over the sponsorship of the dualized Eket/Ibeno Road project. The media has been awash with claims and counter claims of who is directly in charge of the N46. 5 billion project. Who is fooling who?
In recent times, ExxonMobil came under fire for daring to raise a signpost of N8 billion to advertise its contribution on Eket /Ibeno Road project. The signage has provoked reactions from interest groups and individuals as an attempt to undermine the government’s efforts to execute the project as well as ridicule Governor Udom Emmanuel’s claims to directly fund a project which he billed for commissioning to mark his two years in office.
The claims that Akwa Ibom State government is currently undertaking the road project without any contribution from ExxonMobil is rather disturbing following the disclosure by the Commissioner for Information and Strategic Planning, Mr. Charles Uko, that he spoke with some officials of ExxonMobil and they told him that ExxonMobil gave Akwa Ibom government the N8 billion in 2013 as part of their contribution to the project, and that work actually started when Udom Emmanuel came on board in 2015.
According to the Commissioner, “government has therefore spent more than double that amount on the project and as such it would be wrong to say the road is constructed by Mobil”.
The Information Commissioner’s apparent acknowledgement above therefore vindicates ExxonMobil on their N8 billion contribution as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and silencing the cacophony of noises that a road claimed to be done by government is largely funded by private company.
As far as the Corporate Social Responsibility of NNPC/ExxonMobil is concerned, it is the norm to erect a billboard to advertise projects the company executes for the benefit of its host communities.
The controversial NNPC/EXXONMOBIL billboard on N8 billion contributions for the Eket/Ibeno Road without government being credited has suddenly drawn the ire of the government almost at the eve of commissioning projects to show for dividends of democracy in two years.
The demolition of the billboard by the youth of the area is therefore interpreted as a clarion call for hostility not just against ExxonMobil, but other oil multinationals and federal agencies in the state for political self preservation and interest in the guise or disguise of project execution.
The combative searchlight of the government through the Works Commissioner, Akparawa Ephraim Inyang Eyen, has lately caught up with the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC management team, for projects executed in the state.
ExxonMobil is an offshore oil Multinational, second largest to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), operating in Nigeria since 1955. Mobil is often accused of intransigence to the demands of the host communities amidst calls to relocate its Corporate Headquarters to Akwa Ibom.