By Godwin Jarkwa
There has been a lot of outcry from endangered property owners of late of inadequacy of compensation. Their cries are centered on four sub-heads of inadequacy.
1. What is valued by both Government Valuers and Valuers for the property owners or the marriage value thereof is not what is paid.
2. Properties that were in existence long before the projects were conceived are labelled illegal structures at point of payment after the entire compensation package have been approved and the money released to be paid.
3. Payments are made in cash. How the bulk sum is withdrawn from banks in a cashless society speaks volumes.
4. Deduction of 10% from an already impoverished compensation package on the erroneous presumption that every affected property owner engaged the services of Attorneys. The impacted property owners are compelled to pay the Attorneys in the Certificate of Indemnity the same 10% that was earlier deducted because the deduction at source has not been released to the Attorneys.
As I analysed these weighty issues and made investigations to ascertain the veracity thereof; I was forced to make comparison between Udom and Akpabio’s government’s in the area of compensation handling practices.
Under Akpabio, property owners were happy for their properties to be acquired and compensation paid. As evidence of adequacy of compensation payment, the claimants put better structures immediately after receipt of their claim. The compensation under Udom is not even adequate talk less of being enough to build a structure.
Akpabio ensured that 10% fees deducted at source at the point of payment of the claim for onward transmission to the Attorneys were released not latter than three days after.
But under Udom since 2015 when attorneys fees were deducted from compensation paid for acquired properties on the Nsikak Eduok/Udo Udoma Drainage project, three years plus after no attorney has been paid any fees.
Under Akpabio for accountability and probity, no compensation no matter how small the amount of money was, was considered to be paid in cash. But Udom pays compensation in cash, inspite of the cashless policy of government.
No property was considered illegal structure under Akpabio’s government. In line with Section 51 of the Land Use Act every improvement or unexhausted improvement was worthy of compensation payment. Moreso, the properties so affected were paid for before being demolished. Under Udom, “pull it down” command is heard even when the property is not paid for. In a jiffy both the affected property and the unaffected household items form debris littering the roads’ right of way or project site.
The citizens scored Akpabio high on this scale. This forms one of the basis of the wide following that Akpabio had. It also forms the foundation of Udom being an orphan.
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