...Commends Gov Emmanuel’s Developmental Stride
Andy Essiet, Uyo
The just concluded celebration of the 35 years of Akwa Ibom state creation anniversary has come under knocks and commendations as over N1 billion is said to have been spent.
Top sources in the state government who pleaded anonymity said, “this years celebration certainly gulped about N 1 billion. Take for instance each ward in the 329 wards of the 31 Local Government Areas of the state was mobilised to come with five buses for women, five buses for the youths and five buses for others totalling 15 buses per council and if you multiply that by 329 wards in the state it means 4,935 buses were hired for just the councils at a cost of N20,000 per bus and N20,000 for the 20 occupants per bus.
“This is a huge amount of money and if you also add the lavish expenditures, snacks, food, water, state banquet, general entertainment, arrangement for top dignitaries like logistics, honorarium, accommodation and many others it was big celebration”.
This celebration and the huge amount spent has come under criticisms for and against as an Elder Statesman and former Member House of Representatives in the state (1999 -2007), Chief Nduese Essien who spoke from Abuja in a phone conference interview with some newsmen in Uyo yesterday, said he does not know how much was spent but called for a stop in the yearly ritual of celebrating the state creation instead of witling away public funds.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart in Akwa Ibom state, commended the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel for the various developmental strides in the state like making Ibom Air one of the leading airline in the country and “his achievements in various infrastructural development projects like the just commissioned 10 lane road, the industries, the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road and several other road projects in the state are highly commendable”.
He however noted that, “the governor would have done more but for the various insipid distractions caused by his perennial antagonists at times for no just cause” and called on the Akwa Ibom people “to reduce the level of distraction in the remaining period of the governor’s tenure to enable him tidy up his programmes and projects to the benefit of the state”.
The Eket political leader who was conspicuously absent during the celebration of the 35th celebration of the state creation, said, “anniversary celebration is not one of my priority events. The state was created for development and not for annual celebration. Akwa Ibom was created the same day with Katsina and Akwa Ibom has continued with annual anniversary celebrations while Katsina does not and all the states created in Nigeria have long stopped anniversary celebrations.
“The resources spent on anniversary celebrations could be applied for other developments instead of witling it away in frivolous anniversary celebration activities.
“However, the case is that the celebrations are instigated and encouraged by the people in government who use such celebrations as an avenue for siphoning ideal money into their pockets”.
Nduese also took a swipe on the celebration of Nigeria’s independence saying, “Nigeria at 62 may also be celebrated on October 1 despite the fact that the country is now worse off than at independence. With our country in the distance of bankruptcy, insecurity, economic meltdown, disunity and mutual distrust, educational dislocation and universal corruption, there is no basis to celebrate anniversaries of Nigeria’s independence”.
A politician with the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state, Mr. Okon Etim Bassey said, “this continuous state creation celebration is a continuous waste of public funds. Imagine the magnitude of the celebration with top dignitaries from all over the country participating, it is a big squander of public funds. For me, the state is old enough to begin to think of other meaningful things rather than spending humongous sum of money celebrating state creation every year.
However, a business man in the state, Mr. Charles Akpanudo said, “as far as I am concerned I think the celebration is good because it continues to remind us where we are and how we started as a state. Yes the amount spent may be much but this money does not go as embezzlement in the pockets of few persons as it helps give immediate empowerment or economic benefits to the people, creating down stream or multiplier effect to various business concerns. It is also an opportunity to showcase the state and performance of government”.
During the celebration that attracted former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Ebele, past military governors of the state and others, governor Emmanuel charged people of the state to stick to the path of development that has put her where she is today and commended former military president General Ibrahim Babaginda for his foresight and wisdom in creating Akwa Ibom on September 23, 1987.
Governor Emmanuel said, “let me thank past leaders of the state for building a state as strong as this. Let me assure you that we have touched all aspects of governance in the past seven years and in the last 35 years. I stand here to report that we have done exceedingly well.
“Akwa Ibom State today, I can boast and beat my chest has one of the most world-class networks of economically viable roads constructed and commissioned by this administration. We thank God for 35 years as a people and to show that God is with us. God has shown us showers of blessing, God has opened the heavens on a land blessed by God. As a people we have remained forward ever, backward never”