Ibiono Ibom council chairman in corruption scandal
While President Buhari and his team are making Nigerians confused about the reality of corruption; daily, event crops up and stares at us with corruption stench that abhors.
Nigerians have been thinking the fight against corruption is merely a goose-chase as it seems to be the fate of the Country for rats, snakes, fire and other mysterious agents to always swallow Nigerian money.
Recent happenings in the Local Government tier in Akwa Ibom State has compelled reasonable minds to wonder the fate of democracy if the Government which suppose to be closer to the people is farer than Government at centre.
It is time that Local Government administrators understand the essence which this tier of Government was created for and should never lack the lustre of accountability in their leadership.
We should depart from the mentality that Local Government should be programmed as a political asylum for misfits to handle the fortunes of a people which calculatively robes off on the performance of the State Government.
Time makes it imperative that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) be proactive and innovative in her process of selection.
Yes! events should call for a step up!
For all the incumbent Chairmen seeking for second term, their first term’s report cards should have been demanded as part of the requirements for the screening.
IBIONO IBOM COUNCIL IN VIEW
This may add up to the recent shocking happenings in the build-up to the Local Government elections.
According to information made available to this reporter, it is alleged that Counsellors working with the incumbent Chairman, Hon. Ekomobong Akpan are yet to be given their entitlements which the State Assembly Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs gave the Chairman three months to redeem.
According to a source in the LG Council, “the three months will elapse at the end of August, 2020 and everyone are already engaged with processes to the next election. So, we wonder when the incumbent Chairman will fulfill this commitment as he is rounding off his first term and focus now is on the transition to the next Government at the Local Government.”
THE IBOM GOLDEN RICE FARM
There is this allegation of a rice project tagged “Ibom Golden-Rice” in Ikot Esen in Ibiono Ibom LGA which wet season planting exercise was flagged off just few days ago and what is obtainable on site can not convinced any sane mind of an existing rice farm which has enjoyed huge support fund from the State Government.
This reporter gathered from another source that the rice project is a viable project which spans through villages in Ibiono Ibom and women are organised into cooperatives to benefit from it.
The Source also confirmed a running rice mill which facilitate the processing of the product from farm.
THE 65M FENCING PROJECT
It was revealed that the Executive Chairman in his 2020 e-budget made a budget of N65m for the fencing project in the Council Secretariat and many are aghast of what quality of fence the Chairman is planning for Ibiono people.
•EXTRAVAGANT EXTERNAL AUDITORS
Between June/July 2018, the Chairman allegedly spent the sum of N12,255,000.00 for hosting External auditors. While in August/December same year, the sum of N8,350,000.00 was expended for the same purpose.
According to the source, in June 2019, N11, 232,500.00 was also withdrawn from the coffers of the Council and till date the visit of the external auditors is yet to be confirmed.
If the allegation of the above withdrawals from the Council’s account is anything to go with, then the Chairman needs to explain how N31,837, 500.00 was expended within the period for just hosting Auditors.
Many wonder if the visiting team of auditors was a legion. Or they slept in paradise through the period; and or ate manner as served by angelic team from heaven.
What a special team to have caused the Council so much to carter for.
Members of the Legislative Council of Ibiono Ibom LGA till date are still waiting for the Chairman to retire the sum of N14,730,260.52 out of the amount withdrawn as Consolidated Revenue Fund charges for Security Votes.
•NO BUDGETARY PROVISION FOR PROJECTS
As part of the concerns raised by Councillors in the area is the non appropriation of projects in the budgets of the Council.
A case is the FADAMA project which the sum of N2, 900,000.00 was withdrawn in Dec, 2018 and N500,000.00 in Jan, 2020 without inclusion in 2018, 2019 estimates.
The Purchase of armoured cables with the sum of N4,635,000.00 in 2018 and another purchase made in 2019 with the sum of N850,000.00 without budgetary provision.
Furthermore, the report has it that the Council Chairman has claimed to purchase Mowing Machines to the tune of N5,140,000.00 and are yet to be found in the Council according to the Store-Keeper’s testimony before the Public Account Committee of the Legislative arm of the Council. This was also not budgeted for as withdrawals were made on the subhead from the Council’s account.
NON-TRACEABLE BENEFICIARIES OF YOUTH, WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
It is also alleged that the beneficiaries of the monthly women empowerment can not be identified or traced hence clarification was demanded by the Legislative Council for the Chairman to throw more light on. Unfortunately, the Chairman allegedly refused to honour the official summon of the Legislative arm of the Council before the intervention of the State Assembly through its Committee on LG.
NO IGR DURING THE DISPENSATION
It is marvelling that despite the several avenues for Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the LGA, the Council Chairman claims there was none since inception of office. This was indicated by the Income and Expenditure submitted by the Chairman to the Legislature in the Council.
However, the Legislature questioned the where about of the alleged N10million paid as compensation by Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) for the demolition of the Ikpa Health Centre as it was not highlighted in the Council’s budget.
INCUMBENT CHAIRMAN’S VIEW
While contacting the Chairman, Rt. Hon. Ekomabasi Akpan, he debunked the allegations of spending unappropriated funds on projects and said he is not in the know of the allegations levelled against him.
He also said the monies alleged to have been spent on the External Auditors and purchase of two Mowing machines are fabricated and not true as he spent only N100,000 and N600,000 (N300,000 each for the Mowing machines) for the subheads respectively.
The Executive Chairman further explained that the N65m budgetary allocation for fencing of the Council Secretariat was only an estimate.
“That was a budget. Budget does not mean that the money will be expended on the project, N65m was the budget.
“What we have expended so far for the fence project is about N10m.”
On the Ibom Golden Rice project, the Chairman said the project is tangible in Ikot Esen, Ibiono Ibom for verification.
On other allegations, the Chairman said they were lies and fabricated and should not be taken serious.
However, this reporter posits that, no government or its people will allow mediocrity in the face of a challenging time like this when leaders of the world are wearing their thinking cap to see how to gather resources to maintain or even improve the economy for the good of the people.
This is sensible Government where politics will not be allowed to throw to the winds the message of accountability and resourcefulness as this is the hope of the people in a Democratic Government.
Hope Ibiono Ibom people will cease the time to end the wrong decimal from reoccurring and choose for themselves a square-peg-in-a-square-hole to help change the narrative at that Local area.
May Ibiono Ibom People never toy with their destinies. May they take this chance to decide and choose RIGHT.