Ekarika: Akpabio’s tenure was reckless, wasteful
–says former governor’s statement on 13% derivation irresponsible – Bob-Ekarika
Former governorship aspirants in Akwa Ibom State, Dr Udoma Bob Ekarika, has warned the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and former Governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio, to watch his utterances which he noted has of recent become irresponsible, inflammation and diversionary.
Ekarika warned Akpabio not to mistake Governor Udom Emmanuel’s simplicity and humility for weakness.
Dr Ekarika who was also a former Commissioner for Health and later Works under the Victor Attah administration alongside Akpabio, in a press statement he personally signed and made available to newsmen in Uyo said, the recent statement by the Minister while commissioning the headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Port Harcourt, inciting militants to demand from the South-South Governors where they have kept the 13% derivation funds amounting to #55 trillion was unbecoming of a man who stole a greater part of the funds that accrued to the State and region.
Ekarika said Akpabio’s inappropriate behavior of recent calls for concern such as his conduct during the recent burial of late Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok, which saw Akpabio in his usual character of attending functions late, breaching protocol and his usual vale attempt to justify his inappropriate behaviour by accused Governor Udom Emmanuel of non-performance.
According to Dr Ekarika, the main essence of government is security and the protection of life and property of the citizens, which he noted that without mincing words or fear of contradiction, His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel has succeeded 100 percent as compared to what happened during the tenure of Akpabio which was full of kidnappings, politically motivated assassinations, rapes, murders and all forms of social vices.
“This made the indigenes of this state to flee to the neighbouring states for their dear lives. Today both friends and foes have acknowledged that Governor Udom Emmanuel has achieved this fit very outstandingly as they now sleep with their two eyes closed within the peaceful ambience of the State. Did we have this during Akpabio’s tenure?, he asked.
Continuing, he said, “In the eight years of Akpabio’s tenure, the economic fortunes of the country and Akwa Ibom State in particular was very favourable, such that on average monthly basis, the state was receiving nothing less that 25-30 billion Naira excluding internally generated revenue, regular ecological and excess crude oil fund allocations. In addition, the exchange rate of naira to dollar was between 120–150 as compared to 500 naira to a dollar today. Comparatively, it is instructive to note that the then Hon. Minister of Finance who is currently the Director General of world Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala accused Akpabio of not applying up to one percent (1%) of the total revenue allocation to the State during his tenure. Akpabio from then till now has never refuted that accusation”.
The former Works Commissioner stated that year in, year out in Akpabio’s tenure, budgetary provisions were made for 31 industries in the State but up till date, there is none to show for and the resources so budgeted not accounted for.
“Let me also state here categorically as a former Commissioner during Obong Victor Attah’s regime, that the presidency under Obasanjo, because of the resource control struggle, refused to be releasing the state’s due of 13% derivation funds to Obong Attah for meaningful development and accountability but rather put it in an ESCROW account. These monies were eventually released by President Umaru Musa Yar’udua to Godswill Obot Akpabio as Governor in the solitary sum of Four hundred and Eighty Billion (N408BN) which as of today was neither declared nor reflected in any budget throughout the Akpabio’s regime. What is also sad, devastating and unfortunate in all these financial inflows and fortunes to the state under Akpabio, is the huge and humongous debt burden Akpabio left for Governor Udom Emmanuel to carry in silence.
“In all of these, there are very unnecessary, basically selfish and white elephant projects which Akpabio embarked upon in wasting the resources of the state such as: the Tropicana, 4-Point Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene, and inconsequential non-functional underground drainages among others. In the area of road constructions such as the Uyo – Ikot Ekpene dualisation, Ekom Iman – Etinan – Eket Dualisation, Etebi-Enwang Road, to mention but a few, the several variations in the cost of the constructions became so unbearing that the major contractors had to abandon the sites for non-payment. But all these monies in the budget were released. We must however note that, these roads particularly the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene and Ekom Iman-Etinan and Eket are at various stages of completion today by Udom Emmanuel”, he noted.
Dr Ekarika said presently, there are so many functional industries in Akwa Ibom State initiated, completed and some ongoing by His Excellency Udom Emmanuel, which provide meaningful and gainful employments to the teeming youths of Akwa Ibom State, describing Akwa Ibom as the first State in Nigeria today to float successfully an air line (Ibom Air).
“This singular feat has further projected Akwa Ibom State in the National and International spot light. Even as we talk now, the International wing of the Victor Attah international Air Port is under serious construction without any fan fair or blowing of trumpet, which are the qualities of a good and a caring leader”, he submitted.
He explained that the finding of concerned citizens of Akwa Ibom State who verified with the Federal Ministry of Finance has revealed that in the 8 years of Akpabio’s Administration as a Governor, a total sum of about Four (N4) Trillion Naira was released to the State, and questioned what Akpabio achieved within the said period as infrastructural development of the State is not commensurate with that amount so released.
“This is why Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also at a time pondered what kind of people are Akwa Ibomites for not asking Akpabio where he kept all that monies released to him by the Federal Government”, he said.
According to Dr Ekarika, Akpabio was Senator Representing Akwa Ibom North West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District and Minority Leader of the Senate for four years, wondering what developmental projects he attracted to the State during his stay in the Senate.
He noted with dismay this same Akpabio is the Minister of the Ministry of Niger delta Affairs and so far, unable to attract developmental projects to Akwa Ibom State or the Niger Delta region, instead, he said, his tenure has witnessed the worst crisis in the administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) since its inception, which has further brought development and peace in the Niger Delta to its lowest ebb, explaining that this has totally defeated the purpose for which he was appointed by Mr. President.
He noted that on the contrary, Governor Udom Emmanuel must be given credit on his level headedness and prudence in the management of the lean financial resources accrueable to the state occasioned by the down turn of the global crude oil price and the COVID-19 pandemic. “Today, with Udom Emmanuel as Governor, there is total peace and tranquillity in Akwa Ibom State. We all know that this fit cannot be genuinely achieved without applying resources adequately. If you doubt me, find out from presidency how much has been spent so far in an effort to find lasting peace in the North East and North West Zones of this Country today”, he declared.
He assured that with the peace so achieved, developmental projects are going on uninterruptedly in all areas of the State and with the pace of work going on, he is optimistic that by the time the Governor finishes his tenure in 2023, there will be visible land mark and people oriented projects recorded in his honour which will certainly take the State to the next level.
He called on Governor Emmanuel not to be distracted by any comment or utterances made by Akpabio but rather remain focused on his developmental strides for the overall interest of the State and his completion agenda.
“His Excellency Governor Udom Emmanuel should also note that a jealous friend is a very dangerous enemy. This is very important because a stitch in time saves nine”, he admonished.
Dr Ekarika warned Akpabio to focus on his Niger delta Ministry as Akwa Ibomites are expecting good dividends from that Ministry and the NDDC because as of now, there are no Federal Government projects or presence in the State with him as a minister, despite the huge financial contributions Akwa Ibom State is rendering to the federal Treasury.
“Henceforth, he should stop attacking His Excellency Governor Udom Emmanuel by way of judging him as it will be the responsibility of God Almighty and the Akwa Ibom people to do that at the expiration of his tenure in 2023. Akpabio should also recall that throughout his tenure as governor, I had equally been advising him even though none of those advices was taken by him, rather he was looking for my head in a basin like that of John the Baptist”.
“Today, I am very proud, very happy and thankful to God that I am still alive and available to continue to advise him. If Akpabio truly or honestly believes that he is not one of the Aides of His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, the fact remains that he is one of his subjects and therefore should observe the necessary protocol in any of the function the governor attends, after all he is not the first former Governor or Minister, Akwa Ibom State has produced. Equally, if Akpabio feels that he cannot observe this laid down protocol, he should not border to attend the function. Enough is enough” he submitted.