A’Ibom Politics: ‘Continuity And Consolidation’ As A Swan Song
ONE of the most popular planks in which the Udom Emmanuel campaign is hinged in the current jostling for the Hilltop Mansion (Government House) in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, is that his administration would continue and consolidate on the ‘uncommon transformation’ of the Godswill Akpabio’s administration.
But before we begin to situate what will be ‘continued and consolidated,’ it is pertinent to take an overview of what the current administration has recorded as achievements and weigh them on their merit, and argue for and against, whether they are worth continuing and consolidating or jettisoned by the people in a state that is in need of a rebirth.
In more than seven years, the administration has built a few roads, done few concentric flyovers, completed an airport that work had reached an advanced stage, added a few turbines in a power station that was commissioned by the Obong Victor Attah administration, commenced work on a cinemaplex, rebuilt a Government House, built (a football) stadium (not a sports complex), started work on a specialised hospital and built an e-library, among a few other regular projects, like decorations of roundabouts, streetlights in some major streets, etc.
You may call the above the ‘positives’ of the administration, but when juxtaposed with the quantum of revenue streams that came to the state in the period under consideration, you will find out that it is like a drop in the ocean.
In the last seven years, the state has grossed well over N5trillion in revenue from the federation account, apart from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
Again, juxtapose the above projects with what obtains in states, like Jigawa, Ondo, Lagos, Edo and Cross River and do a peer review in development strides, then you would do the arithmetic yourself.
Even the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was not equivocating when she, in a convocation address at Babcock University about two years ago, told an astound audience that the utilisation of the state revenue for the Akwa Ibom people was less than one per cent.
I have not read any repudiation of this fact by the state government, except the usual name-calling we read about.
It is equally true that between January and June last year alone, the state revenue profile was a whooping N135billion, while states like Rivers and Ebonyi got N95billion and N16billion, respectively.
Even at that, the state debt profile hovers around N700billion, captured in unpaid contract work and other commitments.
Then, the ‘negatives.’ Everybody can attest to the fact the Akwa Ibom, prior to the advent of this administration, recorded almost zero cases of murders, kidnapping, child theft, attempted murders, suicides, rape, etc.
But today, according to official police records, the state between 2007 and 2014 officially recorded 177 cases of murders, 62 attempted murders, 320 assaults cases, 18 child theft, 29 kidnap cases, 93 rapes, eight suicides, among many other gory cases.
This is happening in a state that wasn’t even involved in the Niger Delta militancy when it was fashionable to do so. This is a state that 90 per cent of its workforce are civil servants. There is absolute dearth of industries and high profile businesses that can employ a large number of youths. Even the one industry per local government promised the citizens by the administration has not been fulfilled.
The existing ones, like the ceramics industry in Itu, Battery and Biscuit factories in Ikot Ekpene, the Qua Steel industry in Eket and the paint industry in Etinan, built by the late Clement Isong’s administration in the old Cross River State are all moribund, and we are even told they have been sold.
Yet, this is a state that a cinema complex was found worthy. Where are the capacity-building programmes the government has created for the citizens to kick-start the engine of business in the state?
Today, 85 per cent of the supermarkets and other small businesses you find in Uyo and other areas are owned by people from the neighbouring states
Again, the other albatross that hangs on the neck of the administration is Akpabio’s administrative style. Today, one of the campaign issues is that most infrastructures in the state, especially the federal projects, are concentrated in his immediate environment, in fact his village.
You can point to the Federal Vocational Centre, Police Mobile Unit base Federal Prison facility, a well-equipped cottage hospital and Federal Polytechnic, earlier stated for Ididep in Ibiono Ibom and relocated to Ukana (his village) even when the approving authorities did not inspect the village.
To rub salt to injury, all the federal commissioners from Akwa Ibom are from his Essien Udim Council.
Today, everybody knows that his brothers are the richest in the state.
A state, hitherto known for its cohesiveness in pursuit of its goal, like the resource control court cases against the federal government, is now divided along ethnic groups, who are suspicious of one another other.
That is why the mantra, ‘continuity and consolidation,’ rankles with me and other well-meaning Akwa Ibomites. The pertinent question one readily would want to ask is: What would Emmanuel, Akpabio’s anointed candidate, want to continue and consolidate?
The answer to this question is located in Emmanuel’s demeanour as he goes round soliciting for votes from the people. He has not shown that he is ready and willing to address the many ills that stalk the state in the last seven and half years.
• Ankak, a media practitioner/consultant, lives in Lagos