CSOs Hold Conference in Uyo, Urge Gov Eno to Streamline Projects

The 1st Annual Civil Society Conference organised by the Center for Human Rights & Accountability Network (CHRAN) in Akwa Ibom State held on Friday, 10th November, 2023 attracted members of civil society groups (CSOs), human rights groups, community based organisations (CBOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), professional bodies, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) from the South South zone on a self appraisal and to strategise and plan on how to effectively discharge their core mandate as the watchdogs of democracy rooted in the Constitution.

The event which took place at Watbridge Hotels & Suites, Uyo, with its theme, “The Civil Society And Good Governance In A Democracy,” had a renowned Professor of Economics and Public Policy, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo, and the Chairman, Foundation for Economic Research and Training, Professor Akpan H. Ekpo, as pioneer Guest Speaker.

Director of the CHRAN, Otuekong Franklyn Isong in his welcome address, described the conference as apt to set agenda for new governments in the Country as it came at the time when the new administrations were yet to fully commence the process of implementing their blueprints for the benefits of the citizenry.

“As civil rights groups, we are here to renew our avowed commitment to continue to press forward with profound advocacies that will enhance the living condition of the voiceless, the oppressed and the deprived masses of the Nigerian State in spite of the many challenges that encumbered our advocacies

“The Center intends that this Conference shall amongst other things, serve as a yearly training platform for the participants, particularly members of the civil society groups and the human rights community who are always in the frontline of our struggle to ensure good governance, rule of law and accountability in government at all levels,” Otuekong Isong stated.

The CHRAN Director, also assured that the Conference would set agenda for the new administration of Governor Umo Bassey Eno in the state as civil society organisations who are major stakeholders in the governance of the State cannot stay aloof in the business of governance of the State and later turn around to expect good governance from the Government.

He recalled that, Governor Eno had during the unveiling of his economic blueprint for the state, christened: “ARISE AGENDA”, which the Center was invited to be a be part of the event at Ibom Icon Hotels & Golf Resort, an event which provided ample opportunity for the Center to appraise the blueprint as lofty for the development of Akwa Ibom state and places it on global industrial hub.

“The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Pastor Umo Eno, had on the 27th of July, 2023, unveiled his economic blueprint for the State, christened: “ARISE AGENDA”. The Center was invited to be a part of the event at Ibom Icon Hotels & Golf Resort. The Center has appraised the blueprint and wishes to commend the Governor for it well-thought out, which when fully executed, will place the State higher amongst the comity of States as industrial hub.”

The Center called on Governor Umo Eno to streamline the projects and programmes into few that can easily be achieved within the tenure of his administration given the availability of funds, starting with projects that are identified as the low hanging fruits.

The Center noted that for there to be good governance in any democratic society, there must be the existence of three critical indicators, to-wit; accountability, transparency and rule of law.

The Center commended the past civilian administrations in Akwa Ibom State for their outstanding contributions to the development of the State since the return to democracy on May 29, 1999.

The Guest Speaker, Prof. Akpan Hogan Ekpo, who gave insight on the theme of the Conference, identified docile citizenry as a factor that has given room for bad governance in Nigeria.

Prof. Ekpo who said that the situation remained a problem for ensuring good governance, challenged citizens to demand their rights both political and economic from governments.

He decried the rate of inflation, economic downturns, corruption, infringement of human rights, abuse of rule of law and other socio-economic crises bedeviling Nigeria.

Represented by Prof. Ntiedo Umoren, Prof. Ekpo urged the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to wake up to their duties of advocating for the poor masses and engaging government to provide the basic needs of life to at least 80-85 percent of citizens.

He also harped on good followership, saying that, the CSOs and the followers must synergize, monitor and ensure good governance to avoid uncommon misery under the democracy.

“Citizens must be awake of their responsibility to demand their rights from government – these rights are both economic and political. There is a level of poverty that frustrates citizens and inhibit them from asking for good governance. They become helpless.” Ekpo said.

On their part, “The CSOs must always be the peoples watch-dog thus ensuring that government perform its responsibilities to the citizens. These include the right to food, clothing, health, education, and shelter. You can never have good governance when people are poor and hungry. A visionary and transformative leader must give the people hope in a democracy. It is expected that the present leadership in Nigeria with its renewed hope agenda would ensure good governance.”

The Chairman on the Conference, Rt. Hon. Ime Bassey Okon in his remarks said that both the Conference and its theme have come at a good time as Nigeria at all levels of government was grappling with the challenges of good governance to birth the dividends of democracy.

Okon, who is the member representing Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal Constituency in the National Assembly, Abuja said that the theme of the Conference directly establishes a nexus between good governance and democracy.

“For good governance to be sustainable in the polity, there is need for democratic accountability which thrives on three political virtues: informational transparency (knowledge about government actors, decisions and access to government information); participatory transparency (ability to participate in political decisions, either through fair representation or direct participation); and accountability transparency (ability to hold government accountable).

“The above transparencies, though lofty, can not be achieved without the involvement of the mass media, social media inclusive. By exposing corrupt or inept officials, malfunctioning public utilities, badly run public organisations, the processes in decision-making in government, the activities of government etc, the media unveil government before the public for scrutiny.

“I view this gathering of civil society organisations – like minds for the common good of Akwa Ibom State – as a signature Conference for civil society organisations to liaise with the media and other stakeholders, including those in positions of governance, to accelerate good governance in Akwa Ibom State.

“Coming early in the life of the new administration in the State, this Conference holds the potentials of setting the template in Akwa Ibom State to enable the Umo Eno administration to hit the ground running and to avoid errors and/or misjudgments of previous administrations in the State,” the Conference Chairman alluded.

The Federal Lawmaker, commended the organisers for deeming it wise to bring the array of personalities together to brainstorm on good governance, and described it as the compass to lead Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria to better days.

The Center in a way to spur up citizens’ patriotism to service, confered Excellence Awards on some deserving individuals, public and private entities in Akwa Ibom for their contributions to the development of the state and humanity

The Conference featured panel discussion, interactive session amongst others.

Some dignitaries at the Conference were: the Conference Chair, Rt. Hon. Ime Okon, the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Inter-Governmental Affairs and Member representing Itu/Ibiono Ibom in the National Assembly; Guest Speaker, Prof. Akpan H. Ekpo, a renowned Professor of Economics and Public Policy and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo represented by Prof. Ntiedo Umoren, the Paramount Ruler of ONNA and Enin Akwa Afaha, Edidem Raymond Timothy Inyang who served as the Royal Father of the Day; the Paramount Ruler of Itu, Edidem Edet Akpan Inyang; the Paramount Ruler of Uyo, Edidem Sylvanus Okon; Senator Ekong Sampson, Senator representing Akwa Ibom South senatorial district in the National Assembly represented by Dr. Udeme Nana who served as the Special Guest; Senator Effiong Bob, the Political Leader of Uyo Senatorial District represented by the General Manager of Comfort 95.1 FM, Mr. Eddie Ekpenyong who served as the Guest of Honour; the Ntisong Akwa Esop Imaisong Ibibio, Ntisong Pius Okon; Mkpisong (Dr.) Aniedi Ndem; the International President of Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, Akparawa James Edet; the representative of the Chairperson of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Sunny James; the representative of the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Uyo Branch; the representative of the Chairperson of the Correspondents Chapel of the NUJ, Dr. (Mrs. ) Idongesit Ashimeri; the President of Non-indigenes & Igbo Community in Akwa Ibom, Hon. (Chief) Dr. S. N. Orie. Prof. Des Wilson, a renowned Professor of Communications.

Others were: a representative of Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Police, CP Olatoye Durosimi who received an Award of Excellence; a representative of the Akwa Ibom State Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Modibbo Mohammad who received an Award of Excellence; the Commander of the Quick Response Squad (QRS) of the Akwa Ibom State Police Command, CSP Mathias Nuhu who received an Award of Excellence; the International President of Female Youth Association – Purple Girls, Lady (Mrs.) Edna Edwin Daniel, who received an Award of Excellence; the founder of Wonderlife Mental Rehabilitation Centre, Oruk Anam, Rev. Godwin Udofah who received an Award of Excellence; a representative of the Executive Director of ECEWS, Dr. Andy Eyo who received an Award of Excellence; and a representative of the chairman of Ibom Metropolitan Polytechnic, Uyo, Engr. Williams Utong who received an Award of Excellence and a representative of Mr. John Obot (GWR Read Aloud), who received an Award of Excellence.

Otuekong Franklyn Isong

Comrade Vincent Aluu
(Deputy Director, Public Affairs)
Monday 13th, November 2023


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