This is one year since Mr Udom Emmanuel assumed office as the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State. Indigenes of the State seem divided on the Governor’s scorecard. While the state government, its officials and most members of the Governor’s political Party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state insist that the Governor has done well, other indigenes seem to say otherwise.
As part of the events commemorating the first anniversary of the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel, in this Special Report, Radar Newspapers’ team led by its Editor, Mr. Omen BASSEY, X-rays the performance of the administration in some key sectors.
The main thrust of the Udom Emmanuel administration is industrialisation. During electioneering, Udom Emmanuel and his team promised that he would industrialise the State. He based his argument on his rich private sector background and experience. In fact, the promise of industrialisation was so strong that some of the billboards which littered the landscape of the state during the run up to the gubernatorial election described Mr Udom Emmanuel as “MR INDUSTRIALISATION.”
To underscore his seriousness, the Governor engaged in activities around this promise in the early days of his administration. He inaugurated a Technical Committee on Ibaka Deep Seaport; he undertook groundbreakings for the construction of an Armoured Personnel Carrier in Itu; African Independent Television (AIT) in Abak; Coconut Processing factory in Mkpat Enin LGA, Shoprite in Uyo etc.
The Governor even took steps to resuscitate Peacock Paints in Etinan. One year on, none of these projects has left the groundbreaking level. Even Peacock Paints which the state government claimed to have successfully resuscitated since last year is yet to churn out products for the market, at least, not to the knowledge of this paper. Similarly, it is curious that one year into the life of this administration, and on the Governor’s admission while fielding questions on Channels Television Sunrise Daily at the weekend as part of events marking his one year in office, the much publicised Ibaka Deep Seaport is still undergoing paper work.
It would be recalled that the seaport project was portrayed by the administration of Senator Godswill Akpabio as one of its flagship projects. Upon assumption of office, Governor Udom Emmanuel constituted a Technical Committee to look into the project within his first one month on the saddle. Unfortunately, till date, nothing has been heard of the Committee’s report. Even the road that leads to Ibaka, the supposed site of the project is in a deplorable state and the proposed site of the project is overgrown with weeds.
Unless the government proves otherwise, it seems the Seaport project will continue to be a tool for propaganda under Udom as it was throughout Akpabio’s administration.
So, other than inauguration of Committees, numerous groundbreaking ceremonies and extensive publicity, there’s nothing on ground to assure the state that the Governor is committed to his Industrialisation promise.
Considering the obvious financial difficulties faced by the state, the Udom administration has done some work in the area of road construction. It however beats the imagination of Akwa Ibom people that a State which receives an average of N9 Billion every month, in addition to Internally Generated Revenue will resort to massive loans before it can embark on any meaningful project. Whereas States which receive far less than Akwa Ibom State are still managing to build roads and provide other infrastructures without plunging their states into an avoidable debt trap which could jeopardise the future financial and economic well being of their people.
Government’s attempt to justify its penchant for loans by arguing about the economic viability of some of the road projects has not impressed most Akwa Ibom people as the choice of the projects reveal gross parochialism started by the Akpabio administration. It is difficult for the government to justify serving as guarantor for a bank loan for the dualisation of Etinan-Ndon Eyo Road in view of its proximity to the dualised Etinan-Eket Road, East-West Road and the comparatively low economic activities as well as vehicular traffic on that route. People generally believe, and rightly so, that the road is being dualised for no other reason than the fact that it passes through the Governor’s house, his village and terminates in his Local Government Headquarters.
Despite government propaganda, our investigations revealed that most civil servants in Akwa Ibom State do not receive their monthly salaries as and when due. More pathetic is the plight of retirees who are owed arrears of pensions. Investigations also revealed that retired primary school teachers and other pensioners in the state have not received their gratuities for the past seven years or thereabout.
The Udom Emmanuel administration has done some work in the health sector. It built a new block and renovated another at St. Luke’s Hospital, Anua. However, other public health institutions in the State have not received the same level of attention. The take-off of the Specialist Hospital built by Godswill Akpabio has improved the profile of the State in this regard. But our investigation revealed that the hospital does not offer services in certain crucial areas of health care. For instance, a patient who visited the facility with a liver problem in January was asked to return in April because there was no consultant to attend to her. In April, she was told there was still no consultant for her case and that nobody knew when there would be one.
The building of the Specialist Hospital has not increased access to health care among Akwa Ibom families because its cost is prohibitive and efforts are not being made to provide sound and affordable health services at the grassroots.
QUALITY OF ADMINISTRATION
Many people are surprised that Governor Udom Emmanuel, an acclaimed private sector person has continued with governance by patronage. Despite the dwindling economic fortunes of the state and attempts across the nation to minimise the cost of governance, the Governor seems unable to tame a certain urge to appoint Personal Aides at the least prompting. It is believed that he has over 100 personal aides and he is appointing more, almost on a monthly basis.
People have wondered the kind of financial management that encourages an avoidable increase in overhead costs while loans are obtained to execute capital projects.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION
Despite the Governor’s denial, the average Akwa Ibom person believes that the state government has completely rendered local government administration in the state ineffective through an unprecedented commandeering of local government funds. A visit to local government headquarters in recent times revealed a picture of desertion.
The Udom Emmanuel administration scores very low on transparency. Unlike some of his colleagues who felt duty bound to disclose certain aspects of the hand over notes they got from their predecessors, particularly the part that has to do with public funds. Governor Udom Emmanuel has kept Akwa Ibom people in the dark regarding the true state of Akwa Ibom finances as handed over by his predecessor.
Rather, there has been an attempt to engage in cover up using media propaganda.
It will be in the interest of the state, if the Governor can review his style and run a more focused, transparent, broad-minded and responsive administration.