By UbongAbasi Ise
“Don’t fall in love with politicians, they’re all a disappointment. They can’t help it, they just are – Peggy Noonan
Two days after 2017 democracy day festivities, I met this particular Yoruba businessman with a quirky sense of humour. He was discussing cryptocurrency business until the conversation swiveled into politics. Then the man said that back in Lagos there are growing talks that people in Akwa Ibom are living in the midst of plenty opportunities and unprecedented abundance of food, in that, the state governor had to build them a toothpick industry since the imported ones could no longer meet the local demand. In Lagos, he went on, it is believed that Akwa Ibom people are going about the streets with toothpicks in their mouths in a clear evidence that they have no serious business other than to eat all through.
I was immediately astounded; somehow lost in disbelief of this queer verbal trash. Truly speaking, I could have gotten shrieked and convulsed with maddening laughter had I not see myself as a proud son of Akwa Ibom. I tried hard to conceal my disappointment and reactions to some considerable extent. The significance of this hilarious message in real sense was that, since Udom Emmanuel’s administration cannot achieve the exportation of the state’s products in accordance with its truck-load of promises, then it can do so by exporting its towering propagandist image of industrialization and food sufficiency to the rest of the world and beyond; as simple as that.
Two years ago, precisely May 29, 2015, most Akwa Ibom people were delirious with ineffable joy at receiving Mr. Udom Emmanuel as their new governor. To many, Udom was not only a clone to his predecessor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, but an independent genius that would connect uncommon transformation in the area of infrastructure to human needs and development by way of rapid industrialization. The general expectation was that Udom will continue from where Chief Godswill Akpabio stopped; something he promised at different fora. Indeed, Udom’s winning credential was Godswill Akpabio and not much of consideration of his professional background as a top notch financial expert.
On 2017 democracy day, it was pertinent to listen to the pulse of the governed instead of the government in a bid to evaluate Udom’s first two years performance in office. A handful of Akwa Ibom citizens bared their minds in strict confidence. The first respondent was an Akwa Ibom student in Nigerian Law School.
Hear him: “As a student in the Nigerian Law School, I will vote out Governor Udom Emmanuel in 2019 if he contest for failing to financially support our state in the Nigerian Law School. His mentor, Chief Dr. Godswill Obot Akpabio, as governor of Akwa Ibom State, graciously supported Akwa Ibom youths in Nigerian Law School with laptops and cash. Governor Udom – a direct beneficiary of Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio’s goodwill, has abandoned Akwa Ibom youths in Nigerian Law School. So, he will pay for that heartless decision. I will use my voter’s card right in 2019 to vote him out and bring in a governor that will be empathic to the youths.”
The second person put thus: “Am a pensioner. I retired two years ago. My pension arrears and gratuity remains unpaid till today despite the governor’s claims that he has paid a ten-year backlog of pensions and gratuities to the teachers and local government employees. Udom has inflicted pains on me and my family.”
Considering this issue surrounding the payment of a ten-year backlog of pension arrears, Udom is implicitly implicating his benefactor, Godswill Akpabio. It means that throughout Akpabio’s eight years in office, he did not give pensioners their entitlements. Oh Akpabio!
It also means that Obong Victor Attah, in the life of his administration, owed teachers and local government workers a two-year of pension and gratuity arrears. Oh Udom!
To Udom, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Obong Victor Attah, altogether, had left him with a burden of ten year pension arrears and gratuity. It seems Godswill Akpabio, who midwifed this administration, particularly, was unfair to Udom, and I feel Udom, in return, should publish the debt profile which Akpabio left for him including pensions and gratuities. No more, no less.
Again, another young man said: “I feel very disappointed about Udom’s government. Come 2019 I will use my voter’s card to send him away and bring in a governor with the heart of kindness and compassion for both the aged and the youths. Governor Udom Emmanuel is very selfish. He loves himself alone. This is the governor that perfected the system of nepotism in governance. First he built for himself a mansion at Onna, constructs roads all over his community, and gives all choice appointments to his friends and associates.”
Governor Udom Emmanuel, for two years in office, seems fastidious when it comes to the issue of spending. Apparently, this has manifested in the non-conduct of local government elections to produce democratically-elected leaders at the grassroot level – a development that could have deepen democracy, and multiply its dividends in the state. Udom’s scrumptious excuse is that there is no money to conduct local government polls. But won’t there be money in the state to fund gubernatorial campaigns and electioneering as 2019 polls are fast approaching? I hope Udom would not do away with his scrupulous disposition and become profligate in flexing financial muscle with the contending forces.
There is no money, yet Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel does not bother to publish how much the state makes as internally generated revenue. We know that, Udom has appointed tax consultants but we do not know how much is being collected on annual basis. Exxon Mobil says it pays close to N7 billions in employees tax annually to Akwa Ibom State yet our Governor is silent on this claim. The issue of federal allocation is still shrouded in secrecy. Rumors go around that, every month Governor Udom Emmanuel takes two billion Naira as a security vote, leaving Akwa Ibom people to wonder how much of the allocation would be left for servicing the state.
With innumerable flag-offs and project groundbreakings under his belt, Governor Udom and his is all moves without movement. This is ludicrous. Udom is still going about singing his praises. Well of course, the lizard says if no one praises it, it would praise itself for having jumped down safely.
Also, some persons that Udom brought in to taste life in the fast lane of governance are not even helping matters. They have also added up to the fiendish posture of this administration towards general welfare of the citizenry. They are busy deifying Udom without pointing out to the governor about his government’s mechanical disconnection with the people that voted him into office two years ago.
Yes I am UbongAbasi Ise. For Comment, send SMS to 08189914609