The refusal of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel to pay the state government counterpart fund of N350 million to the European Union (EU) for water intervention projects has been described as the highest degree of insensitivity by the Governor, the Ikot Ekpene Patriotic Frontiers (IPF), has declared.
Speaking to reporters in Uyo, the National Coordinator of the group, Comrade Wisdom Umoh said it was regrettable that the Governor will rather prefer the state loose the 200 million Euros accruable to the state through the EU grant by refusing to pay the states counterpart fund, noting with dismay that the government can not say it lacks funds to pay after receiving #34.88billion in allocation from the federation account in the last three months.
According to Umoh, if Rivers state which received N26.83bn under the same period, including Bayelsa state with N22.97bn alongside Delta state who got N21.54bn could fulfill their financial obligations to the EU for the benefit of their people, there is no justifiable excuse to explain why the Udom Emmanuel regime cannot pay a mere #350 million counterpart fund.
“If he is a Governor who has the people’s interest at heart, #350 million to provide clean drinking water to five communities each in two LGA’s of the state is a money Udom can easily pay even from his security vote as Governor. This was not how Akpabio used to do on issues that borders on citizens welfare especially on a policy that will benefit the poor masses”, he said.
The IPF called on the Governor to immediately pay the money without delay in view of the importance of clean drinking water to the lives of the people, and admonished the Governor to stop viewing some commitments to partnerships from the prism of business but rather from the periscope of governments statutory responsibility to its citizens.
It could be recalled that the EU team leader, Albert Achten, had in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on Wednesday in Abuja, lamented that while five states were captured in the current phase of water development, namely: Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states,Edo, Delta and Bayelsa states have paid their counterpart funding of 30 per cent, while Rivers has made part payment but Akwa Ibom which receives the highest federal allocation was yet to pay.
“The 30 per cent counterpart fund amounts to N350 million each and Akwa Ibom states was yet to fulfil its part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)”, Achten declared.
He explained that the communities were captured in the current phase of water and sanitation intervention development by the EU. According to him, the payment would benefit the state even more because of the present devaluation of the Naira against the Euro, which makes the cost in Euros for the project less than expected at the time of the design.
He said the water and sanitation component of this programme was mainly to enhance access to safe, adequate and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Also, a former Special Assistant to former Governor Godswill Akpabio on Diaspora, Mr Clement Ikpatt had declared the non payment of the counterpart fund as a threat to public health and safety as well as the states industrialization policy.
Two Akwa Ibom local government areas, Nsit Atai and Ikot Ekpene, with five communities each are slated to benefit from the EU water and sanitation project.