Abasifreke Effiong

My Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel is a “practical christian”. He is such a devotee that wouldn’t mind throwing himself into exhaustion defending his faith. The paradox is, he would expend the same joules of energy he spends defending his faith, dancing to evil drums. Here lies the irreconcilable, good-bad personalities, the governor sells to the public.

My governor holds his Christian badge as an armour. When Reuben Abati’s piece entitled “Akwa Ibom Churches as Parastatals” tried to puncture his armour, his media handlers and sympathisers were all out after Reuben. They didn’t stop at rejoinders; billboards were raised within Uyo, the State capital with the photo of the governor “declaring God’s covenant of peace” over the State.

Religion is a big cover. Islamic extremists terrorising the Northeast are frantically defending their cruelties these past five years with the cover of religion. Compare this to the little wrongs my “no wrong” Governor does, then you will be sure his government does no harm telling a lie over a number of issues.

On Tuesday 19th September 2017, the National Bureau of Statistics released a pictorial of the debt statistics of the State. The State’s Domestic debt as at June 2017 stood at N155.4billion, while External debt stood at $51.1million (equivalence of N17.9billion at N350/$1). Akwa Ibom’s official debt from that report is approximately N173.3billion. This does not include arrears of emoluments and benefits owed civil servants, retirees, pensioners and past political office holders.

As at December 2015, seven months after Governor Udom Emmanuel took over, his administration while presenting the 2016 fiscal proposals to the House of Assembly gave the debt statistics of the State as N65.7billion. Whereas at the time the State’s Domestic debt was about N149 billion, while External debt stood at about $52.5million.

Udom’s administration has paid about $2million in External debt in two years. The State’s Domestic debt has gone up by about N6billion under Governor Udom Emmanuel’s watch. The State’s External debt fell from over $62million in 2011, 2012 to $52million plus in 2015. Domestic debts grew from N48billion in 2011 to about N149billion in 2015.

It will be pointless withholding accolades from the good christian spirit in Governor Udom Emmanuel, which has advised him not to borrow much as his predecessor did. Nevertheless, his administration lied about the debts of the State; presumably with the intent to cover up for the Akpabio’s administration. Akwa Ibom people are worried about this. It’s troubling the faith why our poster man of integrity, “Mr. Right” is yet the devil’s disciple. When Obong Victor Attah left office, there were conflicting reports on debts left to the new administration. Obong Umana Okon Umana gave the debt statistic as N17billion; Akpabio’s finance commissioner, Obong Bassey Albert said it was N23billion. Governor Udom Emmanuel swore to an oath to do right to all manner of people, in this case to the Akwa Ibom people; however, it’s sad how soon his administration has reneged in taking the Akwa Ibom people into confidence regarding their indebtedness.

Udom’s administration is drifting away from the threshold of faith into irreconcilable complicity. It is alleged that the administration is blocking investigations into government spendings under the Chief Godswill Akpabio’s administration. No one wishes our dear former Governor Akpabio should be sold out for “punishment”, however, anyone who stands on the head of enquiry into how our eight glorious years were plundered, makes himself the people’s enemy.

The Counter-Terrorism and General Investigation Section of the EFCC is investigating Akpabio over N108.1billion State funds he allegedly diverted. He is also investigated for alleged payment of N1.4billion in 2013, in three tranches, N566,883,728.66, N441,808,081.90 and N392,631,943.37, as gifts to a new generation bank; withdrawal of N18 billion fraudulently from the State’s Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) in tranches of N10million; spending about N50 billion State funds during the last general elections; and withdrawal of N18 billion from the State’s coffers under the guise of special services.

For seven times, the Udom Emmanuel’s administration has blocked the EFCC from its investigations, according to a report by Yusuf Alli. It is on record that the State government on July 12, 2016 sought injunctive relief against the EFCC from an Akwa Ibom State High Court, Ikot Ekpene, and from a Federal High Court, Uyo, in
March 2017.

Governor Udom Emmanuel is a “practical christian”, said Barr. Ini Ememobong, Akwa Ibom Sate spokesman for the PDP. A Divisional Police Officer at Victoria Island, Lagos, who knew Udom at Zenith Bank said “he used to pray in the office twice everyday”. Many other such great, inspiring testimonies about Udom’s life abound. Yet, there is a cacophony of voices out here, voices of silence, praising and murmuring that the governor is dishonest. Is it part of loyalty playing the “good boy” when everyone knows the game is up? The cover-up is getting the masses irritated, more so that it’s from my Deacon Governor.

Many a people in the State are holding on to the rather awful perception- dishonesty, building around the Governor and government. This identity is not a media creation. “It seems, it all started on Sunday November 25, 2015”, recalled a friend. On that day the governor was a guest on a special interview on NTA channel 12, to mark his six months in office. One of the anchors had asked him to respond to an allegation that he has completed a palatial building in his hometown within six months in office. The governor had said the house was “a mere four bedroom expansion on an old family house”. Photos of the duplex, with a sprawling whirlpool, are on many platforms on the internet.

On Thursday, February 4, 2016, a day after the supreme court upheld his election, the Governor was on a street tour to select local government areas on a meet and greet. At Eket local government, Udom was greeted by a crowd. While breaking the cherry news of his supreme court victory, he said “remodelling of Eket township will be completed within six months”. The governor knew as it were that the job would not be completed in six months; reasons being that compensations were not yet paid, contractors had barely resumed at site, the volume of work wasn’t such that could be completed by the snap of the thumb and index fingers.

Does anyone still remember the AKEES’ made in China pencils? We were told by Aniekeme Finbarr, and much later Engr. Ufot Ebong through his media aide, Ekemini James, that the chinese provenance the pencils bore was because of the “Ben10 wrappings”. Until days later, that was the “honest” explanation to it. It turned out that the pencil lead was the copyright attraction. Hmmm! Many times we are told many different stories and it’s fast becoming difficult to believe our Deacon. Honesty is an albatross to this regime, according to Udo Silas, former General Manager and Editor-In-Chief of The Pioneer newspaper. Mind you, The Pioneer newspaper is owned and published by the Akwa Ibom State Government.

As i end this piece, two fundamental issues contained therein worry my mind – the creeping triumphalism of deceit over truth in Udom’s regime, and the awful perception growing around my governor. My observations in this piece are not intended as critiques, they are strictly for, if anyone sees the need, an evaluation and research into public perception of the governor.

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