Ex-lawmaker kicks against celebrating state creation, hails Emmanuel’s feats
Former member, House of Representatives (1999-2007) in Akwa Ibom State, Chief Nduese Essien, has applauded the developmental strides of Governor Udom Emmanuel but called for a stop to the yearly celebration of the state’s creation, describing it as a total waste of funds.
The chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who spoke from Abuja in a phone interview with newsmen at the weekend, commended the state governor for the various developmental strides in the state, such as making Ibom Air one of the leading airlines in the country.
He said: “His achievements in various infrastructural development projects, like the just commissioned 10-lane road, the industries, the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road and several other road projects in the state speak volumes.”
Nduese, however, noted that “the governor would have done more but for various insipid distractions caused by his perennial antagonists, at times, for no just cause” and called on the Akwa Ibom people “to reduce the level of distraction in the remaining period of the governor’s tenure to enable him to tidy up his programmes and projects to the benefit of the state.”
The Eket political leader and a one-time minister, who was conspicuously absent during the 35th celebration of the state creation, said: “Anniversary celebration is not one of my priority events. The state was created for development and not for the yearly celebration. Akwa Ibom was created the same day as Katsina and Akwa Ibom has continued with yearly celebrations while Katsina does not and all the states created in Nigeria have long stopped anniversary celebrations.
“The resources spent on such celebrations could be applied to other developments instead of frittering them away in frivolous anniversary activities. The case is that the celebrations are instigated and encouraged by the people in government, who use such celebrations as avenues for siphoning money into their pockets.”
Nduese also took a swipe at the celebration of Nigeria’s Independence, saying: “Nigeria at 62 may also be celebrated on October 1 despite the fact that the country is now worse off than at independence.
With our country facing bankruptcy, insecurity, economic meltdown, disunity and mutual distrust, educational dislocation and universal corruption, there is no basis to celebrate anniversaries of Nigeria’s independence.”
Top sources in the state government, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Guardian: “This year’s celebration certainly gulped about N1 billion. Take, for instance, each ward in the 329 wards of the 31 councils of the state was mobilised to come with five buses for women, five buses for youths and five buses for others, totalling 15 buses per council, and if you multiply that by 329 wards in the state, it means 4,935 buses were hired for just the councils at a cost of N20,000 per bus and N20,000 for the 20 occupants per bus.
“This is a huge amount of money and if you also add the lavish expenditures, snacks, food, water, state banquet, general entertainment, arrangement for top dignitaries like logistics, honorarium, accommodation and many others, it was a big celebration.”
But a businessman in the state, Mr. Charles Akpanudo, said: “As far as I am concerned, I think the celebration is good because it continues to remind us where we are and how we started as a state. Yes the amount spent may be much but this money does not go as embezzlement in the pockets of a few persons as it helps give immediate empowerment or economic benefits to the people, creating downstream or multiplier effect to various business concerns. It is also an opportunity to showcase the state and performance of government.”