Udom Emmanuel: Beyond the hyperbole
He boasts about his over $1 million a year pay cheque when he was a banker, talks of his Business School education in top institutions in Europe and America, wide international contacts and even his direct connection with God as a deacon of the Qua Iboe Church! He calls himself the Spiritual Father of Akwa Ibom (just like the Queen is the Head of the Church of England).
On 31st May, the governor took his pomposity to another level.
He spent over N150 million to buy wrap-around adverts in some national newspapers just to announce the ‘huge crowd’ he brought to the football stadium to celebrate this year’s Democracy Day. Incredible! But true.
The governor listed the huge crowd that came to the stadium as a major achievement he has recorded since he became governor.
In the chequered political history of Nigeria, no governor has ever boasted of the size of his Democracy Day crowd.
But this is Akwa Ibom State, where Emmanuel has elevated wastefulness, vanity and narcissism to an art.
Instead of presenting the people with a scorecard of his developmental strides, our deacon governor is celebrating a huge crowd that is made up of unemployed, underemployed youths, and women who have been promised ‘empowerment’ and lured away from their petty trading and farming business into a new trade: cheering the governor and his wife at state functions!
At every state function, these women are dressed up in brightly coloured blouses and geles, and made to sing the praises of Udom Emmanuel and his wife. It is the ultimate debasement of our womenfolk.
While many states have invested heavily in agriculture which is a major source of employment for the people, our governor is wasting money on sending people on pilgrimage and huge security votes.
Despondent and hopeless, Akwa Ibom women and youths wait endlessly at the gate of the Government House in Uyo to be deployed as a cheering mob at PDP and government events.
Udom Emmanuel gladly labels this as an achievement. Contrast that a recent revelation by a northern state governor that so many of the young people and women in his state are now engaged in rice and wheat farming due to the federal government’s Anchor Borrowers Programme; there are no more idle crowds to fill the stadium during official functions.
But in Akwa Ibom, where money is not a problem but ideas are lacking, the governor easily fills the stadium at the snap of his fingers because, as the National Bureau of Statistics recently published, the state has one of the largest numbers of the unemployed in the federation.
The governor’s boasts are actually meant to conceal his poor performance.
In three years, the Udom Emmanuel administration has earned over N750 billion from FAAC, IGR, refunds, bailouts, etc. yet the governor’s greatest achievement which he showcased in full front-page ads is the size of the throng he brought to the stadium to cheer him on.
What a foolery! Udom Emmanuel is bent on beating the records of his predecessor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, known for squandering N3 trillion in eight years.
But, whether you appreciate it or not, Akpabio left behind a swath of monuments to show for his spendthrift, unlike Udom Emmanuel, who has not completed one single dual carriageway in any part of the state.
Rather, he talks loudly about his toothpick and pencil cottage enterprises, and the syringe and electric meter assembly lines.
Between them, these entities don’t employ up to 70 people, yet the governor tags them as ‘industrialisation’. Even a garri processing mill the governor commissioned in a village in Ibesikpo is dubbed ‘industrialisation’ by our governor!
Since last week, a leading online newspaper has been publishing a well investigated series on the decay of public schools in Akwa Ibom State.
The expose reveals that our children are actually studying in environment not fit to be a piggery.
Most of our public secondary and primary schools are in a state of squalor, dilapidation and decay.
Roofs are caving in, floors are broken and the children sit on bare floors and sleep in the corridors. No desks in the classrooms.
Teachers in the core subjects of sciences, English and Mathematics are inadequate, especially in the rural areas. These schools have become breeding grounds for cultism.
About half of the young boys (and girls?) in Akwa Ibom public secondary schools are members of one cult group or the other that have taken over our schools.
In his daily boasts, our governor overlooks all these and harps on the fact that he pays N600m a year to WAEC as exam fees for these kids. Of what use is the exam fee if the kids have not received any learning?
Of what use is the exam fee if the children are kept in schools that look like abattoirs? How do our children from public schools fare in the exams?
The Federal Ministry of Finance last week announced that in the first quarter of this year, the Udom administration earned N50.88 billion from the Federation Account, the hugest among the six Niger Delta States, and far more than the combined earnings of the four states of Abia N13.09 billion, Adamawa N11.82 billion, Anambra, N13.01 billion, Bauchi, N13.04 billion.
In fact, the N50.88billion we earned in three months is far more than the combined inflows into the five South Eastern states within the same period. This is just about the same amount the Akpabio administration was earning and far less than what Governor Attah had.
Just to further drive home my point, take a look at what other states earned in the first quarter of the year, compared to our N50.88 billion.
Delta got N49.43 billion, Ebonyi, N10.73 billion, Edo, N15.86 billion, Ekiti, N8.75 billion, Enugu, N12.27 billion, Gombe, N10.17 billion, Imo, N12.72 billion, Jigawa, N14.2 billion, Kaduna, N16.15 billion and Kano, N19.65 billion, Bayelsa, N38.89 billion, Benue, N12.98 billion, Borno, N14.82 billion and Cross River, N8.41 billion.
Similarly, Katsina’s share from the federation account in three months was N13.99 billion, Kebbi, N12.78 billion, Kogi, N12.39 billion, Kwara, N10.62 billion, Lagos, 29.99 billion, Nassarawa, N11.18 billion and Niger, N13.44 billion.
Finally, Ogun State got N9.4 billion, Ondo, N15.27 billion, Osun, N4.98 billion, Oyo, N13.83 billion, Plateau, N10.15 billion, Rivers, N42.74 billion, Sokoto, N12.43 billion, Taraba, N11.1 billion, Yobe, N12.42 billion, and Zamfara, N9.16 billion.
Akwa Ibom State is so rich, yet the people are very poor, despondent and miserable. The governor has no excuse for his monumental failure.
He cannot continue to blame his predecessor. He is just not up to the task.
The tragedy is that our government fritters away our resources in endless jamborees and useless ventures, and the governor turns around to blame his predecessor for the official debts and harangues the federal government for not releasing more to the state.
This is the paradox of Akwa Ibom state beyond the hyperbole of its governor.
Bassey is a legal practitioner in Uyo.
No comments yet