BY Okon Bassey in Uyo
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has said he will continue to use caretaker committee members to run affairs of local government administrations in the state as free and fair elections would only be conducted after the recession was over.
The governor, who gave the clarifications last Saturday night during a media chat to mark the 2017 Democracy Day and his two years in office, argued that lack of democratically elected people into the 31 councils in the state doesnâ€™t mean the system is not functioning.
He called on political parties and politicians to bear with him as the conduct of local government elections was capital intensive and he would not borrow money to finance the election instead of investing in projects that benefits the common man.
Emmanuel who equally noted that it was not only in Akwa Ibom State that local government elections were not conducted stressed that â€œin this period of recession you only put money in productive sectors.
â€œBecause of the prevailing economic situation-recession we cannot hold election now, but once the economy improves, we will conduct elections, as government will not borrow money with high interest rate to conduct local government elections.
â€œWhat of if you set up local government council and you donâ€™t have money to run the council? In recession, you carefully direct where money should go; when the economy improves all that will be done.â€.
The governor debunked the claim that people in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were defecting to the All Progressive Congress (APC) because of non-empowerment.
According to him, since his coming on board, all the inter-ministerial jobs were handled by the indigenes, while thousands of people have been trained on various skills and trades. â€œI used 80 per cent of the local contractors to do work, so what other means of empowerment are you talking about?â€
Emmanuel argued that his idea of empowerment was very different from what people had thought, saying he believes in empowering people to create wealth or money for themselves instead of cash empowerment.
Speaking on his industrialisation efforts, the governor said those insinuating that he was playing politics with his industrialisation policy were not fair in their comments and observations as his programmes cut across the three senatorial districts of the state.
Critics of the state administration had noted that industries so far establish by Emmanuelâ€™s administration were being developed in his local government area, Onna, in particularly, and his Eket senatorial district in general.
The governor posited that criticising the activities, programmes and projects of government negatively was not a solution to provide service to the people, urging the people of the state to join him in building the state not doubting efforts in developing the state.
Government, he said, cannot do everything alone hence the need for private sector collaboration, stressing that for any investor to come to the state, key infrastructure like roads, air and water must be on ground.
He advised the citizens to refrain from the belief that â€œit cannot workâ€ when a project is to be done, saying the time is now for change of attitude and belief towards project and infrastructure execution in the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh, had earlier called for understanding and cooperation from the media as well as to always report to promote the potential of the state instead of destroying same through unsubstantiated and unverifiable reportage.
He said the state governor came with people-oriented programmes with a view to making the state a destination for investors, tourists within and outside the country. â€œFor this to succeed, the media have a role to play,â€ he stated.