Okon Bassey in Uyo
As growing debate over the Paris Club refund to states keeps engaging the public attention, Akwa Ibom State Government has been urged to consider the judicious application of the fund to leverage the plight of the common man in the state.
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state Chief Richard King, gave the advice wednesday in an interview in Uyo.
He stressed that the state government should not plough the entire fund into infrastructure development as it would amount to a clear misplacement of economic scale of priorities.
King said it would be totally wrong if as variously reported in the media, the governmentâ€™s position on the N10 billion refund is to settle outstanding liabilities to contractors amidst outstanding socio-economic challenges currently confronting the state.
The APC chieftain who is a Professor of Fisheries and Aquaculture, warned that the Paris Club refund should never be frittered through self-serving political misadventure.
According to him, it would serve the best interest of advancing the state and her indigenes, if the governor would conscientiously resist pressure from some selfish and unprincipled politicians, that the fund be mindlessly shared among the elite political class at the dire expense of growing the state economy as well as bring succor to her suffering masses.
Infrastructure development in the state, he said is of significant importance to realising the needed socio-economic dynamics in the state.
King maintained that primary considerations should be given to the welfare of citizens, including the building of economic capacity, human capital development and the care for the elderly, especially pensioners, whose outstanding arrears of emoluments and pensions should be considerably met to ameliorate their worsening living conditions.
On fighting the rising levels of unemployment among youths of the state, the APC stalwart suggested the need for the state government to invest a substantial part of the fund by positively engaging the youths through major skills acquisition and entrepreneurial development.
He added that aside from reducing high unemployment rate among youths, the active engagement of this segment of citizens in sustainable and lucrative ventures, would go a long way in lessening crime and the use of unengaged youths as political thugs in the society.
King tasked the state government to meaningfully use the Paris Club refund and achieve more, by providing critical solutions to the stateâ€™s present challenges.
This, he said would give impetus to federal governmentâ€™s recurrent effort at making the state economically viable through a guaranteed policy of fiscal support as would add increased value to the local economy.