Akwa Ibom Govt Faults EFCC’s Probe of State’s Finances

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  PDP committee pledges to resolve grievances of members

 By Okon Bassey in Uyo

The Akwa Ibom State Government has described the reported probe of its finances by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over  alleged withdrawal of N6.5 billion from the state coffers as a desperate face saving effort by the EFCC to justify the several illegalities it has allowed itself to be used by the opposition to perpetrate against the state government which have attracted widespread condemnation within and outside the country.

This is coming as the Integration and Harmonisation Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP recently constituted by the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has affirmed commitment to ensure grievances of aggrieved members of the party in the state are addressed immediately.

In a statement issued yesterday by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Udoh, the state government told the EFCC that the constitution and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria authorises only the state House of Assembly and the state Auditor-General to pry into the financial dealings of a state government

“For the records, the current administration has made Akwa Ibom State one of the few states; if not the only state that publishes its annual audited financial statements. This underscores the state government’s commitment to transparency, accountability and integrity in governance. “Copies of the state’s annual audited financial statements are available in the public domain.

“It is ludicrous that the EFCC has allowed itself to degenerate into a tool of loopsided political mudsling and witch-hunting used by the opposition in the state to cast aspersions on the integrity of the Akwa Ibom State Government,” Udoh explained.

Udoh alleged that the EFCC has sadly condescended to regurgitating an old story in a flagrant act of impunity against existing laws of Nigeria, adding that the state government will do all within its lawful limits to protect the integrity of governance in the state.

“Recall that the Akwa Ibom State Government had served notices of contempt to the EFCC and would not be dragged into a public discourse on a matter that is patently sub judice. This matter is before the Federal High Court Uyo,” statement added.

Meanwhile, the Integration and Harmonisation Committee of the PDP in the state has affirmed commitment to ensure grievances of aggrieved members of the party in the state are addressed immediately.

To achieve this, the Chairman of the committee, Mr. Patrick Ekpotu at a briefing in Uyo said the committee has opened various lines of communication with the aggrieved party men and women in the state for quick resolution of issues bordering on their grievances.

The committee which is different from the conventional reconciliation committee, is to put the PDP intact by strengthening their faith in order to move as a unified front and indivisible family in the 2019 general elections.

Members of the committee are also to heal wounds, by recognising and taking steps to persuade and assuage the feelings of disillusioned and hurting party members who were negatively impacted by party policies, actions and by perceived conscious or unconscious leadership shortcomings and bring them back in harmony with the Party spirit of accommodation for the common tasks ahead.

The committee is equally to seek and secure the integration of every segment of the state electorate in the scheme of things- irrespective of party extraction or affiliation, by enlisting their support, giving a sense of belonging and advancing the one-State-one-interest philosophy of the Governor.

Furthermore, the committee is to continually interface with the Governor who is also the part candidate and the Party for actions on key agreements, understandings and recommendations reached that require urgency in the overall interest of the State and success and integrity of government.

The chairman who is a one-time deputy governor of the state, said the committee will adopt a transparent open-door approach, by making it easy and convenient for the people irrespective of educational, social or economic standing to make their representations to the committee without any encumbrances.

“We shall invite/dialogue with individuals and groups known or suspected to be aggrieved; and interact with various party groups from each Local Government Area to unravel the full depth and ramifications of grievances peculiar to each constituency; and then determine the best possible courses of remedial actions,” Ekpotu said.

Ekpotu said the committee has resolved to immediately invite, political stakeholders of selected flash point constituencies including chapter and wards chairmen, chapter secretary, council chairman, state and national assembly members etc.

“To give people a sense of belonging, the Committee shall, to the extent possible, visit constituencies and local governments, or such other strategic venues in pursuit of this task.

“Given available time for this task and our emphasis on flash points and hotspots, we have created three platforms where complaints by all aggrieved party men and women within and without, would be lodged to the Committee.

“Such complaints shall be promptly attended to, complainants invited or visited, complaints treated and necessary understanding towards resolution reached for harmony to take roots.” he stated.

Ekpotu said the committee will adhere to the governor’s directive to keep track of and bring up a comprehensive report on all Integration/Harmonisation understandings reached with individuals/groups and promises/concessions made for eventual utilization.

“This is to help overcome oversight frailties during implementation/fulfilment when elections are over. After all, as he insists, in “our father’s house”, are many mansions to accommodate all.

“This is therefore a remarkable moment for all aggrieved Party men and women to take full advantage of this rare Party opportunity. Especially now that the march to renew the PDP mandate in the State is negotiating the last bend to election.” he added.