WORK VERSUS FANTASY IN AKWA IBOM

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The government of the state is prudent with public funds, writes David Ufot

We are not in an age where we should be careless with words. The internet has given immortality to utterances in a way that no age till now can rival. Not in the age of the telegram or telegraph, or in the age of fax machines. The very air around us bears witnesses to our slips and errors, even our heroisms.

Hence scandals are easier to spread today, and misunderstandings are easier to fester. In Akwa Ibom State- a great State where the Governor, Udom Emmanuel is working hard to reposition the State as an industrial hub in the Gulf of Guinea, we are seeing some of that sort of quick tongue and loose allegations. It is all about 2023, and it is a very seedy partisan affair.

They are saying the present Akwa Ibom government is stingy, and if it were not stingy, they will be sharing the money, and giving the husbands and wives good reason to abide by the admonition of Apostle Paul in the Holy Bible: “The marriage is honourable, the bed undefiled.”

With no evidence to accuse the government of not delivering the dividends of democracy to the people of Akwa Ibom State, they have to go prurient, and resort to base and salacious gossip. They are doing it through the agency of a woman who lost woefully to the PDP at the polls in 2019 to be a member of the State House of Assembly.

She has not offered any proof. She and her backers are not believed to be able to give evidence of this sex-for-money scandal. But anything with so much of a reference to a rollicking bedroom of adulterous liaisons are sure to trigger public interest. So, for some in the state, it is a form of entertainment in this Covid-19 era. It entertains because we have no movie theatres to attend, no public events to draw our attentions. So much social distancing also means an absence of social activities. And absence of social activities also means less romantic imperatives.

The men are also portrayed as weak and conniving effeminates who know that their wives have slept with mister A, so he can get contract C, or just some bales of cash. This sort of scenario is ridiculous when you imagine the household in which the husband will know that he is not really the bread winner but that the bread was won by the woman by giving away the intimate treasure of their relationship.

In that instance, the man is not the man. As a man from Akwa Ibom, I know that is not done, and it is beneath us. To now escalate this into a story of a whole class of ambitious politicians is such a stretch, and it is unacceptable. And without evidence. That is why the rumour has generated a backlash among the people in the state.
Radio talk shows have waded in, and what many are saying is that the woman is not acting alone, and it is about launching baseless attacks, and distracting attention from the government programmes, which should be their focus in the first place.

The allegations said during the era of Godswill Akpabio, money was flowing like milk and honey. He was busy sharing the money. So, the present government should just share the money and not engage in developmental programmes.
First, this is a call to return to the time of oil money when the price of crude oil topped 100 dollars per barrel. Today, the price of oil has plummeted and is so slow, and with the Covid-19 pandemic, it is struggling to stay at $20 dollars per barrel. This means that allocations to the state should dip steeply.
Two, the cost of projects with spiraling inflations has risen, and this means to import gears and pay people will be at a higher cost.

Three, the government is involved in projects. They should look at the 28- kilometer road from the airport to Oron; the 29.5 kilometers road from Etinan to Onna; the 55.1 – kilometer road, a superhighway from Ibom deep sea port into town, the 25- kilometer road from Uyo to Ikot Ikpene. And more. Unlike the distraction of the woman who is fronting for the APC party big men in the state, the state government has spent quite a fortune empowering many people, men and women, including in her constituency, in agriculture loans and grants, and this is the highest such empowerment anywhere in the county.

Can anybody forget that as the aviation industry gets all sorts of challenges, the Ibom Air that charts Lagos and Abuja routes is the most efficient so far in the country with the best aircraft in this part of the world?
Where does the APC want the Governor, Udom Emmanuel, to spend the money? On frivolous and lazy men who think little of the masses of the Akwa Ibom people? I would urge the government to ignore them, and focus on what he has christened his “completion agenda.”

What they want the government to do is to pay corruption with corruption. If the government gives people money in order to do nothing, it is rewarding indolence. It is indulgence for indolence. That is what has been described in the Nigerian political lexicon as stomach infrastructure. We saw that happen in Ekiti State and it became a major issue during the election that removed Governor Kayode Fayemi in his first advent as governor. It does not last anywhere. Because there will be roads to construct, hospitals to build, houses to erect, schools to raise the literacy levels with. Stomach infrastructure comes back to haunt an indulgent society. As it has done in Ekiti State. We don’t want that in Akwa Ibom State.

Governor Emmanuel would rather focus on the biggest syringe factory in Africa, the metre factory, the coconut refinery, the toothpick factory, etc. They are bringing jobs and have the potential to look beyond the era of crude oil that is receding into the background as the world looks to other sources of energy.

Those plotting scandal are cowards and never-do-wells. They rather should engage the governor in his dividends of democracy, vision and projects. They should desist from salacious stories that are no more than figments of decadent imaginations. They have no evidence for their allegations. That is because the government of Emmanuel has overwhelming evidence of work in progress in the state and the people of the state are solidly behind the governor. Today, the people of the state are enjoying peace, security and development which were scarce commodities in the years of the man they hail as throwing public funds recklessly around. There are no kidnappings or politically motivated killings; the people can go to sleep with their eyes closed, which didn’t happen in those years when public funds were thrown at people without showing them the means to make the money themselves.