Posted by News Express | 29 March 2013 | 4,500 times
Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief Godswill Akpabio, has vehemently rejected the tag of reckless spender hung on his neck by critics following his recent and well publicised acts of generosity.
In a statement issued this evening by his Chief Press Secretary/Senior Special Assistant, Pastor Anietie Ukpe, the governor stoutly defended his generosity, explaining that the money so spent was budgeted and did not in any way negatively impact on the fortunes of Akwa Ibom and the people of the state. He also accused the critics of double standard, pointing out that they hailed rather than condemn similar acts of generosity by some other state governors.
The statement entitled “Stop This Campaign of Calumny!” says in full:
The Office of the Chief Press Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Governor expresses great appreciation to all Nigerians for their support for Akwa Ibom State Governor, His Excellency Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, when he came under organized and sponsored media attacks recently.
The astuteness of Nigerians in condemning these unwarranted attacks was a clear demonstration of the fact that in a fair fight between light and darkness, truth and falsehood, light and truth will always prevail.
It was, however, most disheartening that some reputable newspapers lent their editorial pages as “guillotines” to these mischief-makers. Their actions insulted the senses and sensibilities of all Akwa Ibom people.
One such editorial in thin a prominent national daily of March 22, 2013 titled, “Checking Akpabio’s Financial Recklessness” was filled with wild generalizations. Such editorials and opinion articles were evidently authored in bad faith and showed disrespect for the Office of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in particular and Akwa Ibom State in general.
They claimed from the get-go that the so-called “recklessness” was “dizzying” and “at the expense of the people.” It is a journalistic truism that such hyperbolic terms have no accommodation in standard editorials – at least not in editorials which toe the lines of good journalism practice and are fair-minded comments on issues of public concern.
Governor Akpabio’s “offence” was that he promised and actually donated a Toyota Prado SUV to Tuface Idibia and his wife, Annie Macaulay. The videotapes of the event (and the presentation of the one SUV on behalf of the Governor by the Hon. Commissioner of Information and Communication, Mr Aniekan Umanah – who also cleared the air and said it was one SUV not two) did not curtail their appetite for misinformation and they still reported two SUVs. We are sad that they would not dare allow the facts to interfere with their malicious conclusions.
The other “offence” was that he promised to “sponsor” twenty relatives of the bride to Dubai. The Governor promised to give twenty relatives of the bride, Annie Macaulay, who is an Akwa Ibom daughter, return tickets to Dubai to attend the wedding. The entire cost of these return tickets came down to just N3 million. Was that enough for such pent up fury?
The other issues touched on were the donation by the PDP Governors at the fund raising ceremony of for the President’s home church, and the donation of N6 million to the state chapter chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party at Port Harcourt. In this the campaigners betrayed abject and crass ignorance of the workings of public administration!
The State Executive has consistently proposed and the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has always approved budgeting provisions of 80 per cent capital expenditure and 20 per cent recurrent expenditure. This budgeting pattern is unequalled in our country and seals every loophole of frivolous spending and focuses on the development of infrastructures.
In the 2013 budget, there is a provision for Hospitality, Grants and Donations by the Governor under Section 467/169. This provision is not peculiar to Akwa Ibom State; it is an intrinsic part of all government budgets in the world. How leaders decide on donations is not subject to legislative scrutiny or control, just as the legislature does not control how the provision for the security vote is spent. To ask the House of Assembly, as one such editorial did, to curtail or limit the exercise of these discretionary powers by the Governor pertaining to this subject matter was strange.
Attributing recklessness to His Excellency Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio was extremely unfair. Since he assumed office six years ago, he has always shown maximum prudence in the finances of Akwa Ibom State and been extremely judicious in the spending of same. This is the secret of the success of his administration, which has made our state the cynosure of all eyes in our country.
In giving the Prado SUV to Mr and Mrs Idibia, he was showing an example that we should appreciate our legends before they die or pine away in bad health. That was how Rashidi Yekini died, before his appreciation. That was how Fela died without appreciation. Mr Idibia has blazed a trail in Nigeria, both as an artist and as a role model. What he has achieved in the course of his musical career, and the acclaim he has received in all the continents of the world mark him out as a global brand and Nigerian Ambassador.
They also questioned the donation of N230 million (N10 million per state) by twenty-three PDP states for developmental projects in Mr President’s immediate community. The PDP Governors in their forum meeting a day before the event evaluated the projects which included cancer diagnostic centre, nursery school, primary school, secondary school, skill acquisition centre, hostel for NYSC youths posted to Bayelsa, and a deanery for prayers, resolved to support them and mandated its chairman to pledge their commitments.
If the campaigners are upset that the Governors decided to support their President and party leader to build facilities that would chart a new course for youths of Nigeria, then they have the option to channel its own donation towards the building of shrines or even to Satan.
They also took issues with the Governor saying that he “once gave a cash gift of N10m to the national Under-17 football team – the Golden Eaglets – for beating Mali in a first leg African Under-17 Championship qualifier in Calabar last November.” Not true! Governor Akpabio met the kids a few weeks earlier at Abuja Airport and on interaction learnt of their financial handicap in prosecuting major competitions outside Nigeria. He pledged N10 million support to the team and redeemed same at Calabar after the team’s match with Mali.
Where were these campaigners, when the most respected Highlife living legend, Dr. Victor Abimbola Olaiya, was honoured with the latest model of Toyota Avensis saloon car by Governor Fayemi of Ekiti State to mark his 80th birthday. The same journalists who applauded this gesture, are now criticising Governor Akpabio for giving a Prado SUV to Mr Idibia. Where were these campaigners when a political leader of the southwest extraction had his birthday and five state governors donated generously towards the success of the event and one of them doled out N54 million? They constituted themselves, regrettably, into accusers, defendants, judges and public executioners.
In its contempt for Akwa Ibom State, they claimed that Akwa Ibom people were “wallowing in poverty, sickness and hunger.” We invite them to come to Akwa Ibom and see the new Akwa Ibom. These people are still living in the past. Times have changed and our children now have free and compulsory education, free treatment up to the age of five, free treatment for pregnant women and the aged. The state also boasts of the most massive development of infrastructures and human capacity in the history of our nation.
It should be noted that all these donations have not left the shores of Nigeria and the donations were within the ambits of the law.
We pray journalists to be more responsible in its editorials and opinion pieces. They should not turn respectable media of mass information, into weapons of mass misinformation. We urge them to stop this campaign of calumny and show more objectivity in their reports. We thank Nigerians for rising up in defence of truth.
•Photo: Governor Akpabio.
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