INTERESTING WRITE UP
A cross-section of Akwa Ibom indigenes now resident abroad have lamented on their exoneration from the state affairs and appealed to the state government to re-integrate them into the administration of their motherland.
The group made this known at a round-table meeting held at Monty Suites Hotel last week. The group, comprising of friends of the Governor, critics of his administration and those undecided of what to make of the on-goings in the state, expressed disappointment at the fact that they are being exempted from contributing their quota to the development of the state.
While introducing the diasporans, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Protocol, Barr. Itah Ekideh, informed newsmen that the Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, had invited them over to participate in the remembrance service held recently in honour of heroes who died during the 1967-1970 civil war, especially those of them whose relations were among the deceased; adding that their coming was also in answer to the Governor’s call for an unbiased appraisal of his administration.
In their separate remarks, the diasporans who had former Nollywood screen diva, Regina Askia-Williams, in their team, expressed satisfaction at the developmental strides of the present administration and stated their preparedness to work in consonance with the state government to improve on areas yet to be developed.
They stressed that one of their vital reasons for coming into the state was to enable them base their conclusions when they return back. Mrs. Regina Askia-Williams, a medical practitioner in New York, who spoke bitterly about critics’ accusation of the present government advised people to be objective in their criticisms instead of conforming to hearsays and rumours. She also charged people to refrain from side and back talks, and learn to stand up boldly for whatever ill or wrong they may perceive.
A Professor of Medicine, Dr. Mike Eshiet, who also expressed displeasure at accusers of the present administration, frowned at those who profess the Governor to be tribalised. He admitted that, he would have supported any Governor who brought such transformation to his homeland as Chief Godswil Akpabio has done, irrespective of his nativity.
Also commenting on the Governor’s magnanimity, Mrs. Mfon Alfred, daughter of Late Chief O. U. Afia, who was murdered during the civil war, appreciated the governor for redeeming the name of the heroes from the mouths of defamers through the remembrance ceremony organized in their honour.
She maintained that though, her father and other deceased were alleged to have been involved in atrocities which led to their deaths; the Governor’s remembrance of them is an indication that they were murdered in the cause of defending the state and nation at large. She also prayed God to open the eyes of those who are still being negative and sentimental about the Governor’s spate of developing the state.
The Special Adviser to the Governor, Barr Ekid, while harping on the motive of the group, submitted that the diasporans are presently seeking for an opportunity to be re-integrated into the affairs of the state. He noted that though, they are no longer residents at home, they are still part of the state and country at large. Also sharing this view was Mrs. Usen Usoro, who posited that it was improper for the government to overlook their relevant ideas in the governance of the state. She maintained that the essence of their coming was to ask the government how they can contribute to the nation’s success, having garnered experience in developed countries, while expressing unhappiness that diasporans are not regarded as citizens of the state, by being denied the right to vote during elections.
Speaking on what the diasporans intend to do, former beauty Queen, Regina Askia-Williams, assured that they are coming to complement what is already on ground. She said they can bring in expertise in every field, from their now resident countries to help put the state on the map and to see how the uncommon transformation projects in the state can yield uncommon benefits to all and sundry. She however lamented that their neglect by the government may cause the state to forfeit such benefits if they are not empowered to work.
The President of the Akwa Ibom Students’ Association in Ukraine, Mr. Patrick Umoren, while reinforcing on the views expressed by others observed that Akwa Ibom state and Nigeria at large have not done well in empowering the youths. Though he blamed the youths for not being appreciative of their potentials, which causes them to criticize the government; he observed that no agency or leadership has ever been left to the management of the youths except, at times when election begins to gather momentum.
He observed that his office as the head of Akwa Ibom students in Ukraine has gone round to indigenous school authorities, seeking their liaison with sister universities overseas but that their responses have not been forthcoming.
Patrick, who is also a Medical Doctor, informed that Nigerian medical practitioners cannot practice outside the shores of the country due to the nature of how they are trained in school. He said that there is no way a trained Doctor or Nurse here will meet-up with the improvised standard of practice over there. He also lamented that medical students studying abroad cannot practice back home as a result of the conflicting difference in the nation’s economy, training system, method of practice and government policies which has caused the dearth of competent healthcare givers in Nigeria.
The Student-Doctor regretted the slow pace of the government in taking decisions of core importance to its citizenry and cited for example, the plight of Akwa Ibom students, studying in Crimea, who have been calling the attention of their home government, to no avail. He explained that the students are trapped in the territorial crisis in Eastern Europe and may likely not graduate after their years of study because of this. He blamed the Nigerian embassies for failing to repatriate their students to a safe University for the continuance of their education and called on the government to intervene in the situation which will see the students stranded, and their official documents, seized.
He defended the motion that the diasporans stand better chances of bridging the gap between varying economies and should be given a chance to do so.
Speaking on the way forward, Mrs. Usen Usoro cautioned the media to be sensitive and patriotic in their reportage. She posited that the media should be committed to ensuring that the good works and deeds of an administration are propagated. She hinted that corruption goes on unannounced in many renowned countries of the world because of their media’s resolve to project their goods alone, and expressed disappointment that the media at home have instead, resolved to do the opposite which has caused the country to be labelled and treated as a crime abode.
Daughter of the Late Chief Afia who doubles as the London President of Asian Iban Akwa Ibom, Mrs. Mfon Alfred, also advised mothers to teach their wards respect and dignity. She encouraged people to be self-reliant, not expecting everything from the government, while urging the government also to accept contributions from advisors in the view that no one knows enough.
Still speaking on the way forward, Miss Imaobong Udeh, the President of Nigerian Students Association in Ghana, eulogized the governor’s team for catching the dream of a transformed Akwa Ibom. She particularly gave kudos to the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Aniekan Umana and his Special Duties counterpart, Engr. Etido Inyang for following dutifully, the steps of their leader. She however opined that the government should think of making a tourist centre of the state’s natural endowments as seen in Ghana and other small countries.
In their suggestions, Mr. Imoh Ebong, a resident of North West England and Dr. Mike Eshiet, mentioned that the government should focus on the provision of Cottage industries like the Cassava processing mill and other small scale businesses which would be handed over to individuals at the grassroots to ensure that democracy dividends gets to the masses.
As a concluding remark, the Governor’s Special Adviser on Protocol noted that the Governor’s biggest challenge in implementing most projects is the machineries to deliver. He admitted that most individuals saddled with the responsibility of over-seeing a project end up misappropriating the funds. He however lauded the Governor for the promises fulfilled so far in the areas of Power and good road network.
He observed that though, critics complain of dearth of industries, industrialization cannot be achieved without steady power supply (whose fluctuation is caused by the Federal Government) and good roads. He reiterated that the governor should be commended for what he has so far done and expressed hope that his successor would fare better than him.
He disclosed that the state is operating on 80% capital and 20% recurrent expenditure and as such, cannot dole out money to people as critics and others may think. When asked why the state is not developing with the pace of the 80% capital expenditure, he explained that most projects embarked on like the construction of roads, hospitals, bridges and others, are not profit-oriented.
Speaking on the 2015 elections, Prof (Dr.) Mike Eshiet advised that Akwa Ibomites should make use and improve on the existing platform to ensure the success of the transition to 2015. He charged that no one should be afraid to stand up for what is right and harped on the need for vision amongst rulers, stressing that vision without mission is day dreaming and mission without vision is a nightmare.
The diasporans ended their visit to the state with an intensive tour of the town, visiting places and noting changes wherever they stopped.
BY PRISCILLA CHRISTOPHER