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Commissionership: Return of Akpabio’s men tears Akwa Ibom apart

First Bank Nigeria

The 20 commissioners and two special advisers recently appointed by Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr.  Udom Emmanuel may be currently relishing their appointments, there is an uneasy calm over the appointment of 11 of them.

Reasons for the  anger are not far-fetched. Most of the commissioners  had served in the administration of  the immediate past  governor,  Godswill Akpabio. Having been in government for a large part of Akpabio’s two terms, some party faithful said it is imperative to give others the opportunity of serving the state.

This thinking led to the description of the appointments as lopsided and perhaps deliberate perpetuation of Akpabio’s men in the governance of the state.

Others see the development as an attestation to allegations that the governor is a stooge of the former helmsman, who is assumed to be calling  the shots.

The Ibom Mega Synergy Assembly (IMSA), a socio-political group based in Uyo, is one of the groups that are not comfortable with the situation.

Dictatorial proclivity

Coordinator of IMSA, Mr. Ubong Sam in a chat with Vanguard  described  the re-appointment of the commissioners as obvious display of high-handedness, impunity and dictatorial proclivity.

Sam argued that while it may be necessary for Governor Emmanuel to consult his former boss on certain policy issues, he should also be independent.

Culture of recycling: “When people talk about experience, I am often surprised at their thinking. This is not an era of stereotype activities because the society itself is dynamic. We should learn to try new hands and do things to see the difference. I am opposed to the tradition of imposition and totally against the culture of recycling  in a system as if others do not exist,’’ he added.

Nduese Essien kicks: Surprisingly, the political leader of Eket Local Council, Chief Nduese Essien  also  shares similar view. In fact, he is sad that the appointments have provoked so much rage across the state. He said: ‘’Last week, after three appointments were made, there was anger everywhere.  This local government was not  given any appointment. In appointing commissioners, if anybody had served for eight years, the person should give way for others to come.

“Even in the civil service, if a director serves for eight years, he cannot be allowed to continue in the same office because he will virtually not have much to offer again. Having served in a particular position for eight years, you have reached a point of declining productivity and  should give way for somebody else to come in.

“So, I don’t expect any one who had served in a position either as a commissioner or  director in the civil service or anywhere else to be recycled. Let me say this as an advice to those who had done eight years as commissioners, who now still want to serve in this government, that it will not be accepted. They can be given appointments elsewhere but not the same executive position.’’

Anietie Okon speaks: The political leader of Itu Local Council, Senator Anietie Okon also  noted thus: ‘’ I endorse an eight-year tenure because beyond that point, what you have is diminishing returns. And it will become business as usual. So, we want to look at the possibility of engaging other talents that we have because there are talents which have not been tried and we have people who may rise up to challenge this situation.’’

Udom’s defence: However, Governor  Emmanuel in his response,  insisted that the  former commissioners were appointed  on merit.  “On no account shall this administration sacrifice competence and earned gravitas on the altar of mediocrity or the narrow impulse of parochialism. We have vowed to surround this government with the best people wherever they may come from. We shall fish for the finest men even in the deepest waters.

“Today, China is on the wings of history through industrialization. The country leads the wave of emerging economies and is poised to recast the Western-dominated geographical balance and according to the Peterson Institute,  China will soon displace the US  as the dominant economic power in the world, wielding global influence and employing its power to shape the world according to its national interest.

“Nearly 360 million people have been lifted out of poverty in less than three decades and it took a visionary leader, Deng Xia-ping to engineer and engender this new thinking. He succeeded in doing this because he surrounded himself with Chinese both from home and in the Diaspora who believed and internalized the ethos of his vision.

“This is the vision we want to replicate in Akwa-Ibom State. China’s achievements provide an archetypal example for us. It shall be our paradigm of development that shall not only open up our land to endless possibilities but a development that is sustainable. If we seek to find and hold firmly the kingdom of industrialization, other challenges in our state shall naturally fall in place and a domino effect shall be engendered.”

The APC hypocrisy: One other reason, he retained the old commissioners and Special Advisers, the Governor explained, was to help fast-track the completion of ongoing projects without necessarily going back to the drawing board.

According to him, most of the projects initiated by the previous administration that are yet tobe  completed needed to be handled by some of them.

The re-appointed Commissioner for Information, Mr. Aniekan Umanah justified Governor Emmanuel’s action describing as erroneous, the thinking that political appointments were for wealth-making. Political appointment is for you to  work for the state.

“Take a look at Lagos, from 1999, there are people who served in Tinubu’s cabinet who are still in the cabinet of the Lagos State government today. Then, ironically, the All Progressives Congress, APC issued a statement blaming the Governor of Akwa-Ibom State for bringing people from the last administration whereas they are still running with people who worked with Tinubu even in the same cabinet.

Consolidating process

Some are serving as secretary to the state government, some are serving as commissioners even up till date, some have moved to become governors, some are in the National Assembly.’’

Continuing, Umanah said: ‘’It is a consolidating process that will facilitate further development of the state. Incidentally, government is very large and can accommodate so many people at different levels. I don’t think I want to see it from that point.”

The Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on Ethics, Judiciary and Public Prosecution, Mr. Onofiok Luke whose committee handled the screening of the appointees also submitted that the commissioners were found to be competent to handle their assigned duties.

He therefore dismissed claims that the   governor is  tied to the apron strings of Akpabio.

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