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UDOM MEDIA CHAT: THE BURDEN OF GOVERNANCE AND BUSINESS SCHOOL IDIOSYNCRASY

UDOM EMMANBy Franklyn ISONG
Yesterday, Sunday, April 3, 2016, Governor Udom Emmanuel held a “tele-guided” media interaction streamed live on Radio/Television stations in Akwa Ibom state. The interaction which was widely publicized by his government became the second “tele-guided” live radio/television media chat since becoming governor of Akwa Ibom. The first was on November 29, 2015, anchored by the same duo of James Edet of Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC) and Marian Vincent-Okoh of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Uyo. It would recall that during the first “tele-guided” media chat, Governor Emmanuel, had while responding to several criticism that trailed his style of governance and the management of the state resources, said that those “ranting” and “criticizing” his government on a daily basis are “illiterates” of the workings of government.
Expectedly, his utterances were promptly greeted with wide-spread reactions from people of the state and beyond. Because the utterances were considered as “insult” to the sensibility of Akwa Ibom citizenry. Government later made spirited efforts to clarify and/or debunk the statement. As a student of history, one had reasoned that the governor would have learned a few lessons from the negative reactions that followed thereafter, his carefree use of words in public and during his first “tele-guided” media chat, but disappointingly, he goofed again, yesterday. One of the anchor persons of the chat, had sought clarification from the governor on his management of the state economy vis-a-vis the resources of the state and his “love” for bank loans.
Presumably, the governor’s response shocked his interviewers as he retorted; “…the last time I checked, I went to Business School and some of these people ranting, writing all manner of things against me in the social media and newspapers;” criticizing him and his government’s decision to run the state with incessant bank loans; and to act as guarantor for Contractors to collect N15 billion Bank loan in the name of road projects, “did not go to Business School.” He goofed again. He left the questions unanswered and went into attacking his critics. He wanted Akwa Ibom citizens to know how well-educated and well-schooled he is, in “Business School,” even when, his performance in 10 months speaks contrary, because the people are groaning in anguish and abject poverty in the midst of plenty and huge monthly federal allocation to the state.
Neighbouring Cross River State is so fortunate to be governed by a Professor. Yet, Governor Ben Ayade never considered it necessary to remind Cross Riverians of his academic attainment. He allowed his performance to speak for him.
And so far, in 10 months, comparatively with Akwa Ibom, one can say that Cross River State with low federal allocation is performing greatly, especially in the area of prompt payment of workers’ salaries; and being truthful and transparent to its citizens on the management of their resources. Truthful and transparent management of the people’s funds is what Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, who also joined politics from the financial sector like Udom Emmanuel, is known for. He started by asking the previous administration of Peter Obi to render account of his stewardship to the state. This is far from witch-hunt as those in Akwa Ibom government would think. Mr. Peter Obi was in All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and worked hard to install Obiano as his successor before cross-carpeting to PDP in the eve of the 2015 Presidential Campaign.
Being truthful I mean. When Governor Udom Emmanuel during his “tele-guided” media chat, said; “We are not owing anybody gratuity and pension. Pensions and salaries are paid promptly…” He was not being truthful to the people. Good a thing, the “tele-guided” media chat took place at the Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC) station, Ntak Inyang. So I won’t go far to prove the lies, on payment of workers’ salaries.
There are twenty two (22) workers of AKBC who were issued letters of appointment on May 2015. This set of AKBC staffers cut across the seven departments of AKBC, namely: News and Current Affairs; Administration and Human Resources; Programmes; Engineering; Finance and Supplies; Planning, Research and Statistics (PRS) and Marketing. These AKBC workers are being owed eight months salaries by Udom Emmanuel-led administration.
The workers had filled all documents and submitted them to the government including their BVN to the Accountant-General of the state as required by the governor. Yet, they did not get a kobo as salary from May to December 2015. They only got half salaries in the months of January and February 2016 from Udom-led administration. Anybody can recheck this information from AKBC staffers to judge the truthfulness of a governor who carries the tag of “Divine Mandate”. My advice to Governor Udom Emmanuel is that he should learn to accommodate descending views and opinions, no matter how hard they may be.
This is democracy. Even in the military era, the citizens were still criticizing each military junta that came onboard. He was not forced by the citizens to take over the governance of the state. He is not doing Akwa Ibom people any favour to serve them as a governor. He voluntarily came onboard to serve the state, after he passed through the rigorous PDP primaries; heated electioneering campaign and the tensed Election Petition Tribunals/Supreme Court. So, if in event that the “kitchen” of governance has become too hot for him to carry on his mandate, he still has the free option to quit the saddle!
Finally, Akwa Ibom people expect gratitude from the governor for standing by him throughout those difficult times, and not the other way round.
Isong, a public affairs commentator, writes in from Uyo

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