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AKWA IBOM PEOPLE SHOULD HOLD AKPABIO, PDP RESPONSIBLE FOR LACK OF FEDERAL PRESENCE IN THE STATE – CHIEF ETIEBET

Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, ex-Governor of old Cross River State and Chairman, Akwa Ibom APC Caucus, Chief Don Etiebet, spoke on President Muhammadu Buhari and his policies, issues in Niger Delta development and politics of Akwa Ibom State. He also took up the former Governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and PDP to task, saying the past 18 years of PDP rule of the state brought nothing to the state. Excerpts:

The decisions President Muhammadu Buhari is taking on Niger Delta problems will contribute seriously to the development of the area. The first of these decisions was his order to clean up Ogoni land. The important thing about the approval of modular refineries to replace the illegal refineries is geared towards producing petroleum products that can meet international standards. With the use of standard equipment in the production of petroleum products, there would not be an adverse effect on the environment with spot and many other things that are already descending on places like Port Harcourt.

He recognizes how important Niger Delta region is, that is why he is paying more attention to the zone; that is where the oil comes from. When he came, he appointed a South-South man from Niger Delta to be his Minister of State for Petroleum, holding the portfolio himself because he knows the importance of the region and its oil to his government.

KACHIKWU’S APPOINTMENT, A MASTERSTROKE

His Minister of State is a professional in the industry, who knows what to do; a man who was already rich who has come to give his all to the country. And since Ibe Kachikwu came on board, we have seen what he has been doing. He got the elders of Niger Delta to come together and to tell the militants to stop the bombing. The militants have stopped bombing and I pray they stop forever. May God break into their hearts for them to stop bombing for ever because whether you like it or not as I said in one of the South- South Leaders’ meetings, we suffer the most when they break the oil pipeline; the oil flows around our farmlands and pollutes our rivers?

When you break the gas pipeline, the gas is poisonous and can kill if not immediately blocked. We cannot achieve good governance or development through that and we are happy that they have stopped the bombing and the volume of oil production is rising and stabilizing again. So, with this background, all the things that the Federal Government has promised the South-South will come.

NDCC, FORMERLY AN ATM MACHINE FOR TOP OFFICIALS

If you read the papers, you would find out that NDDC was corrupt. Yes! It is true from what they were doing in those days. NDDC was like an ATM machine to the people in the presidency and Abuja because NDDC was under the Presidency. When they called the managing director of NDDC and said we want N200 million tonight, where do you think the MD would get the money from? He has to award an emergency contract overnight to somebody and pay the man up-front in order to take N200 million in cash to Abuja. So, that is how these contracts have been piling up without being done and you hear now the backlog is in trillions of naira.

But when Buhari came, he saw the abuse in that light and decided in the interest of the Niger Delta people to remove the NDDC from the presidency, so that they cannot say oh, the presidency is asking me to do this or that. This is the first time NDDC is being coordinated by the Niger Delta Ministry, so the Presidency would now be in a monitoring role to ensure NDDC performs its primary function of developing the infrastructure of the zone creditably and satisfactorily.

Everything must now follow due process to ensure the contracts are executed properly. I am optimistic that the new MD, Obong Nsima Ekere, will do well and if he does not do it, I would carry a placard in protest for him to identify all those defaulting contractors and punish them. We cannot go along like before and expect development.

MEDIA SHOULD ASK QUESTIONS

You guys in the media must start to ask questions. That is why all these 56 years of independence we are nowhere in development. It pains us a lot and that is how PMB is feeling because, before his administration, corruption had killed development. People were so corrupt and government agencies were so corrupt that on almost every desk was a corrupt man. Governors did everything with impunity, state revenues were shared as it is being revealed every day.

See how much has been recovered into the TSA. As at the last count, it was about N5.1 trillion! Where would that money have gone otherwise? Would you have seen it or what it has been used for? How much is the proposed 2017 budget? About N6 trillion, so, we already have enough naira to run the budget except for the foreign exchange content, which is improving by the day. I believe immediately the budget is approved, more dollars would come in from foreign investors and development partners in infrastructure. Moreover, those government people, who used to take government money during monthly allocations to buy dollars, at any rate, to stash away, may not have that opportunity again.

There would be no more money to buy dollars in the black market and keep in containers, in houses, and in tanks again. If anybody is saying Buhari is not performing, that person is a mad man because, within two years, he has laid a foundation for growth, foundation for development. We must have that foundation first. For 56 years of our independence, that foundation was not there and that is why you see things like this. So with this foundation laid, we are now going to have something to stand on to develop.

SENATOR GODSWILL AKPABIO’S COMMENT AT OSINBAJO’S MEETING WITH AKWA IBOM STAKEHOLDERS

The only thing that saddened me with the whole presentation at the Town Hall meeting with the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, is the confession of the former governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio, on that day. It was an involuntary confession. He would not have known the impact and maybe he was trying to crack a joke, I do not know. But specifically, he meant that the past PDP state governments in Niger Delta were not interested in attracting Federal Government’s presence to their states because they were PDP governments at the state and at the national level, and according to Godswill, they did not want to criticize their government at the centre and particularly in Akwa Ibom State, where PDP has been in government for 16 years.

Now, we are getting to 20 years in the present democratic dispensation, we do not have any visible federal presence in the state. I remember Hon. Nduese Essien cracked a joke at the town hall meeting when Obasanjo came to Akwa Ibom State, he was asked the same question and he said, what about the policeman standing there, is he not a federal presence? So the only thing the people of Akwa Ibom State see as federal presence is the security people?

AKPABIO, PDP LIABLE FOR LACK OF FEDERAL PRESENCE

So for the fact that a past Governor of this state, who ruled the state for eight years to say that he saw no reason, no need to get the federal government to have a meaningful presence in his state because the same party that was in government at the state and federal levels, is a big shame and symptomatic of the corruption that was going on in governance then. It is very miserable and ill-conceived for him to now like to criticize and complain about the new government of change at the centre for not having a federal presence in the state.

It is a statement that has indicted Godswill Akpabio and the people of Akwa Ibom State should hold him and other PDP governments responsible for the lack of federal presence in Akwa Ibom State.

I BROUGHT PDP TO AKWA IBOM BUT THEY SIDELINED ME

I brought PDP to this state and I caused the first PDP Governorship candidate Obong Victor Attah to win the election in this state. However, I did not participate in the governance. They did not consult me and I did not take part in the governance and many of you remember all those fights I used to fight during Victor Attah’s time and all those things I used to say about the PDP, which caused me to leave the party.

LAST INSULT

What Akpabio said at the town hall meeting is very revealing. It was a miserable statement he made publicly and Akwa Ibom people should use that statement to say that the presence of PDP in the state is no more welcome. If they fail to hold Akpabio and PDP responsible for the lack of development in the state, they should not blame anyone for what is befalling them. There may be a few of them, who have benefited from the PDP government over the last 18 years of PDP rule in Akwa Ibom State, but the masses of the state are suffering because of misrule, businesses have suffered setbacks in the state.

I am sorry to say that they do not travel a lot to see what happens elsewhere, they are suffering in silence. I hope the people of this state would take it as the final insult they will receive from these people and vote PDP government out in this state so that the government of change would also be manifested here in Akwa Ibom State.

Godswill Akpabio accepted that there is a change at the national level through APC government and it was not happening when there was PDP. I am a member of BOT of APC; a member of the National Caucus of APC, who has access to the APC government at the highest level but they did not allow me to speak when the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbabo, came for the town hall meeting in the state, can you imagine that?

THE WASTE CALLED IBAKA SEAPORT PROJECT

Here in Akwa Ibom, if we can get the Ibaka Seaport done, it will create jobs and lots of developments. Regrettably, the state government has wasted so much money on the Ibaka Seaport project, lots of money has been spent on frivolities. Can you people in the media go and find out how much money has been spent on feasibility studies and drawings of the Seaport? Has anything been done? Where have all those monies gone? What developments have we seen here in Akwa Ibom State compared to the monies that have accrued to this state even from Federal Allocations alone?

THE BUHARI I KNOW

Let me tell you, I worked with President Muhammadu Buhari when he was not yet President. He was a presidential candidate under ANPP when I was the national chairman and I see a man, who is very sincere and committed to the development of Nigeria; who feels the pains of why Nigeria is like this after so many years of independence. A man, always in a state of melancholy feeling the pains of how Nigerians have squandered our resources, about the enormous corruption that Nigeria has found itself in. And when you see him, you would feel his pains too about the overwhelming problems of Nigeria; how Nigerians behave the way they are behaving. It is for this reason he ran for the presidency three times; it was the fourth time God heard his prayers, our prayers and brought him to save Nigeria.

Nigeria without Buhari?

And he has come and you know the enormous achievements he has made. Could you imagine where Nigeria would have been by now if he did not come? Maybe Boko Haram would have hoisted its flag in Aso Villa. They were already in Abuja. You saw all the bombings in Abuja, the previous governments with all the money they allocated, they put them in their pockets, sending soldiers so callously empty handed to be killed in the field. They were not sincere and honest in their dealings. They did not love Nigeria, all the money that was given to them to fight insecurity; they put it in their pockets and used the balance to buy people for the elections. (Culled from Vanguard)

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