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ETIM EKPO: RUMBLES IN AKWA IBOM LOCAL COUNCILS

 

… TC Members Accuse Chairmen Of High-handedness, Poise For Showdown

 

The last has not been heard of the recent visit of the projects verification team set up by the Akwa Ibom governor, Pastor Umo Eno,  to ascertain the level of development in the respective Local Government Councils.

 

Even though the governor has extended the tenure of the local government transition committees, following a resolution by the House of Assembly to that effect, recently, tongues are still wagging on the discovery by some of the committee members.

 

Members of the team to Etim Ekpo Local Government Area, led by Hon Otobong Bob, deputy leader of the State Assembly and member for Nsit Ubium State Constituency, to Local Government Councils, were shocked to their bone marrow, when they met face-to-face with the chairman of Etim Ekpo, Mr Ekpuk Eshiet and his transition committee members.

 

Things were going on smoothly with the chairman, Eshiet, reeling out the numerous projects and programmes he has done within the past six months.

 

The  various projects and programmes were catalogued in a book form and distributed to all present. But the bubble bursted when the committee members sought to also hear from the transition members.

 

Pentecost Paul,  a member of the transition committee, representing INEC Ward 2, now AKISIEC Ward 3, could not pocket what he termed, “the lies and falsehood put down by the chairman as his scorecard.”

 

There were attempts by the chairman and his “boys” to shut him down but the chairman of the verification committee said, in a democratic setting, such as what is being practiced in Nigeria, everybody has the right to speak on any matters of public interest.

 

Paul, who is also the supervisor for information, said he was not opting to speak to disparage the council chairman but to put the records straight to free his conscience and that of a vast majority of members of the transition committee on one hand and the people of Etim Ekpo, on the other hand.

 

He told the verification team that, since their inauguration,  the TC  Chairman has never mentioned the actual amount of money coming to the Local Government Council to them as critical stakeholders in the local government system.

 

Paul also told the bewildered verification committee members that, contrary to claims by the chairman of a very united house, things were not well in Etim Ekpo Local Government Council. He said the chairman was running an autocratic government, sidelining members of the TC in the planning and execution of some of the projects and programmes he had listed.

 

Paul told the verification committee that, the council boss, Eshiet does not get approval from the transition committee for any project or activities, as demanded by law.

 

“Members of the TC do not know how much is being appropriated for any project, how much has been released and what is the balance.

 

“The Chairman conceives the projects, he is the contractor, in cohort with the vice chairman, Mr Aniekan Dan. They are chairman, vice chairman, the supervisors and everything,” adding that, “There has not been any appropriation for anything in the council since they assumed offices six months ago.”

 

“Some of the projects in the scorecard are false eg. The Police station road and the market road which was graded by the secretary of the transition committee,” Paul continued amidst thunderous ovation and nods of approval by most of the committee members and Etim Ekpo people, who were in the Council Hall.

 

As if he was doing “his job” as the supervisor for information, the youth activist told the verification committee that, even if he leaves the TC because of his vocal disposition, he will be happy that he was not part of the “fraud and charade that is going on in Etim Ekpo Local Government Council.”

 

He further said that, members of the TC including the secretary just sited the scorecard for the first time and that a critical look at the scorecard, shows that the pictures of the people commending the chairman were “his personal assistants (PAs) and cousins,  who have technically taken over the powers of the transition committee members.”

 

Other observations by Paul were: “That the youth corps members lodge was not necessary and even if it were, less than 10 rooms would have been enough.

 

“That the chairman does not have a cordial relationship with his members and does not support the committee members to bring dividends of democracy to their respective wards.

 

“He shouts at members during Finance and General Purposes Committee, (FGPC) meetings and also threatens any member, who dares to ask questions especially on finances.”

 

Paul, while commending Gov Umo Eno for being a transparent, upright and compassionate leader, said Etim Ekpo would have been better if the council chairman understands that, the TC members also have a stake and responsibility in the day-to-day running of the council.

 

“The people  of my ward nominated me and the governor graciously announced me as a member of this committee. All of us members of this committee are critical stakeholders because as we are here, we have individual and collective responsibilities to ourselves, our wards, our people and our consciences,” the information supervisor stressed.

 

He appealed to the chairman and members of the verification committee to use their good offices and remove them from the “fangs of a dictator, selfish and greedy chairman.”

 

The council chairman, Eshiet, apologized to the chairman of the verification committee and promised to turn a new leaf.

 

The verification committee chairman, Bob, commended Paul for bringing to their knowledge the “other side of what is happening in the council,” and promised to make his inputs in the report the committee will present to the governor.

 

Bob emphasized the need for council chairmen to carry their committee members along, unite and bring development projects to the people, adding that, “a house divided against itself, cannot stand.”

 

It was the same story in Eastern Obolo Local Government Area. The verification team led by the commissioner for information, Mr Ini Ememobong, was shocked to hear from the committee members that the council chairman, Mr Bills Nango was running a One-Man affair.

 

Our correspondent report that, members of the TC including the council secretary said, they were not carried along in the day-to-day running of the council.

 

They appealed to the committee to come to their rescue.

 

Ememobong commended the TC members for being vocal and advised the chairman to put his house in order.

 

The council chairman, pleaded with the TC members to forgive his “excesses,” promising to make amends.

 

More reports on other local government councils will come in our subsequent editions.

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