From INI FRIDAY, Uyo
How did we amass a whopping N239b in debts in Akwa Ibom State? What and what did we do with such a huge amount of money? These are some of the questions that seem to be agitating the minds of citizens in Akwa Ibom State as the ruling party in the State, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition APC, the former Governor’s party, tango over the N239.2 billion debt owed by the State, as announced by the Debt Management Office.
The Debt Management Office had on Thursday last week revealed that Akwa Ibom State Government owing banks and sundry creditors N239.2 billion, the third highest among the States in the country.
But the State government said that couldn’t be the true position of things, promising to clarify the situation in relation to its “true” debt profile within the shortest possible time.
However, while reacting to the disclosure by the DMO, the All Progressives Congress (APC), in a press statement released in Uyo and signed by its State Publicity Secretary, Mr Nkereuwem Enyongekere, blamed Governor Udom Emmanuel for incurring the huge financial burden for the State.
He called on the Governor to explain how the debt was spent, saying that over 80 per cent of the debt was incurred by the PDP government.
He said: “Akwa Ibom people deserve explanations as to what Gov. Udom Emmanuel has done with all the resources his administration has earned.
“As a political platform that espouses probity, accountability and transparency, APC hereby calls on Mr Emmanuel to address the State immediately and give a full account of how he has spent our money.
“We hereby urge the elders and the people of the State to demand explanations from Gov. Udom Emmanuel on what he did to the N1.6 trillion that has accrued to the State under his watch.
“There is just nothing to show for all that we have earned or borrowed. Gov. Udom Emmanuel has not completed a 10-kilometer stretch of dual carriageway anywhere in our State.
“The Governor talks glibly about a syringe factory located in his Onna LGA; but who owns it? He talks about Ibom Air. Again, what is the ownership structure, and how much did the state invest in it and how much revenue is coming into the State’s coffers from it?”
But in a swift reaction, the PDP said Governor Emmanuel had justified the money that has accrued to the State in the delivery of many infrastructures in the past five years, including the 1,700 kilometres of roads constructed by his administration across the State.
Even then, the PDP State Publicity Secretary, Mr Borono Bassey, said he was not convinced that the figure released by the Debt Management Office was the true debt position of Akwa State.
He explained that Governor Emmanuel had given account of every money accruing to the state, and urged the APC to instead speak out against the “unconscienable” electricity tariff and fuel price hikes the APC-led federal government imposed on the masses last week.
Bassey called on the APC not to pretend to be blind to the fact that Nigerians could no longer afford social services as a result of the mismanagement of the economy by APC-led government at the centre.
“I like to think that even if assuming that we are not convinced that that is the true position of the debt standing of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Emmanuel has given account of every kobo accruing to the State in terms of putting infrastructure in place.
“You can see roads scattered over the place, over 1,700 kilometres of roads. But what I would like APC to do is to praise development that is happening in the State and place it side by side with the performance of the APC-led government at the centre.
“APC cannot be talking about debt and is completely blind to the suffering its government has subjected Nigerians to. How would the APC government increase electricity tarrif and pump price of fuel when we are struggling with a pandemic,” he stated.