Governor Godswill Akpabio has come under fire for unleashing the pursestrings of the commonwealth of the people of Akwa Ibom state to ‘donate’ gifts to an already wealthy Nigerian couple on the occassion of their wedding.
The wedding of internationally recognized Tuface Idibia to his longtime love, Annie was witnessed by none other than the governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio. The Governor who has been rubbing shoulders with Nollywood elite in recent times, decided it a good gesture to surprise the couple with two Toyota Landcruiser Prado jeeps as gifts. A value of about N20 million.
Not stopping there, Akpabio also publicly declared that he would sponsor about 29 people to the couple’s Dubai wedding.
The governors showmanship has attracted a lot of befuddlement as observers say he has taken his disrespect of good governance to another level.
The following remarks were provided to Premium Times reporters:
“This is absolute rubbish”, an apparently angry Mary Udom said. “These (Tuface and wife) are no poor people. I don’t see why Akpabio is doing such a thing. If it were an ordinary man’s wedding, he (Akpabio) won’t even send a gift, talkless of giving cars.”
For Obo Effanga, Governance Manager, Action Aid Nigeria, the governor’s action is embarrassing, as it defeats the purpose for good governance, particularly in the allocation of resources.
“This is very embarrassing indeed! If governance is about being in a position to take decisions in the interest of the people of the state, when a governor allocates public resources to individuals because of their closeness to him, how does this enhance that purpose and the interest of the ordinary citizens in the state, on whose behalf the governor claimed he was making the donation?,” Mr Effanga said.
“It is even awkward that he donated two different cars to the couple, who, by virtue of their wedding, are supposed to be one in line with the marriage principle. He could as well have donated two different houses to them, as if he wants them to live separately!
“If the governor was doing this with his personal resources, which is very doubtful, nobody would be complaining. As if that is not enough, the state is going to bear the cost of 29 officials travelling to Dubai for the wedding.
“This amount could have been enough to do something more useful to the society. It could buy several volumes of books for University of Uyo that has been crying of funding challenges. That amount could sponsor a lot drugs that could be dispensed to citizens free,” he added.
Spokesman for the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Rotimi Fashakin, said it is such profligate and reckless spending of available resources at their disposal by governors from the Niger Delta region that has made the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, to suffer a long delay at the National Assembly till today.
According to Mr. Fashakin, if it were his personal resources, Mr. Akpabio would not do what he did, but having realised that Akwa Ibom earns a lot, based on 13 percent derivation, he could afford to spend on anything that catches his fancies.
He said, “This type of financial recklessness from governors of oil rich states is another reason militating against the passage of the PIB. The 10 per cent being proposed for the host communities is seen as superfluous if this type of unimaginable imprudence becomes second nature for some of these governors. This type of anti-people expenditure is only symptomatic of a leader that emerged through the subversion of the people’s will and desire.”
For Tope Fasua, an Abuja-based public affairs commentator, such behaviours are clearly as a result of lack of vision by our leaders.
“The Bible says the people perish for lack of vision and knowledge. Akpabio lacks vision, because he is on an ego trip. He thinks he has arrived. But, the truth is that despite the huge oil money that goes to the state every month, the rate of poverty still affects 80 per cent of the population.
“Nobody is thinking about the fact that the price of oil could crash. That is what economists call the tragic choice in Akpabio’s behaviour. All that would unravel soon.”