Jim Pressman, Freelance [Abuja]
The absence of industries and the over-dependence of the Akwa Ibom state government on the 13 per cent derivation allocations from oil revenue accruing to the Federal Government, have led to a state of joblessness and poverty, as the Uyo employment market illustrates most vividly.
Making this observation, among others, at the Silver Jubilee annual Awards and Dinner of the Akwa Ibom Community in the FCT, which also included the launch of new book on the state Saturday night at Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Guest Lecturer at the occasion, Professor Effiok Bassey Uwatt, noted that the state administration spends the bulk of its income on “importing goods and services from other states, while exporting little or nothing to other states.”
Prof. Uwatt urged the state government to arrange to offset the school fees of Akwa Ibom state indigenes attending schools outside the state who cannot meet this obligation, since those other states were not as generous as Akwa Ibom, which grants free and compulsory education to all, including non-indigenes.
The academic was also of the view that “since what is good for the goose is good for the gander, the poor widows of Akwa Ibom origin resident in the FCT should also benefit from the government support enjoyed by their home-based counterparts.” He then called on the Governor Godswill Akpabio administration to bring back to life the now moribund industries in the area, rather than building new ones. He appealed to the Governor to encourage greater participation of local engineers and indigenous companies in the execution of projects in the state, while ensuring compliance with the local content policy in banks, ‘Parastatals’ and other Federal agencies in the area, to alleviate the paradoxical, local unemployment and poverty problem.
The Akwa Ibom community in FCT as part of activities to mark their Silver Jubilee had invited Governor Akpabio and his predecessor in office, Architect Victor Attah who once saved their members from ejection from allocated houses by defraying the 20 per cent deposit required – the guest lecturer recalls that after two years to the end of his second tenure, the re-election promise by Governor Akpabio to pay up the 80 per cent balance on the owner-occupier housing scheme Akwa Ibom indigenes owe mortgage houses remains unfulfilled, even as many of them have forfeited their houses to indigenes of other states – to come and witness the foundation- laying ceremony for an Ibom Bowl for the community in Jahi District of FCT earlier in the day.
Awards were also given to Governor Akpabio and Architect Victor Attah as well as the FCT Minister Bala Mohammed, who the Community Leader Engineer Ben Ukpong implored to further support the Akwa Community in FCT community with land allocation for the Ibom Estate, soon.
Created in 1987 from the old Cross River State, Akwa Ibom state is rated the4th largest in Nigeriawith31 Local Government Areas and receives the highest monthly income from the Federation Account [about N69.4 billion for May 2013) yet it has a debt profile of $61.6 million, the eighth highest in the Federation!
Jim Pressman, Freelance [Abuja]