The claim by one Chief Edet Edubio, which first appeared on the internet and was later published on the opinion page of Daily Independent of April 1 2013, that the secretary to the government of Akwa Ibom State is given N5 billion annually to buy cars, is false in its entirety. The story became more ludicrous when the author of this fairy tale added that the “SSG goes home every year with the (same) N5 billion.” The entire story by Edet Edubio, who is claiming to write from Okobo in Akwa Ibom State, is a crude fabrication motivated by the politics of who becomes the next governor of the state in 2015.
There is nothing more to the story, for it is public knowledge that any financial allocations within the Office of Governor, of which the SSG is a part, for the purchase of cars is not for the SSG but the entire public service, and the accounting officer is the permanent secretary, not the SSG. The permanent secretary accounts for all expenditures to the auditor-general who makes his reports – including audit queries not satisfactorily answered – to the public accounts committee of the State House of Assembly. So if Edubio has facts that show that money budgeted for the purchase of cars for the state public service has not been accounted for, then that amounts to a case of corruption. Edubio who is making this allegation ought to know this and should be wise about where to lay his petition in that regard. He should take his petition to the appropriate agencies of government. Pages of newspapers and the internet are not among those agencies.
To show that the allegation was politically motivated to malign someone he perceives as a political opponent, Edubio sought to raise more public anxiety by suggesting, without any basis in facts, that the SSG is also allocated N15 billion in every annual budget of the state for industrialisation. Where is the evidence for this? Does the office of the SSG have responsibility for the industrialisation of the state? The public should ignore Edubio’s claim as base propaganda and a vain attempt to incite public anger against a hardworking public officer with impeccable track record.
We need to just add that Edubio’s incessant alarm over zoning smacks of fear. Everyone in Akwa Ibom knows that the contest for the Office of Governor of the state has always been open. Every part of the state has qualified people that can aspire to lead. All those who are so qualified should step forward as was the case for the 2007 election when 57 aspirants joined the race and Godswill Akpabio of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District emerged victorious in a keen and open contest. Larry Esin, representing Eket Senatorial District, came third in that party primary. If the contest had been zoned to Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, there is no way Larry Esin would have come third in a large field of 57 aspirants. And in 2011, Engineer Frank Okon of Eket Senatorial District contested against the incumbent governor who is from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, yet no one in Eket Senatorial District cautioned him against it – because he had the right to contest. Even as we debate the future of our state, Frank Okon is still fighting the 2011 election in court. The point about people from Eket Senatorial District contesting those elections without caucus support is hogwash. Where did Larry Esin get the votes that placed him third in the party primary if he did not have caucus support?
The party primary leading to the 2015 governorship election should be an open contest the same way it was in 2006 and 2010 when candidates from all parts of the state, including Larry Esin, Nsima Ekere and Frank Okon, all of Eket Senatorial District, contested. Akwa Ibom people are looking for the ablest man or woman among their best compatriots for the most important job in the state. We can only get the ablest of the best when a thousand flowers are allowed to blossom.
Chief Executive Officer