EDITORIAL: Governor Akpabio must end abuse of Akwa Ibom state funds

Godswill Akpabio

Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom state holds the irritating record of being Nigeria’s most openly profligate governor. He is a father christmas — throwing outlandish cash gifts at politicians, activists, musicians, journalists and whoever captures his fancy. He moves around with bales of mint-fresh cash, spending extravagantly and making reckless donations at public events.

Yet the funds he is wasting does not belong to him. They belong to tax payers in Akwa Ibom State who have continued to wallow in poverty, disease and insecurity despite the huge oil revenue the oil-rich state receives every month. Rather than pull majority of his people out of poverty, Mr. Akpabio has become a waste pipe, frittering away the collective wealth of his people while managing to beautify the state capital to create the impression he is developing the state.

Mr. Akpabio’s incautious spending escalated months after he took office in 2007, when he became a near constant guest at child naming ceremonies, marriages, funerals and sundry events. And he never failed to give zing to such events with multimillion naira donations, Toyota cars and SUVs for whoever caught his fancy.

These are not subjective reports, they are facts well known in that state.

Nothing speaks to the impoverishment of a state, whose leader brandishes so much wealth, than the celebrations that often erupt in praise of the donations. Many hail the governor’s gifts as generosity of spirit, and only a few dare complain.

Mr. Akpabio’s recent controversial donations and dealings, only replicate a trend well established in Akwa Ibom for six years.

His donation of a N50 million award for Nollywood, two SUVs to Tuface Idibia, and wife, Annie, and the acquisition of an exotic multimillion dollar bullet-proof sprinter luxury vans from US-based Texas Armoring Corporation (TAC), have sparked outrage.

On Saturday, the governor, ever money and power drunk, unilaterally donated N230 million on behalf of the newly-formed PDP Governors Forum to President Goodluck Jonathan’s hometown church. There are indications many of the governors did not give him their nods to make any donation on their behalf.

Shamefully, many of Mr. Akpabio’s multimillion donations go to journalists and unscrupulous party and government officials who should help check the spendthrift governor.

In all, what is clear is that the funds Mr. Akpabio so injudiciously deploys are part of the monthly oil receipts of a state with one of Nigeria’s highest rate of unemployment. Despite his much-hyped claims of investments in education and health, Akwa Ibom state’s records in those sectors remain miserable. Millions of the state’s population can hardly afford daily meals, and many settle for debasing jobs around the country.

As of Tuesday, retirees in Akwa Ibom state were yet to receive their February pensions. Salaries are often owed, and when they are paid, they come some two or three weeks into new months.

These problems are by no means peculiar to Akwa Ibom. But the failings are amplified when funds that should alleviate them are squandered in the most outlandish of ways.

At an average N15 million a unit, the two Prado SUVs given to Tuface, can reward 100 unsalaried Akwa Ibom graduates N80, 000 for four months. That would be something to those families! The N50million he threw at Nollywood can do even more.

Mr. Akpabio must be ashamed of his conduct, and halt the folly. He must recognize that Akwa Ibom people deserve his respect, and that preserving their commonwealth is one way to ensure that.

The spate of profligacy he has consistently demonstrated falls amongst reasons some have opposed an increase in oil revenue share for oil producing states in the Petroleum Industry Bill. While we do not see how withholding such funds will cure governors such as Mr. Akpabio of spending proclivities, we also do fully understand the concern of those agitating for accountability before any increase in derivation formula.

The anti-corruption agencies and civil society organizations must note the governor’s spending, and the Akwa Ibom people should recognize they have a common evil they must rally against. They must rise and seek answers, and insist Mr. Akpabio channel their wealth into creating jobs for the unemployed, food for the starving, health for the sick and education for all.

Most importantly, they must insist Mr. Akpabio be made to face sanctions whenever the scope of his financial abuses, is fully established.

Akwa Ibomites should not throw their hands up in helplessness. They should note that except he becomes president or vice-president in 2015, Mr. Akpabio would be eligible for prosecution after losing the immunity that seems to have made him money and power drunk. Citizens should keep documenting his indiscretions, as his days of reckoning are coming close.


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  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    Governor Saminu Turaki of Jigawa state donated 2 billion naira to Obasanjo third term campaign. Those who are looking for reasons to deny Niger Delta her natural rights, should look for another one.

    • segun

      Mpitikwelu, and the donation was rightly condemned then and is still being condemned. For example, Otedola remains a fugitive and the face corruption today because of the money Otedola fraudulently donated to Obasanjo’s Library while Obasanjo was a seating President. Okay mpitikwelu?. And this is why (i) what Akpabio is doing is wrong (ii) why Jonathan is fraudulently doing soliciting for money for Otuoke church while he is a seating President is morally wrong just like what Obasanjo did was attacked furiously by ALL Nigerian citizens. Please GET OUT OF YOUR ETHNIC COCOON. Be civil a bit.Learn some culture just a little bit.Get some wisdom and learn to live in a civilised modern society. You need it. It is an ETHICAL thing and NOT AN ETHNIC thing even when the spelling of the two-ETHICS AND ETHNIC may confuse you because they look alike!!! Hope you got the humor that you need to learn some culture and how to live in a civilised modern inclusive environment. Nigeria will outlive you and your corrupt sponsors in Aso Rock under President Jonathan. Say Amen mpiti, Amen!

    • femirobinson

      Foolish Mpiti. That poverty has fully blinded your eyes. People like you will still vote a thief like Akpabio into the senate I am sure. You better wake up from your ethnic dream.

  • Lanre

    Premium Times. I must say I am slightly disappointed at this editorial. You have merely expressed opinion without establishing a ground for legal action. You have also not suggested appropriate remedies. For example, what is the state legislature doing? The Judiciary might not be able to do much. What about citizens in Akwa-Ibom asking questions or filing law suits or has Akpabio in addition to being Governor also turned himself into Frankenstein or something worse that everybody has to be afraid of?

    Please the PIB must pass. And even beyond the PIB, I want the states from which resources are derived to have at least 80% of the resources derived therefrom. Don’t argue that because Akpabio is profligate, a good bill should not be passed. That is like saying a woman should not be proud to carry a pregnancy even though she knows she will have a bouncing bom-boy.

    Jokes apart. Democracy is not for underlings. Let the people of Akwa Ibom rise up, file law suits and challenge their Governor. That is how to demand accountability.

    P.S. I find it somehow interesting that one of Nigeria’s greatest social critics, Wole Soyinka, finds Akpabio to be an exceptional Governor. Maybe something is missing somewhere.

    • Uduak

      It’s a big shame and I’m not surprised. Akpabio do not just play with Al public funds but but also big time killer.