Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State, South-south Nigeria, has complained that he is being distracted by too many unscheduled visits from politicians in the state.

Mr Eno was inaugurated in May as the fifth elected governor of Akwa Ibom.

Until his election, he was a successful entrepreneur in his hospitality and catering business in the state but was not known to be deeply involved in the state’s politics.

I will not go to anybody’s office without an appointment,” Mr Eno said in a video clip posted on Facebook.

“I find it amusing that people would just leave their home and just show up, and they will call you that they have not been allowed to pass through the Government House gate.”

Mr Eno made the remarks on Saturday during a monthly prayer meeting at the chapel inside the Government House, Uyo.

The prayer meeting is a Government House tradition inherited by Mr Eno. It is usually attended by select clerics, government officials, politicians and entrepreneurs in the state.

Governor Eno, who said he was learning to manage the frequent visits to his office, appealed to politicians to give him some space to do the job he was elected to do.

Visiting days

“I will only receive visitors on Thursdays and Fridays. I beg us, between Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I will not receive visitors to allow me time to do the job that you have elected me to do because no one would ask how many visitors I received at the end of four years,” Mr Eno said.

“Allow us to hold the meeting we can hold, treat some files – you know we are almost treating files late, and I have tried to manage it for some time, but people would get angry.

“Some people would say we have just elected you; he is locking us out. Please, that is not the issue; the issue is, let’s try and understand.

“And when you come to see me, please make it brief. We will serve you; we will serve everybody. We are here to serve. But please, part of the service includes bending down, reading, and making sure that we read through the lines; we do the actual work. If you come between Monday and Wednesday, and they don’t let you pass the gate, I beg you to understand.

“Sometimes, when I watch you on the camera, I feel sorry that you are talking with (security) people that are not even answering you. You are shouting at them, ‘He is not the first person in this Government House’. Everything you say at the gate, I hear it in my office,” Mr Eno said.

The audience laughed out loud, apparently on learning that the governor could hear whatever people at the Government House gate. Mr Eno laughed out, too.

Governor Eno’s delay in making cabinet appointments and other appointments may have contributed to pressure on him, as some politicians who were involved in his election are anxious to push through their political interests via appointments.

The governor is a cleric and founder of All Nations Christian Ministry International in Eket, Akwa Ibom.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that politicians and entrepreneurs frequently visit the church for a possible meeting with Governor Eno when they get information that he would worship there.

Poverty in Akwa Ibom

Akwa Ibom, an oil-rich state, is one of the richest states in Nigeria, but it is among the top states with high unemployment rates in the country, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The state is ranked 27th on the national poverty rate ladder released by the NBS in 2019. The agency has not released new data on the state poverty rate since it was last published.

Many elites in the state depend on government handouts for their economic and political survival.

“We have the best road network in Nigeria. We have Ibom Air and a new smart airport terminal, which we are all proud of, thanks to your predecessor, Mr Udom Emmanuel. We have the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre. We have one of the finest stadiums in Nigeria. We have tall, beautiful buildings. But our people have remained poor and hungry,” a cleric, Aniekan Essien, said recently in an open letter to Mr Eno in which he appealed to the governor to tackle poverty and hunger in the state.

“It was Mahatma Gandhi who said, ‘There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread’.

“I live among my people and interact with all classes of people. I can sincerely tell you, Sir, that it is the poverty and hunger among the people that have made it difficult for them to see the good in whatever infrastructure the government has put in place in Akwa Ibom. This is one of the greatest challenges Mr Udom Emmanuel faced before he left office,” Mr Essien said in the letter.

The cleric, Mr Essien, suggested a “sure way” for Governor Eno to tackle poverty in the state.

“One sure way to go is this: put aside your predecessor’s policy of awarding big contracts to only a very few companies,” he said.

Continuing, Mr Essien said: “I have noticed, for instance, that you have just awarded a contract to Hensek Integrated Services Ltd for the construction of Ndiya Street at Akpanandem Market in Uyo, even when this particular company is handling several other construction jobs in the state like the Airport Road/Oron Road expansion project.

“I am very proud of the quality road projects Hensek, an indigenous company, has done in Akwa Ibom, but the state government cannot afford to continue to constrict the construction industry in Akwa Ibom State, except there is a deliberate policy not to expand the opportunities for wealth-creation.

“Spreading contracts to other indigenous companies will increase the multiplier effect. More construction and allied workers would be recruited. More suppliers of goods would get into business. And certainly, more families would be happy for it.”

The cleric said the policy of awarding road construction contracts to many indigenous companies in Akwa Ibom was initiated by the administration of Governor Victor Attah and that it was sustained by Mr Attah’s predecessor, Godswill Akpabio.

“I advise that you request the Ministry of Works and Fire Service to furnish you with the details of the indigenous construction companies that got patronage from the past administrations of Attah and Akpabio, including their performance. From there, you can find out which companies performed well and how you can include them in your road construction plan.

“I pray that God gives you the courage to do what is right for the collective good of our dear state,” Mr Essien said to Governor Eno.

Source:- Premium Times



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