Akwa Ibom commissioners threaten mass resignation
By; Patrick Titus, Uyo.
Governor Udom Emmanuel’s strong will to curb excesses by public officers and the fall in monthly allocations to states from the federal accounts has generated uneasy calm in Akwa Ibom state executive council.
Sources from Government House, Uyo said some Commissioners who are not happy with the Governor’s style of leadership which they believed would not augur well with them in view of their wants to service personal interest before the state are threatening to resign their appointments en mass.
One way of curbing such excess in government is the directive to the Ministry of Finance cutting down monthly impress for office upkeep to all government ministries, departments and agencies from what used to be during the tenure of the immediate past administration.
Though the figure varies per Ministry and Bureau but under the regime of the immediate past Governor Godswill Akpabio, the least monthly impress to a Ministry and Bureau was N3.5million respectively. Break down every month showed that under that administration, a Commissioner in a Ministry and Special Adviser for a Bureau usually got an amount not below N1.2 million, Permanent Secretary; N1.1 million, other ranks of staff shared N1million while a paltry N200, 000 was set aside for buying of stationary and fuel to power generator when necessary.
But under Governor Emmanuel administration, the amount has been cut down to N2 million monthly meaning that, a Commissioner or Special Adviser receives less than N1 million as his own share of imprest monthly as compared to N1.2 million before.
Another way of checking the excess which the aggrieved cabinet members of Governor Emmanuel administration also considered as annoying is that the Governor spent time to scrutinize every memo they present to value its economic importance to the state before approval. Any memo that does not fit into the system of prudency in administration is thrown into the trenched cans.
Believing the old system allowed more money in their pockets for the management of their egos given their new status and as politicians, they therefore complained that the new order has left them with the burden of using their personal money, sometime borrowing from friends to meet the demand of their new status and offices, sources said.
“As politicians, we need more money in our pockets to run the office. On daily basis people from our various localities line up in the office with one problem or another begging for financial assistance from us. For now, I am tired of giving excuses that government was yet to release money to us. Some of us are considering the option of resigning and going back to where we were rather than staying here and answer commissioners where people regard you as someone who has plenty money,” one of the commissioners lamented.
However, as complaints thicken, Governor Emmanuel’s body language showed that he would also be willing to accept with dispatch, any resignation from any cabinet member who feels ready to quit. Bulks of these complaints according to sources came from those who served as commissioners in former Governor Akpabio’s regime but who are reappointed by Governor Emmanuel.
The Governor, who is a financial expert having worked in Zenith Bank, one of the leading banks in the country, and rose to the position of an executive director understands where lies the loopholes in public office to siphon money. By this, he made himself a “falconer where another falconer cannot take him by surprise.”
At a recent media chat with journalists in Uyo, Governor Emmanuel said that his administration was desirous to leave legacies that would stand the test of time in the socio-economic life of the people of the state.
According to him, he would maintain international best practices in the management of funds available in the state in order to create wealth and generate employment for the unemployed youths. To this end, time of reckless spending of spending of public if ever, was over. He maintained that he was already an established man before he came to office as the governor.
It would be recalled that Governor Emmanuel during the swearing in of the commissioners and special advisers on September this year admonish them not to derail from the path of trust and distinction which their selections from among the pool of aspirants was anchored on.
He made it clear to them in his speech, saying, “When you look at the blackboard of our blueprint and our campaign platform you will find that this administration has outlined its priorities; tick them in your hearts and tie them in your policies and let them be the loadstar that guide and direct the course of your actions and deeds.”
It would also be recalled that Governor Emmanuel had within his few months in office, set up 10-man revenue review committee headed by Permanent Secretary, budget office, Pastor Nicholas Ekarika. The committee is mandated among other functions, to seek other revenue generating sources to government and also work out modalities to review existing tariffs in the ministries, departments and agencies of government (MDAs).
He charged them to be proactive by fashioning out ways to harness untapped revenue streams in the state and develop a critical framework to support revenue collection. Mr. Okon stressed that concrete efforts should be made to tighten loopholes in revenue collection to ensure availability of funds for infrastructure development, payment of workers’ wages and entitlements, as well as running other governmental affairs.