The month of June, 2014 appeared not to be the best of months for Akwa Ibom state governor, Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio as he has continued to be in the news for one perceived wrong reason or another in the governance of the state.
Just as the controversy generated by his proposed contentious amendments to the Akwa Ibom Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law is about to wane off, Akpabio has attracted another round of controversy over his siting of the approved Federal Government Polytechnic at his hometown, Ukana Ikot Ntuen in Essien Udim local government area.
Last Friday, the governor received President Goodluck Jonathan’s letter approving the establishment of the Federal Institution in the state through the Minister of Education, Barr. Nyesom Wike with a grant of N1 Billion from the Education Trust Fund for smooth takeoff of the Institution.
A management team was also announced comprising The Rector, Registrar and etc. with the governor nominating persons of his choice into certain managerial positions including the Registrar, Mr. Chrisantus Azuka.
In fairness to Governor Godswill Akpabio, Mid-Week Radar lauds his strides at using his robust relationship with the Presidency to attract such a gigantic federal project to the state but, we are quick to add that the project should not be sited in the governor’s hometown (Ukana) especially, now that the polity has been charged with sentiments.
This paper observed that the action of Akpabio, has again, made Akwa Ibom people to read ethnic correlation into activities of his administration in the past seven years.
We, however, are of the opinion that in the remaining one year of this administration, Akpabio should endeavour to be magnanimous in distribution of projects across the three senatorial districts and 10 federal constituencies of the state.
The newly approved Federal Polytechnic, this paper learnt, was originally penciled down for Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal constituency, the area being currently represented at the Nigerian Senate of the National Assembly by Senator Ita Solomon Enang.
Sometimes last year, three sites were visited by the Federal Government delegation on the siting of the Polytechnic. The team went round the state assessing sites in places like: Union Secondary School, Ibiaku, Ibiono Ibom LGA; Presbyterian Senior Science College, Ididep, Ibiono Ibom LGA; and the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua, Ikot Ekpene LGA.
This paper is in the know that at the end of the site inspection tour by the team, that Presbyterian Senior Science College, Ididep, Ibiono Ibom LGA was said to have made top on this list of preferred location for hosting of the Institution.
The governor’s hometown, Ukana was not among places visited during that tour and the way it resurfaced and became the preferred site leaves everyone in the state in shock, thus the governor being accused of implementing an ethnic theory in the state.
Even though, Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Aniekan Umanah in a statement said that “the siting of the recently approved Federal Polytechnic in Essien Udim local government area, was the decision of the federal government and not that of Governor Akpabio, as speculated in some quarters.”
Umanah also claims that in arriving at the choice of location for the new institution, federal government must have based its decision on established parameters, saying that; “the location of the institution in Essien Udim, represents equity in the distribution of federal higher institutions in the three senatorial districts of the state.”
While, we refused temptation to put the honourable Commissioner for Information to task on his claims especially, that the siting of the Polytechnic in Ukana devoid ethnic agenda, we, however, challenge Mr. Umanah to convince Akwa Ibom people on the logic behind siting of the Polytechnic in Ukana that was never visited nor contemplated upon, by the federal government team that toured proposed sites for the establishment of the Institution?
We believe that whatever must have gone wrong that would lead to a change of location of this project should not warrant it to be taken to the governor’s village which is already congested with several other developmental projects and institutions.
Mid-Week Radar calls on both the state and federal governments authorities to as a matter of urgency, revise the decision of siting the Federal Polytechnic in Ukana, Essien Udim local government area in order to avert bad blood amongst people of the state and ensure equitable distribution of projects in the state.