Governor Akpabio’s Insensitive Pension Bill By Enenim Ubon
Godswill Obot Akpabio(the third democratically elected governor of Akwa Ibom State), a name previously unheard until his appointment as a commissioner by Obong Victor Attah; he played the ‘right’ cards thus defeating the preferred candidate of his boss at the PDP primaries in 2006 by sheer providence, confirming what the bible says that “power belongs to God” – the rest is history.
Arguably Chief Akpabio, controversial as he is, is one of the best performing governors in Nigeria, his most visible area of performance being provision of infrastructures (roads, schools, hospitals etc), although not every part of the state has benefited from his uncommon transformation.
The ‘uncommon transformer’ and his supporters believe he has done a lot, but one area I know Akpabio has failed is Human Capital Development, which to me transcends giving money to people or buying cars for persons who have no means of maintaining such cars afterwards. One of his empowerment programs AME NYIN ended up a waste of time for those who participated and a channel to divert funds for the organizers. Even the taxis brought in at the beginning of his administration have long ago disappeared from the streets(as they only served as compensation to a privilege few). His 2010 campaign promise of at least one cottage industry in each local government area has so far ended up as campaign talk. In Akwa Ibom State today, some youths look forward to becoming a ‘PA to a PA to the Governors PA’,those who have succeeded in this quest walk around town with a false sense of fulfillment. Everybody is a political stake-holder. The state civil service which ordinarily should be the hope of the ‘ordinary’ citizens is either for the highest bidders or god sons to a few big men.
The unemployment level in the state is the major reason I was shocked beyond words when I read (http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/akpabio-seeks-new-pension-law-for-self-others/179381/) that the governor was making such outrageous demands for himself, former governors and their deputies. Even more annoying is the mere thought that state resources will be used to take care of the spouses of the governors and deputies in event of their death. Arguably,in Nigeria, nobody who occupies a political office goes home poor, in some cases their account balances triple over night, with houses and properties scattered in various cities of their choice; how then will a governor be asking the state for a 5-bedroom maisonnette in either the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, or Akwa Ibom State and also free medical service for the Governor and spouse at a sum not exceeding N100 million per annum for the governor, after ‘just’ eight years in office? What do civil servants get after 35 years of service? How can the governor of a state yet to embark on the harmonization of pensions be making such demands? Some primary school teachers who recently retired are yet to receive their gratuities, but Akpabio sits in his inner chambers to imagine this level of cruelty on the Akwa Ibom people. I wonder if the sponsors of this bill have considered the impact it will have on the state budget when eventually six governors/deputies have served their tenures. Have they imagined a situation where each governor uses two deputies within eight years. A time will come when workers salaries won’t be paid so that Akpabio can feel better.
I urge every Akwa-Ibom citizen to resist this act of inhumanness in its entirety. It is time for the members of the state house of assembly to prove they are on the side of the people by throwing out the ridiculous pension bill sent to them by Akpabio and his ‘dream team’
The Governor and his team at this point in time should be preoccupied with how to leave office on a high and not this ‘drain pipe’ of a pension bill to further impoverish Akwa-Ibom people.
History has shown and will continue to show how/where insensitive leaders end up. Governors will come and go but the people of Akwa-Ibom will remain, therefore the resources meant for everybody shouldn’t be used to further fill already over fed throats. Governor Akpabio should remember that “there is a holy God who orders all things and who watches over the affairs of men” – and is an incorruptible Judge.
The writer is on twitter @enenimubon
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