By Thomas Thomas
In support of Thomson Essien:
The planned hosting of yet another investment summit in USA is economic sabotage and unnecessary
Penultimate week, Mr. Thompson Essien, convener of IbibioNation Forum and President of Ibibio Peoples Union (IPU), an indigene of Akwa Ibom State resident in Portland, Oregon, United States of America, wrote a distress letter to the United States Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton seeking the outright denial or cancellation of visas to members of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and other entourage of Governor Godswill Akpabio to the United States of America.
The Lawmakers and other government functionaries of Akwa Ibom State are heading to the United States of America to attend what they called Akwa Ibom State Economic Summit/Investment Expo 2012 in Houston, Texas.
This summit, will be the second of its kind in recent times having been held last year. The only difference between this conference and the first held in 2011 is the over bloated entourage which at our last count will have 56 attendees under the sponsorship of Akwa Ibom State government gulping an estimated N17b, an amount which equals to two months federal allocations of some states in Nigeria. The 26 Lawmakers, some commissioners and the SSG, Special Advisers, some council chairmen and other party leaders are tipped for this trip which will also mark the silver jubilee celebration of Akwa Ibom State. It is not clear if they are travelling alone or will need some Aides along with them thus increasing the number and the cost.
Thompson Essien in his letter has reasoned that the exercise is futile and just an executive jamboree which the conveners sole aim is for the attendees to catch a glimpse of the serenity of the US as they unwind. That has been one of the visible characteristic of the government of Akwa Ibom State since 2007 when oil wind fall started coming to the State.
Essien who is a social critic has questioned the rational of such expenditure on an adventure that has been taken before with the same reason but without any positive result. If after the 2011 Economic and Investment Summit in the United State, there were some results by way of foreign investment or aid, one would have pull the wool over spending yet another whooping sum of money on the same exercise.
We feel strongly to join Mr. Essien and Ibibio Peoples Union in condemning the planned summit except it is hosted here in Akwa Ibom State to curtail the excess expenditure. Our stand is premised on the fact that Nigeria and Akwa Ibom State is marked red in United States of America’s ranking of investment zones in Africa because of endemic corruption in high places and insecurity believed to be sponsored by people in government as self sustaining mechanism in power. Just last week, Barrack Obama, United States President, deleted Nigeria in the list of states to be visited by Hillary Clinton, his Secretary of States during her ongoing tour of Africa to reassure of America’s commitment to strengthening economic ties in those countries and strengthen democracy there. Sanctions are even insinuated against Nigeria in some quarters. The reason is that Nigeria is not yet prepared or has not shown any commitment to develop herself nor strengthen democratic governance at the Local Government, State and National levels. It has not shown commitment to the respect of fundamental human rights of her citizens as well as being accountable to her people. If Akpabio were to be asked his score card in these areas taking into consideration how he recently conducted local government election in the state, his planned annihilation of a section of the press, what would he really say? Those billed to attend the summit were the very people who reduced themselves to touts when they scuttle the chances of Akwa Ibom people filling the yarning development gap in the third tier of government in Akwa Ibom State. This therefore makes nonsense of any trip to the US by Akwa Ibom State government to seek investors even with her bad security record and official terrorism.
We would suggest that Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and the government of Chief (Dr) Godswill Akpabio cover their pride and re-assess her performance in the area of security of lives and limb, respect for the rights of the human person, job creation and self help effort in industrialization of Akwa Ibom State.
As a law-making body, can AKHA in all honesty, feel satisfied that she has made laws that support the above stated areas as well as a checking mechanism to enforce their implementation for the betterment of an average Akwa Ibom person? We are sure that the answer will be in the negative just as the government of Akwa Ibom State will not be exonerated in the insecurity problem that has send so many to their untimely graves while other are now in exile.
This are areas that all tiers of government in Akwa Ibom State must address in an attempt to put the state in order to attract investments, foreign and local. With these in place, investments, like the $100m brewing hall in Anambra by an American entrepreneur or the gas link in Imo State, all privately sponsored, will be falling in the state. Then unemployment and brain drain will be a thing of the past. But for now, there is no need traveling and spending the people’ money in search of what feasibility study of the state will blank first round.