The $1.1 billion (N600 billion) that was said to have been given to the Akwa Ibom State government as arrears of the 13 per cent derivation fund from the Federal Government has continued to generate heat in the state as the people have queried Governor Udom Emmanuel on what he used the money for.
It could be recalled that Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike had over the weekend revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the payment of arrears of the derivation fund owed since 1999 to Niger Delta states including Akwa Ibom.
Since the revelation was made, Akwa Ibom people have expressed shock that such huge income was received by the state government apart from the monthly Federal allocation and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) without their knowledge, and are demanding explanations of how the monies were expended.
The governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Akwa Ibom State, Senator Bassey Akpan who reacted to Wike’s revelations regretted that despite the huge financial inflow, the state is still in a deplorable state even as he tasked the people to ask questions about how the money was used.
“When I said he(Udom) received N280 billion, they said it was politics. They said I was interested in finance. All the funds that were not paid to South-South states from oil proceeds put together was $2.56 billion. The one paid to Akwa Ibom was $1.1 billion (N600 billion). Udom has received over N3 trillion. But there is nothing to show for it,” he stated.
Also, the National Coordinator, Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community, Clifford Thomas (Esq) in his reaction said there was no justifiable reason why Governor Emmanuel never mentioned to Akwa Ibom citizens the amount he legitimately collected on behalf of the state as arrears of the derivation fund.
“It is just a matter of showing us how much you have collected. The fact that you did not disclose it to us means that you had the intention to steal. Proper disclosure presupposes that you are transparent and accountable to the people. Where a government is not accountable and transparent to the people, it thereafter means that there’s no probity in your council and it is against human rights,” he said
He said further: “Again, I know that the propriety of coming to disclose at this critical time is challenging but the fact remains that it was disclosed from credible sources that over $1.1billion was given to Akwa Ibom State as arrears of 13 per cent derivations from 1999 till now, then what is the propriety of hiding money that came to you legitimately.”
Commenting on the fund received, Professor of Economics, University of Uyo, Prof. Edet Akpakpan, said it was expedient for the people to demand from the government what the money received was used for, saying the question was a legitimate one to ascertain if the funds were judiciously used.
“I have heard the information that Governor Wike has given the whole world. What we in this part of the country should do is ask our government, if they received that kind of money, what exactly do they do with the money? I think this is a legitimate question to ask.
“I will not from my library conclude that nothing has been done. I have heard that they have done a number of things in some local governments, for instance, Onna, but we need to be concrete.
“Governor Wike has commissioned nine or 10 flyovers and these are fantastic things, when we talk of infrastructure, that is what it should be. I have seen a tower here in Uyo, I don’t know what the building will serve.
“I have not asked questions; any time I decide to do a research on the economy of the State, I will ask these questions. But as a private person, what we need to do is to ask the government what has happened, have they received the money, what have they done with it?” he stated.
Efforts to get the Commissioner of Finance, Mr Linus Nkan to comment on the receipt of the derivation fund failed as he was yet to pick up his phone calls at the time of filing the report.
It was gathered that the governors of Delta and Bayelsa states had since addressed the press, notifying their people of the received fund, but in Akwa Ibom State, the government is yet to speak on the matter, leaving the people in the dark.