Abimbola Adelakun: By the time Akpabio turns 70…

by Abimbola Adelakun

Gov-Godswill-Akpabio

The amount of money that would be paid to Akpabio and his deputy for the next 18 years as medical allowance alone, should be enough to lay the foundations of a 21st century hospital.

 

Swaziland’s King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch is often cited as the most wasteful leader of any country. Mswati III is the leader of a nation that bests only Somalia in terms of economic performance. Two-thirds of his loyal subjects live in chronic poverty, and expectedly, human rights are routinely violated. Yet, this man has no qualms rolling in and exhibiting excess wealth.

When not collecting wives at his dreadful Reed Dances –he has 15 of them presently – he is busy selling food crops donated to his country or, globetrotting. If Mswati’s buffoonery can be excused on the grounds of youthful exuberance –he became King when he was 18 – what excuse can a man almost thrice his age have for being illogical with statecraft?

I speak of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, who is going to be 52 in December. In the next 18 years, when he would be 70, Akpabio would have swallowed many hospitals, schools, roads and similar public infrastructure into his protruding stomach.

From the look of things, his esurient throat will not choke on his rapacious tendencies; he has used the instrument of the law to counter this possibility.

You see, a few days ago, Akwa Ibom State lawmakers passed a bill that gives Akpabio and his deputy a generous pension package that will allow them feed fat on the state for the rest of their lives. The bill which is only awaiting the assent of Akpabio himself before it becomes operational, stipulates free medical services for Akpabio and his wife at a sum not exceeding N100 million or an equivalent of $600,000.00. His wife is also to enjoy a N12 million medical allowance in case she survives him. It also provides among others a 300 per cent furniture allowance, 300 per cent vehicle maintenance and fuelling, (Both earned severance gratuity of 300 per cent salary), yearly utility of 100 per cent, and entertainment allowance of 100 per cent.

The amount of money that would be paid to Akpabio and his deputy for the next 18 years as medical allowance alone, should be enough to lay the foundations of a 21st century hospital.

But no, Akpabio and his lawmakers are not looking that far enough. As far as they are concerned, there is a feast of fat things available in Akwa Ibom State and they just must gorge on it. A spot calculation of those sums he would be paid shows that funds that should go into building public resources will be expended on serving ex-governors whose tummies are already full of jiggling worms of self-indulgence.

Akpabio should be considered one of the luckiest governors in the history of Akwa Ibom State. His allocation package is bigger than what his predecessors ever received and so he has quite a lot of money at his disposal. As a result, he spends and spends and spends like that activity is the only purpose money is ever meant to fulfill?.

Now that his pension package is enshrined into law, it means other governors will receive the same package after every four or eight years, depending on how long they stay in office. The question of whether these governors justify their pension will not even arise. All they need is to find their way to the Akwa Ibom Government House and their meal ticket for life is guaranteed.

Akpabio is absolutely not alone in this avaricious act, it must be stated. In 2012, the Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, also used the same route to get himself a mouth-watering pension from 2015. The opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (then the ACN), practically called him a fraud for that behaviour.

Ironically, Amaechi has since joined the opposition party and has been repackaged as a progressive. His pension sins have since been quietly forgiven and he is even allowed to point accusing fingers at others for being “corrupt”. That is Nigeria for you. Things barely make sense here.

Akpabio, a mere rent-collecting state governor, has not only followed Amaechi’s footsteps, he has outdone him. The bill even managed to provide for his death: A lavish burial will be accorded him at the state’s expense while his family still gets a generous package called condolence allowance.

But Akpabio is not alone in this blame; the lawmakers who passed this bill are just as worse. They obviously suffer from sycophantic shortsightedness that they would rubberstamp executive greed.

If they knew their jobs, they would be stopping Akpabio’s excesses on their tracks, not endorsing them with a hurriedly passed bill. There are lots of grievous reasons Akwa Ibom lawmakers need to fire Akpabio.

From his atrocious spending during TuFace’s wedding; to the statement credited to him that he built a flyover in Uyo not because one was really needed but for state citizens who had never seen one to know what it looks like; to giving a N50m award to Nollywood in President Goodluck Jonathan’s name; to tales of his profligate donations that he makes at nearly every occasion he is present without recourse to either the state budget or any channel of accountability; to allegations of inflated contracts and other blatant acts of bizarre spending in his administration, the man is not relenting.

If Nigeria were not what it is and, we were more serious, somebody like Akpabio would be running from Uyo to Eket looking for a lawyer that will keep him from the long arms of the law. He would have at least resigned his governorship position to pursue his various legal cases, not remain in office to continue hoeing everything in his direction as if the world was made for him.

Why, one cannot but wonder, are we blessed with leaders like this who cannot see beyond their feet and are therefore condemned to eating with their 10 fingers?

Akpabio has served a trifle eight years and yet thinks it is right to squeeze such gratitude out of his people at a tremendous cost. You can imagine the kind of desperation that that kind of pension package will create in subsequent elections in Akwa Ibom State.

The people of Akwa Ibom, if they know what is good for them, had better not allow this pension package to stand. They should call their lawmakers to their senses and let them realise that oil money will not flow forever.

Today, Akwa Ibom might be one of the highest earners in the country because of derivation fund allocations that flow into the governor’s hands but who knows what tomorrow will be like? What if the state goes broke in future and Akwa Ibom finds itself stuck with a league of governors whose mouths have been widened –and stomachs distended – by payment worth millions of naira creamed off the lives of people who didn’t even know when the bill was signed? How will they cope then? Is that when they will repeal the law?

Just how did we get to this path to perdiction in this country?

 

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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

 

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