Monday 7 August 2017

Group fixes dates for protest in Uyo, Lagos over new governor's lodge

Inibehe Effiong
Akwa Ibom Conscience, a non-partisan association of conscientious citizens devoted to the advancement of the ideals and principles of freedom, justice, human rights, good governance, anti-corruption, accountability and the rule of law in Nigeria and Akwa Ibom State in particular, will hold a peaceful protest in Lagos and Akwa Ibom States on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th August, respectively.

The group will hold a peaceful protest/procession to express their disapproval for the controversial decision by the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, in conjunction with the State House of Assembly, to construct a new/second Akwa Ibom Governor’s Lodge in Lagos State with humongous taxpayers money and public funds, despite that such project is totally unnecessary and given the economic situation in Akwa Ibom State.
There are conflicting information from the government on the actual amount of money budgeted in the 2017 main budget and the supplementary budget for proposed new lodge.
It is widely reported in the media that the House of Assembly approved N9.1 billion for it but the Commissioner for Information claimed that the cost is N2 billion. Governor Udom Emmanuel initially denied the existence of such a project in the budget while addressing the Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) in Uyo on Thursday 4th August. However, the governor recanted when he addressed newsmen the following day and admitted the existence of the project in the budget which he said will cost a "PALTRY" N1.2 billion and also described those criticising it as "MYOPIC".
It should be noted that the governor laid the supplementary budget on the floor of the House of Assembly on Tuesday 25th July 2017 and the House passed it hastily on Thursday 27th July, 2017 (within 48 hours) without subjecting the document to intensive legislative and budgetary processes and public hearing. This is not surprising, given the recent public proclamation by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Onofiok Luke that the House of Assembly is not only a rubber stamp, but the IRON SEAL of the governor.
Whatever the cost of the proposed new lodge or the arguments for same, Akwa Ibom people have rejected it. Akwa Ibom already has two facilities in Lagos State: a liaison office and a lodge. It also has same facilities/properties in Abuja.
Yearly, funds are voted for their maintenance. Yet, it has no economic value to the State. The contention that the facilities are maintained to attract investors is neither supported by evidence nor logic.
We demand that the proposed project should be immediately expunged from the main and suplementary budgets, and the funds, no matter how "paltry", should be channelled to productive sectors that will generate jobs for unemployed youths.
The peaceful protest/procession will hold as follows:
The Lagos protest will hold on Thursday 10th August, 2017 by 8AM at the Akwa Ibom State Liaison Office in Lagos located at Ajose Adeogun Street (Access from Eko Hotel round about, before the Zenith Bank Headquarters).
The Uyo protest will hold on Friday 11th August, 2017 by 10AM. It will take-off from Ibom Plaza to the Government House at Willington Bassey Way in Uyo, and from there to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly we hope to address the Governor and the Speaker of the House, respectively.
Please note that there will be no "African time".
Intending protesters are advised to wear a black or blue jeans trouser/skirt with a black T-shirt or white T-shirt.
Members of the public wishing to participate in this peaceful and democratic exercise should note that disorderly behaviour, of whatever form, will not be tolerated.
Security agencies have been duly notified of the forthcoming protest and we expect their cooperation.
We respectfully invite journalists, bloggers and citizen reporters for coverage.
Inibehe Effiong,

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