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It’s not solely our duty to own industries in Akwa Ibom – Gov Emmanuel replies critics

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Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has explained that establishing industries is not wholly the state government’s responsibility.

He said the state government would rather create an enabling environment for industries to thrive.

This was coming in the wake of speculations in some quarters that the industries established in the state under the present administration are not owned by the state government as claimed but by private individuals.

The governor, in his Christmas broadcast on Saturday, December 25, 2021, said those attacking the efforts of the state government in attracting investors on ownership status are ‘ill-informed.’

According to him, “I have heard some people make rather ill-informed comments to the effect that these industries we have attracted are not owned by the State Government.

“Fellow Akwaibomites, it is not the duty of any state government to establish or wholly own industries. The main job of a State Government is to create the enabling environment for investors to come to such a state and invest, and to engender Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).

“It, however, takes a leader who understands and has established enduring contacts within the corporate world to convince and bring these investors to the state, which thankfully we have done in the last six-plus years and still remain committed to doing. I urge us to do a little research before we begin to attack and condemn.”

He also reminded the people about the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, urging them to observe the precautionary measures so as to help in curtailing the spread.

The statement added, “Some people have also taken to the social media to talk about serious issues such as pension and gratuities armed with little knowledge of the subject matter or outrightly misinforming the public. My dear Akwaibomites, as I speak to you, we have paid our pensioners up to date. I repeat we have paid up to date all our pensioners. The Office of Accountant-General regularly publishes this information, yet people, out of mischief and sheer blackmail, are still pushing the lie that we are owing to our pensioners.

“The issue of gratuity is a national problem. We are a mere subnational and even other higher layers of government are struggling with the issue of the payment of gratuities. In spite of this, we have painstakingly continued to pay gratuities and remain committed to doing so. Part of what I did, within my first few months in office was to settle a backlog of such, between 2002 to 2011, and ever since, in spite of the paucity of funds, we have endeavoured to pay gratuities.

“People must not lose the sense of the fact that we operate a three-tier Government structure: Federal, State and Local Government. Primary Education and Primary Health Care are under the Third Tier of Government and in spite of this we have regularly intervened in the payment of salaries and other benefits. I understand the political season is upon us, and thus the need by some people to score cheap political points, but we should not mislead our people with patent falsehood.”

He, therefore, called on the Akwa Ibom people to embrace peace and eschew any tendency to disrupt the existing peaceful coexistence in the state.