By Tunde Oguntola
The commissioner of Information and Strategy, Akwa Ibom State, Charles Udoh has described the state as the most transparent in the country, saying everyone in the state easily understands how the state is being run.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to LEADERSHIP Corporate Headquarters in Abuja yesterday, the commissioner said that the transparency of the state government enables the taxpayer, to easily research and hold the government accountable on how money allocated to the state is being spent.
Udoh said that Akwa Ibom is one of the few states that pay staffs salaries regularly. He said that currently all civil servants in Akwa Ibom State have collected their salaries, adding that every child of Akwa Ibom state who is qualified to seat for West Africa Certificate Examination (WAEC) is being sponsored by the state government.
“As at last year, Akwa Ibom spent N600 million in paying WAEC fees for indigenes of the state. Education is also free at basic level. We also provide free medical treatment to children below five, pregnant women and the elderly people and so if you were to ask that question you would ask where is transparency? You can see evidence of transparency in Akwa Ibom State. Akwa Ibom has a transparent government.
‘“Let me say that Akwa Ibom State for ages has been pre-dominantly dependent on oil revenue and you and I are aware that oil revenues isdrying up already. Productions are heading south and the big question is that when oil dries up, what do we do?
Akwa Ibom is also predominantly a public service state so if you combine that with the possibility of oil drying up we will be in a huge trouble if things are not proactively put in place.
“The state government has ventured into agriculture, if you recall that this government came on board on a five points agenda, focuses on job creation, wealth creation, poverty alleviation, economic and political inclusion and infrastructure consolidation and expansion.
“All those were there towards diversifying economy from an oil base and public sector base economy. Now what have we done to bring this to life, agriculture has been a focal point, industrialization have become a vocal point,’’ he said.
He noted that Akwa Ibom has produced pencils and toothpick already in 2017. He added that in the space of 20 months there are three functional industries up and running.
“The paint industry is fully resuscitated, one of the key things we are doing in agriculture is the two million plantation.”