By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Civil Society groups in Akwa Ibom State have asked Governor Udom Emmanuel to implement the Local Government Financial Autonomy order in the State.
Recall that President Mohammadu Buhari had in 2019 directed financial autonomy for local government councils in the country through the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).
In a statement jointly signed by Chairmen of Civil Society Organisations Forum, Harry Udoh, Civil Liberties Organisations, Franklyn Isong, Akwa Ibom Human Rights Society, Clifford Thomas, the groups regretted that Akwa Ibom State government was yet to implement the executive order by the President as the 31 local government councils are still dependent on the State Joint Account for their allocation, which according to them normally gets tempered with by state government officials.
The groups also applauded President Buhari for signing Executive Order 10 which grants financial autonomy to State Houses of Assemblies and the Judiciary and urged him not to yield to pressure from the State Governors rather to Gazette the Order to leave a lasting democratic landmark in the country.
They, however, urged the President to assent to the Electoral Reform Bill to ensure free and fair elections, as well as ensure that those who flout electoral laws face the full wrath of the law.
The groups also urged the State Assembly to repeal the Akwa Ibom Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law, 2014 which provides life pension and other benefits to persons who served the state as Governors and Deputy Governors.
On the funds expended on the fight against Coronavirus, the groups demanded full accounts of the amount received and expenditure by the State government, expressing reservations on the palliatives given to Ibom Air as the real and beneficial ownership of the airline was still shrouded in secrecy.
“We call on the State House of Assembly to repeal the “Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law, 2014,” which provides for life pension and other benefits to persons who served the state as Governors and Deputy Governors.
“We take note of the palliative the Akwa Ibom State Government has given to Ibom Air. We hereby express our reservation, as this intervention is uncalled for. Especially, when the real and beneficial ownership of the airline is still shrouded in secrecy. What has been the contribution of the airline to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the State? Has this donation been properly appropriated?