Akwa Ibom gov condemns critics of bailout funds to states



• Says it’s about the people’s welfare

AKWA Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel has faulted critics of recent bailouts to state governors to settle their domestic commitments like payment of salaries, saying the idea was to alleviate the suffering of the states occasioned by the drastic shortfall in revenue generation.

Speaking with State House correspondents after he held a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, against the background of public criticisms of the bailouts handed out to state governments last month, the governor said the reactions were not necessary, as the bailouts were intended to solve a particular problem.

The governor, who admitted not to have read detailed antagonism against the idea, however believed that critics should spare some moments to reflect on the very essence of the idea.

He said: “I don’t know who the critics are, so I may not be able to comment on what I have not read about. What are you calling bailout? In a country where you are looking at the welfare of the people, look at the people first, it is about the welfare of the people. What you are talking about bailout is that some states that cannot pay salaries should be empowered so that we have to pay salaries to these people.

“Whatever name you call it does not matter. There is what we call substance over fund, so can we look at that substance over fund, not just the name you call it? We are looking at the welfare of the people so whatever name you call it and you said people are criticising it, I don’t want to join issues with that. For now, I look at substance over fund.”

Emmanuel, who expressed concern that gully erosion had wrecked a lot in his state and stressed the need for Federal Government’s intervention to save the state from the havoc wrought on it, said: “We have problem of gully erosion. If you watch the news in recent times, you will see a lot of interventions and those devastating menace in some federal assets and federal roads which the state government has actually tried to intervene.”

According to him: “The fact that we have not been able to settle cannot deter us from still taking up the interest of the people. We ensure that the interest of the people will be uppermost in whatever decision we are taking. My predecessor did so much, he intervened so much in much of these gully erosions and some of them were approved by the immediate past President.

“I am happy that you were aware that we didn’t get the refund but that would not deter us from what we think it is good for the good of our people but as soon as the economy gets a little more buoyant than the level it is right now, the Federal Government would give us part of the refund, it may not be 100 per cent but as soon things improve better than where we are right now, we hope the government will give us part of the refund.”

The governor described President as a father of all Nigerians, saying that was why he has been giving a listening ear to all irrespective of party affiliations.

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