Controversy is raging over the recent visit of Governor Udom Emmanuel to the United States and it is likely to strain the relationship between him and his predecessor, Senator Godswill Akpabio. This follows the decision of Emmanuel to attend a summer convention in the United States organised by Akwa Ibom Indigenes abroad contrary to Akpabio’s advice. The governor went to the US with more than 60 delegates. The visit would last for 14 days.
A former aide of Akpabio, who does not want to be named, said on Tuesday, that the former governor had advised Emmanuel not to embark on the journey because the trip was unnecessary, considering the cost involved. Akpabio had asked Emmanuel to avoid spending money on things that would not generate revenue for the state, but should focus on attracting investors into the state.
However, the convener, Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, Akwa Ibom State chapter, Mr. Inibehe Effiong, said that Emmanuel has begun to manifest the wasteful attitude he learnt from Akpabio. He added that few weeks ago, Emmanuel was spotted at the Ibom International Airport on a chartered jet. He said, “I can tell you, Emmanuel is very wasteful. The other day, he was seen at the Ibom International Airport on a chartered flight. Why has the governor chosen to go on a chartered flight when the economy of the country is wobbling? This does not make sense.”
But Ekerette Udoh, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, has defended the US trip. According to him, Emmanuel was not only the governor of those that reside in Akwa Ibom State but a governor of the Akwa Ibom people, irrespective of where they live. He stated that the summer convention was an important occasion as it attracted many governors from the country.
He noted that Emmanuel did not embark on the trip for selfish reasons, but to woo industrialists to the state. “The Akwa Ibom State governor is the governor of all Akwa Ibom people wherever they may be in the world. He has a right to tell them his programmes for the state. Emmanuel is there to attract investors to the state. Many other governors in the Nigeria are also in the United States for the same reason.”
By Dike Onwuamaeze