By Ekemini Simon
A Lagos- based Legal Practitioner and Human Rights Activist, Mr Inibehe Effiong has accused the Akwa Ibom State Government of complicity in the death of the 26-years old graduate of philosophy, Iniuobong Umoren.The Akwa Ibom State Police Command of the Nigeria Police Force had confirmed that Umoren, an orphan from Oruk Anam Local Government Area of the state was lured, abducted, sexually abused, and later murdered in a gruesome manner by a suspected rapist, Uduak Akpan, on the pretext of offering her a job.
Addressing a press conference at Watbridge Hotels and Suites on Friday, in reaction to the murder, Effiong said the misplaced priorities of Akwa Ibom State Government which has caused high unemployment rate in the oil rich state is responsible for the death of the orphan.
He said “As Nigerians continue to mourn with us over the killing of Iniubong Umoren, history will judge us harshly if we fail to examine how her own Government by omission or commission, contributed to her untimely death.
“I say this with every sense of responsibility. Indeed, it will be intellectually dishonest for us to discuss the killing of that young lady without relating it to what led to her death.”
Effiong said instead of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration to direct the huge revenue amounting to 1.585 trillion within six years of his administration to ventures that will create employment opportunities, the Governor has misused the funds on trivial projects.
He said the mismanagement of Akwa Ibom State funds which has led to what he described as criminal neglect of the youthful and employable population of Akwa Ibom State is equally responsible for the State ranking among top 5 States hit by high unemployment rate in Nigeria, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The Lawyer mentioned some of the misplaced priorities of Governor Emmanuel’s administration to include the construction of a government lodge in Lagos, routine maintenance of the State aircraft, monthly Akwa Ibom Youth Prayer Submit, and what he called,”unconstitutional and idolatrous” white elephant project, called the Ecumenical Centre otherwise known as the state worship centre.
He added “in 2020, the sum of N2 billion was budgeted for Design and Preliminary Works while N3 billion was budgeted for building works of the Worship Centre. In the 2021 budget, N6.750 billion has been budgeted for the same project bringing the budgetary provision for the two fiscal year for the Worship Centre to N11.750 billion.
” If this amount were to be deployed as interest free loans or business grants to the teeming youths of Akwa Ibom State at the sum of N1 million per person, at least 11,000 people would have been empowered with N1 million each which will reduce the frightening high unemployment rate in the State.
“When the decision to build the worship centre was announced, Akwa Ibom people roundly rejected it. In his attempt to defuse public anger, you may recall that the Governor declared that the project will be funded from private donations.
“He even provided a dedicated bank account for people to contribute into. Time has since exposed that declaration as a lie. The project as we all know is being financed from the public treasury. How can a project founded on lies, rooted in deceit and conceived by a sinful mind be a sanctuary for God and a place of worship?
“Again, as you may well be aware, Governor Udom Emmanuel spends N2.5 billion annually for “routine maintenance” of the State aircraft. For those who may not know, I am not talking about Ibom Air, I am referring to the private aircraft purchased by his predecessor for the governor’s exclusive use.
“If N2.5 billion is invested annually to upgrade public schools in Akwa Ibom State which are currently in a state of comatose, it will enrich the human capital of the State and produce more employable graduates. As we sit here today, Akwa Ibom State University is on strike because the governor has not paid workers of the institution.
“Instead of creating jobs for teeming youths, the governor has been playing religious politics in the State by blasphemously deploying God’s name for his partisan and selfish interest. Every month, the governor organizes a sham called “Akwa Ibom Youth Prayer Submit” through the office of the SSA on Youth Matters.
” According to the 2019 audited Report of the State Accountant General, the sum of N22,500,000 was spent in 2019 alone for this political gimmick and fake spiritual adventure. The more they “pray”, the worse things become in Akwa Ibom. The reason for this can easily be found in the Bible in the book of Galatians 6:7 which states thus: “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”. They cannot sow corruption and reap development.”
Effiong who decried the Governor’s refusal to assent to the Akwa Ibom State Youth Development Fund Bill and the state government decision to budget what he described as paltry N50 million for Ibom 3000 project stated that the government’s action would hamper opportunities for economic empowerment of the unemployed youths in the State.
He, demanded the following: an unhindered investigation and prosecution of the culprit, creation of a Task Force with a specific mandate to handle cases of domestic and sexual violence against women in the state, and naming of a public institution or office after the slain job seeker.
Other demands were immediate stoppage of the Akwa Ibom State Worship Centre project so that the over N11 billion budgeted should be distributed as business grants or interest free loans to 11,000 youths in the State through credible selection process and the immediate re-passage and assent of the Akwa Ibom State Youth Development Fund Bill among others.
Effiong threatened to lead Akwa Ibom youths on a peaceful protest to occupy Government House and the State House of Assembly if the demands are not met.