THE LYING Government of A DEACON
Concerned Akwa Ibom Elders
Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom State, is a self- acclaimed godly man. He consciously wears the ecclesiastical title of a Deacon (with some leaders of the Qua Iboe Church, where he was deaconised, fawning around him) as he covets other titles and awards in the vain hope to reinforce the image of an upright man. For illustration, Mr Emmanuel recently got the directionless NTA to bedeck him with a hollow integrity award in the face of the yawning credibility gap besmirching his government.
But there is a huge dissonance between Udom Emmanuel, the titled man of religiosity, and Udom Emmanuel, head of the Akwa Ibom State government. His government lies just about everything from projects to budgeting and government employee welfare issues; a disconcerting chasm between cultivated appearance and experience.
Udom Emmanuel’s government has elevated mendacity to high art. Though the governor betrays no intellectual depth, and doesn’t seem to have tapped into antiquity in the realm of learning going by his self-disclosures yet, Mr Emmanuel appears to have read a page or two from Dr Joseph Goebbels’ book of mendacious propaganda. Dr Goebbels, Hitler’s infamous minister of propaganda, believed in fat lies. His theory of propaganda foreshadowed Chinua Achebe’s famous quip, “If you want to eat a toad eat a fat and juicy one.”
Udom Emmanuel’s government is in love with fat and juicy lies. Hitler’s propaganda minister had justified his love for outsize lies: the fatter the lie the higher its believability rating! This is why Udom Emmanuel’s government lies big. It claims it had built 1,170 km of tarred roads and 35 bridges even before it was two years old. That is unvarnished lie. There are neither 1,170 km of tarred roads nor 35 bridges to the credit of the Udom Emmanuel administration anywhere in Akwa Ibom State!
Nothing deters the current Akwa Ibom State government from lying, not even the risk of being found out in respect of lies about physical, tangible assets such as roads and bridges that are pretty hard to hide from public view. It even pushes the envelope and pugnaciously advertises those unfounded claims on the front pages of national newspapers week after week.
A compatriot, Chief Sylvester Inyang, has done an excellent job of exposing Udom Emmanuel’s government’s opus of lies on the industrialization of the state in a series entitled, “Udom Emmanuel’s Book of Fake Industrialization.” The series exposed the government’s chicanery on the armoured car assembly plant in Itu, the LED light bulb factory and such other tricks only a lying government like the Udom Emmanuel administration could have the heart to play on its people. It lied that it had rehabilitated the Peacock Paint in Etinan. Today the government is using imported paint in its renovation work at the state secretariat. Peacock paint is nowhere to be found. Udom Emmanuel’s government lies about everything. What manner of government headed by a Deacon is this?
It hides the state budget from everyone because it doesn’t want Akwa Ibom people to see the provisions it has made for its fake industrialization programme and other phony projects. It doesn’t want people to find out how it lies with statistics.
Consider this: when the story of the government’s absent-minded plan to build a N9 billion second governor’s lodge in Lagos hit the newsstand and provoked justifiable outrage in a state with the second highest unemployment burden in the federation, the lying government’s reaction was a flat out denial of the plan, with the sucker that no provision was made for such a project in the budget. No one could contest this lie. No one had access to the state budget from where to glean information that would have instantly contradicted what the lying government had said on the Lagos lodge. It would take the rare, very rare courage of the docile State House of Assembly for us to know that indeed there was provision for the lodge in the budget. The lying government then tried to change the narrative, using its minions to say that the amount of money budgeted was smaller than what came out in the news.
It can bear repeating, this government headed by a Deacon of Qua Iboe Church lies about everything. It lied that it was up to date in the payment of salaries, pensions and other entitlements to workers in the state employment until the workers’ union declared a trade dispute over those pay issues. It said it has built a second runway at the state airport in Uyo, whereas it hasn’t.
Udom Emmanuel’s government dropped a most egregious lie about electricity supply in the state: it said during the last rainy season that it had boosted electricity output and that the state was enjoying nonstop electricity supply for homes and businesses. Note that this was during the peak of the rainy season when the entire country was enjoying stable public power. The situation soon changed as the nation entered a dry spell and the government’s phantom achievement in electricity supply vanished. The Udom Emmanuel government can take credit even for the rising of the sun!
In the course of last week a friend regaled me with a litany of lies by the government that could be second only to the record held by American President Donald Trump who is reputed to tell five lies every 24 hours. The friend said he was making a song of lies by government of this Deacon which rendition would go somewhat like this: “Who do you know? I know a government run by a Deacon which lied that it would bring investors to build Quantum Petrochemical Factory in Eket; I know a government which is commissioning uncompleted projects and erecting billboards to further trumpet such lie; I know a government which claims that the payment of N600 million WAEC examination fees is a record-breaking investment in human capital development while school children in the state sit on the bare floor to receive lessons for lack of classrooms and school desks; I know a government which claims that it is building a N10 billion church in Uyo from the public purse because every other state has done the same, whereas there is no other state in the country that has done so; I know of a government which lies that it is tackling rampant insecurity in the state when in fact the reverse is the case, when indeed there is video evidence by terrorists who say that the government owes them settlement. Who do you know? I know a Deacon who is holding questionable mandate but brands it as ‘divine mandate.’”
Why does Udom Emmanuel’s government lie in such a routine manner and has made lying its underlying policy of governance? This is why. It lies to cover up its rank failure. Udom is the only man to have governed the state with so much good fortune of windfall revenue averaging N15 billion monthly, plus IGR and numerous loans, all amounting to about N700 billion in nearly three years, and yet has no tangible achievement to show for it. So his government is compelled to lie to cover up such uncommon failure.
Udom’s monstrous failure should be fully contextualized.
Underlying the Deacon’s government’s steaming heaps of falsehood are layers of fraudulent financial transactions woven around a construction outfit hurriedly set up to replace Julius Berger soon after the government was inaugurated. The head of this makeshift construction company was recruited from a foreign construction firm. This makeshift company handles 90% of all construction jobs in the state and is paid up front for each job, even though it has never completed any of it contract jobs. We challenge those calling the shots in government to tell us all they know about this shadowy company and their relationship with it.
Udom’s government’s failure was bound to happen. He was brought in as a stooge, to be a lapdog to his master, Senator Godswill Akpabio. Udom’s focus is not Akwa Ibom people and their development. His focus is one man and his family. That is why Udom has failed to be a governor that can be remembered for any enduring legacy in the state.
Udom was also not prepared for leadership. His last job was that of financial director in a bank—yes there is talk of executive director. But if he really was exposed to the world of banking at the level of executive director, he won’t be found so bereft of contacts, ideas and strategy in moving the state forward.
I am certain that every facet of his days in government would later be poked through for profiles in the art of lying by psychology departments in Nigerian universities working on case studies in mass deception.
Culled from P13 of The Nation newspaper of Monday, April 9
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