* says Udom is passionate about Akwa Ibom

BY FREDERICK USEN

“Governor has taken Akwa Ibom State to a new level of political participation, where a larger segment of the people is involved in the governance matrix and everybody is seen as a stakeholder in the process of governance.”

These were the words of Barr. Ekong Sampson, Special Adviser to Akwa Ibom Governor on Political, Legislative Affairs and Water Resources while fielding questions from newsmen on Wednesday, shortly after leading the Bureau before the House of Assembly Committee on Appropriation and Finance to defend its 2018 budget estimate.

Sampson lauded Governor Udom Emmanuel’s commitment to political participation in the previous year, affirming that the Governor has been able to take Akwa Ibom State to a new level of political participation, where more citizens are involved in governance and being treated as the stakeholders that they are.

Expressing confidence in the economic proficiency that would be wielded by the Governor in implementing the 2018 budget, Sampson said, “a lot of variables and undercurrents are involved in the budget mechanism, principally in the vagaries of the economy, but we have a governor who is passionate about Akwa Ibom State. I can say this anywhere that Governor Udom Emmanuel is passionate about Akwa Ibom State and really would work very hard to implement the budget as passed by the State House of Assembly.”

Giving a recap of advocacy projects driven by the Bureau in 2017, the Bureau boss said that as regards political affairs, the Bureau has been driving a lot of advocacies, getting Akwa Ibom people to be involved in the pre-census activities, the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), the National Identity Management Scheme (NIMS).

Gov Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State

Sampson said his Bureau has worked very hard to broaden participation in democracy, promoting the advocacy that everyone should have the voter’s card and also get members of their families to register for it. He said that without the voter’s card people cannot really affect the undercurrent in governance or be true participants in the polity. “Everybody, once you are 18 years, you are eligible, get your voter’s card. That is when you are a proud participant in the polity”, he stressed.

For the water portfolio, he said the Akwa Ibom Water Company and other relevant authorities have been have repositioned for greater efficiency in water management, both in the rural and urban areas of the state.

We also work very hard to sustain the idea that governance is for everybody and that everybody should own up the government, see government as theirs and help to protect infrastructure, drive investments and support the government of Governor Udom Emmanuel who has shown a lot of innovations in governance, Ekong Sampson added.

Barr. Sampson said with the proposed N2bn expenditure of his Bureau for 2018, the state is expected to take these advocacies to the next level, given the build up towards the 2018 population census, the 2019 elections – considering the fact that democracy is a very expensive enterprise, especially the developing ones, and a range of other activities.

“What we need in Akwa Ibom State is a level of enlightenment for the political class and the public; we need to educate our people about the proper parameters of political engagement, then we would have deepened democracy in the State”, Sampson added.

Earlier, while presenting an estimate of N2bn for the broad spectrum of activities by his Bureau in 2018, the Special Adviser appreciated the cooperation and commitment of the 6th Assembly towards the Akwa Ibom project, maintaining that his Bureau and the State Legislature were working on the same template in political affairs. He particularly thanked the chairman and members of the committee and declared that his Bureau will continue to work together on a range of issues to properly engage the people.

The Special Adviser pledged his Bureau’s commitment to work hard to sustain the existing harmony between the Executive and Legislature, as well as the Judiciary, adding that, as key drivers of democracy, it is critical that these arms of government work for the common good of the State, because at the end of the day what matters is the larger interest.

The Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation and Finance, Rt. Hon. Usoro Akpanuso in his remark, commended the Special Adviser for outlaying the policies of his Bureau of 2018 clearly.

The Committee Chairman tasked the Bureau boss to take up the responsibility of educating the Akwa Ibom public, to arrest the spate of activities of hoodlums in the polity and to train the minds of Akwa Ibom youth on how to go about politicking within the confines of the law.

Akpanusoh said the House was willing to partner the Bureau in creating a political orientation for younger politicians in the state, including the councilors who have just been sworn in.