Onofiok Luke

The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Wednesday passed into law the 2019 state appropriation bill, increasing it by over N2billion.

This is coming as political leaders, stakeholders and party executives numbering over 500 from Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State yesterday criticised the former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, for allegedly terrorising them during the March 9, 2019, governorship elections in the area.

The Speaker of the state assembly, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke, who announced the passage of the bill into law after third reading, said the state government would now spend the sum of N672,984,760,760 billion for the 2019 fiscal year.

The state Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, had last November presented a budget of over N670.718 for the 2019 financial year to the state House of Assembly for consideration and approval.

The Speaker said the legislature reviewed the key components of the appropriation law, weighing them against the policy objectives which leverage the short and long term development ambitions of government.

He explained that the bill was tailored to meet salient socio-economic agenda of the government as well as infrastructural development, job creation and revenue generation.

Luke maintained that the state budget was increased based on the current needs and having considered the opinions of the citizens of the state and stakeholders.

According to him, “It must be emphasised that what we have approved emanates from the wishes of stakeholders who considered the parametres for the 2019 proposals during the public hearing on the budget.

“These expert inputs inspired need-based augmentations, especially in the social sector, while savings were made as necessary.

“Our overall objective was to see to it that priority was given to areas of immediate importance to the people while we pursue the larger goal of full-scale industrialisation in the state.

“For instance, to further strengthen secondary education in the state, augmentation to the tune of N61.976million was made to the state Secondary Education Board.

“We made similar augmentation to the Akwa Ibom Universal Basic Education Board where specific provisions were made for the upgrade of library facilities with reading materials, including newspapers, magazines and journals for our children.

“To strengthen local government administration, we augmented the initial N150 million provision for Local Government Service Commission by N447million.

“Under that provision, we included an extra subhead for the establishment and setting up of computer units and laboratories at the Local Government Service Commission and in all the 31 local government areas in the state.”

He said the 2019 appropriation law, having been anchored on identified needs of the people, would give impetus for sustained industrial development of the state.

Meanwhile, political leaders, stakeholders and party executives numbering over 500 from Essien Udim Local Government Area of the state yesterday criticised Akpabio for allegedly terrorising them during the governorship election in the area.

A cousin of Senator Akpabio, Prince Ukpong Akpabio, was among those who led the protest to the Akwa Ibom State Press Centre in Uyo. Senator Akpabio is from Essien Udim LGA.

A communiqué issue at a press conference said: “Essien Udim people condemned in strong terms the various electoral offenses and irregularities masterminded and perpetrated by Senator Akpabio and his cohorts in which almost all the election processes in the area were marred by unlawful militarisation, rigging and assault on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) electoral officers.”

The communiqué, signed by the stakeholders and leaders from the area and read by Imo-owo Okpokpo, listed electoral offences committed by Akpabio during the conduct of the election included carting away electoral materials and INEC ad-hoc staff in all the units of the 11 wards in the area with the help of military men with armored vehicles to the residence of Ibanga Akpabio.

The political leaders in Senator Akpabio’s area alleged that one Supol Idorenyin Akpabio of SARS, in company of other policemen, shot at the people indiscriminately, detained and maimed Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporters on the directives of Senator Akpabio.

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