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Akwa Ibom: Former Gov Akpabio spends billions on #WhiteElephant projects, while its education system rots away.

2 Jul

, Premium Times

Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 3 _ Photo credit_ Mapio.netRelated NewsGov. Emmanuel presents N651.5 billion budget to Akwa Ibom Assembly Poverty killing Akwa Ibom residents, supporter tells Akpabio. How corruption and poor governance are killing Nigeria, By Godswill AkpabioAkwa Ibom people not free under Gov. Emmanuel — Ex-MinisterEx-Akwa Ibom deputy governor defies Akpabio, picks PDP Guber formIn 2008, the Akwa Ibom State government embarked on the construction of a multi-billion naira massive leisure and business complex, with the hope of turning the oil-rich Nigerian state into ‘Dubai’.The complex, named Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, sits atop 168 hectres of land in Uyo, the state capital.It has a 14-floor storey building, the tallest in the state, meant for a 258-room five-star hotel, a Cineplex (six cinema halls), shopping mall, 5,000-seat convention centre, and a theme park, comprising wet and dry parks.“My vision is to produce a small Dubai within the Niger Delta (region of Nigeria),” the then governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio, who initiated the project, said in early 2012.By then the cinema was already open to the public, while the other components of the ambitious project were still under construction.“I have given them Dubai standard Cineplex,” Mr. Akpabio had boasted in a government-sponsored TV programme aired on Africa Independent Television (AIT). “So, you walk in there to watch films and you think you are sitting down in Dubai.”The complex was scheduled to open for business by the end of 2012.But 10 years after take-off, and three years after Mr. Akpabio left office, the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, remains unfinished, despite the huge money sunk into it; except for the Cineplex and the bar close to it, the rest of the complex has been abandoned. The tall building and the area meant for the theme park look desolate.A popular retail business, Shoprite, in August 2015, laid a foundation stone for the building of its mall at the Tropicana. After a long lull, Shoprite just started work on its proposed mall in June 2018, PREMIUM TIMES learned.The Akpabio administration had said its construction would cost the state N33 billion, but three people familiar with the project said the cost was later reviewed upward to N120 billion.Aerial view of Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene _Photo ” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ width=”600″ height=”600″ data-original-width=”600″ data-original-height=”600″ itemprop=”” title=”Aerial view of Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene _Photo” alt=”Aerial view of Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene _Photo” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 600px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 600px;”>But while the government shelled out such humongous amounts on white elephant projects, it left its schools decrepit.Hundreds of schools – primary and secondary – received little attention, a year-long investigation by PREMIUM TIMES revealed.In some terrible situations, pupils and students sit on bare floor to learn in roofless classrooms.Kids between the ages of three and four have been found sleeping on bare floor, in at least two schools in the state.The science colleges in the state are in ruin too. Same with the technical colleges. In one particular case, a top multi-billion naira technical college in the state have been closed down, strangely, and left for several years to rot away.Poorly-motivated teachers in the state, who sometimes go for several months without salary, are known to have resorted to corrupt practices, including collecting money to allow students cheat in examinations.Meanwhile, government officials and elites in the state send their kids to world-class private schools owned by one of them.The current administration of Governor Emmanuel, just like his predecessor, is yet to tell the Akwa Ibom people how much has been spent so far on the Tropicana project.The Commissioner for Housing and Special Duties, Akan Okon, whose ministry supervises the Tropicana, did not respond to calls and text messages sent to his phone line by this reporter.Mr Okon served for one year between May 2014 and May 2015, as commissioner for finance in the Akpabio administration. He continued briefly as finance commissioner under Governor Emmanuel before he was posted to the ministry of housing and special duties.The former governor, Mr Akpabio, who is the Senate Minority Leader, declined PREMIUM TIMES’ request for interview.Silverbird Showtime Ltd, a company owned by a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator from Bayelsa State, Ben Murray-Bruce, was awarded contract for the construction of the Tropicana. (This was before Mr Murray-Bruce was elected senator in 2015).Mr Murray-Bruce said during the flag-off of the construction in 2008 that the Tropicana would create up to 5,000 jobs in Akwa Ibom State when completed.For now, only about 45 persons, including casual workers, are employed at the Cineplex and the bar, which is far less than the 5,000 envisaged, a top-level administrative worker at the Cineplex told PREMIUM TIMES.Former Gov. Godswill Akpabi and the present Gov. Emmanuel Udom Having lunch with an associate ” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ width=”600″ height=”442″ data-original-width=”600″ data-original-height=”442″ itemprop=”” title=”Former Gov. Godswill Akpabi and the present Gov. Emmanuel Udom Having lunch with an associate” alt=”Former Gov. Godswill Akpabi and the present Gov. Emmanuel Udom Having lunch with an associate” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 442px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 600px;”>An average worker in the two sections earns about N25, 000 ($69) as monthly salary, this newspaper learnt.Both the cinema and the bar are also run by Mr Murray-Bruce’s Silverbird.The company has not made returns to the Akwa Ibom State government since the Cineplex was open for business in 2011, according to sources within the Akwa Ibom government.The top-level worker at the Tropicana said lack of formal agreement between the government and Silverbird is the reason the latter has not been making returns.“Silverbird isn’t paying anything to government yet until there is a formal contract,” says the worker who did not want his name mentioned because he was not authorised to speak on the matter.The worker said Silverbird wants to “recoup millions of naira” they claimed they spent on fixing lightings in the Cineplex.He said Silverbird has been spending money to maintain the facility, as well as buy diesel to power it (the Tropicana was not connected to electrical grid, until May 2018).In addition, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the state government would not want Silverbird to run the cinema in a businesslike manner, so as not to hurt the locals who may not have the money to pay for the services.Akwa Ibom, rich in oil and gas deposits, is among Nigeria’s richest states. But poverty and unemployment levels in the state are amongst the highest in Nigeria, largely due to corruption and mismanagement of public funds.The state occupies the second position among the states with the highest unemployment rate in Nigeria, according to 2018 data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).It is a low-income economy, where most working class people earn moderate salary working as government employees.At Silverbird cinemas in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and in Lagos and Abuja, moviegoers pay about N2, 000 for a single movie on weekdays, and N2, 500 on weekends.But at the Tropicana, Uyo, ticket is sold at N1,500 for foreign movies and N1,000 for Nollywood movies.Front view of Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo_ Photo ” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ width=”600″ height=”400″ data-original-width=”600″ data-original-height=”400″ itemprop=”” title=”Front view of Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo_ Photo” alt=”Front view of Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo_ Photo” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 400px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 600px;”>In the past, a movie ticket was sold for as low as N250 and N500 at the Tropicana.With billions of naira coming into the state coffers as oil derivation fund from the nation’s Federation Account every month, it seems, clearly, that Akwa Ibom’s development challenge, unlike most other Nigerian states, is not really about paucity of fund, but how to judiciously spend the much they have.In five years alone, between 2013 and 2017, the state received N1.029 trillion (about $2.8 billion) from the country’s Federation Account.This is beside the revenue it generates internally.Comparatively, a state like Osun, South-West of Nigeria, receives less than one-tenth of what Akwa Ibom gets from the Federation Account.While construction work was going on at the 258-room five-star hotel at the Tropicana, the state government was also building a 144-room four-star hotel at the nearby city of Ikot Ekpene which is about 20-minute drive from Uyo.Besides these two, Akwa Ibom already has its premier 163-room five-star hotel, Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, at Uruan which is about five-minute drive from Uyo.A Turkish company, Ronesans Holdings, handled the construction contract for the four-star hotel in Ikot Ekpene whose value government insiders put at about N50 billion.Photo showing the five-star hotel section of the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo _ Photo credit_ ” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ width=”600″ height=”800″ data-original-width=”600″ data-original-height=”800″ itemprop=”” title=”Photo showing the five-star hotel section of the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo _ Photo credit_” alt=”Photo showing the five-star hotel section of the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo _ Photo credit_” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 800px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 600px;”>The then governor, Mr Akpabio, said in January 2015 during an interview with AIT that he was “struggling to make sure” both hotels were finished and ready to host visitors expected in the state then for a friendly football match between Nigeria and Brazil.The friendly, which was to take place on March 29, 2015 at the 30,000-seat stadium built newly then by the Akpabio administration, was later called off by Brazil.“Akwa Ibom can’t afford to put additional money in Tropicana”Governor Emmanuel is frustrated with the “mega” projects initiated by his predecessor, Mr Akpabio.In a leaked audio clip of Mr Emmanuel’s meeting with some leaders in the state, the governor is heard explaining his frustration and what he intends to do with the Tropicana in Uyo and the Four Points by Sheraton hotel, in Ikot Ekpene.The meeting most likely took place at the Government House, Uyo, but the date is, however, unknown.“We are in recession, we can’t manage Tropicana,” the governor said, in the audio.“I am going to lease out that place, people will run it, they will give me money and I will use that money to do something. Whenever they run it and take their money, we take back our asset in the future.”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State ” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ width=”399″ height=”299″ data-original-width=”399″ data-original-height=”299″ itemprop=”” title=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State” alt=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 299px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 399px;”>Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 3 _ Photo credit_ ” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ width=”197″ height=”147″ data-original-width=”197″ data-original-height=”147″ itemprop=”” title=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 3 _ Photo credit_” alt=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 3 _ Photo credit_” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 147px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 197px;”>Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 2 ” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ width=”197″ height=”148″ data-original-width=”197″ data-original-height=”148″ itemprop=”” title=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 2″ alt=”Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State 2″ style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 148px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 197px;”>The governor said an incredible amount of money is needed to complete the Tropicana. “I can’t afford it,” he says.He says of the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, “That building is not yet a hotel!”Continuing, he says: “I can’t help it; we must still put in more money. I have heard a lot of people make noise that the governor has refused to open the hotel. Sorry, building is different from hotel. I need $7.2 million to turn that building into a hotel. As at today, I have paid a deposit of $4 million. It is remaining $3.2 million.”Governor Emmanuel also talked about the premier five-star hotel in the state, Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort, which he said has not been making returns to the state government.“Unfortunately, Le Meridien has not been audited in the past 10 years, and they don’t render account to the government. I have just discovered they don’t give even one naira to the government from all the money that is made in the hotel.“At the same time they didn’t even remit their technical management fees to their home office, so they want me to come and pay those technical fees for 10 years.“But in order to keep them, so they won’t leave, I just remitted $900,000 to them, so that they can stay for us to audit them,” Mr Emmanuel said.The governor said he eventually insisted that Marriot, the managers of the hotel, must leave.It’s not clear, however, if the state government claimed any money from Marriot.Interestingly, building of white elephant projects in Akwa Ibom has become a relay race where one leader hands over the baton to another; Mr Emmanuel, taking off from where his predecessor stopped, is currently building a second Akwa Ibom governor’s lodge in Lagos, and an international worship centre in Uyo, despite huge opposition from the people.The design of the International Worship Centre, Akwa Ibom State ” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ width=”600″ height=”338″ data-original-width=”600″ data-original-height=”338″ itemprop=”” title=”The design of the International Worship Centre, Akwa Ibom State” alt=”The design of the International Worship Centre, Akwa Ibom State” style=”margin: 2px !important; padding: 0px; border: none; font-weight: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-size: 14px; font-family: georgia, “times new roman”, times, serif; vertical-align: middle; height: 338px; background: 0px 0px; box-shadow: none; max-width: 100%; width: 600px;”>Mr Emmanuel’s administration is also constructing a 21-storey office building project in Uyo. The cost of the project has not been made public by the government.Some people in Uyo who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said the administration is “strategically” preparing office accommodation for Mobil Producing Nigeria, in order to put pressure on the oil company to relocate from Lagos to Akwa Ibom State where it is drilling oil.PREMIUM TIMES could not verify the information, as government officials in Uyo declined comment on the matter.Inibehe Effiong, a Lagos-based lawyer from Akwa Ibom, travelled to the state to lead a street protest in March 2017 against the building of the new Akwa Ibom governor’s lodge in Lagos.“Mr Governor, you took an oath of office as the governor of Akwa Ibom State. You did not take an oath of office as the governor of Lagos State,” Mr Effiong said to the crowd.“You took an oath of office to protect Akwa Ibom people, not Lagos State. Mr Governor, you do not need another lodge in Lagos!” he said.In the tension that ensued, several government officials were dissing out conflicting figures as the project cost. One senior government official said then that N10 billion was budgeted for the new lodge, while another said it was “less than N10 billion”.In responding to the criticism, Mr Emmanuel said the government was going to spend a “paltry” N1.6 billion for the new lodge which he said is meant to host people who would want to invest in Akwa Ibom. The old lodge in Lagos is dilapidated, he claimed.“Will Akwa Ibom people feel proud for me to host so many consular-generals, investors in those kinds of dilapidated buildings?” Mr Emmanuel said.Akwa Ibom State also has a governor’s lodge, said to be one of the most sophisticated, in the nation’s capital, Abuja.“Lagos State is a commercial capital of Nigeria, no doubt. But it is not the only entry point into Nigeria. It is also not a mandatory stop-over for potential investors, especially the ones who are interested in investing in Akwa Ibom State,” said Uyo-based lawyer, Imo Akpan, who was among those who protested against the building of the new lodge in Lagos.“The best place to receive an Akwa Ibom bound investor is Akwa Ibom. This is where to exhibit our rich cultural background; this is where to showcase our potentials; this is where to discuss and negotiate hands-on the deals that will move this state forward.“If you have investors who are attracted to the Lagos skyline, chances are that they will not invest in Akwa Ibom.“But if you have serious-minded entities that are committed to genuine business and must be hosted in Lagos, the best place will be to welcome them into the existing state government-owned Liaison offices in Lagos,” says Mr Akpan.How Funds Sunk Into Tropicana, Other Projects Would Have Helped EducationN120 billion Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, UyoIbom Tropicana Entertaiment Centre, Uyo _Photo credit_ Ubong Ephraim ” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”” style=”max-width:100%;” />


22 Jun

#Share before reading!  #GFK #Secret #Shopper

This is a new trend of which fraudsters claim to give you job to work at home.

They will send you a check and pressurize you to cash it and buy a gift card and send to them. They ask you to keep about $350 as commision.
After cashing the check and withdraw it, the bank will tell you the check was a fake and bank will withdraw money from your account and you will be penalized for that.
Another method these scammers use is to hide under the faces of politicians, ie use politicians name on Facebook, to chat with you and gain your confidence. Then they will ask you to buy a something for them, like a house, computer, phones, etc.
They have already defrauded hundreds of people using companies like GfK – Secret Shopper and others.
Don’t accept advance check or collect a check to buy any product.
Ask to chat with them on Whatsapp-video, Facebook-video or Skype. They will run.
Share this now.Secret shopper 1Secret shopper 2Secret shopper 3Secret shopper 4

Zimbabwe:: #WomanWithTwoHusbands and They All Live Under One Roof Explains How She Enjoys Sex With Them. Is This An ABOMINATION???

22 Jun

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling

For more than a decade, Jack Chako, 38, has been living happily with her two husbands, Michael Hwita and Liford Chimoto, with whom she shares one bed.
Chako is the head of the family. On how she gets maximum sexual satisfaction from her husbands,

Read Down:::::


“We are a happy family, I live with my two husbands and we love one another. My two husbands are best friends and they are always together. Chimoto is the elder husband, while Hwita is the junior.

I married the second Hwita because Chimoto is elderly and increasingly becoming weak in bed and was starving me sexually. In terms of conjugal rights I favour Hwita. He gets me there. I only do it with Chimoto as a token.

At times, I feel pity for Chimoto and give him token conjugal rights and he appreciates that. The rule is no one gets out of the room, because he is not on duty. Whoever is not on duty, just watches us at it.
I am in charge and my two husbands are now used to sleeping side by side in one bed.” Speaking further, the mother of five, three children from a previous marriage and two from this polyandrous affair, said, “I use some concoction to pacify my husbands. .

It is not a secret that I used a concoction to cow them down. I also sell this concoction to other women to cow down their errant husbands and make them compliant. None of my two husbands wishes to leave me.”

The husbands, Hwita and Chimoto, on their parts, said they don’t have problems taking Chako says their joint wife. Chimoto said, “I know my failings and I appreciate the decision which was taken, we have various duties and life goes on.”

Hwita said, “I see no problem. She loves both of us and we understand our situation. “I respect Chimoto as the elder husband because I found him here.”#Youneedtoknow#

Michael Mathew Ukanga Ekpo: The Sorry Tales of a Rapist, Fugitive, and Fraudster

12 Jun

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The gentleman whose image appears here is a known fraudster. His name is Michael Ukanga Asuquo Mathew Udofia Ekpo Etukudo. He has no known profession or job. He once ran a blog called which he used in cooking all sorts of lies against government officials. I am sure like every other part of his life, he has abandoned that blog by now. The guy is just useless. Ukanga Ekpo survives on blackmail and false alarm and offers himself for hiring to anyone who has someone to blackmail.

Ekpo has been quite jobless and hungry for some months now because the blackmail industry had run out of clients. We all know that Ukanga Ekpo shamelessly went back to Chief Godswill Akpabio recently to beg for forgiveness else he would die of hunger. This is the same Godswill Akpabio Mike spent all his energy and resources to blackmail. There is no name on the face of the earth that Ukanga Ekpo did not use on Godswill Akpabio. But Akpabio who is a forgiving guy gave him 1 million nairas to revive his life. That is why you see Mike praising and defending Akpabio with all his energy and strength. I hope he will continue on this right path for a long time, money or no money.

This is the same Mike Ekpo who said Sir Emem Akpabio was an occult leader. He called Sir Emem Mkpenek. He said all political appointees back then swore to blood oaths, supervised by Sir Emem. Who does not know Mike Ekpo? This guy was rusticated from Polytechnic Calabar. He left Ekpoabasi without a single certificate and has never gone to any other school since that time. The guy is a bloody dropout. He is a cultist that was rusticated from Polytechnic Calabar (PolyCal). He is a fraudster who has put families in penury. He is an incredulous infidel whose penchant for putting girls the family way and thereafter abandoning them to languish in excruciating pains.Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and shoes

Mike Ekpo impregnated two sisters from Utu Abak, Emem Ukpe, and Unwana Ukpe. Both delivered twins. The guy out of frustration ran to Ghana and while in Ghana did nothing other than defrauding innocent people on the internet and blackmailing government officials. Mike’s main job was advanced fee fraud aka 419 while in Ghana. Mike owed the tiny dingy motel he stayed bills of over 3 years and ran away when the management reported to the police.

Michael Mathew is a very unstable character. Mike is always on the run, even at the age of over 50 years. He is a refugee, whose stock in trade includes cooking up falsehood and slanting against his perceived enemies in government. When he came back to Nigeria, he patched up in Lagos and worked partly as a club bouncer and traded in retail cocaine, Indian hemp, codeine and other narcotics.

Michael Mathew as he loves to call himself has swindled several people of their valuables and through false pretense rendered so many unsuspecting people in Akwa Ibom penniless. A case at hand was the use of his GSM office along Ikot Ekpene road to defraud people before.

So, it is important to know the kind of guy called Michael Mathew. He lives on handouts depending on who pays at a particular time. It is very easy to know who is giving Mike food at a particular time. He started by praising Nsima Ekere and blackmailing all his enemies. He moved to Obong Bassey Albert, who was nice to him that season. Mike did what he is best known for. When it appeared that OBA was not willing to give him more money, he moved to Obong Umana Umana, the man he spent his entire life blackmailing. He even said Umana was a free Manson and was fond of using day old children to cook pepper soup. Mike can say anything to get money. When Umana failed in his governorship quest, Mike stylishly returned to the Bassey Albert camp to beg for a living. When Obong Nsima Ekere was announced NDDC MD, Mike knew food was ready and started writing in support. Another blackmail mill is open for Mike Ukanga Ekpo. Nsima Ekere is now using Mike to get back at Ephraim Inyang because Ephraim has been criticizing NDDC projects. Nsima Ekere has an interest in the Ikot Abasi- Ekparakwa-Ete road. He wants the public to believe that Ephraim Inyang is the one stopping him and NDDC from executing the job. He has gone a long way to forge documents to show that the ministry of works intends to do the road. He now uses Mike Ukanga Ekpo to do the bad job.Image may contain: 1 person, close-up and indoor

Mike is ready and willing. Mike says Ephraim is terrorizing commissioners, what kind of nonsense talk is that? He says Ephraim has taken over the job of commissioner for information and education, the question is how? Nsima Ekere through Mike Ekpo is just trying to cause confusion and bad blood in Akwa Ibom state for their selfish. We now know Mike’s tricks. We know his new paymaster. Mike Ekpo says Ephraim is blowing a whistle on abandoned NDDC contracts knowing that most of them are PDP members and wants Akpabio’s men destroyed. That is another stupid reason Mike and his new paymasters are putting out for people to believe. That is a complete nonsense. Mike said Ephraim Inyang slapped Enoidem at the Exco chambers. He also said Ephraim blocked Enoidem from a government board appointment.

This is Enoidem’s reply to that thrash. “My brother, I have never had any confrontation or quarrel with Ephraim Inyang. Never ever. So we couldn’t have fought. Ephraim Inyang was my colleague as I was his dean in the college. I resigned from exco with the full support of the governor in August to go and protect his interest at the national office of PDP. I have a personal relationship with Governor Udom Emmanuel, Ephraim can’t come in. I believed and still believe in his capacity to lead Akwa Ibom to the next level. He’s detribalized and a Christian. I have never wanted to. E appointed to any board as I wait to go to the party. I am still working with and supporting Governor Udom Emmanuel to deliver on his promises and I will do this beyond 2019. I don’t need to do it as a commissioner or board member but as one of his supporters, loyalists and a true Akwa Ibom person who believe in the state. On the day of the election, Ephraim will be in Onna while Enoidem will be in Etim Ekpo. There is no magic that can make him be in the two places at the same time. He can’t put a team in Etim Ekpo. It is the Governor who will do that”.

Nobody should take Mike Ukanga Ekpo serious. His latest attempt to paint Ephraim Inyang in a bad light is his normal way of operation. He is a hatchet man and Nsima Ekere is using him very well, taking advantage of Ukanga Ekpo’s hunger. The Akwa Ibom state government cannot award a federal road without express approval. Nsima Ekere is actually afraid that Governor Udom Emmanuel can get that approval ahead of the NDDC because everybody knows that Nsima’s tenure will expire by December, so he wants to siphon the initial contract sum and we know his tricks. Ephraim Inyang has no reason to hate Annang people. Why should he? Ephraim is married to an Annang lady from Oruk Anam. Does it mean that he hates his in-laws, capital NO! Ephraim deals with Annang people very freely without bias. Ephraim Inyang respects the Akpabio’s family and did not terminate any contract given to Sir Emem Akpabio. Sir Emem Akpabio does not own any construction company. The contract terminated by the Governor was the Uyo-Okopedi road given to an Israeli company called Renosans. Mike is trying to twist the entire thing to favour his paymasters. He should go and get a life. So, blackmailing Ephraim Inyang will not help him in any way.

For the records, Ephraim Inyang is a very focused and determined gentleman. He will never succumb to blackmail. Those who tried it in the past have seen that it did not work. So, even Mike Ekpo and his current paymasters should see that it did not work. Ephraim Inyang is only interested in the success of the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel and will stop at nothing to make it work. Every day, he is out in the field to ensure that Akwa Ibom people benefit from government projects. He is also a fearless man. He will say it to your face. The NDDC must stop doing poor projects in Akwa Ibom state. How can one agency abandon over 600 projects? Forget the fact that an Akwa Ibom an Akwa Ibom son is the current MD. They must also learn to complete their projects in the state. That is not too much to ask for. Ephraim Inyang is not witch-hunting anybody. So, anybody who is afraid of him is just having a complex problem or low self-esteem. What is important to Akwa Ibom people is results and good roads.

The current documents in circulation purporting that Ephraim Inyang has awarded the contract of the Ekparakwa- Ikot Abasi road is meaningless. It is only the Governor of the state who can award a contract. The Governor is a man of due process and will never award a Federal road without due permission and clearance. He is transparent and honest.

It is also false and stupid to suggest that Ephraim Inyang uses his company to award contracts. How can that be possible? The contractors executing projects for government are well known and established. They are supervised very closely by the ministry of works. Everybody can attest to that. The Pull Ephraim Inyang down syndrome will not work. Akwa Ibom people are smart for all these lies. They know where their bread is buttered and who is working hard to deliver on the campaign promises.

Mike Ukanga Ekpo should look elsewhere to re-launch his blackmail career and not on Ephraim Inyang.Image may contain: 1 person

#PictureNews: Six Children Rescued From Human Traffickers’ Den, 7 Missing

24 May

No fewer than six children from different local government areas of Akwa Ibom State were yesterday rescued from what is believed to be the hideouts of human traffickers in Eket by volunteers of the Child’s Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN).6 Children Rescued From Human Traffickers' Den, 7 Missing

The Manager of the organization, Pastor Hezekiah Akpasi stated this while fielding questions from newsmen in his office at the CRARN Children Center, Eket.

Pastor Akpasi said the children who were all stigmatized in various churches and prayer houses were 13 in number and seven were nowhere to be found as they were believed to have been whisked away by the human trafficking syndicates who lured them into their enclave and took them away before the organization got the tip.

6 Children Rescued From Human Traffickers' Den, 7 Missing“We believe from what the children said that all of them were denounced as witches and wizards by some of these hungry and desperate pastors and prophets. As we got the information we went there immediately. The children even said seven of their colleagues were already missing after some men came and told them that they have a place to take for work and go to school ” said Akpasi.

He added that they got a hint from a child who was reunited with her parents six months ago but pushed out of the house again with the warning that she should not return back to CRARN, otherwise she’d be killed by the father. So she opted to go back to the streets where she was rescued during an anti-witch branding campaign rally organized by the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Women and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and related matters (NAPTIP).

One of the rescued children, Emmanuel Akpan Uno said he trekked from Oron to Eket (about 50 KM) after two of his friends on the streets were badly beaten and tortured by their brothers to a state of coma before dragged into the bush and he became afraid that he would be the next victim so ran away.

6 Children Rescued From Human Traffickers' Den, 7 MissingFor a five year old Wisdom Friday Ndohose from Enen Ekpene, Afaha-Eket, the story is different. Friday told newsmen that he lost touch with his mother after their pastor told him that he was responsible for the accident his mother had. His mother then took from Uyo to Eket and returned him to his father. Though his father welcomed him, such welcome was merely short-lived as his stepmother and father later turned him into punching bag and usually tied him to a pillar in the backyard, burnt a nylon bag and allowed it to be dropping on him.

He said even after he ran out of the house, his father normally comes to the streets where he stays with friends and beats the hell out of him saying that until he releases his wife’s womb from the witch coven, he would never know peace.

6 Children Rescued From Human Traffickers' Den, 7 MissingThe CRARN Children Centre in Eket was established in 2003 by a Nigerian, Sam Itauma when he rescued four children who were being beaten by a dozen of adults in his community with the fanciful claim that they were holding down the sales and progress of the market in his community. Since then, the centre has continued to rescued pariah children and street urchins from the streets and woods.


Udom reaps Akpabio’s scum: Students inside the #unsafestructures at Ntiat and Mbak 1 Comprehensive Sec Sch, Itu

24 May

Image may contain: outdoor

May 23, 2018 By Cletus Ukpong Premium Times

Students inside the unsafe structure at Ntiat and Mbak 1 Comprehensive Sec Sch, Itu (Photo Credit: Cletus Ukpong)

SPECIAL REPORT: Nigeria’s oil-rich communities abandoned in shocking poverty despite huge wealth

It has just finished raining and it is cold this Tuesday morning in July 2017. This reporter is visiting the Annang Peoples Primary School, Ikot Iyire, Abak, in oil-rich Akwa Ibom State.Image may contain: one or more people and people sitting

Three pupils between the ages of three and four lay fast asleep on a bare floor inside a classroom. The doors and windows are wide open and the sleeping kids are not even covered with blanket, despite the cold wind.

It is such a pathetic sight. The kids are visibly shivering, teeth chattering, and bodies shaking. They coil themselves up ostensibly to conserve whatever heat remained in their bodies.

A few other kids sit idly on two desks. They aren’t looking cheerful at all. At a corner, in front of the classroom, sits a lonely woman – their teacher.Image may contain: one or more people and text

A teacher tells PREMIUM TIMES the pupils are part of the Early Education programme of the school. She says there is nothing teachers and the school authorities can do to help since the school lack even mats to spread on the floor for the poor kids.

Aside from this, the school has been in dire need of help, infrastructure wise. The two main classroom blocks are without roofs. The other remaining blocks are at various stages of decay, making them unsuitable and unsafe for pupils and their teachers.

Most pupils sit on bare floor to learn because of lack of chairs and desks. Inside the Primary Two classroom, for instance, 42 pupils are made to share only three desks.

The Early Education classroom has only two desks. There are no toys or learning materials for the kids.

The school, built around 1947 by the community before it was later handed over to the state government, has no staff room, so the teachers sit under a mango tree to hold meetings and prepare for the day’s lessons. They scamper into leaky classrooms when it rains.No automatic alt text available.

Also, like most of the public primary schools in the state, it has no urinary, no toilet, and no source of drinking water.

“Whenever it rains, the pupils feel discouraged to come to school because the classrooms are flooded,” one of the teachers tells this reporter.

“We are suffering because we don’t have any godfather in government,” the Village Head of Ikot Iyire, James Akpan, says while showing this reporter round dilapidated buildings in the school.

“I have been a village head for more than 22 years now, we have not received any support for the school from any government official or any politician,” he says. “Sometimes I have to use my personal money to buy chalks for the school.”

Mr Akpan points at a minor concrete work in one of the classrooms, saying he used his personal funds to buy two bags of cement to execute the repairs.

“I have written several letters and forwarded several photos of the school to government, but there hasn’t been any response,” the village head says, adding that the school caters for the educational needs of more than seven villages around the area.

But as this PREMIUM TIMES reporter leaves the Ikot Uyire village head wondering why a government would allow its future leaders to learn in such a dehumanising situation, he soon happens on another school having what appeared a higher level of decay.

At Ediene II, about 20 minutes’ drive from Ikot Uyire, the only government primary school in the village is in ruins. One of the classroom blocks in the school is without roof, while tall weeds sprout from the broken parts of the cement floor inside the classroom.

At St. Ignatius Catholic Primary School, Ukana Iba, Essien Udim Local Government Area, it is a similar horrible sight – a pupil is seen sleeping on bare floor at the verandah of a classroom at 12:16 p.m. when he should be attending lessons. The main classroom block in the school is without roof, doors, and windows.
A pupil walked past a dilapidated school building at Annang Peoples Primary School, Ikot Iyire, Ukpom Abak

Our investigation, spanning more than one year and involving several schools in urban and rural communities, shows that only a handful of schools in this state can be considered reasonably conducive for learning. The rest are in terribly appalling situation. Some are not even good enough for raising animals, says Mbebe Albert, a lawyer based in the state.

At the Community Comprehensive Secondary School, Nto Osung, Ekpenyong Atai, Essien Udim, the teachers and principal do not worry much about their decaying infrastructure. They are more concerned about the regular invasion of the school premises by criminals.

The school is unfenced, allowing armed gangs to keep invading the school in broad daylight to rob teachers and students of their belongings.

For the school’s dilapidated structures, the school authorities say they had since forwarded videos and photos to the state’s ministry of education and Governor Udom Emmanuel’s aide on education monitoring. They are still awaiting response from government.

Several other schools visited in Essien Udim and in the neighbouring Obot Akara Local Government Area have similar challenges of decayed infrastructure, inadequate teachers and classrooms, and lack of functional laboratories and libraries.

One school in Essien Udim, Government Secondary School, Nto Nsek, was fortunate some years back to have an information technology laboratory built there, a rare facility in secondary schools in the state. But the laboratory has since become an eyesore. The small hall, with leaky roof and broken furniture, has now been neglected and abandoned for years. The school’s electrical laboratory has suffered a similar fate.

The school, which caters for more than nine villages in Essien Udim and the neighbouring local government area of Obot Akara and has a student population of 2,414, no longer hold science experiments due to lack of laboratories, this newspaper was told.

The school is grappling with the challenge of inadequate classrooms, having shut its main classroom block – a storey building – a year ago when the 55-year-old building showed cracks on its walls and vibrated whenever students climbed its stairs.

The ensuing accommodation crisis compelled the school to abolish its long-established boarding system. The hostels were then converted to classrooms, officials say.

Out of the three blocks at the Methodist Primary School, Nto Obio Ikang, Obot Akara Local Government Area, one is dilapidated and abandoned, while another is without roof.

Friday Idot, the Chairman, Nto Obio Ikang Village Council, appeals to the state government to urgently renovate and equip the school. He says the school, built since 1940, is the only school in the village.

Still within Obot Akara, the Community Secondary Commercial School at Nto Edino, requires complete overhaul of its aging classroom blocks, some of which have had their roofs torn off and their walls broken down.

St. Raphael Catholic Primary School, Ndon Eyo II, in Etinan Local Government Area, built around 1930 by the Catholic Church, has just one school block which houses classrooms and administrative offices.

To make the best of a bad situation, the school authorities divided the classroom along imaginary lines, lumping Primary one and two pupils together at one end. Those in Primary three, four, five, and six were also combined and cramped at the other end, with four chalkboards at the different corners. It is a chaotic spectacle as the cacophony of sounds from the different corners remains a constant distraction for the pupils.

The roof of the ageing building is depressed in the middle, indicating that it might cave in anytime, therefore putting the lives of the 459 pupils and their seven teachers at risk.

A teacher tells PREMIUM TIMES a decaying rafter once fell from the top and hit a pupil on the head. Luckily, the little boy only suffered a minor injury, the teacher says.

St. Raphael does not have a toilet or urinary. It does not also have any source of drinking water. Teachers and students rush into nearby bushes anytime they need to relieve themselves.

Within Etinan, there are several other schools with dilapidated structures like St. Louis Catholic Primary Sch, Mbiokporo 1, Community Secondary Commercial School, Ikot Nte, and even the once prestigious Etinan Institute.
Students at Ntiat and Mbak 1 Comprehensive Sec Sch, Itu

When PREMIUM TIMES visited the community school in Ikot Nte, the students were writing examinations inside a dilapidated building with leaky roof.

“Whenever it rains, we packed the students into a corner in the hall,” one of the teachers says, adding that the student population has dropped to about 200 from 350 because of shortage of classrooms.

The situation forced the school to convert its staff quarters to makeshift classrooms.
More and more dilapidated schools

One classroom block at St. Theresa’s Catholic Primary School, Ikot Anam/Ikot Inyang, in Ekparakwa, Oruk Anam Local Government Area, is without roof, while another block is dilapidated.

All the three classroom blocks at Government Primary School, Mbon Mbere, still in Ekparakwa, appear new and in good condition, but pupils in the school sit on bare floor to learn because of lack of desks.

The roofs of two classroom blocks at Atakpo Community Secondary School, Mbiaya Uruan, Uruan Local Government Area, are decaying fast and showing signs they could collapse any moment soon.

One school in Uruan, Community Secondary Commercial School, Ifiayong Usuk, is currently bearing the brunt of corrupt practices by government officials; the concrete pillars and walls of its newest classroom block, built in 2010 through the state government inter-ministerial direct labour project, are already cracking due to substandard work by a contractor.

More than 200 students accommodated in the block have been moved to safety in other blocks, thereby leading to overcrowding in the classrooms, a teacher tells PREMIUM TIMES.

“A classroom that should have taken 50 students, now has like 150 inside it,” the teacher says, adding that the school has over 2,000 student population.

Also, the school, which serves about seven villages, can no longer organise science experiments for its students because of lack of laboratory equipment and chemicals, PREMIUM TIMES learns.

At Community Secondary Commercial School, Iffe Town, Ikot Ebak, in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, one classroom block has collapsed, while the others have broken roofs, funneling rainwater into the classrooms whenever it rains.

Other schools in Mkpat Enin that require urgent intervention are Community High School, Ikot Esen Akpan Ntuen, Ibiaku Community Secondary School, Ikot Ebak, Government Primary School, Ikot Obio Nso, and QIC Primary School, Nya Odiong, Mkpat Enin. They are all at various stages of decay.

The following schools in Esit Eket Local Government Area are in deplorable state: Government Primary School, Etebi, Government Primary School, Akpautong, and St. Theresa’s Primary School, Ntak Inyang.

At Government Primary School, Ikot Ntuen Oku, located within the heart of Uyo, the state capital, renovation work on the main classroom block awarded by the Governor Emmanuel administration has been abandoned for about eight months, by the time this reporter visited there on April 18, 2018.

One classroom block in the school is dilapidated and roofless.

One classroom of the two blocks at Government Primary School, Udi-Ika, in Ika Local Government Area is without windows and ceilings. The broken cement floor in the classroom requires some work. The school is also clearly in need of more desks and more teachers.

At Asutan Ekpe Comprehensive Secondary School, Okop Ndua Eron, Ibesikpo-Asutan Local Government Area, eight uncompleted buildings which would have served as dormitory have been left to rot away after being abandoned for several years by the state government. An uncompleted classroom block – a storey building – have also been abandoned for several years.

Ironically, there are not enough classrooms in the school for the over 1,300 student population.

Teachers say they used their personal funds to renovate their quarters before they moved in.

Coastline oil-communities worst off….

It is quite a bizarre sight at Ntiat/Mbak 1 Comprehensive Secondary School, Itu Urban, where some female students are seen chatting freely inside a partially collapsed structure meant to be a classroom. The rafters and the remnants of the ceilings dangle menacingly above them, making the place a deathtrap.

The school’s staff quarters are dilapidated and abandoned. Same with one of its major classroom blocks.

The assembly hall had collapsed, while the library and the laboratory are in a terrible state and could go the way of other collapsed structures if not urgently rebuilt.

“Yesterday, we had to spread out books, the school records and other materials in the field for them to get dry under the sun after being soaked by rainwater,” a teacher in the school says, as he points at the leaky roof in an empty library.

Moreso, the 37-year-old school, built through community effort, is threatened by gully erosion.

Bassey Ekanem, the Village Head of Ntiat Itam, says the community is working on relocating the school.

“Since 2007, we have been writing letters to the state government to come to our aid,” he sys. “We’ve not given up, we are still expecting that government will one day wake up to help us.”

Everywhere – from Uyo, the state capital, to the hinterlands of Etim Ekpo, Ikot Abasi, and Oron – the story is the same: roofless school buildings, collapsed classroom blocks, shortage of teachers, lack of basic learning materials, and the haunting sights of poor little children struggling to learn under the most dehumanising environment.

Coastline communities within the oil producing local government areas of Ibeno, Eastern Obolo, and Mbo seem worst off, as pupils have to cross rivers to get primary education elsewhere because of lack of schools in their own immediate communities.

Government Primary School, Isotoyo, in Eastern Obolo, for instance, with its wooden skeletal structure loosely covered with dried palm leaves, can easily pass for a shrine.
Government Primary School, Isotoyo, Eastern Obolo

When PREMIUM TIMES visited the school in November 2016, there were only two teachers teaching Mathematics, English, Social Studies and other subjects to its 40 pupils.

“I sometimes feel like crying,” one of the teachers, who simply gave his name as Fingesi, said about the state of the rundown school. “But you know I can’t do that before the pupils.”

Fingesi had vowed never to abandon the school, despite its neglect by the state government and the local authorities.
Government Primary School, Ediene II, Abak

“The community is my own,” he had told this reporter then. “If I abandon my job, it means that this school will be closed down.”

But he couldn’t hold on. Some few months after, Fingesi and the other teachers left the school, PREMIUM TIMES gathered, leaving the poor children stranded.

Meanwhile, the improvised school used to serve a group of villages – the Amazaba – with over 7,000 population.

The community, like most other communities in Eastern Obolo, is cut off by a river. Access is only by water, using canoes.

Eyo Abasi is an ill-fated water-locked community in Ibeno Local Government Area. Apart from being abandoned and severely underdeveloped like most other communities in the local government area, Eyo Abasi had its only school washed away by tidal waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

A model secondary school at Atabrikang, Ibeno, started by the state government during the administration of Governor Victor Attah, has been abandoned for years now. Mr. Attah left office in 2007.

The case of the Government Primary School, Okori-Itak, is shocking. While the six-classroom block, commissioned in 2011 by the immediate past administration of Godswill Akpabio, is furnished with school desks, no activity takes place in the school, as the classrooms and the and the administrative offices are locked.

Locals tell PREMIUM TIMES no single teacher has been posted to the school.

Ibaka, a commercial town in Mbo, where the state has plans to build a deep seaport, has no single public secondary school.

There are other riverine communities in the local government area without a primary or secondary school. The children have to cross rivers to attend schools elsewhere.

With only five public secondary schools, Mbo Local Government Area is clearly in need of new schools to cater for the educational needs of the growing population in the area.

Some say what is happening to education in Akwa Ibom is an unbelievable contradiction because the state, with abundance of oil and natural gas, is one of Nigeria’s richest.

“What we are seeing here negates the aspiration of the UN sustainable development goals which is targeting free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education for all girls and boys by 2030,” says one teacher who asked not to be named for fear he might be punished by government

The SDGs, launched by the UN in 2016, is a successor programme of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, which expired in 2015.

Several education monitors, supervisors, yet nothing to show

The state ministry of education has Area Education Officers (AEOs) spread across the state with the mandate to monitor education in local communities. There are also senior ministry officials whose job schedules include paying supervisory visits to schools and submitting reports on the condition of schools to higher authorities.

Governor Udom Emmanuel has four special assistants on education monitoring alone, with three of them covering each of the three senatorial districts and reporting directly to a Senior Special Assistant, Idongesit Etiebet.
Udom Emmanuel

Mrs Etiebet says she is well aware of how bad things have been.

“I do drive around Akwa Ibom and I know what we saw in 2015 and how much we have intervened,” she says in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

She however says the governor is ‘doing a lot’ to salvage the situation.

“They have done renovation and new constructions in almost 400 schools,” she says. “With the lean resources accruing to the state, you cannot expect that everything will be done immediately.” But Mrs Etiebet failed to provide names and photographs of the “renovated” schools.

Infographics produced by the state government and posted recently on Facebook by the state Commissioner for Information, Charles Udoh, claims the Governor Emmanuel administration has so far constructed and renovated 62 school blocks in the state, a number far less than that presented by the governor’s aide on education monitoring.

The infographics, titled ‘How Governor Udom Emmanuel spends your money’, did not, however, identify the schools where the “constructed and renovated” blocks of classrooms can be found.

Akwa Ibom’s trillion naira revenue

Akwa Ibom has multinationals like Mobil, an affiliate of the American oil giant, ExxonMobil, drilling oil in the state. And because of its contributions to Nigeria’s oil earnings, Akwa Ibom receives more money from the Federation Account every month than each of the other 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

This is beside the revenue the state generates internally.

In five years alone, between 2013 and 2017, the state received N1.029 trillion (about $2.8 billion) from the country’s Federation Account.

Comparatively, a state like Osun, South-West of Nigeria, receives less than one-tenth of what Akwa Ibom gets from the Federation Account.

In the first quarter of 2017, for instance, Akwa Ibom received N34.8 billion, while Osun received only N1.7 billion.

Ironically, Osun state, for the past five years, has remained among the three top Nigerian states with an unmistakable lead in university JAMB admissions into courses leading to the award of degrees in Engineering. The other two are Oyo and Ogun.

For Medicine, Imo, Anambra, Delta and Enugu have been in the lead for the past five years.

Akwa Ibom has also not been among the five best performing states in the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

Billions of naira budgeted for education

When Godswill Akpabio was governor, the budget for education in the state in 2014 and 2015 was N10.9 billion and N16.7 billion respectively.

Five hundred million and N450 million was budgeted for the sector in 2014 and 2015 respectively for the renovation and refurbishing of buildings, including the provision of facilities, in 124 secondary and primary schools in the state.

The administration’s plan then, as documented in the budget, was to pick four secondary schools and four primary schools for renovation in each of the 31 local government areas in the state.

The Akpabio administration had specifically budgeted N100 million (in 2014) and N200 million (in 2015) for the renovation of boarding houses in secondary schools in the state.

That was beside the N100 million and N40 million budgeted in 2014 and 2015 respectively for the provision of 2,725 beds for 62 boarding schools and the N100 million and N55 million budgeted for in 2014 and 2015 respectively for the provision of 5,500 mattresses in secondary schools.

There was also provision for N300 million, both in 2014 and 2015 budget, as government subventions to 234 secondary schools heads.

Mr Emmanuel succeeded Mr Akpabio as governor in May 2015.

In 2016, N9.8 billion was budgeted for education by the state government, out of the N426 billion total budget sum.

In 2017, the education budget in the state was reduced to N8.620 billion, apparently following the decrease in the total budget sum – N365.251 billion – for that year because of the economic recession Nigeria experienced.

It is unclear what proportion of these budgeted funds were released during the Akpabio administration, and how they were utilised.

Tijah Bolton-Akpan, the Executive Director of Policy Alert, a non-governmental organization that focuses on fiscal governance in Akwa Ibom and other states in Nigeria, says “The education sector is suffering not just from poor prioritisation in the budget, but also from poor implementation of the little that has been budgeted.”

Samuel Efuo, a lawmaker and Chairman, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Education, says the problem is partly due to poor contract administration by the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Committee saddled with the responsibility of finding quick-fix solutions to the infrastructural deficits in the social sector in the state.

“In some schools, you have enough infrastructure, while you don’t have anything in other schools. Some people just sit down in their offices to award contracts without visiting the schools to see their needs,” Mr Efuo says.
“More than half of the public secondary schools are in ruins”

Akwa Ibom, with a landmass of 7,081 km², is said to have a population of five million, as at 2016.

The number of public secondary schools in the state was about 250 in 2016, and a good number of that number is in ruins.

The four science colleges – St. Mary’s Science College, Ediene Abak, Abak; Qua Iboe Church Senior Science College, Ndon Eyo, Onna; Lutheran Senior Science School, Ibakachi, Ikono; and Methodist Senior Science School, Oron – are in shambles.

So also are the technical colleges in the state – like the Community Technical College, Ikot Akata, Mkpat Enin and the Government Technical College, Abak, which have become eyesores because of their many dilapidated school blocks.

The Government Technical College, Ikot Adaidem, Ibiono Local Government Area, built through the assistance of the World Bank, has been closed down and abandoned to rot for several years now.

A retired teacher in the state, Nicholas Luke, blames the situation on corruption among politicians.

“Most of those schools were listed for renovation under the Godswill Akpabio’s inter-ministerial direct labour projects, and because they were part of political patronage, those work were not done,” Mr. Luke says.

“The contracts were captured in the state budgets and the money released, but the politicians pocketed them. That’s why you still find most of those schools as dilapidated as they were before Godswill came to power.”

Several years back, an attempt was made to revive public education through the building of seven model secondary schools across the state. It was initiated by the then governor, Victor Attah. But the project was jettisoned by his successor, Mr Akpabio.

A retired permanent secretary at the state ministry of education says N3 billion was needed to complete the model schools when Mr Akpabio became governor.

He accuses the Akpabio administration of suspending subventions to schools during the 2014/2015 session, a development he says led to funding crisis with ripple effects that are yet to abate across the schools.

Principals and head teachers now rely on the collection of “illegal” levies from parents to run their schools, the official says. They also generate revenues by renting out spaces in their school premises for funerals and other events during school hours.

“You want to organise a send-off party for a principal of a school, the students are levied. Students are forced to pay money for brooms, cutlasses, brushes and all sorts of things. In fact, a school that doesn’t even have a toilet, still charges students for cleansing liquid,” the retired teacher, Mr Luke said.

“Now, if your child isn’t admitted into the secondary school through the normal placement examination, you have to pay as much as N10, 000 directly to the principal for admission. All these, no receipt. Then you pay PTA fees. In some schools, it is as high as N5, 000.

“If you add up all these, then you would realise that it is better for the people to be asked to pay a certain amount of money as school fees than to deceive the people that there is free education,” he said.

A school principal, who is also an official of the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), in the state, admitted to PREMIUM TIMES that corruption indeed existed among principals, but she, however, put the blame on the officials of the ministry of education who she claimed were always demanding bribe from school authorities.

The ministry officials also expect gift items like tissue papers, mopping sticks, and soaps from the principals whenever they visit the schools, she says, adding that the abuse of office and stealing of public funds start from the top and trickle down to the lowest public servant.

“The situation is hopeless,” she says. “If you don’t give in to the demands of the ministry officials visiting your school, be ready to have your promotion and other entitlements delayed because of the negative report they will surely write after the visit.”

Almost everyone – teachers, parents, government officials, unionists and development experts – who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES acknowledged that the education sector in Akwa Ibom is at a critical juncture, pointing at the rate parents are now abandoning public schools for private ones and the poor performances of pupils and students in public examinations.

The situation has led to an increase in the number of private schools in the state.

For instance, the number of private secondary schools in the state was 120 in 2007, up by 106.90 per cent from the previous year, according to the World Data Atlas. The number increased to 422 in 2017, says an official of the state ministry of education.

“It is surely higher than that if we include those ones that are operating without license from the government,” the official says, adding that the number of private nursery/primary schools in the state is 699, as at 2017.

The retired teacher, Mr Luke, describes Governor Emmanuel as lacking the ability to revive education in the state.

“Udom Emmanuel administration is more confused, their priorities are not right,” he says. “Our governor is paying lip service to education.

“If you look at the budgets and also look at what they are doing physically, this government is not adding anything new to education in this state. So, they are more confused,” he says.

When PREMIUM TIMES met with the new Commissioner for Education, Victor Inoka, he declined comment, saying having just been appointed to office, he is still “studying the situation”.

But while Mr Inoka continues to study the situation, the Village Head of Ikot Iyire, James Akpan, is looking forward to urgent action from the state government that would save pupils across the state from learning in leaky, dilapidated or overcrowded classrooms, sitting on bare floors, and relieving themselves in bushes when nature calls.

“The situation is really bad,” Mr Akpan says as we walk past the kids sleeping on bare floor at the Annang Peoples Primary School. “I really pity these children because their future is in danger.”

This is the first in a six-part series on how corruption, poor budget planning and implementation, and outright neglect has led to the near collapse of public education in Akwa Ibom, one of Nigeria’s richest states.

This investigation is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting.Image may contain: one or more people, outdoor and natureImage may contain: house, sky and outdoorNo automatic alt text available.Image may contain: outdoor

Akwa Ibom: Essien Udim People Demand Prosecution Of Cult Group Sponsored By Godswill Akpabio

8 Apr

The people of Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State are in the grip of panic arising from the activities of a vicious cult gang, Akwa Marines, said to be sponsored by Mr. Godswill Akpabio, Senate Minority Leader and former governor of the state. The group, led by one Emmanuel Ben, SaharaReporters reliably gathered, has been spreading terror around the local council for over a decade. Godswill Akpabio killer, Emmanuel Ben 2Godswill Akpabio killer, Emmanuel Ben

People in the council area are therefore calling for the prosecution of Ben and his gang as well as the restoration of peace in the area. Already, gang members are said to have started attacking those they suspect of providing information on their activities to the Police.

Emmanuel BenLocal sources said the group enjoys the support of other powerful and influential politicians, the reason it has enjoyed a free reign in Essien Udim, Mr. Akpabio’s local council. Ben is also said to hail from there.

Akwa Marines specialize in killing, maiming and intimidating of political opponents, robbery as well as sundry crimes

In 2014, Ben was said to have imposed a levy, dressed up as “security votes”, on traders during the communal harvest known as Oto-Okom. The levy, which was paid, was only recently challenged by a few brave members of the village. In February 2016, SaharaReporters was told, the gang carried out a robbery in the village market known as Urua Nsong Eto.

The cult group was also said to have kidnapped one Celestine Mel Ikpa (then a staff of Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation). On release from captivity, Ikpa reported to the Police, which arrested and charged the abductors to court except the gang leader.

Also on 28 September 2016, the gang murdered two young men, Udo Friday Udom and Udo Ekpenyong Uwa, ostensibly for stealing a goat.

Sources, however, disclosed that they were murdered for their refusal of offer of initiation into Akwa Marines. Udom’s mother, Madam Nse John Udom, was said to have told the Police that she saw her Akwa Marines members inflicting machete cuts on her 16-year old son and begged Ben to spare his life. The Akwa Marines leader, the traumatized woman was said to have told the Police, also ordered the victims’ bodies burnt. She subsequently fled the community.

A few days later, Ben, said sources, convened a meeting in the village square, where he took responsibility for the murder, saying there was a need to rid of community of goat thieves.

He was also said to have bragged that reporting him to security agencies would have grave consequences, adding that he has them all in his pocket all the security agents have been settled.

Apart from Ben, those who participated in the twin murders were Lucky Effiong Akpan (aka Pope), Marcus Ikut (aka Mbata), the group’s executioner-in-chief, and Philip Udo Udo Ben. Other members stood cult group stood by to watch as though it was a spectator sport.Godswill Akpabio killer, Emmanuel Ben

Godswill Akpabio killer, Emmanuel Ben

The murdered Friday Udom was a cousin to one Victor Udom who, along with Samuel Ikpa, a staff of Exxon Mobil, narrowly escaped assassination during a visit to their community in Midim. The assassination plot was hatched by Ben, Uduak Etim Udom and one Chrisanthus George Udoh.

The near-victims were rescued by a team of policemen on special surveillance duties. The team, led by one Mr. Effiong, an inspector, was said to have been alerted by indigenes. The matter was reported at the Divisional Police Station in Afaha Ikot Ebak, Essien Udim Local Government Area. However, the Police officers were reprimanded, ordered disarmed and subsequently detained by the Divisional Police Officer on the say-so of Mr. Nse Ntuen, the then Chairman of Essien Udim Local Government Area and an Akpabio partisan.  Mr. Ntuen, disclosed sources, claimed to have relayed the instruction of Mr. Akpabio, with whom he was in constant communication. Mr. Akpabio is from Essien Udim.

Last month, the gang broke into homes in the community, taking belongings from owners and destroying properties, an event that provoked a flurry of petitions to the Essien Udim Divisional Police Command, Area Command and the state Police Headquarters. But the Police have not been of much help. Two weeks ago, a victim said a policeman attached to the Essien Udim Police Command warned him against making distress calls whenever the gang decides to attack. The policeman was said to called key members of the gang on his phone in the presence of the victims.

Ben, the gang leader, was recently arrested by officers from the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Squad, a development that was said to have brought out political heavyweights and traditional rulers in the state to demand his unconditional release. He was, however, moved to Abuja. There are indications that plans are being finalized to have him moved back to Uyo, the state capital, where the Attorney-General of the state will arrange for him to be freed.

Ben’s connection to powerful people, said local sources told SaharaReporters, was proved on 8 March at the High Court of Akwa Ibom State, where he was sprung from could also be gleaned from charges of cultism, murder, armed robbery and kidnapping among other atrocities. Delivering judgment on the matter (Suit No. HT/FHR/10/2017) Justice NFN Ntong of the Ikot Ekpene Division of the state High Court ordered Ben’s release. Last year, Justice Ntong made the controversial ruling restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and Police from investigating any past or present Akwa Ibom State government official.


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