I was at Uyo in 2012 for the Nigeria Guild of Editors All Nigeria Editors Conference (ANEC) which was hosted by the Akwa Ibom State government. The conference afforded us the opportunity to interact one on one with the governor of the state, Barrister Godswill Akpabio. Indeed, it was, if nothing else, an opportunity for Mr. Akpabio to showcase his achievements in office. They were many, many of them mind-blowing, and I know that between now and then he must have equally added many other projects in the kitty and completed some that were still at foundational stage then.
Majority of the editors, if not all, came back satisfied and happy with what they saw. We were happy because we didn’t know we could still see a remnant in Nigeria’s convoluted democracy who, like Jeremiah, has not worshipped the Baal of corruption. Consequently I wrote glowingly about the transformational democracy taking root in Akwa Ibom and thanked God for giving the Ibomites Akpabio.
But things are falling apart now, Akpabio wants to kill our joy and make a mess of the good job he is doing in Akwa Ibom with his ₦100 Million health pension.
Last week Akpabio thought it wise to take care of the future and prepare for the rainy day by devising a disingenuous way to live in affluence upon retirement. He cracked up a bill which entitled him and other past governors of the state and their deputies to collect ₦100 and ₦30 Million respectively yearly as health pension for the rest of their lives.
This, to me, is robbery. How can one person alone be entitled to this huge amount of money every year when majority of Ibomites live in penury? How can he hurriedly send such a bill to the House of Assembly at a time he has only few months in office? Or is Akpabio telling us that he did not embezzle enough that could warrant such outrageous bill? If ₦100 Million is just for health alone, how much is the total pension per year Akpabio is asking? This is blind robbery and an affront on the people of Akwa Ibom.
In fact, I cannot just understand why Akpabio who started well and whom we hail as one of the shining lights of democracy in Nigeria should want to finish poorly by this bill. However, I am not saying he should not be entitled to pension, but he does not have the right to fix how much should accrue to him, that is why we have the civil service.