Politicians in the country have been counseled to design and implement functional methods of empowering their constituents as sharing of cash to the youths was not the right way to go.
This warning was given by a former minister of Lands and Housing, Chief Nduese Essien during a
presentation at a Colloquium organised by Uyo Book Club to mark the 82nd Birthday anniversary of former governor Obong Victor Attah, at the weekend.
The elder statesman dwelling on the topic “Akwa Ibom State march towards sustainable development- The road to be taken,” frowned at the current trend of splashing cash and other inappropriate items to youths in the guise of empowerment.
He said, “The Akwa Ibom politician’s approach to empowerment is to engage youths as Personal Assistant, Senior Special Assistant with no office, no defined responsibility, no supervision. Salon car is bought for someone with no means of livelihood, while some are paid token allowance to serve as sycophants.”
His verdict, “In the end these people gain no experience, they are not established to live their lives and return to me Labour market to continue as empowerment seekers.”
And doubling down, he said “It is the contention of this paper that the present practice of sending cash to be shared out to people as democracy dividends or empowerment packages is grossly defective. First, the intermediaries in the chain of distribution of money are prone to pocketing a substantial part of the cash.”
“They share the remnants to the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries themselves use their share to settle immediate financial commitments and end up not investing at all for the future.
Secondly, the people now that money from government is their own and that government loans are usually non-refundable
Essien noted that if constituency funds are carefully managed such that persons selected are supervised and monitored, beneficiaries would be engaged in viable ventures that could make them self employed and their small businesses becoming bigger enterprises.
He stressed that, it was only a change of approach to involve supervision and close monitoring of empowerment schemes that sustainability could be achieved, as many are of the misconception that government loans are usually non-refundable.
“It is only a change of approach to include supervision and close monitoring of empowerment schemes that sustainability can be achieved. For Akwa Ibom State government to move forward, a concerted effort has to be applied to reduce the trade in sycophancy.”
According to him, “Sycophancy has emerged as the fastest growing profession in the state with its debilitating effects on development and growth. Sycophancy paints erroneous picture of satisfaction to cover inadequacies in the system”, he said.
The member of House Representatives from 1999 to 2007, regretted that, the bane of governance in the state has been the failure to implement consistency plans and programmes which has resulted in stagnation of major projects by the different administrations.
He noted that Obong Victor Attah, among other achievements of his administration, realized the important role the Information Communication Technology ICT, sector plays in development when he laid the foundation for Ibom Science park.
Essien extolled Obong Attah for the role he had played in the Offshore/Onshore dichotomy in oil production, resulting in payment of 13per cent derivation and agitation for resource Control which has given Akwa Ibom a voice in national sphere.