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The Fleecing of Akwa Ibom State: How Godswill Akpabio Steals morethan N16 Billion from AKS Treasury

By Ikpafak Thompson Essien
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The Fleecing of Akwa Ibom State: How Godswill Akpabio Steals more than N16 Billion from AKS Treasury

''The Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Aniekan Umanah says the state government spent N16,172,358,328.88 billion on the payment of minimum wage arrears from April to December, 2011...''

Ever since the mandatory requirement for the payment of the minimum wage by the federal government, workers in Akwa Ibom State have been complaining about the failure of Godswill Akpabio to honor his pledge to pay the minimum wage. After months of pleading went un-heeded, workers, led by their Union leaders, went on strike by staying home. Godswill Akpabio managed to persuade them to return to work with a promise to facilitate the payment. But as soon as the workers were lured back to work, Akpabio failed on his promise to pay the minimum wage. The workers issued another ultimatum.

Last week, after threats of strikes by workers, Godswill Akpabio finally succumbed to the demand made by the workers and announced that he would join other governors to honor the payment of the minimum wage. He announced that beginning in the month of June, every worker would be paid a minimum wage of N20, 000.00.

While none oil-producing states have regularly been paying the stipulated minimum wage of N18, 000.00 to its workers, none of the governors of those financially-strapped states has ever received any form of accolades from any quarter.

But last week, as soon as Godswill Akpabio completed his announcement, his propaganda machines, led by his Commissioner for Miss-information and Dis-orientation, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, went on rampage and blitz the national media extolling the benevolence of Godswill Akpabio, as if the announced N20, 000.00 minimum wages would come from the personal investments of Akpabio.

Until the announcement made last week by Godswill Akpabio, what the workers in Akwa Ibom State did not know was that while Akpabio refused to pay them the minimum wage, he has been discretely taking the money out of the treasury and recording the transaction as minimum-wage payment. Though Aniekan Umana announced that the discreet payment began in April 2011, sources have confirmed that it actually began around December 2010. Though Aniekan Umanah announced that the discreet payment is N16, 172,358,328.88 billion, sources have confirmed that the actual figure is over N30 billion.

What makes the entire stealing of the people's money more annoying is the deceptive announcement by Aniekan Umanah, which says "the state government spent N16,172,358,328.88 billion on the payment of minimum wage arrears from April to December, 2011." (Please see the news report below by Sensor News Agency). But a call made to some Union leaders and workers in Akwa Ibom State have all denied any payment of arrears. One of the workers I contacted sent to me the following text-message; "Arrears! What arrears? Well, I don't know if others have been paid any arrears. All I know is that I have not received any arrears and I don't know of anyone who has received arrears. Actually, we are not interested in arrears because it will never come even if it is in the news. All we want is our own share of the minimum wage. Brother, life is very tough in Akwa Ibom. While Akpabio is busy spending millions and billions to buy awards all around the country, we are suffering. Many of us just couldn't understand why he refused to pay us the minimum wage. We just could not understand. Even with the promise of paying the minimum wage of N20, 000.000, we still don't believe that the man will pay us a kobo. But we are waiting; we will see."

Written by
Ikpafak Thompson Essien
Portland, Oregon

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