Tonnie Iredia's Skewed Visit To Akwa Ibom

By Samuel Francis

Reading through the Sunday Vanguard of January 3, 2015, I was attracted to a piece by Tony Iredia, writing on the topic, UNCOMMON GOVERNANCE: THE BANE OF AKWA IBOM STATE, in his 'Nigeria Today' column, the Ex-Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Director General, shockingly embarked on an illogical treatise, to demean the genuine intentions of the Government in Akwa Ibom State.

As I read through the article, the lameness of his thoughts became easily discernable. I was further tempted to believe that, Iredia has devised a 'Notice me' strategy to get along- Engaging in media thuggery against Akwa Ibom State for reasons best known to him.

I recall watching on Television how Mr. Iredia, who was part of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) team that visited Akwa Ibom State in 2010 and he profusely recommended the Akwa Ibom State Government for what he observed were great accomplishments in the transformation of the state. The same Iredia is the one who is invalidating everything about Akwa Ibom and its transcending story of sustainable development.

Let me at this point to address issues raised by Iredia in his hate-filled essay. First, he harps on the fairy tale of purported mass defection of about 5000 members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,( which reigns in Akwa Ibom state) to the rival All Progressives Congress. By his own admission though, this was another story for the gods, as according to him, though he read the reports, apparently without bothering to verify his facts, Iredia wrote "My worry was really not the decamping(sic) because I know that the 2 parties concerned have an unwritten agreement to occasionally swap their members"

Having dismissed such blatant propaganda, Iredia in the next breath goes ahead to imagine that, the so-called defection is happening in every Local Government in Akwa Ibom. Then he adds the next grave indiscretion for a man of his presumed standing, stating, "... media reports that many Ibom people are unhappy with what they perceive as the unending tele-guiding of Governor Udom Emmanuel by his predecessor." Haba Iredia! Whose media reports are you relying on? That of the opposition or detractors of Government? Is that the best you can offer?

Then, he proceeds to dismiss the Annual Akwa Ibom Christmas Carol, describing it as, " exceedingly wasteful sponsorship", positing that, the venture implies "huge expenses on cosmetic matters which do not impact in the strict sense on the living conditions of the people."

Ironically, Iredia admits, the Carol attracted, " top national and international artistes to perform on the occasion watched by thousands of guests. He rightly noted, Akwa Ibom Christmas carol has etched a name in the Guinness Book of Records," and is at least 10,000 bigger than the previous record set by the CENTI Choir in Bogota, Columbia." Again, the same Iredia who was struggling to castigate the state Government as being wasteful acknowledged the truth, "That some corporate bodies co-sponsored the fiesta", dismissing this breakthrough in partnership with sponsors with the weak argument that, getting such sponsors to endorse the event, "does not however make it the priority of the people." These big corporate players, who were attracted for the first time since the Christmas carols bean in 2008, and for which Governor Emmanuel should be commended, not vilified, were even running their advertising on the live broadcasts. Iredia was blind to that fact.

Iredia conveniently forgets that, the Tourism industry is a money spinner that is the sole driver of the economy of countries like Barbados, Egypt, France among others. He forgets that, virtually all 36 states in Nigeria have their version of fiesta which opens up their state to tourists and advertises them to International prospectors and investors. Talk of the now world famous Calabar Carnival, the Dubars in the North, the Osun Osogbo festival, the New Yam Festivals in the South East and parts of the south South and The Argungu annual four-day fishing festival in the State of Kebbi, in the North-west to mention but a few.

It is expected that, Iredia should appreciate the spiral effect of Tourism in a local economy, especially, now that alternative revenue sources have become compelling. Iredia has made it obvious that, he is living in the past and he truly deserves our pity.

When he talks about the renaming of the Akwa ibom Nest of Champions, as Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, again Iredia, stands truth on its head. He declined to reveal that, Governor Udom Emmanuel, who he set out to vilify, was only implementing a Resolution of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. Iredia has however not told us, what makes the naming of other stadia after notable Nigerians like Samuel Ogbemudia (Benin), U. J. Esuene (Calabar), Moshood Abiola (Abeokuta), Sani Abacha Stadium (Kano) and the recently renamed Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Hacourt right, and why is that of Godswill Akpabio wrong?

When he falsely accuses the Akwa Ibom State Government of owing Medical doctors, who are threatening to go on strike, he scratches the periphery of the matter to score cheap political point. Iredia will not tell his readers, Governor Emmanuel's Akwa Ibom State is one of the very few states that have paid her workers upto date without owing arrears of 8-10 months like some states controlled by the APC, which his sympathy is inclined to.

Those new employees of Government including Medical Personnel who are yet to be paid, were delayed because Government was busy unraveling a racket that issued fake appointment letters to unsuspecting persons among other irregularities in the recruitment processes, which could have compromised probity in Governments wage bills.

All said, iredia's biggest blunder is his claim that, "the government is unable to accomplish the most common issues of governance." He even displayed a more and pedestrian 'counsel', when he wrote, "the way out is for Governor Udom Emmanuel an accomplished banker to be himself by putting on his professional cap to turn around the economy of the state and engage in purposeful spending so as to earn the confidence of his people." This is absolutely presumptuous.

Iredia should understand that, Governor Udom Emmanuel started from day one in office to leveraged his wealth of experience as a seasoned banker, investment manager, and business adviser to implement his agenda of industrialization, infrastructural expansion and consideration, wealth creation and economic empowerment of his people.

Governor Emmanuel had performed ground breaking ceremonies for industries he has attracted to Akwa Ibom, including, Automobile plant, LED factory, fertilizer Plant, Metering Factory, acquired Land for coconut Refinery, and is working our modalities for the proposed 3 oil Refineries in the state.

With hands on dexterity, the Government has revived some the hitherto ailing Peacock Paint and has commenced plans to resuscitate Plasto Crown, another moribund industry in Akwa Ibom State. Iredia may like to know that, the Ibom Science Park project, that was abandoned has been revisited. Governor Emmanuel has decided to bury the past and has set up a committee to complete the project in partnership with some Chinese investors.

I may also inform him that, Akwa Ibom people in their overwhelming numbers are happy with their governors deliberate training In fulfillment of his campaign promises of, thousands of youths on series of skills development and manpower, ranging from the Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering training in Israel, Oracle Software -training , Photography and film making. Hundreds more are currently undergoing Power Sector Training sponsored by both State and Federal Government, with other professional skills acquisitions programmes for youths in the state.

Iredia can try hard enough, but can't destroy the growing legacies of good governance Akwa Ibom State has been enjoying and still enjoying. Haba, Oga Iredia

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