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Sunday, November 18, 2018


By Edikan Asanga

When I heard the news that Gov. Udom Emmanuel was going to kickstart the process for the establishment of Ibom Airlines Company in 2019, two bad memories flashed back to mind. So four years after, Ibom Airlines is in the news again. I hope it is for the good reason this time, because all that those three words remind Akwa Ibom people for now is the brazen thievery which characterised the most financially rascally administration in Akwa Ibom history.

Ibom Airline Company was one of the phoney projects that Godswill Akpabio and Nsima Ekere used to syphon millions of dollars from Akwa Ibom coffers in their inglorious days as governor and deputy. It was their first major scam together, the most brazen robbery that Akwa Ibom people have ever suffered.

There is a prelude to the story of the Ibom Airline Company that Akpabio and Nsima brought. I will tell you.

In his first term in office, there were outcries by the media and members of the public against Akpabio’s insatiable quest for flying foreign chartered jets. Multiple reports from credible media investigations revealed how the profligate Akpabio was wasting billions of state funds globetrotting on chattered jets while Akwa Ibom people were in penury.

A Premium Times investigation for instance showed that Akpabio “spent over N2.3 billion on aircraft charter between 2009 and 2011,” alone. And by the way, none of those travels on chartered luxury jets attracted a single investment to the state.

Akpabio’s response to the public rage against his record waste of public funds on chattered luxury jets was his unscrupulous administration’s purchase of a Gulfstream private jet in 2011. Nsima had championed the purchase of the 45 million dollars jet just after he was elected deputy governor in 2011. 

The jet was delivered in 2012. It didn’t matter to them that the poverty amidst of plenty was in itself an evil that was already grand enough. For the two men, luxury mattered more than the people.

The noise about the Gulfstream jet didn’t even die down when the Akpabio/Nsima administration came up with another scam. This time, it was Ibom Airline Company that they said wanted to establish. In 2012, they proposed a whooping 1 billion naira in the 2013 budget just for “paper work”. The budget was approved and the money was taken from the state treasury with the speed of light. No paper works were done by Akpabio and Nsima till date. Not a thing as little as corporate affairs registration was done.

The Swiss Airline Holding Company they said they brought to handle the deal denied that they knew anything about Akpabio and Nsima’s Ibom Airlines deal. Our money disappeared into thin air, or rather, it disappeared into the bottomless pockets of Nsima and Akpabio just before they fought and went separate ways.

But to add salt to injury, and to show how much Akpabio thinks Akwa Ibom people are fools, he came again in 2014 with a budget asking that he be given yet another 1 billion for the same “paper works and licensing” for Ibom Airlines. Fortunately, and rarely so, the state house of assembly was alarmed. They found from the state budgeting office that the first 1billion of 2013 had been withdrawn from the state account for the purpose of Ibom Airlines. The house refused to grant the request for another 1 billion in the 2014 budget. This saving from that budget infuriated god Akpabio and, consequently, every single official of the House who uncovered that plot and made it public was punished by him through the then Speaker.

This particular tale of our past woes under the Rulership of the overlords called Godswill Obot Akpabio and Nsima Ekere came back to mind when I heard that Udom is about to start Ibom Airline Company. Given the character and God-fearing disposition of this very governor, it is my hope that he will clean our tears this time and give us an airline project that will not disappear into thin air after the money budgeted for it has been taken. And may the days of profligacy, the days of brazen stealing and unscrupulous leadership never return to our state.

If you are responding to counter the opinion in this article, please do so with facts. Provide links or verifiable information. Every views that I’ve expressed here are VERIFIABLE and every account given can be recalled in exactitude by those who followed the dark days of Akpabio era as Akwa Ibom state governor.

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