Despite his state being one of the wealthiest in the country, Governor Udom Emmanuel said on Sunday that Akwa Ibom has no money to conduct local government elections.
Mr. Emmanuel said that local government elections would have to wait in view of the present financial difficulties facing the state.
The governor said this in an interaction in Uyo on Sunday as part of activities marking his second year in office and 18 years of unbroken democracy in the country.
He appealed to people and politicians to be patient about the conduct of local government elections as government was not in a hurry to carry out the exercise because of prevailing economic realities.
According to him, government’s stance on the matter is not deliberate as it would not take loan with high interest to conduct local government elections.
The governor, however, said the government would embark on the conduct of the elections once the economy improved.
Mr. Emmanuel has not conducted local government election since coming to office on May 29, 2015, leaving that tier of government to be handled by transition or caretaker chairmen or committees.
“The prevailing economic situation is not conducive for us to conduct local government elections.
“We cannot borrow money on high interest rates from bank for elections.
“What of if you set up local government council and you don’t have money to run the council?
“In recession, you carefully direct where money should go,” Mr. Emmanuel said.
The governor said his cardinal programme of industrialisation was still on course, adding that such has led to the inauguration of some industries and ground-breaking for new ones to mark his second year in office.
He called on Akwa Ibom people to appreciate government in establishing small and medium scale industries to create wealth and reduce unemployment.
He said in many economies, “it is the small and medium scale industries that drive the economy.”
The governor thanked the media for the support and cooperation given to his government since assumption of office.
He charged the media to always report the truth to promote investment, development and tourism in the state.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Charles Udoh, charged journalists to always report to promote the potentials of the state.
He disclosed that the state government has instituted health insurance policy to cover 250 journalists in the state as support programme for them to perform their jobs better.
Akwa Ibom, being one of the largest oil producing states, has consistently remained one of the highest recipients of funds from the federation account. The state was the highest recipient, after deductions, among Nigeria’s 36 states in the first quarter of 2017, receiving N34.88 billion.