By Okeoghene Akubuike
The National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) has threatened to shut down state government’s activities in Akwa-Ibom over alleged endorsement.
A statement signed by the NANS President, Danielson Akpan, in Abuja on Saturday, said the Gov. Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom should stop insulting the senses of Akwa Ibom students.
The student body alleged that the governor had in the last two months attempted to procure students endorsement with N100 million through his Special Adviser on Students Matters, Ms Aquila Otobong.
“The attention of the leadership of NANS has been drawn to the purported student’s endorsement rally organised by the SA on Students Matters to Gov. Udom in connivance with some cult leaders in Akwa-Ibom State.
“It is no more a news that Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel out of desperation has twice in the last two months attempted to procure students endorsement with almost N100 million through his SA on Student Matters and some cultists.
“These cultist claimed to be students without any notable students’ leader leading any known students’ structure either in Akwa-Ibom State or Nigeria at large.
“The first attempt was during the International Students Day Celebration in November 2018. The event was a flop as over N30 million was given through the SA Student Matters, but it was diverted into private pocket of the official and her cronies.
“Again, on Jan. 10, 2019, about N40 million was doled out by Gov. Udom through Aquila Otobong for a solidarity walk, it was diverted leading to disruption of public peace and destruction of properties in the state for several hours before the police command was able to restore normalcy. ‘’
The student body also alleged that since the governor’s assumption of office, no student of Akwa-Ibom origin had received bursary neither had any been granted scholarship.
According to him, our special students, particularly in Medical and Law schools, were not only neglected but made to suffer hardship in the pursuit of their highly expensive professional careers.
“Is it not ridiculous that a Governor, who claimed to have sacked 5,000 recruited Secondary School teachers that would have boosted education development of the state due to paucity of funds, can now dole out millions of naira monthly to procure imaginary endorsement from students?
“It is ungodly for Gov. Udom to claim that gratuities, imprests, leave bonuses and pension arrears were jettisoned based on excuses of paucity of funds, can now turn around to spend millions of naira in purchasing the support of these important citizens he brazenly abandoned since assumption of office.’’
Akpan said that before the administration of Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom indigenous students enjoyed constant bursary payment, regular scholarship and reasonable allowances for Medical and Law students.
He added that under past administrations of the state, all tertiary institutions in the state were well funded, infrastructural development of campuses was a topmost priority and workers’ welfare was paramount.
“Consequent upon these misdirected priorities, we wish to demand that the governor should tender an unreserved apology to the people of Akwa-Ibom state and Nigerian students for his administrative ineptitude,
“This, hitherto, has jeopardized the academic future of all indigent Akwa-Ibom students on the altar of self-aggrandisement.
“Also, we demand that all outstanding bursary entitlements of students of Akwa-Ibom State origin be paid in seven days from the date of this release.
“That Aquila Otobong and her cohorts should tender their unreserved apology in written to both the leadership of NANS and National Association of Akwa Ibom Students.
“This apology should be published same on national dailies for the grand deception and impersonation of Akwa-Ibom Students, which her fraudulent actions has brought on Akwa-Ibomites.’’
The student body also demanded that the governor should pay the entitlements of workers which include pension arrears, leave bonuses, gratuities without further excuses.
NANS further demanded the governor to publish the debt profile, Federal Government monthly allocation and Internally Generated Revenue of the state as part of rendering account of stewardship to the people.
“Finally, this medium serves as a notification to the government of Akwa-Ibom State that failure to comply with the above demands will automatically engineer a massive shut-down of government activities by Nigerian students.’’
Reacting to the allegations, Mr Ekerete Udoh, Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Udom Emmanuel told the News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) that the allegations were false and should be discountenanced.
“Endorsements are not procured, endorsements are voluntary affirmations of Gov. Udom Emmanuel’s spectacular achievements across sectors.
“The Akwa-Ibom students, like others have seen the huge investments the governor has made in the education sector, hence the endorsement they voluntarily gave.
“It is false and laughable the notion by NANS that the endorsement was motivated by pecuniary considerations.
“This is the talking point of the opposition elements in the State and should therefore, be discountenanced,” he said.