The issue of wage bill fraud has posed a serious threat to the finances of the Bayelsa State government, and has continued to hamper the economy of the state. In this report, UCHENNA NWAFOR, writes on the challenges and strategies the state government has applied to address the matter.
From Bassey Anthony, Uyo
Unless the Akwa Ibom state government acts with a sense of urgency, it may be hit with another bloody tragedy similar to or worse than the December 10, 2016 collapse of the Reigners’ Bible Church building which killed dozens of people and injured many others.
This time around, the threat is not just about a church but an entire community situated within the Uyo metropolis with a population of over two thousand people, which comprise of indigenes and non-indigenes.
The impending environmental disaster facing the people of Afaha Etok village has to do with uncovered outfall drains, which they lament is endangering their lives and property.
Afaha Etok village is situated within the Uyo capital city. The community is host to some key government and economic infrastructure such as the Ibom Tropicana complex and the popular Afaha Market.
To further underscore the strategic importance of Afaha Etok, the gigantic, state-of-the-art Godswill Akpabio International Stadium and the Ibom International Airport have road links to the community which is said to have an expanse of 600 metres.
Worried that their lives and properties, including the afore-mentioned government infrastructures could be destroyed, the people of Afaha Etok are appealing to government to cover up the outfall drains.
Investigations by our correspondent in Uyo reveal that the drains were constructed by construction giant, Julius Berger at the instance of the state government to channel water from Uyo metropolis to the Obot Idim watershed.
In a save-our-soul letter to Governor Udom Emmanuel, the village head of Afaha Etok, Eteidung Hilary E. Asuquo JP said the community had made several appeals to government for the drains to be covered up but that nothing has been done in that regard.
According to Eteidung Asuquo, the government had covered up similar outfall drains in other communities within Uyo and its environs such as the Akwa Efak, Dominic Utuk drains etc and wondered why such an intervention has not been extended to Afaha Etok drains.
“In September 2011 a delegation of the Akwa Ibom state government led by one Engineer Udofia in company of technical expatriates from the Julius Berger while addressing the entire community on this same project assured us that the drains will be covered especially the residential areas such as ours.
Whereas Akwa Efak area is in front of Afaha Etok, while the Afaha Atai area of same drains is quite behind Afaha Etok all of whose residential areas are covered, Afaha Etok has not been covered”, he said.
Continuing the royal father said, “Our dear governor, indeed we know you and have always seen you to be a lover of SAFETY, a lover of your people, committed promoter of safety and a senior advocate of safety who has vowed to ever secure and protect the lives and property of your people. Please save our souls.
“I cannot be insensitive to the recent calamity at the Reigners Bible Church nor forget so soon the lesson on the importance of safety to the generality of Nigerians, the Akwa Ibomites and in particular the people Afaha Etok”.
Eteidung Asuquo lamented that his people are distraught and disturbed and as they fear for their safety and the safety of their families, adding that “this apparent lack of information is causing tension among the youths, women and elders in our community.