Dr. Henry Archibong represents Itu/Ibiono Federal Constituency. In this interview, he comments on many contentious national and state issues; the deplorable state of the Calabar-Itu Federal Road, the debt profile of Akwa-Ibom State, the APC-led administration and its preparedness for leadership and of course, the vexed issue of the 2016 Appropriation Bill. Excerpts:
By Tom Moses
Given the quantity of money accruing to the state is the governor justified to borrow N15 billion as he has proposed?
I think this issue of loan is not like trading. As I am taking to you now, Dangote still takes loans meanwhile he is the richest man in Africa.
Likewise, the country with the highest indebtedness in this world is the United States of America yet, we are trading with their dollars. So, my governor taking loan does not mean that he is not managing the economy properly.
Managing the economy
In fact, I want to commend Governor Udom Emmanuel because two weeks back, we had a meeting with him where he briefed us on the economy of the state.
Certain issues were raised and explanations offered and all the people who attended that meeting were satisfied with his explanations and vision such that all they did was pray for the governor and for more funds to come in.
So, I want to dispel the rumour that the governor is running a kind of kangaroo administration because he briefs us regularly on how the state is being run.
At the national level, I don’t think the President has briefed us up to two times but our governor at the state level has been coming out regularly to brief Akwa-Ibomites on developments in the state and for me, the governor is doing very, very well.
I will also say that I have never seen a governor who picks calls. Everybody who is occupying certain political offices in this state including the National Assembly, has the governor’s number and so, if I want to call the governor, I can call him at any time to make observations.
If he doesn’t pick my calls immediately, I can always send him a text and he will reply when he is free.
What do you make of the criticisms by the opposition in the state?
Well, I normally don’t like to join issues with people especially those who had been in the National Assembly. They are entitled to their opinions.
Whether the opinion is right or wrong, the issue is that everybody has the fundamental human right to talk except that I think at that level, it would have been better to do constructive criticism and because you have an access to the governor, you are not an ordinary person, you meet with him most times and here, we are not talking about PDP, APC again, we are talking about a state, so, when it comes to matters of the state, we should sit down and make contributions and not stay somewhere and make divisive comments.
Now, how do you assess President Buhari?
Muhammadu Buhari is the President of Nigeria. Once you have elected a person, he becomes the President of Nigeria and all what is expected of everybody now is to rally support for him but it looks to me that President Buhari had just a-one point agenda, that of fighting corruption and then, probably, fighting the insurgents but while you are fighting corruption, if you get all the monies that you have recovered and put it in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and then, nothing is happening in the country, definitely, you are going to create more chances for corruption to thrive because when people wait and money doesn’t come, they will start to look for ways.
So, in as much as the President is doing well, I must tell you he is doing well.
The truth is that sometimes, the President may have good intentions but the people around him may have different intentions. For instance, the issue of the budget.
The President had presented the budget and the President couldn’t have written the budget; people did it but the people now decided to tamper with the budget that the President had presented and it became very embarrassing and people will begin to look at it as if the President is not in control but he moved sharply and you could see that a lot of people were dismissed because of that.
That is the kind of President that we have. That is why we are rallying support for him but we are saying that let it not be only corruption, let it not be only Boko Haram because a lot of people are dying of hunger in this country more than what Boko Haram is killing. So, we must look at the economy holistically.
Just as what I said about my governor, Buhari is the best President that we have now and if we did not have him, who knows whether this country would have collapsed because of the massive fraud that would have been going on. Again, I want to say that the President is doing well, but he has to look into the people that are working with him.