With Akwa Ibom deeply embroiled in security crises, Governor Udom Emmanuel has appealed to the United States of America (USA) government to expunge the state from the list of other Nigerian states considered as unsafe for their citizens to travel to.
According to Emmanuel, such categorisation was at variance with the decisions of several security agencies, that place Akwa Ibom as one of the safest states in the country.
The governor, who made the plea during a courtesy visit on him by the Ambassador of the US to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, at the Government House, Uyo, the state capital, noted that naming Akwa Ibom among the unsafe states in Nigeria, was repelling to investors, hence inimical to the industrialization drive of the state government.
“Help me review, right now we are expecting a whole lot of investors into the state the issue being that the publication that Akwa Ibom state is unsafe for Americans to travel into, is going to affect a whole lot of investments in the country, especially in Akwa Ibom, because it stands contrary to Police report and other security agencies reports.
“There is no society on Planet earth that there are no pockets of crime. Pockets of crime cannot render that state insecure,” governor Emmanuel stressed.
Governor Udom Emmanuel who appreciated the partnership between America and Nigeria in the provision of critical facilities in the state appealed to the American government to partner with the state government in the implementation of policies and programmes as well as effective monitoring of projects and transparency.
“The United State Agency for International Development (USAID) can come in, we don’t need the money, they can partner this programme with the state government, the Ministry of Health and the beneficiaries.
“You appoint the implementing partners we don’t know them and because you don’t create that interface between the State Government and these group of implementing partners. So we cannot even monitor as a second check of what we are doing, to be able to report back that money you are spending is actually getting to the people,” he said.
He explained that “if the projects must go to the implementing partners, let the state government be the third party for proper monitoring and transparency in its financial reporting.”
The governor further emphasised that the partnership with the state government will ensure that the programmes executed by US Government are of immense benefits to the people as the funds allocated will trickle down to the appropriate locations without encumbrances.
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, said she was pleased to have the opportunity to visit the state to ascertain the status of the US-funded projects, after constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The US envoy described the Akwa Ibom State government as a model in the pandemic management and fundamental support for the USAID projects in the state.
She expressed delight over the investments made by the Akwa Ibom State Government in the health sector.
These, she said, were evident in the improved health infrastructure, trained health workers, the wellbeing of USAID projects in the state, reversal of hitherto held statistics in malaria, HIV/AIDS amidst the COVID pandemic.
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