By Franklyn Isong
On Friday, 17th December, 2021, the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival 2021, tagged, “THE RETURN” finally held at Ibom Hall Grounds, Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State Capital.
Food for thought!; If Akwa Ibom State were to be a Company owned and incorporated by the State Governor and those around him, would they have invested hundreds of millions of their hard earned Company’s money into a venture such as the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival that seemingly add little or no profit to their Company, given that they are wise investors? This, and several other questions have remained unanswered since inception of this religious exercise in 2008.
In the course of the week, my finding shows that public servants under the employ of Akwa Ibom State government have not been paid October and November 2021 salaries, as at today. These set of workers include those in the Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU). How the workers, their families and dependants will survive the economy not to talk of to celebrate the forthcoming 2021 Christmas without their salaries, seems not to be a concern to government.
Talking about priorities, I would think that the Carols Festival would be the last item on government agenda when her employees are yet to receive their two months salaries.
I have heard elsewhere some officials of the Government of Akwa Ibom State mentioning: Culture, Tourism, Economic, and spiritual development of her people as the achievements of the annual one-day Carols Festival, and I cannot but tempted to ask:
1) How much investment or how many investors have been attracted to the Culture and Tourism sector of Akwa Ibom economy through this programme annually since inception in 2008?
2) On the spiritual development, beginning from our leaders, how many souls have been won to Jesus Christ and how many of them have remained born again after the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival? Suffice to say, it is much easier to lead a horse to a river, but difficult to make it drink from it.
3) Which aspect of the Akwa Ibom State Appropriation Law, 2021 captures the capital expenditure of the Akwa Ibom Christmas Carols Festival 2021?
If the Government of Akwa Ibom State had been using the resources spent on this religious event to pay the billions of unpaid gratuities of our senior citizens, and the next of kin to retired primary school teachers in the State from 2008 to 2021, by now, the topical issue of unpaid gratuities in the State would have longed been a thing of the past.
Moving forward, may I therefore urge Governor Udom Emmanuel and those in the corridors of power, to cease a moment of their busy schedules to do a deep self-introspection, to search their consciences and to find out if the people they are governing are truly happy and satisfied with the government, in the face of hunger and starvation in the State. And if through the benevolence of their privileged offices on earth, lives have been positively impacted, touched and transformed to the glory of God.
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord,” Hebrews 12:14 (King James Version).
Have a blessed Sunday!
~Franklyn Isong is a public affairs commentator and conscience of the society.