A SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MR. UDOM EMMANUEL, GOVERNOR, AKWA IBOM STATE AT THE AKWA IBOM STATE ANTI-CORRUPTION SUMMIT HOLDING ON TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2017 AT THE LE MERIDIEN IBOM HOTEL AND GOLF RESORT, UYO
1. I am indeed honored and happy to be here with you this morning to declare open this exceedingly important summit which if I may add, is coming at an auspicious time in the history of our nation and state.
2. The theme of this summit, ‘Transparency and Accountability, A panacea for sustainable development’ is as appropriate as it is timely. Nigeria and its citizens have been variously celebrated for the spirit of enterprise, industry, talents and skills and the ingenuity they have deployed to the developmental efforts of various entities across the globe. Our sons and daughters have raised our flag of achievements and have sat at the boardrooms where important and consequential decisions that affect mankind are taken.
3. Last week, during President Trump's meeting with top business leaders at the White House, seated fourth to the left of the President and on the same row, was a Nigerian Financial Services Expert-Adebayo Ogunlesi. In sports, entertainment and other facets of the human experience, Nigerians have shown the world that they too, can compete with the best and the brightest elsewhere in the world,
4. But sadly, in spite of these sterling achievements, in spite of the huge strides Nigerians have made in various areas where competence trumps geography, our perception, our collective definition remains shaped with the odiferous stench of corruption. We are still being tarred with the negative depiction as one of the most corrupt places in the world- a country where nothing gets done without officials being compromised. Are they right in their depiction? The jury is still out on that.
5. But let me reiterate here that no nation achieves the purpose of its founding, no country earns the respect it deserves within the comity of nations- and such a nation will not attract the much needed direct foreign investment if its soul and national ethos are described in such unsanitized colors. According to 2014 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, Nigeria ranks 136 out of 176 countries of the most Corrupt Nations in the world. Global Financial Integrity estimates that more than USD 157 billion in the past decade has left the country illicitly.
6. These are indeed sobering statistics and It is therefore on this premise that I consider it necessary to partner with the Foundation for Transparency and Accountability and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in the organization of this all important summit.
7. The participants at this summit are drawn from the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary of Akwa Ibom State. This is a pointer to the resolve of the three arms of Government to collectively imbibe the best practices of transparency and accountability in the discharge of their day to day responsibilities as we set about the task of delivering quality service to our people.
8. The challenges posed by the current economic realities in our country are already well documented. In spite of this, we are not resting on our oars but are working round the clock to deliver on the Five-Point Agenda of my Administration which is centered on Wealth Creation, Economic and Political Inclusion, Poverty Alleviation, Infrastructure Consolidation and Expansion and Job Creation. We have built and are still building new infrastructural facilities while maintaining the existing ones. We are aggressively pursuing human capital development initiatives to provide the manpower required to support our industrialization drive. We are promoting new ways to sustainably engage our people through commercial agriculture and entrepreneurship initiatives, and we are meeting our monthly salary obligations to our workforce without fail. Our free and compulsory education policy at the basic level is still ongoing, and so is the free healthcare services for children and expectant mothers. Our diversification efforts in agriculture is bearing fruits and we are committed to aggressively pursuing this policy believing that the future belongs in agriculture and its allied industries.
9. We have been able to do all of these and much more despite our lean financial resources through the creative application of available resources and strict adherence to the principles of transparency and accountability which represents the guiding principles of my administration.
10. I am confident that this summit will rekindle in all the participants, the zeal to imbibe openness and accountability in our dealings as we strive to provide sustainable development for our people. We should ensure strict compliance to due process in the business of government and drastically reduce, if not completely eliminate, waste in public spending. Fraudulent activities, indolence, bribery, nepotism, lack of transparency and all such manifestations of corruption will not be tolerated in the public service of Akwa Ibom State and this, I am happy to report has been internalized by our people.
11. At this point, let me express our gratitude to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission for partnering with us in the organization of this summit. I particularly thank the Chairman of the Commission and our dear son, Barr. Ekpo Nta, for accepting to deliver the keynote speech at this summit. I also appreciate the Foundation for Transparency and Accountability for their contribution to this summit. I salute all the speakers and resource persons for their diligent work and presentations.
12. I am hopeful that this new direction of zero-tolerance for corruption in our state will permeate our spheres of influence and the positive effects will be evident in the attitude and productivity of the public service in Akwa Ibom State.
Thank You and God bless you.
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