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AKS 2020 Budget Is Very Reliasable – Rt. Hon. Uduak Odudoh




R t. Hon. Uduak Odudoh, a two term Member of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, representing Ikot Abasi/ Eastern Obolo state constituency possesses an exciting demeanour in politics. He plays politics of conviction; standing for what is right and germane to the collective interest of the people, no matter whose ox is gored.
It is this laudable political posture that has endeared him to the people and helped him to scale the huddle of breaking the jinx to return to the State House of Assembly. As Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation/Finance, the outspoken legislator is passionate about the contributory role of the State Assembly in the development of the State. In an exclusive interview with Crystal Express, he x-rays the 2020 Akwa Ibom State Government Appropriation Bill before the State Assembly and dissects the politics of Ikot Abasi, among other issues.

Let us meet you
By the grace of God and total support of the good people of Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo local government areas, I am Rt. Hon. Uduak Odudoh, a native of Essene in Ikot Abasi Council Area. I serve currently in the State House of Assembly as a second term member for the Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo State Constituency. This is the first time somebody from my constituency is serving for two terms. It is not as if occupants of the seat in the past never aspired for second term, but I attribute my breaking the jinx to God and my relationship with my people.
I graduated in 1999 from the University of Uyo and served Nigeria through NYSC in 2000. By 2001 I got into the state civil service and worked for only eleven months before resigning to contest the councillorship in my council area. I was robbed of victory in that election but after eleven months, my victory was restored and I served as councillor from 2003 to 2007 in Ikot Abasi Council Area before going into private business; but remained a committed member of the PDP during the 8 years. I got deep into cement and winery business before I got favour again in the sight of God and my people to serve them in the State House of Assembly.
I faced nine contestants in that race in a very fierce battle but with support of the delegates I secured victory at the primaries.
I continued to campaign until I won the March 11, 2015 general election. I served in three different committees in the sixth assembly, first as chairman, public accounts committee and later chairman, committee on labour as well as chairman, committee on education. Again in 2019, I had a clarion call from my people to go for a second term perhaps because of my leadership style. I believe in consultation leadership, grassroots politics and in giving back to the society. The secret of success in politics is to always remain in touch with your people; once you detach yourself from them that ends your political career. Public office comes with pressure but I remain in touch with my supporters under any circumstances.
Since I assumed office as member of the State House of Assembly representing Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo I have experienced absolute peace, corporation and understanding. In those primaries I won overwhelmingly. My wining the primaries shocked a lot of people and then the big picture of the general election surfaced.

How did you overcome the general election with the APC governorship candidate coming from the same domain with you?

The picture then was of Nsima Ekere being larger than life as managing director of NDDC and in charge of dollars, pounds sterling and naira. The whole state believed I was up against an elephant. So I worked hard for the general election. At a point my friends in Eastern Obolo told me that I should not worry that if I lose in Ikot Abasi, they will ensure that I win with votes from eastern Obolo but I told them that I will win in both council areas. I adopted the soldier-ant tactics which, through resilience and commitment, can overcome any obstacle. So notwithstanding the pedigree of Obong Nsima Ekere coupled with his deep pocket and fame, I defeated his candidate in our country home. Another strategy I adopted as one who has been involved in Ikot Abasi politics since 1999 was inter-personal relationship which I have with my people. It gave me that election, we defeated APC in Presidential and National Assembly election with over 3000 votes and people said it was not Governorship/State Assembly election in which Nsima Ekere will be directly involved but we were unperturbed, campaigning and preaching non-violence election, and we did not only win but had fair and violence free election, the first if its type since 1999 in my area. All the pre election propaganda and intimidation did not deter us from our focus. I won that election against APC candidate with 2,907 votes and won with more than 10,000 votes in Eastern Obolo. My personal relationship with my people spoke for me and more so, I deployed a new strategy for 2019 against the one we used in 2015.
I sincerely appreciate the people of Ikot Abasi for their resilience, peaceful disposition and love for the Governor and Peoples Democratic Party not minding the enticement from the opposition.
I reminded Ikot Abasi People that we supported Udom Emmanuel in 2015 and must stand with him to the end. I warned against playing up unnecessary sentiment because we have a brother in the race to the detriment of the bigger picture. I also reminded them that allowing APC overrun Ikot Abasi which is just one out of thirty one local government areas will not make any sense and we will be completely cut off. Therefore my people saw reasons with me and keyed into the PDP project and we are benefiting from it and those who joined the opposition party are now regretting. Success, we all know, has a lot of friends while failure is an orphan. I have the politics of Ikot Abasi in my finger tips and can analyze the character content of every politician from the area. So the best of our politicians are those who can see the future and pitch their tenets where their destiny will be released. PDP however is a religion in Ikot Abasi Council Area, as the party remains dominant in the area since 1999.
The party structure spreads all over the nooks and crannies of the area and the party has never fallen short of providing good leaders for the people. I can authoritatively tell you that even our brothers who left PDP to opposition parties are still living on the glory of facilities gotten during their days in PDP. Till date none of them could say this or that is what they have gotten from joining the opposition except the fake contract papers they were deceived with at the height of the 2019 general election to secure their commitment.

I hope that will not land those involved in trouble with the planned forensic audit of one of the federal government agency which he led.

Don’t you see what happened in Ikot Abasi as a betrayal of your own brother and son?

It wasn’t at all, politics is all about interest. People go to where their interest is protected. There is no sentiment in politics. in 2015, four Ikot Abasi sons contested for governorship namely, Engr. Patrick Ekpotu, Mr. Mike Sabastine, Mr. Benjamin Okoko and Obong Nsima Ekere and I did not follow any of them. If I had done that, God will not have placed me where I am today. So, politics goes beyond just having a brother or sentiment. We keyed into Udom Emmanuel’s agenda and secured the victory. During my empowerment programme for my people in the first term, I made it clear to them that it is practically wrong for anybody to contest as a governor for just one term of four years.
I made it clear that anytime in the future that God will provide the people of Ikot Abasi the opportunity to serve as Governor of the state , it will be for two years, because what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. It was not our decision to have a one term governor that is why we ignored APC in Ikot Abasi, for Deacon Udom Emmanuel of PDP because he will guarantee a better future for Ikot Abasi people. The issue of brother did not even come in but where our interest is absolutely protected.

PDP has been in power here and Governor Udom Emmanuel has served for over four years. What has been in the offing for the people of Ikot Abasi?


When Alscon was functional in Ikot Abasi Deep Council Area, there were many auxiliary companies and also constant power supply then. The governor is doing everything possible to actualise Ibom Deep Seaport and Ikot Abasi will be a major beneficiary with an international Jettiy already in our domain. The industrial park is also here in Ikot Abasi and presently over 300 indigenes of Ikot Abasi alone are working in the coconut plantation and refinery. We have had some good number of road projects including the recent one at Edemeya community. Before now Ikot Abasi had been an industrial hub and recent developments shows that the coming of the seaport will bring tremendous benefits to the area. In terms of appointments and contracts, the governor has carried Ikot Abasi along. One of the major road contractors today in our state, Hensek is from Ikot Abasi. He started small in Obong Victor Attah and Chief Godswill Akpabio’s era but has grown as a big player in the industry now. Hensek on his own has touched several lives positively but the truth remains that he is a major beneficiary of the Udom Emmanuel Administration.

As the Chairman Finance Committee of the State House of Assembly, are you satisfied with the budget outlay proposed by the governor?

Yes. I am very satisfied. The budget is N70.1 billion less from the previous budget and the benchmark is based on $55 per barrel of crude oil and I know the projects embedded on the budget will be realizable. As at July this year my committee carried out appraisal of the 2019 budget for the second quarter and noted a particular area that was unnecessarily bogus and luckily the commissioner for economic planning and Ibom deep seaport saw reasons with us. I guess our suggestions during that appraisal saw the reduction in the size of the proposed budget. Even at that the first stage is for the governor to present the budget estimates as an appropriation bill before the House and for us to carryout public hearing in which people come and make their contributions. We have heard some known critics commending the public hearing as the best so far in the State. As a committee we give every section of the state and professionals the opportunity to make their contributions. Since 2004 Akwa Ibom State has been IPSAS compliant and currently the different committees in the State House of Assembly are engaging various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) they are over-sighting so that the budget size will further be cut to the priorities of the various MDAs.

As a committee if we are not satisfied with what the MDAs have in their budgets, we take decisions on them. On 8th November we will commence budget defense with Committee on Finance and Appropriation which will continue to 30th of November because we must pass this budget by December. The implication is that the state get $3million grant from the World Bank if we achieve that feat. Once the budget is passed in December and published by January, the state will get the $3 million grant which will go a long way to help the state. This was why the governor was among the first to present his budget on 8th of October the same day President Buhari presented the Federal government budget though the governor did his few hours earlier. So we will do the governor the honour to ensure earlier passage while the expected grant will help the state tremendously. We will properly scrutinize the budget and take decisions before the final passage.

Are you satisfied with the performance of the previous budget?

Not 100 per cent satisfied especially with those key areas on the capital projects. Don’t forget that the 2019 budget is still running. When I engaged the various MDAs during the second quarter performances I discovered that some ministries and departments have releases to the tune of more than 50% of their budgets and it will still run till December when we take the comprehensive analysis of their performance. My scrutiny so far is mainly on capital not recurrent expenditure and I am satisfied.

During the last appraisal of MDAs done by your committee you openly endorsed and commended the commissioner for works, Mr. Ephraim Inyang-eyen, for a job well done. Is it an indication that you are satisfied with the jobs done so far by the Works ministry with their allocation?

I was very satisfied when the Works Commissioner was invited to take an appraisal of the second quarter of the 2019 budget. He came with the projects he started in 2015 and gave us a thorough briefing because those are projects that can’t run within one or two years. But the only area we emphasized was that in Governor Emmanuel’s first term in which more than 2000 kilometers of roads were done, there are areas that are yet to be captured or benefit in terms of road infrastructure which must be touched. Now in the new budget before us, those areas that are yet to be touched have been captured. So when he took time to explain we were okay and we cautioned that signature road projects of the Governor must never be allowed to sufferer any setback, but must be completed. Governor Emmanuel has done so much in constructing roads especially urban roads with so many streets which if you put to use is over 2000km. In my opinion he has done well and we are satisfied.

The budget is before the state lawmakers now. What inputs are you making to the budget in line with the yearnings of your people?

When we went for IPSAS training one of the resource persons lectured on spreading of projects evenly across the communities. At the point of considering the budget, every member has the opportunity of interfacing with the various MDAs on areas of interest. One of the reasons for scrutinizing the budget is for all of us to put heads together and take informed decisions. The budget is not going to be passed the way it is presented otherwise there wouldn’t have been any need bringing the budget before the State House of Assembly. Where necessary we must marry our interests for Akwa Ibom State.

What legislations or inputs have you made at the floor of the House to deliberately impact on your constituency?

Earlier I told you of consultative leadership in which I keep the channel of communication between me and my people permanently open for interface. Again the primary responsibilities of a legislator are over-sight function, lawmaking and representation. The one that is very key to the people is representation. In terms of lawmaking, I have sponsored bills both individually and collectively, raised motions and even that of urgent public importance. I leave my performance to the court of public opinion. In terms of House committees, I have given in my best on every committee I have served or given to chair and the area of representation is giving back to the society. My empowerment programme is usually called public empowerment. I serve people daily and equally listen and address their problems on a daily basis. I tell those in public office to resign if they think assisting people is now disturbances. I attend to people based on the availability of my resources because the expectation they have is that public servants are always on money. If I have 50 calls in a day for instance, 48 of them are strictly based on financial assistance of various forms. When you compare the various demands with your take-home pay, especially constituency with large population of two council areas, it is better imagined. That is the scenario presently. You give out of inconvenience then convenience. You cannot wait till you are satisfied before you start giving because human wants are insatiable. My empowerment is one of the best and people commended me for my efforts. I keep telling my people the areas I haven’t done well. Since no man is perfect, I will improve on it and even consolidate.

The previous and immediate past Assembly pride themselves as rubber and seal stamps of the good works of the governor. What is the disposition of the present Assembly?

I was part of the 6th Assembly which pride itself as iron seal and today we have Ibom Air. There is no project that is executed that does not pass through the State House of Assembly. The Iron seal nomenclature is for the benefit of Akwa Ibom people. The 7th Assembly started with a public hearing and we are open to criticisms in order to learn and do things right. A legislature is another arm of government with its own roles and guiding principles. Our job basically is to complement each other to succeed. If the governor fails in his assignment we will be part of that history and same is applicable if he succeeds. Our job is to engage the executive constructively and give them the maximum support to deliver on the core mandate. So I don’t see the 7th Assembly as one that will be antagonistic but rather ready to partner the governor to realize the Completion Agenda for the greater benefit of Akwa Ibom people. History will vindicate us if we do right things to measure the common good of majority of Akwa Ibom people.

You cited oversight function, legislation and representation as key jobs of the legislature. Where do constituency briefings and empowerment come in?

It is part of representation. The one you see us go to the field and distribute various items, I call public empowerment. But there is also private empowerment going on daily to help people which basically goes unannounced. My performance in the second term will surpass the first because I need to consolidate and double what I have done for my people. I will continue well for my people to the point, they will wish I continue to climb the ladder of my political career. I so much thank God that age is on my side and I will not indulge in anything that will hinder my political growth.

It is clear that you are planning to go higher in 2023. What is your next target?

Well, as God directs, the most important thing now is to deliver on the key mandate and ensure that my people are happy with me and as I said I have age on my side.
Recently Utaewa community in Ikot Abasi was overrun by flood, sacking more than 100 homes and there is also communal crisis between Amazaba.
The Utaewa incidence was a natural disaster. We are happy with the quick response of the council chairman and the state commissioner for environment who moved in immediately to assist the displaced persons. The ministry is doing their best as what happened fell under their jurisdiction. The issues of the communal clash between Uta Ewa and Amazaba communities have been there before 1999 but the Office of the Deputy Governor had got the warring communities to sign a memorandum of understanding at the palace of our paramount ruler, His Royal Majesty Joe Ntukubom. Today there is peace in those communities and we believe that the peace there is permanent.

So what is your impression of the 2019 general elections?

It remains the most peaceful, violence free and credible.

What is the relationship between members and the speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, who is the first among equals?

In the House of Assembly, the speaker is the first among equals but the truth remains that there must always be leadership. When the leadership is meeting other members …..even in the sitting arrangement there is small distinction. In fairness, the current speaker is very accommodating, a true leader, who values interpersonal relationship. He personally visits each member’s office before sitting. He is very accessible and gives committee members free hand to do their job without unnecessary interference. He is the best leader we have for now. We have experienced lawmakers in the incumbent House and we operate as a family. I don’t see any crisis coming our way with our level of relationship. The House is one and we will continue to be one. For the first time lawmakers, we are providing them adequate mentorship.

How about the relationship between the executive and legislature? Are there any grey areas?
There are no such grey areas. The executive knows the Assembly operates within the armbit of the constitution and respects the sanctity of the House. We are more of complementing the work of each other for the growth and development of the state. Even if there should be any grey area, it won’t be brought to the public domain. The legislature believes in negotiation, discussion and understanding. If we are at loggerheads with the executive, the State will be the loser while the masses suffer. Today we have a level headed and simple going man as our speaker who thinks more of peaceful co-existence. I believe in the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel and that of the House because power comes from God.

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