Akpan Umoh, Uyo
A socio-political organisation, Akwa Ibom Integrity Alliance has described the dropping of Senator Bassey Akpan’s and the Interim Administrator of the NDDC, Mr Effiong Akwa’s name shortlisted for national honours as insensitive and embarrassing to the people of the state.
It was gathered that the senator representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District and the Interim Administrator of NDDC who was nominated for Commander of the Order of Niger (CON), was dropped a few hours before the award ceremony.
A statement signed by the National President and National Secretary of the group, Mr Stephen Abia and Prince Imo Etimudo respectively and made available to newsmen on Wednesday evening in Uyo, blamed the Federal Government for Akpan’s and Akwa’s ‘humiliation’.
It queried why the federal government would nominate Akpan only to ‘disgrace him out with an excuse of standing trial for corruption charges.
The statement reads in parts, “when the list of national awards nominees for 2022 was released, we took pride in the fact that some deserving indigenes of Akwa Ibom State made the list.
“We saw the recipients of the national awards as worthy ambassadors of Akwa Ibom State, whose spirit of excellence, distinction and hard work in their different stations of life align with the true Akwa Ibom Dakkada spirit.
“Good enough, the organizers picked their recipients across party divides and fields of human endeavour, which buttressed the point that nothing can put a wedge between our spirit of excellence, so also can no Akwa Ibom person be blinded by pettiness over the attainments of Akwa Ibom people such as the national honours.
“But we were later to be saddened by the manner in which the name of one of our accomplished sons of Akwa Ibom State, the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District, Senator Bassey Albert was curiously dropped from the list few minutes to the awards ceremony.
“We have been reliably informed that the name of Senator Bassey Albert who was nominated for Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON, was dropped by the federal government on the premise that he is indicted and is being prosecuted in a corruption case by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
“Granted that the man is involved in a corruption case and several other issues bothering on graft, is it not established that in law one is not guilty until so presumed by the court? Disgracing him from the national honours list at the eleventh hour is totally wrong, unacceptable and a slight on the people of Akwa Ibom State.
“Does the federal government say that Senator Bassey Albert is the only Nigerian with corruption baggage whether in court who was nominated for the honour? Or is he being treated special because he is an Akwa Ibom son? What if in the end, the court pronounced him not guilty, how will the wounds inflicted by this shabby treatment be healed?
“In any case, the corruption case against the senator did not just happen during the week of the award ceremony, why did they include his name in the first place, if not to disgrace and rubbish the man for whatever reason?
“Worst still, this shocking removal of Senator Bassey Albert’s name from the honours list, despite having mobilized enough contingent to Abuja to celebrate with him, came at a very bad time in the man’s life when he was already devastated by the death of his younger brother as well as his two aides – who died as a result of the federal government’s failure to provide security and good health facilities to Nigerians in all parts of the country.
“Did a man in such an emotionally traumatic condition deserve another avoidable trauma of being publicly humiliated with the national honours list?
“This is a man who had made his personal arrangements to celebrate his expected honour. What happens to the expenses he may have already incurred? What explanations was he expected to give his invited guests and well-wishers who may have already been mobilized from Akwa Ibom State, and indeed all parts of Nigeria to Abuja? What a huge loss! What an act of insensitivity!
“We equally condemn the surreptitious removal of the name of the Interim Administrator of the NDDC, Mr Effiong Akwa after an official publication of the national honours list for whatever reason the federal government may come with. To us, that was a selective disgrace to our sons, and we totally condemn this.
“The continuous loud silence of the federal government on the eleventh-hour removal of the names of Senator Bassey Albert and Mr Effiong Akwa makes it susceptible to diverse interpretations by Nigerians. There is, therefore, an urgent government statement on the matter to calm frail nerves.
“The continuous neglect of Akwa Ibom despite its contributions to the growth and sustenance of the nation’s economy is enough grave injustice that need not be aggravated by the needless shabby humiliation of our sons,” it added.
However, the group called on the federal government to correct the anomalies and get their earlier nominees, Senator Akpan and Mr Akwa, decorated with national medals of honour.
They urged the FG to avoid activities that will set a wrong precedent that will threaten the country’s unity.