The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has ordered the immediate suspension of the implementation process of the ‘Anchor Poultry Borrowers Scheme’ of the state government. The action of the House is sequel to a matter of urgent public importance brought before the House during plenary on Thursday by the Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Hon. Nse Ntuen who raised the alarm over some observed irregularities in the selection process of beneficiaries for the loan scheme.
The House in a resolution, directed that “the disbursement and implementation of the Anchor Borrowers Scheme of government be suspended until after the conclusion of investigation and action taken at plenary”.
A seven member ad-hoc committee headed by Hon. Idongesit Ituen was mandated by the House to conduct an investigative hearing into the matter. Deputy Chairman of the committee is Hon. Nse Ntuen, while, Rt. Hon. Udo Kierian Akpan, Hon. Usoro Akpanusoh, Hon. Samuel Ufuo and Hon. Mrs. Mfon Ekong are to serve as members. The committee’s investigation will border on the disbursement and implementation of the programme.
The terms of reference to the committee as read by Speaker Onofiok Luke include to, among others, investigate and determine the source of the publication of over 3800 names of acclaimed beneficiaries; to ascertain whether due process was followed in the selection process; and whether the list of beneficiaries represents the composition of the state in proportionate manner. The committee which has two weeks duration to submit its report is also mandated to determine the source of funding, and as well recommend sanctions for any public officer found to have erred in the process.
Briefing the House on the matter, Hon. Nse Ntuen, who is the member representing Essien Udim state constituency In the Assembly, said he was surprised to see newspaper publications to the effect that over 3000 indigenes of the state have been selected to benefit from the Poultry Anchor Borrowers Programme, an empowerment programme of government, and expressed regrets that due process was not followed in the selection of beneficiaries. He said the action could not have had the authorization of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Also faulting the recruitment process, Deputy Speaker, Hon. Felicia Bassey, House Leader, Rt. Hon Udo Kierian, Chief Whip, Hon. Emmanuel Ekpenyong, Hon. Mfon Ekong, Hon. Mark Esset, Hon. Idong Ituen, Hon. Otobong Akpan, Hon. Otobong Ndem, Hon. Aniekan Uko, Hon. Aniefiok Dennis and Hon. Effiong Bassey, Rt. Hon. Elder Friday Iwok, said there was need for the House to invite the government officials responsible for the observed irregularities in the selection for questioning. The House Leader, Rt. Hon Akpan particularly took time to point out the multiple repetition of names in the list of 3800, describing it as wrong and questionable.
Ruling on the matter the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Luke explained that the legislature was empowered by the constitution to carry out investigation on any matter brought before it in line with section 121 of the Nigerian constitution. He said investigation into the matter would better be conducted through the committees.
Meanwhile, the House on Thursday read for the first time the bill for the law to provide for the establishment of Akwa Ibom state primary healthcare development agency. The bill is sponsored by the Speaker, Hon. Onofiok Luke and 12 others.
Earlier in the day, the committee of the whole led by the Speaker, had an interactive session with officials of the state civil service and management of the state’s school of Health Technology. Speaker Luke said the interface was necessary as the House needed expert input into the Akwa Ibom state School of Health Technology Bill. The bill is aimed at giving legal backing to the Akwa Ibom state school of Health Technology Established, Etinan, in 1988.