While the budgetary allocation to the office of the Secretary-General of the Federation (SGF) has set the tongues of Nigerians and most Akwa Ibomites wagging due to the humongous sum allotted to it, little did Nigerians know that the Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State government Mr Emmanuel Ekuwem, was already geared up in setting a new record in budget padding.
Not minding our previous report which saw the state’s Judiciary budgeting the sum of N1,042,000,000 for the purchase of exotic cars for various Judicial officers, the SSG Mr Emmanuel Ekuwem we learned perhaps poised on showing his supremacy in the act of outrageous budgeting, earmarked a ballooned sum of N5,735,000,000 (Five Billion Seven Hundred and Thirty-Five Million Naira) for purchase of vehicles for his office members.
According to the approved State budget N1,075,000,000 (One Billion Seventy Five Million Naira) was approved for 50 Toyota Corollas, N1,000,000,000 (One Billion Naira) for the purchase of 15 Toyota Land Cruisers and another N738,000,000 and N755,000,000 set aside for the purchase of fifteen (15) Toyota Prado Jeeps TXL and Five (5) Security Jeeps respectively amongst others amounting to over N5,735,000,000 (Five Billion Seven Hundred and Thirty Five Million Naira).
A detailed search on some of the car brands revealed that the actual cost of a Toyota corolla is about N7,000,000 (Seven Million Naira), N1,44,00,000 (Fourteen Million, Four Hundred Thousand Naira) for a Toyota Prado TX-L 2018 model while a Toyota Land Cruiser sells for about N43,000,000 (Forty-Three Million Naira) among others.
This online medium auto market survey reveals the cost of 50 Toyota Corollas to be about N350,000,000 (Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) with the difference of N725,000,000 padded for its purchase by the SSG’s office, 15 Toyota Prado TX-L 2018 model being sold at N216,000,000 (Two Hundred and Sixteen Million Naira) also showed a difference of N522,000,000 from the amount in the budget while 15 Land Cruisers at about N645,000,000 (Six Hundred and Forty-Five Million Naira) showed that N355,000,000 (Three Hundred Fifty-five Million Naira) was also topped and approved for the same office.
SecretReporters also gathered that going for professional courses will cost Akwa Ibomites another whopping sum of N400,000,000 (Four Hundred Million Naira) under the office of the SSG for Induction courses, workshops and seminars for political office holders in government as against N25,000,000 (Twenty-Five Million Naira) allocated for the same purpose in the 2018 budget, an increment of 1500%.
While Akwa Ibomites are still in awe as to why they are yet to see the impact of the supposed N672 billion budget of industrialization approved by the Governor Udom led government, little did they know that the budget which is evidently heavily padded had over N2,500,000,000 (Two Billion Five Hundred Million Naira) earmarked for Maintenance and Repair of the State’s official Aircraft under the office of the SSG.
Mr Emmanuel Ekuwem who had initially earmarked a staggering N400,000,000 (Four Hundred Million Naira) for Hosting and Co-ordination of Special Events in the state including democracy day went ahead to allocate another N400,000,000 (Four Hundred Million Naira) for Important Anniversary Celebration like the Nigerian Independence day celebration. This has left many wondering the difference between the two events.
It is believed that this alleged budget padding exhibited by Mr Ekuwem Emmanuel may just be a confirmation of his indictment in the case involving the Director and Project Manager of Akwa Ibom State Agency for Control of AIDS (SACA) Mr Nkereuwem Akpan, who was recently arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following embezzlement of over N24.6 Million allegedly sent to her by the SSG.