[MONDAY: DAY 12 CONSIDERING THE LEVEL OF AKWA IBOM ECONOMY-SUBSISTENCE, POLICY TARGETED AT THE POOR AND COST THE ECONOMY (=N=4.5 billion) FOR PRODUCTIVITY ALONE]
By Friday Udoh
We accord His Excellency, Deacon Udom Emmanuel, the Executive governor of Akwa Ibom State, the utmost respect due His person and to most extent his office as the Chief Economic, security and accounting officer superintending the economy, security and financial matters in the state. To some degree, the recent ban on the operation of commercial motorcyclists popularly refers “Okada’” across the three Local Government Areas in the State , namely, Eket, Ikot Ekpene and Uyo as announced by the State Public Officer, DSP Odiko McDon hitherto coupled with the hasty implementation of the policy considered as a repressive, calls our attention, ostensibly in view of the absence of appropriate programs and especially in Eket and Ikot Ekpene, put in place by the government to alleviate, compensate or cushion the policy’s effect on the vulnerable comprising population living below poverty thresholds as 82.5 per cent leaves within subsistence wage.
Nevertheless we are not pretending ignorance on the fact of responsibility lies ahead of state governors as the chief security vis-a-vis chief economic and accounting officers of states given extant provisions, as capped in Section 14 (2) (a)(b)which identifies safety and security of life and property to constitute among the primary responsibility of government at all levels. This same provision makes citizen’s well-being important in governance. Hence, there is need to balance security policy with citizens’ well-being.
Accordingly, we are appealing to the state government and the police authority in the state to suspend the clam-down on motorcycle operators in the affected local government council and more; especially Eket and Ikot Ekpene where there exists no program to mitigate the suffering of its people, ceteris paribus. Our position is based on the following:
i. The economic environment in respect of Eket and Ikot Ekpene is at subsistence altitude with Eket having upper hand. it is the informal sector that thrives in the two council areas. By implication, the clamp-down have subjected over 82.5 per cent of the population to a great danger contrary to enforceable governed and governed contract.
ii. That the total working population in Eket including dependents L.G.A (Esit Eket, ONNA, Eastern Obolo and Mpat Enin) constitutes 75 per cent comprising Okada, Traders, workers of Hotels, shops etc which earnings averaged N 631 per day as Ikot Ekpene with adjoined Local Government Areas (Obot Akara and Essien Udim.
Notably, 90 per cent of the working population \in these areas (less Abak) earns an average of N 631 per day hitherto the income quartile earned by these population to some degree translates to 50 per cent lost in productivity while the clam-down last premised on the fact that most of affected population are predominantly traders or engaging on businesses which placed them on advantage in term of hour of specific, but legitimate business which to some extent fall within 5.30 am ditto 6pm till 9pm. More especially as people visits shops / or markets at the close of work considering starting from 4pm with corresponding increase in traffic-transportation service demand largely by low income earners.
iii. Correspondently this translates to a loss of N 378,428,820 per day to these LGA’s and the state economy for seven consecutive days since the clamp-down started (Thursday, September, 26, 2019– Monday, October 9, 2019 912 days) ) translates to N4,542,857,142.9 (=N=4.5 billion) excluding patronage and related loses suffered by business, hotels etc.
iv. That the above population with no means of livelihood had to take a trade in commercial motor bike riding or other subsistence occupation-trades for their well-being and for upkeep of their dependants and to cushion the effect of the under- employed living with them even as these ones cannot afford to loose their means of livelihood through this unfathomed decision which is clearly unsympathetic to the harsh economic reality. Inextricably, this population cannot save for car or other businesses nor could spend to access services of taxis, and especially in Eket or at Ikot Ekpene were such services are non -existent.
v. That the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria accedes right on citizens for government to gather and give adequate consideration to the well-being of its citizens as such government under whatever reasons deemed obligated not to abuse either through instrumentation of authority to abuse the right of its citizens, “providing adequate facilities for and encouraging free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the federation”, section 16 (a) cited.
vi. That transportation system is supposedly, considered a public good, especially in an economy that its greater population leaves within subsistence and below poverty. Given the reclusive approach in sharing public wealth, to the same degree their income is not sustainable and supposedly receiving the attention of the government underlying the prominence of Section 16 (1) (b). Similarly following this repressed trend, the attributes of sustainable transportation system is compromised thus questioning the concept of affordability understandably an income disposed by a household or individuals in accessing transportation service without being deprived of other essential needs. In like manner the population is forced to abandon their legitimate businesses; trade and other legal form of engagements for the ill-implemented policy.
vii. That to the greater extent the institution of government need to be viewed as fair, efficient and inclusive which this very exercise is significantly bereft. In the same manner subjecting the policy to the economic efficiency principle at common law justifies why the policy should be suspended pending when palliative programs are put in place.
Also, the police on this matter should reconsiders using force on the citizens, even though we are not against the policy there must be a visible alternative mean of transportation, except but few presently available and operating long haul (distant).
Equal concern and respect for others is a fundamental moral value for all to exhibit, therefore we call on the governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel to respect the right of its people and suspend forthwith, pending when palliative program is being put in place withal, as the security solution does not depend on one single approach, in similar manner the state government as well as security agencies including Nigerian Police Command, Akwa ibom state command should reach out to a wider spectrum including economic and social strategy to curtaining and managing vulnerabilities in the state.
.Udoh is Chief Coordinator, South-South Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria (ICEN)