Friday’s presentation of two SUVs to Nigerian hip pop star, TuFace Idibia, and wife, Annie Macaulay, by Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio, at their traditional wedding, has got a lot of Nigerians railing at the profligacy of public officials.
Mr. Akpabio had stunned guests that thronged the Apostolic High School, Esit Urua Community venue, along Eket-Ibeno Road, for the traditional wedding of the celerity couple with the announcement of a donation of two brand new Toyota Prado SUVs to them.
The lucky couple are also to travel in the luxury of the company of 29 delegates from Akwa Ibom to the United Arab Emirate, UAE, courtesy of the governor, who also promised to throw the state’s treasury open to bankroll an all-expense paid trip for the white wedding scheduled for March 23 in Dubai.
The Eket-Ibeno Road, which has remained in a bad state for a long time, is to be fully rehabilitated before the next child dedication ceremony of the couple, the governor said.
Although a couple of loyalists commended the governor, commonly derisively called “the uncommon transformer” in the state, for his reckless spending of state funds, a cross-section of other Nigerians have described the gesture as “misplaced priority”, “wasteful” and “abuse of public trust” in the management of state resources.
A return ticket, Lagos-Dubai-Lagos, on Emirates flight is about $806 (about N126,542.00) for one person; and when multiplied by at least 35 people, made up of the 29 delegates, the couple and their parents, or representatives, the total cost for tickets and other protocol arrangements, like visa application fees, would be about N5million.
It is not clear if the governor would prefer a chartered flight arrangement or the use of his private jet to guarantee executive comfort for the delegation.
To take care of the transport and accommodation of the delegation, it is not also clear if the protocol arrangement would opt for an Executive Limousine option and a top of the range hospitality arrangement befitting the status of a pop star by going for a $2,000 per room per night lodging in a five-star hotel, which might cost about $300,000 (about N47 million) for at least a four-day stay.
Other exigencies, including at least $3,000 for each delegate as estacode ($105,000), about N16.5million, and other bookings for the wedding proper and reception, would gulp about N10million.
Conservative estimates show that by the time the couple returns to Nigeria at the end of the trip to Dubai, a minimum of N100million, including the cost of the two SUVs, would have gone from the state treasury for the project.
For Mr. Effanga, a donation of N100million to the University of Uyo would have gone a long way in relieving the university l of its funding constraint, which Vice Chancellor Comfort Ekpo, told the visiting Senate Committee on Education last week is affecting the development of the institution.
“If the amount to be spent on the ego trip to Dubai were to be invested in the provision of books to school libraries, medical facilities in hospitals or boreholes to communities in the state, including the musician’s new wife’s village, many citizens would derive more utilitarian value from the expenditure,” the activist noted.
By Abdulrahman Abdulmalik.