Charles Udoh, the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Akwa Ibom State.
The Akwa Ibom State government has condemned negative reports about the state, saying that no phony statistics or outlandish assessment will derail it.
It said the recent barrage of questionable statistics released by some otherwise reputable national agencies, including the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), raised a lot of concerns about the professionalism and intentions of such agencies.
A statement yesterday by the state Commissioner for Ministry of Information & Strategy, Charles Udoh, said: “It is more of grave concern that the Federal Ministry of Education was also quoted to have joined the foray by asserting incorrectly that Akwa Ibom is one of the states with the highest number of out-of-school children.
“Before then, the report listing Akwa Ibom as the state with the highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS was not just hilarious but clearly depicted the skewed and malicious intent of the proponents of the orchestrated reports. From all indications, there are more of such scripted reports and phony statistics being brewed.
“We are inclined to believe that the latest deluge of negative reports about Akwa Ibom State is an orchestrated smear campaign aimed at putting clogs in the wheels of the state government’s glorious march towards transforming the state into a destination of choice.
“In one of such reports, Akwa Ibom was listed as one of the states with the highest unemployment rate of 37.7 per cent (1,357,754) in the third quarter of 2018. The same report contradicted itself by stating that between third quarter of 2017 and third quarter of 2018, Akwa Ibom was one of only nine states to record a reduction in their unemployment rates despite an increase in the national unemployment rate.
“It is instructive to note that between 2015 and 2019, the NBS has, at various times, listed Akwa Ibom as the state with the highest volume of Foreign Direct Investment in Nigeria only behind the commercial capital of Nigeria. During the same period, Akwa Ibom has been one of a handful of states in Nigeria to offer its citizens and residents within school age free and compulsory education at primary and secondary levels, including a yearly average of N600 million expenditure on payment of WAEC fees for indigenes.
“In just four years, the state has attracted 16 industries across various sectors, with an impressive value chain that provides direct and indirect employment. These industries have elevated the socio-economic life of their host communities by alleviating poverty, creating wealth and jobs.”
“Also worthy of mention is the fact that the job creation agenda of the Akwa Ibom State Government encapsulates youth empowerment and capacity building. So far, more than 30,000 youths have been trained in various vocational and entrepreneurial skills while over 317, 000 people have benefited from the state government funded interest-free loan scheme for small scale entrepreneurs and traders.”
“From all indications, these remarkable landmark strides by the Akwa Ibom State Government have obviously been swept under the carpet by political antagonists whose only preoccupation is to mudsling and cast aspersions on efforts of the state government.