HON. SUNDAY ACHUNEKANG, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FINANCE AND APPROPRIATION
What is your experience so far compared to previous public offices you have held as two-time Chairman of Obanliku Local Government and Commissioner for Rural Infrastructure, Management and Training? Yeah, thank you very much, first of all welcome to my humble office, it’s been interesting so far. Being here, what came to my mind on assumption of office was that legislative work was something similar to councillorship (which is where I cut my first political teeth)… As God may have it, I have grown in confidence (from being elected a two-time Chairman of Obanliku Local Government Council to being appointed) a commissioner under this dispensation by His Excellency,
Senator Prof. Ben Ayade… for two years… These two arms of government, the Legislature and Executive, the difference is far apart. It contrasts… the fact that policies and goals of the dispensation (are applicable) in overseeing
the affairs of governance in the state. Our primary aim or function or goal of the Legislature is that of representation, that of making laws and oversight while that of the Executive is jurisdiction. I acted the other (side) as commissioner. I am (now) here about three months down the line, I can assure you that I am learning the roles and luckily too
I’m privileged to have a Speaker who is down-to-earth… and my other noble colleagues. And as you know, majority of the members of the House are those who have served in the 7th Assembly; this is the 9th Assembly. Some served in the 8th Assembly and they are here again. So, in fact they have laboured, they are privileged to (be involved again). It is already three months, so it won’t take long to know the rules (and) what to do… So I agree with you that what we (have experienced) is not wasted and I am happy, I’m here to participate in my own little way to ensure we
better the state and down here, we are blessed with one who is passionate and determined to drive the process… who
happens to be His Excellency, the Governor. I just loved him as commissioner, and saw his passion and that alone left me with courage and optimism. We are going to plead for patience to achieve before second
Our primary aim or function or goal of the Legislature is that of representation, that of making laws and oversight, while that of the Executive is jurisdictional
term of office. So like I said, set goals, like the policies we have agreed to engineer together to better the lives of the Cross River State (people) otherwise, the-day-to-day functions of government are different… are really different.
What do you perceive to be the state of the state’s finances? Recovering the state or serving the state, my brother, I can assure you by acceptance at this point in time, that CRS, as a state could have been bankrupt, CRS as a state could have been insolvent if not managed by the kind of person that we have as Governor considering his wisdom. He has been able to come up with (several initiatives to source money for the state to move forward) … He thinks and
reasons outside (the box). Most times (hearing him) in the EXCO,… I got consoled by the fact that he is chosen of God. As a committee, given some powers to encourage us on this (issue of the state of the state’s finances…) We intend to know the debt profile; we need to study all of those things and come out with modalities we can use… to make laws with over sighting (and) whatever we can do to encourage the Executive (led by the governor) that will help (to) boost our strength to enable us carry the projects we have already embarked (on) in the state. We are in partnership… How do you assess the performance of the state’s 2019 Budget and what are your expectations of that of 2020?
Yeah, like I say we put side by side what is urgent, it is a projection of what is going to achieve that takes the leading of your finances, but if you put side by side the things; the infrastructures, projects so far that has been put on ground… I think the governor has (tremendous support)… I don’t know how anybody could have done better… in terms of percentage, yeah percentage, if you insist… but (I) think this governor got credit which is far above 60 percent… he did well because you won’t appreciate (it) until you are right inside to (understand) the system, work
inside to see the way things are. (Operating a budget is like giving you five thousand naira (N5,000.00) (and you are)
expected to achieve a job of twenty thousand naira (N20,000.00). (Go) to work, (let’s see how) it works… Cross River State is working, he’s working and you know that he is paying salaries on or before the end of the month, each month
he pays salaries and (we) take this for granted.
Go to our neighboring state, salaries are being owed…just pay one for them to survive, parents are paying school fees… For each budgeting year that passes, he only sets and moves from level to level, and I assure you (at) the expiration of 2020 (and by) 2023, hopefully when he leaves office as Governor, things can only get better, we can only advance, attain highlife, you can be sure that the state has achieved things that are (sustainable), that can better
our lives (more) than when he assumed office. So I think 2020 will bring (a lot of) good to Cross River State much better than what 2019 gave us. What kind of laws would your House be making to ensure the survival and sustainability of the industries and projects that finances. (Finance) is the strength… of everybody, (and any administration). (With funds) you will be able to work… We realized it in that vein when we as (an) Assembly we try to look (at) the issue of Bakassi. Was what happened there right? We are looking at the oil wells (that the FG handed over) to Akwa-Ibom… If there is any way Cross River (could mitigate this) fundamental challenge, (we could muster) the strength (and of course) the intellectual (capacity to).
Thank you for this opportunity (to discuss) the issue that has to do with the state and to some extent my constituency. Through their votes, what they have put in place is not a wasted effort. All that is required is some form of patience (and) support and we are contributing ideas, prayers and encouragement… Persons put in place to drive the process are working and this is a very emotional matter and we are surely getting there. So one day, very, very soon, I can assure you that (before) the expiration of 2019, Cross River State will be better for us and to my constituency. I know how young I was (in) my first term as a chairman. I was 32 and so age has started adding wisdom… So if I think well when I first came and that (earned) me becoming chairman after being Councillor. (My predecessor
But I can assure you that this administration under the leadership of (both) Senator Ben Ayade and the Honorable Speaker will be diligent…
chairman. I was 32 and so age has started adding wisdom… So if I think well when I first came and that (earned) me becoming chairman after being Councillor. (My predecessor Rt. Hon. Moses Ucheche) was the leader of the house, and until I came to the Assembly, I did not know that the leader of the house (was such a big thing…) I’m just a floor member, but that notwithstanding, I’m connected to my people. To a larger extent, I know what they are expecting
to see, I make myself available, I do make myself very, very accessible and so we can interface at times and so
therefore there is no (need) telling lies… (as) every month we see ourselves (and assess our performance). So far (we are interacting well) with the people one-on-one on a daily basis. It will interest you to (know that through) my
being in the Assembly (I will explore my knowledge of the provisions) of the budget to ensure that certain things that we need as projects are) really put in place… So it is… expected back
We are looking at the oil wells (that the FG handed over) to Akwa Ibom State… If there is any way Cross River (could mitigate this) fundamental challenge, we have the strength (and of course) the intellectual (capacity to) do so.
home that when there’s a primary school that is no longer functioning, the (outdated) health facility and the bad road
that needs to be accessible to all the other (parts of the) community and connected to the outside world… (As a) systems man, I will let you know what’s going on in Calabar and… make sure that you can access me… I still have to ask my people to appreciate this whole time we share together. Whatever my abilities should also be assessed (with objectivity.) For me, I’m not relenting. I’m going to justify my mandate to the best of my ability. Thank you very