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The Commissioner for Works in Akwa Ibom State, Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, has called on Akwa Ibom people to identify and criticise any of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s aides who have failed in their official duties before blaming the governor for it.

Mr Inyang-Eyen, who hails from the same Onna Local Government Area with Mr Emmanuel, is a long-standing friend of the governor. He is one of the most influential commissioners in Mr Emmanuel’s administration.

“If the aides that have been given assignment on different locations have failed, Governor Udom Emmanuel is not a spirit to be everywhere every time,” Mr Inyang-Eyen said on Friday in an interview with an online TV, One-on-one with David D’Genius. “What we do is that we should learn to blame our own sons and daughters who have made the man’s job difficult.”

“Udom Emmanuel is working for the good of the people, sincerely. And if there are gaps, we should look for the aides who has caused the problem.

“Governor Udom Emmanuel wouldn’t have sat here to build this structure, he sent me. So, if I fail they should come to me first before they blame the governor.”

The “structure” Mr Inyang-Eyen is referring to here is the new 300-bed isolation centre the state government is building at the General Hospital, Ituk Mbang, Uruan. The interview was done at the construction site.

There are already two existing isolation centres in Akwa Ibom.

The commissioner’s comment is a rare one, coming from a top official of an administration that is considered to be averse to criticism.

A sports reporter, Kufre Carter, is currently being held in the custody of Nigeria’s secret police, SSS, Uyo, after he was charged with defamation and accused of “castigating” the Commissioner of Health, Dominic Ukpong’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Akwa Ibom State.

Most of Governor Emmanuel’s aides have been facing series of attacks lately, especially on social media, over their performance.

Mr Iyang-Eyen said Mr Emmanuel just handed him an instruction to build the isolation centre without giving him any design or specifications, but that he raised the project to a completion stage before he knew the governor’s “taste”.

The commissioner said it was okay for him to be referred to as Mr Emmanuel’s hatchet man provided what they mean is that he is capable of interpreting and executing the governor’s vision for the development of Akwa Ibom State. “But if it is any other dirty thing, I don’t know what they mean by hatchet man’s job,” he said.

He said he is always ready to take it up with people whenever he hears them make “bad comments” against the governor. “I take them up because I have the facts, I know who he is. It is not about what you think, it is about what is on the ground.”

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