Cross River State Commissioner for Finance, Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr is currently trending but not for a good reason.
The Harvard trained financial expert was celebrated to the high heavens when he was appointed Finance Commissioner with the hope that he was going to utilize his sophisticated intellectual background for the benefit of Cross River State. However, recent happenings in the financial fortune of the state has opened up the lapses of the young commissioner leading to series of attacks from bloggers and public affairs analysts from the state.
In a writeup titled “Still On Cross River Finance Commissioner, Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr – Lest, We Forget”, Citizen Agba Jalingo has this to say:
Several stakeholders have been calling out the young Cross River state Finance Commissioner, Asuquo Ekpenyong jr, after Cross River and eleven other states missed out of the World Bank-assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) program.
Cross River and the other states failed to secure the SFTAS benefits because they failed to publish their annual appropriation law and audited financial statements virtually within the time frame stipulated by the SFTAS Program Operation Manual (POM).
The federal government had disbursed the sum of N43.42 billion (about $120.6 million) to 24 eligible states because of their achievements under SFTAS program.
There are Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) derived from the country’s 22-point Fiscal Sustainability Plan and the 14 Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments which aim to strengthen fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainable development across the 36 states of the federation.
The DLIs which eligible states recorded to receive the grants include achieving improved financial reporting and budget reliability; increased openness and citizens’ engagement in the budget process; improved cash management, reduced revenue leakages through the implementation of Treasury Single Account (TSA), strengthened Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection; biometric registration and Bank Verification Number (BVN) used to reduce fraudulent activities around the payroll, all of which Cross River, under the Finance Commissioner Asuquo Ekpenyong, failed woefully to meet.
But that shouldn’t come as a surprise for those who have been following events in the State since the inception of this administration. Such pundits should have been aware of the opaque and haphazard way our finances have been managed under Ayade and Asuquo and how we have been diverted from a tradition of established inclusive and transparent budgeting processes to copying and pasting bogus budget figures that really mean nothing. An unserious, cocky, know-it-all team that doesn’t want the public to get a glimpse of their mismanagement are on the driving seat and the results are only commensurate with the quality of persons in office.
This same State Finance Commissioner, Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr, is so unperturbed about State matters that he had turned down appearing on a radio program; on Hit 95.9 FM Calabar to discuss the 2017 State Budget and opted for singing karaoke in his father’s, Channels View Hotel that same evening. That is how unimportant he takes state affairs. So aloof, cocky and feeling that he doesn’t owe us any explanations.
Mr. Ekpenyong had being invited to join the Special Adviser Budget, Mr. Moses Onoh; the then Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Honorable Eteng Jones; Development Expert, Pamela Braide and the Chief Economic Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade, Mr. Francis Ntamu on December 3, 2017 but “Did not return calls nor acknowledge text messages to him”. While all others turned up.
That same evening, the father’s hotel, Channels View posted a short Instagram video of him and Inyanya singing Cool and the Gang’s 1981 hit song “Get Down On It” and drinking whiskey in their karaoke night.
Click link to read the report:
That’s is not all o.
Four days after my arrest last year, the same Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr. called and threatened Goddie Akpama, a politician and activist, who openly accused him of being the one who came to Lagos to arrange the logistics of my arrest by the Police. An accusation I can personally confirm as true.
Akpama maintains that, “on the night of August 26, 2019 at about 9:01, 9:09 and 9:16pm my phone rang and I picked the second call at 9:09pm and heard a voice, my name is Asuquo Ekpeyong Jnr, and he went on…Why did you call my name? Who are you? We are all in Calabar and we shall see. We shall see.
“These were some of the words of (former) Cross River State Commissioner for Finance, Asuquo Ekpenyong jnr to me on the phone over a write up I did on Agba Jalingo’s persecution by the state government. I want to let the world know that I consider these words (WE SHALL SEE) a threat to my person.”
Read that story here:
That is the man they are tipping to become my governor, our governor come 2023?
A man who is already power drunk without power, threatening alternative and dissenting voices and working to get them rounded up, how will he behave when he gets power?
Na from shaking of head dance dey start. Let us see very early how this head is shaking, so we know whether we can sanction the dance.
In a related post on his social media page, the State Chairman of YPP, Comr. Anthony Bissong Atta equally lambasted the commissioner saying “Apart from being the conduit for financial recklessness in the State, we are now aware that he is responsible for the State losing over one billion naira ($3 million dollars) World Bank-assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Program for his inability to publish the State Appropriation Law and audited Financial Statement virtually within the stipulated time. While 24 States were able to access over 43 billion naira grant for their citizens, CRS and eleven others missed out of this largesse because of the ineptitude or otherwise of this fellow.
He added “Recall also that this same Commissioner is the brain behind the release of millions of naira as ‘loan’ to PDP Candidates in the now postponed Local Government Election in the State. (This one the make me laugh Sha).Unfortunately, the case would have been different if this World Bank-assisted funds were to go directly to the State Government account. They would have done everything possible to get the cash and possibly divert it as usual for personal use. Because the money was to assist individuals, they blew that great opportunity without any remorse. In saner climes, this upstart would have resigned before seeing this publication”.
On his part, a popular Public Affairs Analyst, Simon Utsu wrote: “So my state was among the 12 Nigerian states that recently missed out on a world bank grant due to fiscal recklessness/opaqueness. If our books were tidy & transparent, we would have gotten over a billion Naira for keeps. Akwa Ibom, Lagos and a number of the 12 states that missed out can afford to because they are rich(economically viable) states already but Cross River cant! We have a youthful commissioner who is more bothered about the state of his beards than the affairs of the state. His facial hair is either well groomed & oiled like rapper Rick Ross’s or well trimmed like singer Joe’s(like in this pic). Mr Sukky, look up and tell us why you’ve not made any impact in 5 years; stop staring at your macbook with so much seriousness- those who don’t know would think you’re visually analysing the 2020 budget but I can bet that you’re either watching Money Heist or Spongebob square pants.
He added “You need to tell us why Ayade shouldn’t redeploy you as Commissioner for Enjoyment and Merriment because its only during weddings and events that I see you come to life!”