Forum of Civil Society Organisations in Akwa Ibom State have asked the Akwa Ibom State Government to reconsider her decision in creating a merger between the ministries of Women Affairs and Agriculture. As part of the developments following the recent appointment of Commissioners which gave room for the merging of some of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
Arising from a press statement made available Monday 21st July, 2019 on behalf of the civil Society Organisations by Mr. Harry Udoh, Chairman of Akwa Ibom Civil Society Organisations Forum at a press briefing in Uyo, has expressed the forum’s dissatisfaction over the recent merger of Ministries by Governor Udom Emmanuel, saying it needs to be urgently revisited.
It stated that the two Ministries are two big sectors that needs to operate as different entities and not be merged to operate as one, noting that Agriculture is a big sector not only at the national level but also in Akwa Ibom State that needs special attention.
A part of the press statement reads as thus “We are not certain that agriculture might receive priority attention when it is merged with another portfolio. Such a merger can only diminish the attention that the sector can receive within the policy and fiscal space of the current administration”
He stated further that the merging of the Ministries of Agriculture and that of women Affairs will not give the state government the needed focus in projecting and promoting social developments, policy inclusion, and gender equality as in line with the Federal Government policies and programmes
“In line with the National Gender Policy, the Ministry of Women Affairs at the state level is the focal point of the National Gender Machinery in the state and the hub for gender mainstreaming across MDA(s) and government programmes. By annexing this important Ministry to the Agriculture ministry in Akwa Ibom, the state government seems to be serving notice that it is discontinuing the implementation of the NGP in Akwa Ibom, with possible negative consequences for our state’s eligibility for a number of international donor-funded programmes.”
The group observed that the current decision of the state to merge both ministries of women Affairs and Agriculture can pose a threat to the state from enjoying partnerships and support from world donor agencies to her programmes and policies in women advocacy “The current merger effectively throws this social development function of the Ministry below the radar, leaving the teeming masses of vulnerable children and People living with efficiency without an official address in government. Overall, this action could inadvertently portray the government as one that undervalues women, children and persons with disability.”
Furthermore, the statement reads that the merger of both ministries may inadvertently pose a budget tracking debacle for the 2019 appropriations, considering that budgets had already been made for the merged ministers as sperate entities.
The CSO(s) forum further urged government to put in place clear mandates and strategies for the operations of the merged ministries, while ensuring one ministry do not eclipse the other. The group asked that the state government should ensure budgetary allocations to the merged ministries do not fall below what it should be if the Ministries were to operate alone and not as mergers.
The group applauded the government for the creation of fresh ministries which include the Ministry of Labour and Manpower Planning, and exclusion of the Water Resources from the Political and Legislative Affairs Bureau where it was hitherto domiciled. It stated that the later would address the State’s current penchant for political development as well as improved plans on inclusion of her citizens in her developmental strides, especially in light of the current administration’s industrialization agenda and redress the huge neglect that the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector has suffered in the state for nearly a decade respectively.
Finally, Civil Society organisations Forum in Akwa Ibom State through Mr. Harry thanked the Governor who has been resilient in his drive to develop the State, while also praying the good Lord to grant him grace and wisdom to lead Akwa Ibom to the land of her promise