AKWA IBOM @33: HAS GOV UDOM FAILED?
Many people will have diverse interesting things to say or write about Akwa Ibom State and her people, some of such would be the lineage of an impactful leadership we’ve had since the returned of democracy in 1999, hospitality, accommodating, peaceful, United, boldness, amongst others.
Shortly after the returned of democracy in 1999, Akwa Ibom State and her people was blessed to have a Pathfinder, architect of the modern goodwill, ambassador of peace, Obong Victor Bassey Attah as their governor who governed for eight years.
Obong Attah’s regime was marked with great achievements, even in the face of scarce resources. With the little resources that was endowed on the state, Obong Attah was able to run some impactful schemes which touched the lives of people across the state. Some of these programs were the introduction of the free education policy for primary school pupils to students in Junior school one to three, as well as payment of National Examination Council, NECO exams fee to all senior secondary three students across the state.
In all the 31 local government Areas of the state, Obong Attah was able to situate a security estate of two bedrooms flat. This estate was made to serve as a shelter for the head of police force, State security service operating in each of the local government Areas, as well as Executive Chairmen, Vice Chairmen, Councillors, Secretary, and Head of Personnels of councils. Obong Attah designed this plan in order to reduce some costs on the Local Government administrators.
Obong Attah is regarded as the father of the modern-day Akwa Ibom because in his days as governor, he had projected the future of the state in a map where all governors after him followed. He made sure that the scarcity of funds didn’t stop him from laying a good foundation with which others after him would build on. With the lean resources at his disposal, he was able to construct quality roads which are still in excellent conditions till date. Majority of the projects executed by the successive governments are the ideas he left behind.
One of the achievements of the Architect of goodwill was peace and security. The state was a safe harbor for tourists and visitors who needed a peaceful environment to thrive. Obong Attah would have had great achievement in infrastructure, but because he relied on his closest associates, he didn’t care to follow up contracts after they were awarded to the companies involved. 90% of the companies he used were local companies, and they were owned by politicians. These people escaped after the disbursement of funds to their companies, and before the then governor could realize, it was late. Another thing that was discovered in Attah’s regime was the embezzlement of public funds by public officer holders. it was like a norm for them.
After Obong Attah came Chief Godswill Akpabio whose 8years tenure was tagged “uncommon transformation”.
Chief Akpabio who was a Commissioner in Attah’s led administration, after his emergence as governor in 2007 did not need to consult expertriates for guidance on how to smoothly run the government, and to also initiate life touching projects. Because he was part of the government before 2007, Akpabio understood what was needed to change the narratives about the state, and again, what also served as his advantage was the fact that his tenure was blessed unlimited resources.
He was the first and greatest beneficiary of the onshore and offshore dichotomy fight which his predecessor fought for more than six years. Obong Attah was like the Moses while Akpabio took the place of Joshua in the Bible.
While Moses fought for the children of Israel to successful move to the land God promised them, he saw the said land but couldn’t enter into it: Joshua was made the new Leader of the Israelites. A similar scenario occured in 2007: Obong Attah spent his entire days as governor fighting for the rectification of the onshore/offshore dichotomy for the Niger Delta states, but his tenure elapsed before the Federal Government could heed to the struggle.
Chief Akpabio’s administration was marked with intense and aggressive infrastructural development across the state. He was nicknamed the “Uncommon Transformer” because within few months in office as governor, he was able to spread road construction projects across the state. Even areas that no one dreamt could have a tarred road in the next 100years were outrightly dualized.
Because there was unlimited availability of resources, Akpabio executed projects of great importance in the 21st century. From the construction of the Ibom E-library, International airport, international stadium, Tropicana shopping center, the new Government House Complex, and hundreds of roads across the state, he ensured that boys were transformed to men. Some people nicknamed him “a miracle worker” because no one can see him and return to live the kind of life he was living. Akpabio will sure change his life that even his children-children will come to feel the impact of that encounter.
While his era was filled with milk and honey, it’s on record that it was the worst in terms of peace and security. There were a lot of politically motivated kidnapping, assassination, thuggery, and patronage of cultism. Also, there was a highly level of promiscuity, and financial misappropriation. Occasionally, the then coordinating Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala had lamented that if only Akpabio had used 20% of the resources at his disposal to execute projects, the state would have been better and beautiful than Dubai.
In May 29th 2015, a technocrat, Mr. Udom Emmanuel took the mantle of leadership from his predecessor, Chief Godswill Akpabio.
As a director of one of the most renowned financial institutions in the country, the expectations on the governor was exceedingly high. Everyone expected him to reign in the footstep of his predecessor, but what we couldn’t get right is the fact that every man can never be the same. Every leader has his separate leadership style.
When Deacon Udom Emmanuel came onboard, one of the things he did was to end insecurity in the state. Cultism which was a medium of getting into the corridors of power was proscribed, promiscuity sent to its grave, while politically motivated kidnapping and killing were eternally banished. What this denotes is that these vices can never find their way into the state again, not even in the dream.
Gov. Emmanuel has changed the status of Akwa Ibom, from a civil service state which only depends on monthly allocation from FAC, to an industrial hub. One which has housed investments from both indigenes and foreigners.
It’s crystal clear that the governor has kept to his campaign promises of 2015, which industrialization was one. From virtually nothing, the governor has made available over 22 new industries in the state. From the King’s flour mill which is the biggest flour producing mill in Nigeria, to the coconut refinery, Jubilee Syringe manufacturing company which is the biggest in West Africa, Plywood Factory, Fertilizer blending plant, Tissue paper producing company, Toothpick/Pencil factory, the refurbished peacock paint factory, amongst others, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has boosted the state’s economy and has also created employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed.
To further eradicate the unemployment menace in the State, the state governor has brought in a Vehicle Assemble Plant to the state. The Assembling Plant whose employment projection rallies within 5000-6000 will be commisioned by first quarter of next year.
The governor has not only built industries, he has complemented his industrialization strive with infrastructural development across the state. In the last five decades, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has constructed a total of 1700km of roads across the state.
The much talked about Uyo-Ikot Ekpene which was abandoned by the previous dispensation even after funds were released, has been constructed, nearly to be completed. The last I checked, it was 95% done. Another road construction project that’ll be of great economic viability after completion is the ring road3 in Oron road. The road which leads to Nwaniba, Uruan, Oron, Abak road, Aka road, etc is one that will help in inter/intra market activities.
In the aviation sector, Akwa Ibom is ranked the first in Nigeria, and one of the best in West Africa. With the establishment of Ibom Air, the first state owned airline in Africa, which has a total of five aircraft all procured by the state government has positioned Akwa Ibom state on the table of men.
In the health sector, governor Emmanuel has achieved beyond doubt. From the reconstruction and equipping of about 18 general and cottage hospitals in the state, the governor has built and inaugurated a 300-bed infectious disease control center (isolation center), which also has a testing laboratory. This laboratory few days back was ranked the best in West Africa by the World Health Organization.
The completion agenda of the Akwa Ibom governor would be considered incomplete if I fail to mention the agricultural revolution currently witnessed in the State. From giving of grants to Farmers to help boost their production, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has ensured that government while encouraging the citizens to fall back to agriculture which was a norm in our society decades ago, has ensured that it enters into agriculture also. This, the government is currently planting tomato in a seven hectares of land, and its projection is to plant same product in 100hectares by December this year. According to the governor, this is to help achieve the food sufficiency dream of the present state government.
With all these and more yet to be written, one could see clearly that Gov. Udom Emmanuel has not failed. He’s championing the course better than it was left behind by his predecessors. So referring the governor to as an incomplete being and failure by some faceless clowns is clear revelation of bitterness taken too far.
Umani Uwemedimo, a public affairs analyst writes from Uyo.