“Akwa Ibom is blessed”, said Kevin Eluchie, a widely travelled Imo State indigene who resides in Lagos. The lawyer who is a notable critic of government added, “You people are transiting from one performing administration to another. Your people are very discerning to have elected Akpabio and now Udom”, Eluchie told yours truly.
But Eluchie is not alone in this conclusion. He is certainly echoing the views of a broad spectrum of people who have analyzed the strides the state has made in the last eight years with an open mind. Adewale Oshinowo who did his National Youth Service in Akwa Ibom State in 1995 and has been a frequent visitor to the state since then hailed the transformation that has swept across the state. He said that while Lagos where he is resident revamped existing infrastructure, Akwa Ibom built its own from the scratch noting that this has happened only in the last eight years. He lauded the people for their foresight in electing the man that has come to earn the sobriquet of uncommon transformer and Governor Udom Emmanuel whom he said possesses the pedigree to sustain the gale of transformation that is ripping though the state.
The views of the two gentlemen are nothing but the truth. For some of us that fate exposed to wide travelling and exposure, we are lucky to be equipped with the parameters of assessing governments. The two gentlemen are as equipped. If some of us take a trip to even neighbouring states, we would be able to appreciate the difference and accept that we have indeed been lucky. Perhaps that would de-emphasize the bandying of specious figures of how much was collected while being blinded to the magnitude of physical development that surround us. It would stir in us a sense of gratitude that at last, we have left the prescriptive label of a backwater state and ascended an enviable portal of first among equals in the comity of states in Nigeria.
The transition from Akpabio to Udom can be equated to what football analysts often refer to as wining back to back. The world adjudged Akwa Ibom a winner in the era of Akpabio. It seems to be saying, go on, you would win again as Udom’s era unfolds with blazing radiance. This encouragement is not in isolation. It has taken cognizance of pedigree, accomplishments, blue-print as laid out and actions as so far initiated. From the get go, Udom has shown that he is on a mission and that he would be judged by the quality of service he delivers to the people and how same has improved their lot. He also understands the enormous task before him even in the face of dwindling finances. But he is undaunted. As a finance expert he is at home with such challenges and knows how to navigate such thorny waters.
In the last one month, Governor Udom Emmanuel has kept the engine of governance roaring to the delight of those who appreciate committed public service. Armed with a manual of his campaign promise and ready to add even more items to it, he exudes the prospect of toeing the path of his predecessor in redefining governance. Recently, he had discussions with the management of the company in charge of electricity and elicited a promise of steady power supply in the state. He stated that in the next fortnight, about 20 megawatts of electricity would be added to existing outlay noting that this would improve supply significantly. He assured that electricity supply would improve to enable people who engage in small scale businesses to operate successfully at minimal cost and hitch to reduce overhead cost and increase earnings. Governor Udom further assured the people that public taps which had become relics of history in the state would begin to work again. The governor noted that it was already working in Shelter Afrique axis as water supply to the public has been fully restored in the area.
During campaigns, Udom Emmanuel told the people of Akwa Ibom that the thrust of his administration would be industrialization. As a government that intends to work the talk, his policies are raring in the area of realization of this all important goal. For instance, he has set up a 10-man Technical Committee of men and women of proven integrity for the realization of Ibaka Deep Seaport with former Maritime Academy and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Director-General, Barrister Mfon Usoro as the chairman. Also, as a way of opening up the state and encouraging investors, he has set up an 11-man Technical Committee on Foreign Direct Investments with an internationally celebrated auditor, Mr. Gabriel Ukpeh as the head. Mr. Ukpeh is a partner as Risk Quality Leader for Africa at Price Water House Cooper (PWC). Some of the members like Akan Udofia, Larry Esin and Mr. Udeme Uffot etc are people whose valuable global contacts would be leveraged on to improve the economic fortunes of the state.
In furtherance of his determination to ensure that Akwa Ibom youths are meaningfully engaged, the governor has proposed to train 1,000 youths from the state in Oracle Database Software Management to avail them with knowledge that would make them self reliant. He has pledged to send about 100 indigenes of the state to Israel to acquire skills on mechanised farming as well as fulfill their spiritual quest of Christian Pilgrimage. It is believed that when these youths are well trained, they would return to add value to the mechanised agricultural revolution that government is enunciating as a policy.
A timeline of end of July has been put for the commencement of the training to underscore government’s seriousness. The administration has also upped the ante of its seriousness by setting up a 10-man Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency headed by Prof. Edet Udo with a corporate guru, Udom Inoyo of Exxon Mobil as vice chairman. This approach is in sync with the governor’s campaign promise in which he identified areas within the state which he said would become food baskets not only for the state but also for the nation.
Governor Udom Emmanuel’s early strides clearly illustrate a man who came into government prepared. It is obvious that he is not in government just for the sake of power but to identify ways of how power can be translated for the benefit of the people of the state and mankind in general. But those who indulge and practice cynicism have chosen to remain blind to these steady strides of hope and bright prospects. Let us reinvent our sense of community in acknowledgement that an Akwa Ibom that suffers arrested development on account of political bickering would be our Akwa Ibom of arrested prosperity.
Joe Iniodu is a public affairs commentator