AKWA IBOM IS RISING! FORWARD
EVER BACKWARD NEVER!
BEING THE TEXT OF THE BROADCAST BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MR. UDOM EMMANUEL, GOVERNOR, AKWA IBOM STATE ON THE OCCASION OF THE 7TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS ADMINISTRATION
My dear Akwa Ibomites, seven years ago, I stood before you and made a solemn pledge to serve you diligently, transparently, faithfully and with God as the bedrock of our governance ideals. It was to put it plainly, a distillation of the social contract with you my dear people.
It was a contract to move the lever of development and growth of our people and our State through industrialization and infrastructural renaissance using the three gateways of development: Land, Air and Sea. It was a contract to provide quality healthcare and quality education to our children in line with the realities of the 21st Century expectations.
It was a contract aimed at engendering a new order, to ignite entrepreneurial spirit in our people and show in practical terms that all we need to succeed and thrive is embedded in us, and that a reliance on government from cradle to grave was a self-limiting proposition that must and should be jettisoned.
It was a contract to dare and dream, to prove doubters wrong that even without controlling policies, where the passion is right and creativity shapes the heart and mind of a leader , great and enduring achievements can be made.
It was a contract to rewrite the Akwa Ibom story and raise the profile of our State as an emerging industrial hub. It was a contract to restore peace, civility and tolerance in governance by adopting the right tone and tenor in our daily engagements.
It was a contract to unite our people around common ideals; to chart a new course for ourselves, predicated on our shared values, orientation, ethos, ideals and abiding love. It was a call to ‘dakkada’ to the faith of our greatness.
Above all, it was a contract that was signed, overseen, and affirmed with ecclesiastical blessing and clarity since The Almighty God, alone, is the Author and Finisher of our undertakings.
Seven years later, to the glory of the One who Reigns Supreme, I can say boldly and satisfactorily, that we have delivered on the terms of the contract. Even our critics would agree, even if they won’t come out to say so publicly, that we have fulfilled the terms of the contract.
The Akwa Ibom fountain of growth is sprouting heavens-ward and is poised to soak us all, in growth and prosperity going forward. That is the verdict, the unvarnished truth and this verdict is sacrosanct. The facts and the evidence bear us out.
The First Term of the initial contract we signed with you, was predicated on Five critical points, of: Job Creation, Poverty Alleviation, Infrastructural Consolidation and Expansion, Wealth Creation and Economic and Political Inclusion.
We later expanded the above set of ideals into the 8-Point Completion Agenda comprising: Industrialization, Infrastructure, Aviation Development, Agriculture, Human Capacity Development, Security, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and Rural and Riverine Development.
All things considered, given the harsh economic tailwind that confronted us when we first came in, given the two recessions we experienced, given the one year the world stood still due to the Covid -19 pandemic, I make bold to say emphatically and unequivocally, that across sectors, we have done exceedingly well. As I said earlier this year, if we were to score ourselves, I still would give us 85 perrcent, and by the time we are done next year, that score would have inched up considerably.
In infrastructural expansion, we promised to consolidate and expand on the gains of that sector. Today, our achievements in that sector are all there for everyone to see. Let me start from the airport expansion project. I have always said it that the soul and character of a State and the people are shaped or gauged right from the port of arrival.
Let me quote from what the President of Confederation of African Football, (CAF), Patrice Motsepe, the South African billionaire, a man who has extensive business concerns in over 40 countries said on May 19th when he led other Presidents of African Football Associations on a Courtesy Call on me at the EXCO chambers of the Government House, said, to drive home what I meant above.
He had said and I quote “Your Excellency let me commend you for the world- class infrastructure I have seen here. When I arrived the airport and I was being driven to the city centre, I told myself that what I am seeing here compares to what I have seen in the developed world. The roads are world -class and I want to thank you, for your leadership and the peace you have ensured here, which is why we decided to come here.”
As one who has seen such developments elsewhere and what it does for the character of a city, I made the promise to expand the road leading to the city centre to an 8-lane boulevard. Today, work is seriously on-going and we hope to get the road commissioned before I leave office next year. The soul and the heart of our State right from the airport have been positively defined.
As you enter the city centre, you will soon be welcomed by a 10- lane fully lit and fully manicured boulevard that will, upon being commissioned would compare with any such major road in the world, the Idongesit Nkanga Avenue. This road, a hugely economically viable road, cuts the traffic into the city centre and shortens the travel time through the State either form Nnung Oku, in Ibesikpo Asutan or to Nwaniba Road, in the heart of the city.
Today, the value of landed property along that road has appreciated considerably. Those who own lands in the area are smiling to the banks as several commercial enterprises have started springing up. Wealth is being created, and that was what we promised our people in our initial Five Point Agenda.
The 29 kilometre Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road, that has been completed and commissioned is one of the most beautiful roads that connect our capital city to the Raffia City of Ikot Ekpene and the neighbouring states in the East. The increased volume of business has earned the people of that area, sustainable living. This, again ties into our wealth and poverty reduction agenda.
The Uyo-Etinan Road, a marvel to behold is almost 90 percent complete with a Bridge at Ekpene Ukpa, a masterpiece of design fully lit up. Today, goods and services are being transported seamlessly and painlessly along that corridor. The Ikot Oku Ikono Flyover, one of the longest in this part of our geo-political zone has been completed and commissioned. Etinan-Ndon Eyo Road, Eket-Etinan Road, as well as urban roads in in Oron, Eket and Ikot Ekpene and other localities have either been completed and commissioned or are currently on-going.
The glittering 21-Storey Dakkada Towers today stands tall as a testament to an emerging commercial city, and has helped define our skyline. Several multinational companies have signed leases, in their determined efforts to tap into the prosperity whose foundation we are currently laying.
All across the three senatorial districts, and the ten Federal constituencies, we have built roads, some have been commissioned, some are on-going and today, the State can be linked seamlessly through a rich network of commercially-viable roads. I cannot mention all the roads we have constructed, but soon, all the roads we have constructed, commissioned or have work on-going would be published in major newspapers, on the social media platforms, and other media channels so Nigerians would see what we have used the resources available to us, to achieve for our people. The perennial flooding along Nsikak Eduok, which before we came in, in 2015, made that road impassable whenever it rained, has been addressed. The IBB flood control – a huge project done in collaboration with the World Bank, is on-going.
In the power sector, we promised our people, Power for All by 2021. As I speak, out of the 2,274 gazetted villages in our State, only five percent remains yet to be hooked to the national grid, making us possibly the only State with such a record. We have invested hugely in the Ibom Power Plant and this is a sector that is very critical to our industrialisation efforts.
The second layer of our gateway to industrialisation and development is the Aviation industry. Fellow Akwaibomites, whether you agree with us politically or not, you will agree with us, that we have done a spectacular job in this sector. Today, Ibom Air, the legacy achievement in this sector, dominates the Nigerian aviation industry, a mere three years after it started commercial operations.
The establishment of Ibom Air, is a testament to creativity, to careful planning and the belief that where the passion is right, nothing can be impossible to achieve. When we mooted the idea of its establishment, many critics said it couldn’t be done, that a subnational cannot achieve what the government at the centre couldn’t pull off.
Today, Ibom Air with a fleet of 7 aircrafts, comprising 5 CRJ 900 Bombardier series and two brand new Airbuses A300-220 series with ten more brand new Airbuses soon to be added to its fleet, has raised the profile of our State, and has made the ease of doing business in our State, appealing.
It has provided jobs to hundreds of our people. Our youths are being trained in aircraft maintenance and in flying schools to become commercial pilots. Ibom Air represents and has made manifest the biblical assertion that “when men are cast down, then thou shalt say, there is lifting up…”
We are embarking on total aviation development. Our MRO, (Maintain, Repair and Overhaul) facility is 85 percent complete. Once commissioned, hopefully by October this year, this facility will again create jobs for our people and bring in foreign exchange to our State.
Our International Terminal, arguably the smartest and most intelligent in the nation is expected to be commissioned before I leave office. With the capacity to process over one million passengers a year, and fitted with the most current technology available, The Akwa Ibom Airport is poised to make our State an aviation hub in the Gulf of Guinea.
This facility has also provided hundreds of jobs to our teeming youths, and once completed, would add hundreds more, thus fulfilling one of the central campaign promises we made: Job creation. Our Taxiway, the longest in the nation’s aviation space, will soon be commissioned.
Fellow Akwaibomites, there is no doubt that in seven years, the story of our growth in the aviation sector is being written in golden lines and more chapters will be added. We should feel proud of this huge achievement.
The third leg of our industrialisation agenda was focused on Maritime Development. Today, the Ibom Deep Seaport, which was awaiting approval by the Federal Executive Council, has finally been approved, thus situating us on the path for the realization of this great and impactful project.
You will recall that upon being sworn in, one of the Technical Committees I had instituted was that of the realization of the Ibom Deep Seaport. We thank God, that we have finally gotten this process started and it is my hope the next administration will take this project further and ensure that with a shoreline of over 29 nautical miles, the Ibom Deep Seaport will move the economy of our State higher, create employment and wealth for our people and change the dynamics of growth and development of our people.
We promised to rapidly industrialize our State and change the narrative of her profile as a purely civil-service oriented State. Today, with two recessions and a pandemic, and in spite of the national security challenges, and our controlling monetary and fiscal policies, we have maintained peace in our State, which in turn has brought us Foreign Direct Investments which has helped inch us up according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) as the second destination for foreign investors.
The result of this, has been the establishment of such commercially viable industries and employment –generating industries such as the Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing company, the Kings Flour Mill, the Metering Solutions Company, our first of its kind in Nigeria nay Africa, the St. Gabriel Coconut Refinery which was commissioned a little over two weeks ago, the Lion Plywood Company, Rice Mill in Ini, the Fertiliser and Ammonia Plant, the Plastic Making Factory, the first of its kind Tissue Making Factory made from bamboo fibre, among others.
These industries have helped in translating our key vision which was to create wealth and job opportunities for our people. Today, through the value chain and direct employment opportunities, thousands of our people have been gainfully engaged.
Seven years ago, when we promised rapid industrialisation of our state, many did not believe us. Today, it has been promise made and promise kept. We will soon publish these industries and let the world see what we have used the resources of the State to do in lifting the economic profile of the State and water the seeds for future prosperity. Akwa Ibom is rising and there is no turning back. It is forward ever, backward never!
In the area of agriculture and food security, we have gain tackled this area holistically. One of the first assignments I performed upon being sworn in was to set up a Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency. Today, we have provided the enabling environment for staple foods to be readily available and at affordable price range. The Rice Mill in Ini has ensured the availability of rice at affordable price; several garri processing mills have also ensured that our people have this critical staple food readily available at an affordable price too. We are producing vegetables such as tomatoes and others which were hitherto thought impassible in these parts. This we have done with the realisation that government that is unable to feed her population can never appropriate the full potentials of the people.
We are providing soft loans to our farmers through the Ibom FADAMA Micro-Finance Bank aimed at strengthening the spirit of agricultural enterprises and the extension of advisory services. The essence here is to leverage on our comparative advantage and export our agricultural produce.
The recently commissioned coconut oil factory with a capacity to refine and process one million nuts per day is a testimony to our determination to strategically diversify our economy through agriculture. Today, jobs are being provided for hundreds of our people through the coconut plantations in Eastern Obolo, Mkpat Enin, and Okobo to feed our coconut Refinery in Mkpat Enin.
In healthcare delivery, we promised to reconstruct and rehabilitate the general hospitals in the ten Federal Constituencies and to improve both the primary and secondary healthcare services. Today, that promise, has been fulfilled. We have re-modelled and equipped with modern amenities that can compare to similar facilities anywhere in the world, general hospitals in Etinan, Iquita, Oron, Ikot Okoro, ONNA, Emmanuel Hospital, Eket, Ikot Ekpene General Hospital, Methodist Hospital, Ituk Mbang and the one in Ikot Abasi is currently on-going.
The Ibom Specialist Hospital has been made more functional with an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and other amenities added.
Our investments in the healthcare sector bore us out wonderfully well, during the Covid-19 pandemic when we were able to contain and manage the spread of the virus through the facilities we had already put on ground against such an outbreak of diseases.
The 300-Bed Infectious Diseases Control facility at Ituk Mbang complete with one of the largest oxygen plants in the nation has ensured that the mortality rate from that pandemic remains very low.
We are regularly training our healthcare professionals with new skills to bring them up to speed with the standards obtainable in the developed nation. A healthy citizenry, we have always maintained is a requirement for the industrial boom that will soon fill our land.
In the area of Human Capacity Development and Education, we have carefully rejigged and structured our curricular to reflect the realities of the Twenty First Century Information, Communication and technology (ICT) defined world. The world has moved beyond a mere possession of certificates or college degrees to having the attendant marketable skills-set to complement the degrees and certificates. I want to commend the works of our Education Think-Tank and the great recommendations they made towards improving and deepening our gains in this all-important sector.
We want our children to graduate from schools with the capacity to become entrepreneurs and employers of labour as opposed to waiting for jobs from government. The Skills Development Centre at lkot Adaidem will soon commence and we are determined to ensure that our youths have the skills-set to participating gainfully in the industrial revolution we are poised to experiencing in our State.
Facilities and conducive environment have been provided for our children to study and over two thousands new teachers have been employed to ensure that our children receive the best possible public education that money can buy. Today, our WAEC pass rate is about 85 percent, and we are determined to move that up.
We have provided electricity as I stated earlier to over 92 percent t of the villages in our rural and riverine areas alongside feeder roads. The strategic aim here is to curb rural to urban migration and to engender entrepreneurial spirit amongst our rural dwellers.
One of the major areas where we have, and continue to enjoy national acclaim is the peace and tranquillity we have enjoyed in this State for the past seven years. Let me use this opportunity to thank our security agencies, for the deep and abiding spirit of cooperation they have shown us, in this regard. We couldn’t have enjoyed this national acclaim without their willingness to buy into our vision.
Let me also commend and celebrate our resourceful youths for deciding to keep, maintain and sustain the peace, by shunning activities that would have imperilled our security and peace.
Today, our State is the first destination or recommended venue for important national seminars, people are flocking here daily, and our hotel occupancy rate most times is almost 100 percent. Investors are also, flocking to our State because peace brings development and on, this I want to thank our people for being great partners in ensuring that we remain what we have always been known for: Peaceful, hospitable and welcoming people.
We remain committed to encouraging and supporting our Small and Medium Scale enterprises as the engine of growth of any economy. The steps we have taken to make our State attractive to investors, the peace we enjoy and the hospitable and hard working nature of our people, their creativite energies, will ensure that we grow our economy.
Let me use this opportunity to celebrate our ascendancy in sports. Our football team, the Akwa United last year were the Nigerian Professional Football League Champions. Today, our stadium, the Nest of Champions, has lived up to its name. Through rigorous maintenance culture, we have turned that stadium to the preferred choice for most CAF competitions, including the CAF Confederation Cup finals between the Orlando Pirates of South Africa, and AS Berkane of Morocco that took place a little over a week ago. We have hosted the Spanish giants, Athletico Madrid and of course the qualifying matches for our Super Eagles during the 2018 World cup qualifying matches.
Let me commend and celebrate the great works that the Family Empowerment and youth Re-Orientation Path Initiative (FEYReP) have done in providing shelter to widows, the issues of the girl child, gender-based violence, medical outreaches, and support to various women groups among others. Their worthy collaboration with us has driven home the point made by the former American First Lady, Hilary Clinton, that it takes a village to raise a child, which plainly speaking means government alone cannot do all for the people.
As the political season dawns on us, I wish to urge our political stakeholders and our youths not to poison the waters of our unity with toxic political rhetoric or to engage in violence. I will never be tired of repeating this line that politics will come and politics will go, but the soul and the essence of the Akwa Ibom enterprise will remain an abiding spirit and letter of our collective engagements.
Let us eschew violence and embrace the understanding that in any political contest, there must be a winner and the winner should reach out and embrace the side that didn’t win. This is why I stated last Sunday after the State and Federal primaries that we will soon set up a reconciliation committee to reach out to those who may have been aggrieved with outcome of our recently conducted primaries.
Winners have emerged, and I urged our people to line up behind the people who have been nominated to continue pushing the levers of development of our State and ensure that the gains we have made in the last seven years are not frittered away.
Akwa Ibom has been an oasis of peace and tranquillity, the fundamentals of growth are rock-solid, all over the nation, and people are wondering how we were able to achieve such spectacular successes across sectors. When the passion is right, great things can and will happen, which is why we are determined to ensure that it will and shall be always forward ever, backward never!
Fellow Akwaibomites, it is our collective belief that the good Lord who has led us this far, is faithful enough to complete and perfect that which He started seven years ago, as the number 7 stands for Godly perfection.
To this end therefore, I implore every AkwaIbomite to continuously contribute positively to the development and upliftment of this our God-given Akwa Abasi Ibom State, as we look forward to a brighter tomorrow.
God bless our State, God bless our people and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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