By Henshaw Nyong.
When Nigeria embarked on the transition to democracy in 1999, the party that swept away most of the elective offices was the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) which not only had the Presidency and the majority of the National Assembly but also won 21 governorship seats.
One of the states the PDP took control of, was Akwa Ibom; a State in the South South, which was created from the Cross River State in 1987.
However, six (6) Military Administrators and four (4) democratically elected governors have piloted the affairs of the oil rich Akwa Ibom which celebrated her three decades of Statehood on 27th September, 2017.
Howbeit, Akwa Ibom ranks among the States in Nigeria, that can boast of a rapid transformation, as could be visibly seen, in the area of roads and infrastructure, health, education, industrial growth and peaceful co-existence, amongst its citizens.
In his inaugural address after being sworn-in as the 10th Governor of Akwa Ibom State, on Friday, 29th May, 2015, Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, offered himself as a servant and a co-labourer before a large crowd of Akwa Ibomites who witnessed the swearing-in ceremony at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.
In the very mouth of the newly sworn-in State Chief Executive: ‘‘I stand before you today not as a master but as a servant and not as a boss but as a co-labourer. I accept, with great humility and sense of responsibility, the mandate you have freely given to me to hold power in trust for you as your Governor. You have kept your part of the covenant and I intend to keep my part by executing the programmes I enunciated to you during my official declaration to run for the office of Governor‘‘, said Mr. Emmanuel.
Two years after, unbiased analysts and keen observers of government activities in Akwa Ibom are of the opinion that, the financial guru-turned-governor has made gargantuan transformation in every area of governance in the State through what has overtime become to be known as the “Superior Performance” administration. Many have said that, Mr Emmanuel has succeeded in bridging the gap between the elite and masses as far as the delivery of dividends of democracy is concerned.
Under the Emmanuel’s leadership, Akwa Ibom State has experienced growth and development across all sectors. His administration has garnered immense acclaim for its strong determination to ensure even development in all sectors.
From power to roads and infrastructure, agriculture, health, housing and education, the present administration has recorded giant strides in Akwa Ibom State.
Evaluating the twenty nine months reign of Udom Emmanuel as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Aniedi Brown, a Political strategist and commentator on contemporary issues, said: ‘‘Governor Udom Emmanuel has transformed Akwa Ibom State from a pedestrian state to an industrial hub’’. Brown, a politician and successful businessman further said: “The governor has been able to launch the State into the international globe by creating an enabling ground for investors to come in and invest in the state.
‘‘Take for instance, the coconut refinery in my Local Government Area; Mkpat Enin, it is a multi-million Naira project which will create over 5000 jobs for the inhabitants of Akwa Ibom state. Of course, you know that this project will reduce the poverty line and will also increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Akwa Ibom and place the State in front burner.
‘‘Don’t forget that, for the coconut refinery to function properly, the governor in his wisdom ensured that there is a power substation in Ekim, which will give constant power to over five (5) Local Government Areas.
‘‘The Governor within his two years in office has also gone into massive road construction and infrastructural renaissance in the entire ten federal constituencies, especial in areas that never benefitted from previous administrations. Places like: Oron, Udung Uko, Okobo, Mbo, Oruk Anam, Uruan, Mkpat Enin and other areas that hitherto, had no good roads, can now boast of three to four new roads done by the Udom administration”, Mr Brown said.
But, what is the secret of Governor Emmanuel’s success you may ask? Two words describe it. Political skill; Mr Udom Emmanuel has it in abundance. You might add other expressions such as sincere desire to serve the people of Akwa Ibom. The governor knows how to work with everyone including the cynics.
Leadership, according to the great American scholar and author; Warren Bennis, is the capacity to translate vision into reality. Despite the dwindling oil revenue, the first major feats achieved by Governor Emmanuel were: payment of 10 years arrears of pensions and gratuities to Local Government Employees; special intervention at St. Luke’s Hospital, Anua, Uyo, intervention work on the gulley erosion on Calabar-Itu Road; Dominic Utuk Avenue, Abak Independence Hall area and Anua etc., as well as ensuring that salaries and wages of Akwa Ibom State Workers are paid promptly.
These came at a time when about 27 States of the federation were unable to pay salaries to their workers, despite receiving bailouts from the federal government.
However, we are not unaware that we live in a time of extreme economic challenges occasioned by the recession our nation is currently grappling with. But how soothing is it to know that, ’’when men shall say there is a casting down our testimony shall be that there is a lifting up’’.
Whereas other States in the country are struggling with abject poverty, starvation and penury, our testimonies in Akwa Ibom are different. Ours are filled with sweet stories of over 18 to 20 hours of power daily. Akwa Ibom State government workers are smiling to their banks on 27th of every month for their salaries. Every child resident in the State in Government Primary and Secondary School is a beneficiary of free and compulsory education of the current administration. Our roads measuring over 1,100 kilometers are wearing new look courtesy of the present administration. Our people are also singing “Hossana to the Highest” because the once Civil Service Akwa Ibom is fast becoming a cynosure of all eyes. Below are other achievements of Governor Udom Emmanuel in few sectors.
Power and energy are very critical to industrialization particularly and for the overall development of any society. Hardly can any sector of the economy grow without power.
And so, in his quest to catapult Akwa Ibom State into an industrial hub in the gulf of Guinea, Governor Udom Emmanuel has vigorously tackled Power generation in the state to boost commercial and domestic activities. Achievements recorded in the power sector include:
Attainment of 18 hours daily electricity supply and installation of “dead bus” technology which allows Akwa Ibom to be an island of power supply during National Grid outages. Others are: Configuration and inauguration of GT 2 to enable IPP operate at 80 percent of installed capacity as required under the CBN-NESI fund, proposal to NERC for expansion of IPP licence (from 191MW to 670MW), completion of electricity distribution asset evaluation to ascertain the number of transformers and customers on each transformer in every village, ward and community across the three senatorial districts.
The Emmanuel administration has built structure/capacity for the effective operation of the technical and commercial activities of the power distribution sub-sector in the state. There is also a collaboration by the management of Ibom Power with TCN and NERC for the creation of a work centre in the State – initial six staff were posted to the State. There’s an improvement of power supply in various communities across the State, including, Etebi Ikot Udofa/Ikot Udota in Eket L.G.A, Etinan L.G.A, Ikot Abasi Town, Ikot Akpan Mkpe, Afaha Atai in Onna LGA, Awa Ikot Nsong, Nkana Communities, Ewet Housing Estate, AKBC in Ntak Inyang, Peacock Paint Industry and Ibom e-library within Uyo Capital City while a power station is built at Ekim in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area to ensure uninterrupted power in no fewer than five LGAs.
ROAD AND INFRASTRUCTURE:
In spite of the shortfall in federal allocation, several kilometres of roads and bridges have been constructed by the Udom Emmanuel administration even as many more are under construction. These roads are strategically networked to provide efficient movement of goods and services around the State and to accommodate the looming influx of vehicular traffic in the state. So far, the Udom Emmanuel led government has constructed at least 1,100 kilometres of roads, and 40 bridges across the three senatorial districts.
Communities that were once cut off have been opened up. In fulfilment of his electioneering promises to Akwa Ibom people, the Governor, less than a year in office, inaugurated a good number of roads in areas that were in dire need. A couple of them like Efiat, Mary Hanney, Anwana Esin were some of the over 6.6km internal roads with outfall drains in Oron LGA, where the entire terrain was taken over by flood as at the middle of 2015. The Information Drive in Uyo, the Ikot Udom road in Ibiono Ibom, Mkpok-Okat and Awa Iman roads in Onna, including the internal roads at the Cornelia Cornelly College, Uyo are some the roads the governor inaugurated during his first year in office. Apart from the aforementioned, the governor has also inaugurated the Eket-Ibeno road, the Nto Edino-Ekwere Azu road, phase 1, in Obot Akara Local Government Area, the Ikot Usop- Ikot Edeghe – Ikot Ekpuk Road in Mkpat Enin with a 30m bridge, the Idiaba- Nda Nsit – Ikot Abasi –Nung Udoe in Nsit Atai Local Government Area and several others. The second taxiway is nearing completion at the Ibom International Airport to support the industrialization drive of the current administration.
The governor in his wisdom has also opened up some areas in the State for industrial and commercial growth, thus, constructing a good number of roads in such areas. The 5 km Mkpok- Okat Road and the 3.5 km Awa Ikot Nkan Road with a 15m bridge, both in ONNA Local Government Area, takes any visitor to the world-class Syringe Manufacturing Company and Metering Factory. The Ikot Usop- Ikot Edeghe – Ikot Ekpuk Road in Mkpat Enin with a 30m bridge will serve the proposed Coconut Plantation and Refinery in Mkpat Enin, while the Odoro Ikpe – Itu Mbonuso Road will not only open up Ini Local Government Area, but will also serve as the evacuation route for the proposed rice farm and rice processing industry in the area. Still in Ikono/ Ini Federal Constituency, the governor has also constructed the road leading to the College of Arts and Science in Nung Ukim, a 4.6Km road.
There is also the construction of a dual carriageway from Uyo to Etinan and the Ikot Ebidang Road Onna LGA, which will serve the rice farming community. The Anua – Mbak –Issiet Beach Road in Uruan Local Government Area is another case of taking infrastructure to where it is needed most. The Beach Market in Adiadia, in Uruan, is an income spinner to the people and government of the state.
Oron Federal Constituency is grateful to the governor for his bold attempt to fix the road infrastructural deficiencies in Oron, Okobo, Mbo and Udung Uko as the areas are witnessing on-going construction of roads and highways.
As a mark of sincerity of purpose and commitment to the realization of the Ibaka Deep Seaport and Industrial City project, work is on-going 36.7km super highway that will traverse communities in Upenekang, Ibeno –Esit Eket to Mbo Local Government Areas. The proposed highway will be a 12-lane road of six lanes on each side. Four of the lanes will be medial speed lanes with a toll gate, while the other two, on either side will serve as service and exit lanes into the surrounding communities.
Other road projects include: the 9.1km road along Ikot Ebekpo-Ikot Ebidang road, Onna LGA, Ikot Ekaide-Ikot Okokon Ikot Ibritam-Ekeffe-Ikot Akpan road, the dualization of 28km Uyo- Oron road down to the East West road, 6.6km road in Atan Offot, Uyo, 8.5Km Nduetong Oku-Ibiaku Uruan-Ekit Itam Road with 40m span bridge and a spur in Itu/Uruan LGA, 9km Mbiaya Uruan –Ita Uruan- Mbiakong Uruan Road with 60m span bridge and a 14.83Km road in Esit Eket, as well as several others.
The administration of Mr Udom Emmanuel in an unprecedented manner has embarked on an aggressive re-positioning of the Health sector in the State, which has now witnessed a mass rehabilitation and reconstruction of Hospitals and primary healthcare centres. Before the emergence of the current government, some health facilities in the State were at a point of near total collapse, given the decay of infrastructure in them. Mr Emmanuel has since remodelled and supplied sophisticated medical equipment to many General hospitals. During the 30th anniversary celebration of the State on 23rd September, 2017, the Country’s Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who personally inaugurated some reconstructed health facilities in Akwa Ibom, lauded Governor Emmanuel for setting out to meet the health needs of the people across the State. Some of the sophisticated equipment purchased by the current administration includes; electric adjustable beds, hoyer body lifters, infant warmers, digital endoscopy cartography, delivery beds, surgical facilities and many more. The Emmanuel administration has also made the following achievements in the health sector:
Awareness campaign on non-communicable diseases: Tremendous awareness of health issues of hypertension, sickle cell disease, cancer and diabetes mellitus, has been created among members of the public regarding their causes, treatment and prevention.
Co-ordination of a twenty–one a-21-day (11th – 30th, January, 2016) free eye care and treatment programme with MTN Foundation at Ibom Hall, during which 15,350 (fifteen thousand, three hundred and fifty) people were screened for various eye diseases, 1150 eye surgeries performed, and 2000 eye glasses distributed. Training of fifty (50) health staff comprising medical doctors, nurses, drivers and porters, on basic life support skills. The trainees underwent tutorials on emergency response skills. Two Basic Life support Training (BLST) were imparted on the trainees. Strong participation of the state in the National Immunization Campaign Days.
Mobile Ambulance Service: This pilot programme operates under a Memorandum of Understanding between the state’s Ministry of Health and Nestle Nigeria PLC, and targets pregnant women, and children aged five (5) years and below.
Approval for training of forty-eight (48) House Officers was granted by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), and to be handled at the following institutions: General Hospital, Ikot Ekpene; General Hospital, Eket; and General Hospital, Oron. These institutions were given provisional accreditation. It is expected that full accreditation would be granted soonest.
Successful processing of admission of one hundred and fifty (150) candidates into Schools of Midwifery, and admission of two hundred and one (201) candidates into the Schools of Nursing for 2015/2016 academic year respectively. Participation in Nursing and Midwifery Council Final Qualifying Examinations for General Nurses and Midwives in which Akwa Ibom State scored 100% in both. Matriculation and capping of 2014 in-take Student Nurses.
Provision of Intervention Items and amenities to health institutions in the State: These include; customized mattresses, pillows and desk top computers for School of Midwifery, Anua, Uyo; student desks, customized mattresses and pillows for School of Nursing, Anua, Uyo; Complete water reticulation for School of Nursing, Ikot Ekpene; Student Desks for School of Nursing, Eket; customized mattresses, pillows and desktop computers for School of Midwifery, Ituk Mbang as well as customized mattresses and Pillows for School of Midwifery, Oron.
The current administration deserves commendation for commencing payment of Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) to medical and dental practitioners in its employ State since June 2015.
AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SUFFICIENCY:
This leading sector of the country’s economy is not treated lightly by the state. The objective is to ensure food sufficiency and security as well as diversify from petro-dollar to an agro-based economy. To this end, the Udom Emmanuel administration has achieved the following:
Re-introduction of second planting season for enhanced food production and sufficiency.
Refurbishment and upgrading of three 10mt/day cassava processing factories in the 3 Senatorial Districts
Cultivation of 40 hectares of seed multiplication cassava farm in the Senatorial Districts to provide free stems to farmers.
Distribution of improved oil palm and cocoa seedlings to farmers in the state.
Extension of technical advisory services to about 350 fish farms in the State, as well as the cultivation of 300 hectares of cassava under the FADAMA III+ Financing Programme.
Establishment of Special Cocoa Maintenance Scheme (SCMS) for the training of farmers and youths on pruning/shade management, under brushing, and tree care by fumigation, to ensure improvement of yields from 300 kilogram/hectare to 2000kg/ha over 3 years period.
Zoning and mapping of the cocoa producing communities in the State, and sensitization of cocoa farmers in the 24 cocoa producing local government areas in the State.
Holding of sensitization programmes for Field Extension Officers of the Ministry of Agriculture, and those of Akwa Ibom State Agric Development Programme (AKADEP).
Importation of 1000 bags of special cocoa fertilizers from Ghana for optimal yield.
Delivery of 1000 bags of special cocoa fertilizers in September 2016.
Distribution of training kits to all participants at practical field training on cocoa.
Signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Sand Carlos of Mexico to develop 1000 hectares of cocoa farms and cocoa nursery in the State.
Education is at the core of any modern development. Aware of this reality, government has invested much resources and efforts in ensuring that education of Akwa Ibom children is given the necessary commitment. The following are achievements in the subsector:
Workshops on leadership and behavioural ethics for prefects of public schools and refresher course for public schools Counsellors in the State.
Free, compulsory and qualitative education policy in public primary and secondary schools in the state
Collaboration with the Federal Government to implement the Home Grown School Feeding programme in the State’s public primary schools.
Training of School Inspectors, Education Officers and Principals, on quality assurance and best practices, in education in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education, UNICEF, UNESCO, etc.
Training of officers in Examination and Certification Division of the Ministry on ICT and computerization of examination results
Training of 30 indigenes of Akwa Ibom State on ICT in India.
Acreditation of courses in the state’s tertiary institutions and public technical schools.
Training of primary school teachers on effective classroom management skills, basic classroom teaching methods and techniques, language communication skills and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Organization of a 2-day Advocacy Workshop on Structure and Effective Implementation of the new Senior Secondary School Curricula in collaboration with the Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC), Abuja.
Payment of Subvention to all School Heads and Principals of Public Primary and Post-Primary Schools at the rate of N100.00 per pupil and N300.00 per student per term;
Generation of reliable inputs through reports from Quality Assurance Inspectors and Evaluators for renovation and rehabilitation of schools by the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Co-ordinating Committee;
Procurement and distribution of free exercise books, textbooks and other educational materials, to public and private schools in key subjects like Mathematics, English Language and the Sciences;
Payment of examination fees and scholarships to students of Akwa Ibom State origin in tertiary institutions;
Provision of grants and laptops to Medical and Law Students respectively;
Revalidation of private schools in the state to ensure maintenance of standards and quality control, among others.
All told, developing Akwa Ibom and attracting investors to the State as well as making life better for all, are areas the government under the leadership of Mr Udom Emmanuel hold very dear. Though not yet uhuru, one can confidently say that the achievements so far witnessed in these two years are unprecedented in the history of the State.
However, there is a limit to which falsehood can be deployed against a people. No matter how well scripted, falsehood will fail in the presence of the truth. That is the situation of Akwa Ibom State. The impressive performance of Governor Emmanuel has led to a nationwide appreciation of his adherence to the tenets of good governance.
People from all walks of life are now gravitating towards Akwa Ibom State; one of the few oasis of development in the present-day desert of stagnation. Those who found their way to the State are now enjoying practically the dividends of democracy in the ‘Land Of Promise’ despite the meagre allocations that is coming from the federal purse and funds that are internally generated.
Now tell me, with all of these achievements in just two years, why wouldn’t I conclude that, the Captain of Team Akwa Ibom; Mr Udom Emmanuel, is a governor like no other!
NYONG writes from Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.