By Emmanuel Nicholas
Surprisingly, the day broke with calmness, the sun had shone brightly, it was a gentle and friendly day of September, 1987 when Akwa Ibom State was birthed. The state came as a joy to a people who have homogeneous culture with common identity and linguistic heritage, whose fond sobriquet is “The Land of Promise.” Now Land of fulfilment
From inception however, the state promised to be transformed, with various administrative machineries put in place by successive governments to drive its development. The present administration, the 10th on the leadership row of the state, with Governor Udom Emmanuel as the Chief Executive Officer, has indeed tailored its private sector driven economy and industrialization agenda, working with several MDAs toward delivering efficiently the dividends of democracy to the good people of Akwa Ibom.
Interestingly, upon when this government takes its root May 29, 2015, Akwa Ibom people are awed by the level of depth, insight and strength the Governor has brought to bear in piloting the affairs of the state.
We however had believed him, when he said these words, “Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria have made enormous investment in me, and I believe this is the time to pay back through selfless service. The next phase of our journey is significant, especially on the heels of an uncommon renaissance of our great state. We need to consolidate and fashion out policies that will make life meaningful and offer hope for the future”. Mr Udom Emmanuel, a financial guru, has kept to his words by directing and monitoring the state’s monies efficiently towards ensuring judicious utilization of state’s funds hence, the prevalent accomplishments within the period under review.
Characteristically innovative, the Governor has projected what he called Foreign Direct Investment Road Show, which has attracted industrialists in over 30 countries. Moreso, over 50 foreign investors have indicated interest to come and set up shops in the state. Hence, among all the states in the federation, Akwa Ibom is making all the waves in its visionary impetus, inspite of the dwindling fortunes of its deriving incomes thus, compelling the government to diversify into other areas like investment, commerce, agriculture among others.
Armed with a five-point agenda of job creation, poverty alleviation, wealth creation, economic and political inclusion, infrastructural consolidation and expansion, the Governor has set up technical committees on Ibom Deep Seaport, Foreign Direct Investment as well as Agriculture and food sufficiency as strategic structures for diversification.
So far, the government under Mr. Udom Emmanuel has made great strides in virtually all sectors in line with his determination to fulfil his campaign promises to change the landscape of the state and its people for good hence, his many accomplishments.
This administration constructed and commissioned of a brand new Gynecology/Maternity Block in memory of the selfless services rendered by the Pioneer Irish Gyneacologist Rev. Sister (Dr.) Ann Ward to health–care delivery. Dilapidated structures at St .Luke Hospital, Anua, the Administrative block, Pediatric Ward and the male medical blocks were given a new lease of life.
Rebuilding of the 10th Anniversary block complex as a four-storey office edifice with over 600m2 floor area and three access lifts, mechanical workshop and staff clinic has received commendation. The administration has provided enabling environment and developed residential estates for prospective investors, even as the internal roads and classroom blocks in Cornelia Connelly College, Uyo were renovated and constructed.
Accordingly, Governor Udom Emmanuel-led government has successfully undertaken and completed multi-billion naira life-touching projects in different parts of the state. Some are ongoing, while others were inaugurated in commemoration of 2016 Democracy Day Celebration. Over 200km of new roads across the state were constructed, including Uyo outfall drain from Nsikak Eduok – Oron Road to Tropicana Complex, Uyo. Dualization of 28km Uyo – Oron Road (Airport) Road – Okopedi – Oron Road (Phase 1 (14.5km) and construction of 4.6km Scholl of Arts and Science Road, Nung Ukim in Ikono Local Government Area are the projects of this administration.
Subsequently, this government, in pursuit of its lofty goals has established 22 hectares of improved cocoa plantations in six local government areas namely, ini, Ikono, Esisen Udim, Mkpat Enin, Abak and Ukanafun. Moreso, it is on the know that this government has established 35 hectares of improved oil palm plantations in 15 LGAs. Interestingly, through collaboration with Federal Ministry of Agriculture, this administration was selling oil palm seeding at a subsidized rate of N180 each to farmers in August, 2015.
It will interest you to know that this government, under Governor Udom Emmanuel has went as far as going on appraisal tour to Shanghais farms, Rivers State to study the model for possible modification, improvement and replication in the state and investors have indicated interest in this area of agriculture development. As of today, a competent contractor, Hebron Integrated Farms and Mills Limited is managing the hatchery at Mbiaya Uruan.
In its drive for wealth creation, this administration has collated data on small, medium and large farm operations from local farmers throughout the state, and as well explored World Bank and CBN opportunities. Farmers in the state are mobilized sensitized and empowered.
The government has made strides also in the following areas: revitalization of Peacock Paint Ltd in Etinan, revitalization of Plasto Crown, Aka-Nung Udoe Road, ground-breakings for the establishment of Automobile Assembly Plant in Itu; Blue Marine-Light Emitting Devices (LED) Factory at Ikot Ebom Itam, Itu; Fertilizer Plant in Abak, Delmar Petroleum and Jetty in Ibeno.
Moreso, apart from the introduction of Department of Investment in the new Ministry of Investment, Commerce and Industry, the government has established and inaugurated Akwa Ibom Council on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES), and has invested in coconut Plantation/Refinery and Electric Meter Assembly Plant respectively.
In line with its lofty goals, Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration has facilitated start-up work for the take-off of MIMSHAC-MARKAVIM TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGIES Plant in Itu. Others it facilitated were; the participation of 15 indigenes of the state in the 3rd Edition of the Nigeria Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), Graduate Skills Development Programme – NGSDP 2015/2016 and state sponsored of World Pension Summit (Africa Special, 2015) which was held at Hilton Hotel, Abuja from October 5 and 6, 2015, and has approved the construction of a jetty at lower Imo River (Ikot Abasi Waterfront near ALSCON Jetty). Yes, that reminds me, Domingo Hospital Road, B.G. Bassey road and Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo are wearing new look with solar-powered streetlight, courtesy of this government.
In power sector, the people are currently enjoying 18 hours daily electricity supply. Don’t forget, IPP has been expanded from 191MW to 670MW under the administration. Electricity distribution asset evaluation that will ascertain the number of transformers and customers on each transformer in every village, ward and community across the three senatorial districts has been completed; Akwa Ibom is described as an Island of Power Supply during National Grid Outages, reason being that, ‘dead bus’ technology which allowed this, has been installed. Interestingly, under this government, GT2, which enable IPP to operate at 80% of installed capacity as required under the CBN – NESI fund was configurated and commissioned.
Governor Udom Emmanuel-led government Employment Scheme, Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme (AKEES) has reduced unemployment as well as get our youths ready to take advantage of the imminent industrial boom in the state. This, of course has awakened the spirit of enterprise among our youths. The scheme, through Micro-Franchise, Enterprises Programmes, Job Programmes and Common facility and Equipment Centers, has engaged well over 1,639 people and created 85 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
It is in record that this government has completed and commissioned the rehabilitated and upgraded Ifa Atai, Idu Uruan and Uyo Head works to supply water to major parts of Uyo metropolis and its environs. Water dispensing kiosks and supply lines to various sections of Uyo town has been developed.
As we speak, there is an ongoing construction of the parallel taxi-way at Ibom International Airport, designed to serve the latest Airbus 4380 aircrafts and other Cargo planes, even as new terminal building at the Airport designed with hotel, meeting and conference halls and other facilities to meet international standard is ongoing.
Moreso, apart from signing an agreement with Starwood Hotels and Resort for the management of The Four Point by Sheraton Hotel, Ikot Ekpene, there is ongoing execution of Ibom Deep Seaport/Industrial City in partnership with the 10-man technical committee inaugurated to realize the project. I am please to inform you also that doctor’s residential quarters in Shelter Afrique for the 308-bed facility for Ibom Specialist Hospital constructed by this administration have been commissioned.
This moribund industry, Qua Steel is undergoing resuscitation for the production of 300 tones per year steel products. Infact AKICORP has signed several MoUs and has attracted over 20 foreign direct investments into the state. The corporation has initiated and brokered a peace process among the four communities of Aka-Offot Industrial Estate/Banking Layout Housing and Champion Breweries Plc.
This government, apart from hosting Chinese Government Trade Delegation, has pre-qualified 32 Investment Proposals for Bank of Industry (BOI) funding, appraised over 100 investment proposals in some strategic industries and has specially trained 45 youths on Roofing Sheets and ceiling manufacturing in collaboration with Onna Youth Industrial Association and Eternit Nig. Ltd. For Manpower development on Generator Plant, the state government through AKICORP has trained about 20 Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
The corporation under government directive has restructured the financial system of Universal Energy Resources Ltd and has assigned new management to the state government’s investment portfolio in Blue Chips, as well as gazetted AKICORP’s Law.
Wealth and job creation are part of the five-point agenda of this government hence, the government has empowered the youths through training and capacity building, for instance, 1000 unemployed young graduates were trained on Oracle Data-base Administration. Accordingly, 1000 youths in Partnership with Rock- Felter Foundation were also trained on Micro Work which has enabled them source for work online. Children between the ages 5-18 were on computer appreciation and networking training and 150 civil servants have been followed suit. 300 trained unemployed graduates of the state on Graduate Assistance Programme (GAP) in partnership with Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited are singing Hossana.
This government has established the following centers; Center for Renewable and Energy Efficiency, the Pearson VUE E-Testing Centers, ICT Academy of the Ministry of Science and Technology as JAMB e-Center was given accreditation.
New development has led to the installation of internet facilities in government offices. It the first of its kind, as social dialogue policy for resolution of conflicts in the state was introduced. There has been sustenance of peace and industrial harmony in the state. As Labour friendly government, this administration has also sponsored Rain School for Labour leaders.
Consequently, in its pursuit to actualize the much expected industrialization, the government has produced strategic plan for Akwa Ibom State (2016 – 2019), it has published 2014 statistical book and produced 1st and 2nd quarter progress report on Capital Project Implementation and report on Implementation of Sure-P Project in the state. Moreover, statistics Bill for the Establishment of State Bureau of Statistics and Bill on Fiscal Responsibility have been produced, as government undertook two monitoring and evaluation activities namely, physical monitoring of implementation of capital projects, and programme in the State Ministries, Departments an Agencies (MDAs).
Furthermore, to ensure effective publication of government programmes, AKBC-TV transmitter was resuscitated, linking the state to the global web through internet services in all government offices as stated earlier. The government has also introduced quarterly reports of activity from MDAs and LGA., together with the introduction of IMPACT on AKBC-Radio Service series.
Enabling environment has been created for all national news papers and electronic channels to operate in the state. After introduction of electronic newsletter for prompt and wide coverage of the state activities, the government has also re-branded Akwa Ibom News bulletin. Much of government’s effort in this regard is a reflective of the ground-breaking for DAAR communications broadcasting facility at Midim in Abak.
Interestingly, citizens’ social welfare has been one of this government’s priorities as it empowered well over 400 widows in the 31 LGAs. It has cared for more than 500 orphans and vulnerable children in the five designed Government Homes. Apart from undertaking capacity building for newly elected members of the Children’s Parliament in the state, the government has achieved family tracing and re-integration of over 40 street children with their parents and as well assisted financially a private psychiatric home. Government has also rehabilitated and re-integrated street children in government homes, about 60 children benefited. Udom-led government has renovated, furnished and equipped Divine Children’s Home and Correctional Center. More than 350 visually/partially impaired benefited, while visually impaired undergraduates were provided with Braille machines and laptops with jaws during World White Cane/National Braille day celebration in the state. There have been provisions of more than 50 wheel-chairs and special writing desks to physically challenged persons in tertiary institutions and financial assistance to about 50 members of Association of Persons Living with Disability.
Accordingly, Family Empowerment and Youth Re-orientation Programme (FEYREP) Support Project of the First Lady has received boast within the period under review hence, achievement of economic empowerment of over 350 indigenes, sensitization of women/widow on their rights and empowerment, maternal, infant and child health, support for persons with disability, health outreach (de-worming, eye care and surgical care), support for the elderly, adolescent reproductive health, as well as Education and Child Rights.
Do you know that this government has undertook rural electricity interventions in Ikot Ibritam and Ikot Ekpuk (Oruk Anam LGA) Ikot Ekpenyong and Ikot Abia Utok(Mkpat Enin); Awa Atai, Ikot Akpan Mkpe, Afaha Ikot Nkan (Onna), and Ifa Atai (Uyo). A total of 40 transformers have so far been distributed to various rural communities in the state to boost electricity. Urgent solar water project are underway in some rural locations. The government has partnered with Niger Delta Support Programme (NDSP), through AK-RUWATSAN to facilitate the design and implementation of water schemes for each of the five small towns each in Obot Akara and Nsit Atai LGAs. It is also in record that the government has organized extensive sensitization through a workshop on the theme, “Water and Jobs” which marked the 2016 World Water Day.
Truth be told! Governor Udom Emmanuel is committed to the ideals of good governance with a view to realize his vision. Take for instance, in rural intervention project, this government has intervened in over 200 projects, covering schools and electricity through Inter-ministerial Rural Intervention Project. Various SDG projects in the state have received counterpart funding. As we speak Akwa Ibomites are enjoying improved electricity distribution and power supply, while pensioners sang hallelujah over the 10 years arrears of pensions and gratuities paid to local government employees by this government.
Health, they say is wealth, this government has sponsored over 300 Akwa Ibomites with life-threatening ailments for local and foreign medical interventions. It has flagged-off Maternal, New Born and Child Health Week in the state, the programme which featured the supplementation of children with Vitamin ‘A’, pregnant women with iron folate and deworming of children. The government had paid Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) to medical and dental practitioners in the state with effect from June, 2015. There is continuing professional development for doctors as a mandatory requirement by Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. This development is a prerequisite for the annual renewal of license to practice.
Subsequently, this government has co-ordianted a 21-day free eye care outreach for people in the state in collaboration with MTN Foundation. A total of 15,350 people were screened for various eye diseases, 1,150 eye surgeries were performed, while 2,000 eye glasses were distributed. It floated a mobile ambulance service in partnership with Nestle Nigeria Limited for pregnant women and children under five years of age and below.
It is no new that Governor Udom Emmanuel-led government has trained over 48 House Officers in General Hospitals in Ikot Ekpene, Eket and Oron, while the institutions were given provisional accreditation. It is also in record that about 272 registered nurses and midwives in the state were trained under the Mandatory Continuing Professional Development Programme (MCPDP). 4,038 moderately mal-nourished and severely mal-nourished children were reported treated.
Interestingly, apart from the free and compulsory education programme inherited by this government, Governor Udom-led government has been poignant in paying subvention of N100 per pupil and N300 per student to school heads in public primary/secondary schools in the state; as well as prompt payment of salaries/emoluments of teachers including the release of promotion to teachers. The government is currently paying WAEC and NABTEB examination fees to students in all public secondary schools in the state.
The premium place in education under Mr. Udom’s administration has earned the state recognizable disposition. The state took 1st position in the National STAN Science quiz competition held in Awka, Anambra State and 3rd position prize in the yearly Martina Teacher of the year award by one Mr. Daniel Udiong, a Chemistry Teacher from Northern Annang Comprehensive Secondary School, Itu in Etim Ekpo LGA.
Training and re-training of teachers has been given priority by this government with the aim of producing children that can compete favourably with their counterpart else where on equal footing hence, training and capacity building for principals and vice principals; secondary and primary schools teachers; and counselors. STAN in collaboration with Mobil had four-day training for 800 teachers (400 primary and 400 secondary). And through government benevolent, there is upward review of monthly subvention and also approved payment of salaries for the 279 staff recruited in 2013.
Nevertheless, it is worthy of note that this government has launched and implemented the DAKKADA moral transformation and spiritual rebirth philosophy, to change the mindset of the people towards a new socio-economic awakening and by way of encouraging our children to imbibe this philosophy, the state government has donated laptops/funds for internet connection to pupils/students/schools for reciting of the DAKKADA creed during October 1, 2015 celebration. Other areas of achievements of this present administration has been the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) with specific mandate to promote widespread availability and usage of telecommunication and ICT services in the state, including camping and training of 200 athletes sponsored by NNPC/MPN Joint Ventures and consolidation with BRACED commission and Samsung in establishing ICT academy in the state respectively.
However, Udom Emmanuel’s administration has promised not to leave any stone unturned in his drive to industrialized Akwa Ibom. Consequent upon this, the government has ensured improved urban transportation network. The government conducts quarterly sensitization of transport stakeholders and training of task-force on traffic monitoring. Members are instructed to approach their assigned duties within the provisions of the law with laid-down code of conduct. Preparation has commenced for the establishment of a driving institute to regulate the activities of driving schools in the state, even as the movement of mechanic village from its present location to its permanent site is on-going. Master plan for the site has been presented and construction work is underway. The government has, as well introduced bio-metric registration of all motor technicians, car dealers, mechanics, vulcanizers and spare part dealers and all vehicles.
It is also worthy of note that topographical survey of sites where the aforementioned industries are to be cited have been completed. This government has poised to make Akwa Ibom a tourist destination. That is why tourism outfits in the state have been repositioned with their operations strengthened. Enormous innovations have taken place through regular environmental monitoring via GIS hence, environmental laboratory facilities updated.
It is therefore, suffice to conclude that Governor Udom Emmanuel’s exceptional accomplishments within the period under renew is beyond promises he made during his electioneering campaign. Bravo, the people’s government.