Udom Emmanuel: Looking Beyond The Present
By Aniekeme Finbarr
Myles Munroe, one of the finest motivational speakers to have graced the earth once said that the greatest gift God ever gave man is not the gift of sight but the gift of vision. He dragged the message an inch forward when he added that sight is a function of the eyes, but vision is a function of the heart. When a person does not have vision, he lives by his eyes. To Munroe, vision is a source of hope; it is the source of courage; it is the source of perseverance in the midst of difficulty.
The Udom Emmanuel Government of Akwa Ibom state is a living example of the power of vision. It testifies that whatever the mind can conceive, it can make it happen. The gentleman has just in one year brought to fruition the bold plans clearly enunciated in his electioneering promises. From good roads to human capacity development, education to sports, he never spares a breath to sustain superior performance in governance.
Mr Udom Emmanuel has left no one in doubt that his promise of turning the state from a civil service state to an industrial and commercial nerve centre is well on course to being realized. Since his assumption in office, he has committed himself only to the multifarious task of actualizing the lofty ideal of an industrialized Akwa Ibom which he firmly believes is the only answer to poverty elimination, wealth creation, employment generation and sustainable development.
Beyond the present, the future of Akwa Ibom state under the able leadership of Mr Udom Emmanuel shines brightly. The thrust of his administration remains the industrialization of the state and the creation of job opportunities. After this first year in office, there are specifics to be expected from the government. In the area of infrastructure, the government will continue in its drive to construct good roads to ensure the smooth movement of men and materials.
Agriculture is one key area to expect much from the present government. In a space of one year, Governor Udom Emmanuel has inaugurated a technical committee on Agriculture and Food sufficiency to provide technical inputs and fashion out a road map for attainment of food sufficiency. Farmers and stakeholders in the state across various Agricultural Value Chains have been grouped into value chains clusters and sensitized on Government determination to use agriculture as a key driver of the state’s industrialization policy. Governor Emmanuel has resuscitated cocoa production through the establishment of Cocoa Development Committee chaired by the Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Ekpo MFR
Governor Emmanuel has flagged off the Cocoa Maintenance Scheme to improve the yield of cocoa from the present 300kg/ha to 1,500kg/ha between 2016 to 2019. He has provided support for 8,200 cocoa farmers to cultivate 30,000 hectares of Cocoa. He has trained 480 youths on Cocoa Maintenance Scheme
Governor Emmanuel has approved counterpart funds for FADAMA 111 Programme. Under this programme, cassava is targeted for cultivation annually between 2016 and 2019. The state is expected to cultivate 6,000ha of cassava in 2019 thereby moving the present cluster to core status. He has approved the establishment of three new cassava processing factories in the three senatorial districts in the state namely: Ibesikpo Asutan LGA (Nung Udoe, Eket LGA (Ikot Okudom) and Abak LGA (Ikot Ekang). This will reduce the cost of processing cassava into other derivatives such as fofo, garrison, and pallets as well as their prices significantly.
Interestingly, Governor Emmanuel has approved the reactivation and management of the defunct state premier fisheries at Obio Eket, Nsit Ubium by Merlot Anny Limited. He has secured 10billion naira for small scale rice growers through the Anchor borrowers program of the Central Bank of Nigeria in collaboration with the Bank of Agriculture, a total of 63,715 hectares of swamp land is targeted for cultivation by 48,920 rice farmers in the state
More so, he is partnering with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development under the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) on the provision of farm inputs for a total of 3,600,000 farmers in Akwa Ibom state between 2016 and 2019. A breakdown shows that 600,000 farmers will benefit from the scheme in 2016 while 800,000, 1,000,000 and 1,200,000 farmers are earmarked for 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. Farmers in crops, livestock and fisheries sub sectors are expected to benefit from the scheme
Governor Emmanuel has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for AkwaPrime Hatchery and Poultry Ltd at Mbiaya Uruan, Uruan LGA. The project which comprises a feed mill and a breeder farm will commence production of 110,000 day old chicks (DOCs) per week on the 29th May, 2016. It is expected to attain its full production capacity of 520,000 DOCs per week from November 2016.
Furthermore, he has designed a free training/empowerment programme for over 200 poultry out-growers at Akwa Prime Hatchery and provision of 1000 day old chicks start up pack to each of the qualified participants at the end of the training.
Key to the industrialization agenda is the strategic importance of roads. There is a string positive correlation between a state’s economic development and the quality of its good road network. The Governor in the coming year will consolidate on his burning passion to build new roads, intervene where existing roads have gone bad and source for funds to undertake several new roads begging to be constructed. The 19.5 km Eket-Ibeno road with three bridges will experience a faster pace of work. The road is close to the heart of the Udom Emmanuel government because if its socioeconomic importance and significance.
The Eket remodeling project will also experience a greater boost. Akwa Ibom people can well expect to see soon a dualized Atabong road with an extension to Hospital road by market road, the expansion and remodeling of Liverpool junction and roundabout, construction of recreational park at Iron road by Grace Bill, Channelization of Eket/Oron road/ Grace Bill road, street-scaping and beautification, pedestrian foot bridges, water fountain at roundabouts and lots more. The several roads under constructed will be completed in the coming year and next opening up the state to business and boosting trade and investment.
In the areas of partnership for industries, all of the projects whose ground breaking ceremonies were performed in the first year of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s first year in office will come alive. The Low Energy Device (LED) factory at Ikot Ebom, Itam in Itu Local Government Area will kick start production. The Government is currently collaborating with Romanian investors to float a 10 million US dollars factory for the manufacturing of alternative energy stabilizing kits in the state. The factory will produce solar panels, lamps and other low energy devices. The metering company at Awa Iman in Onna will also come alive. The technical partners from China, Pakistan’s and India are set to go. The firm, when operational , will produce single phase and three phase electricity meters in various configurations and mountings, light weight, slim skeletal, compact meters for pole top installation, prepayment type meters, split type electricity meters, standard one unit electricity meters, bulk electricity meters, maximum demand meters and smart electricity meters.
Another viable project that will come alive is the petrochemical plant being built by Quantum Petrochemical Limited. Although a major milestone of the Akpabio era, the $1.5 billion plant was made possible because of the symbiotic relationship between the Chairman of Quantum Petrochemicals Limited, Mr. Jim Ovia, erstwhile Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank and Deacon Udom Emmanuel who was an Executive Director in the same bank before taking charge as the Secretary to the State Government in 2013. Sited in Ibeno LGA of Akwa Ibom, the petrochemical plant when it eventually takes off in 2017 will create 100,000 employment opportunities for both skilled and unskilled youths of the state.
The agricultural sector will also experience great touch in the near future. The government has entered into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with Greenwell Technologies, USA which is constructing a fertilizer plant in Abak LGA, due for completion towards the end of 2016. Also expected to come on stream is a coconut refinery, located at Mkpat Enin LGA. The refinery which is expected to produce palm kernel and coconut oil is the offspring of a partnership between the state government and South African Company, H.J. Oil Food Consulting Limited.
Akwa Ibom state is also poised to consolidate its number one oil producer status in the country with the status of an oil refining state. Governor Udom Emmanuel is currently working round the clock to ensure that Rev Oil Petroleum, Resource Petroleum Limited and Amakpe Refinery Limited are all completed as planned, so that they will not only shore up government internally generated revenue, but also generate 172, 000 direct and indirect jobs collectively.
There will also be increased production for resuscitated industries like the Peacock Paints Limited situated at Etinan LGA. The paint manufacturing factory which was established by the governor of old Cross River State, Dr. Clement Isong in 1980, soon became redundant following its huge debts stemming from a N30 million loan from financial institutions. But this is no longer the case as Governor Udom Emmanuel has not only offset its debts, but has also spent N526 million to revive the industry and make it productive for good. With a current capacity of three million litres of paints per year, the government has put all machineries in motion towards repositioning the company, a global giant in the paint industry as it is primed to produce 500 to 600 million litres a year.
Also fully revitalized is Plasto Crown at Aka Nung Udoe Road, Ibeskipo LGA, which is scheduled to take off this year. Also scheduled for rehabilitation is Quality Ceramics Limited at Itu LGA which is presently being courted by three investors that have expressed overwhelming interest to invest in the company.
The flagship project of the present government, the Ibom Deep Sea project will come alive in the coming years. The seaport has been designed to conciliate offshore and gas development, and it has given way for a tripartite joint venture with companies in Scotland, Brazil and South Korea. The seaport will also accommodate a Liquefied Natural Gas plant that will process the voluminous associated gas production in the eastern Niger Delta for export. Expected to come on stream in 2018, the project it is envisaged, will create over 100, 000 direct jobs and will increase the inflow of Foreign Direct Investments through freight services. Likewise, it is bound to give room for large-scale exports and imports as the seaport is naturally endowed with a depth of over 30 feet, most convenient like the Tin Can Port in Lagos to berth any kind of panama ship.
In Education, the state will witnessed significant improvement in the free and compulsory education policy of government. More so, more blocks will be built for government primary and secondary schools. The Akwa Ibom state University will have all its programmes fully accredited and engage in partnerships with international bodies and institutions. Teacher training and motivation will be taken more seriously by government in the coming year.
Sports will enjoy even better attention in the coming year. Other federal constituencies will have their sport centres built and completed. The Governor had promised to build 10 sport centres in all the ten federal constituencies in the state. The state’s teams will get more funding, backing and support to excel in all competitions. Team Akwa Ibom will also have a great outing at the National sports festival.
There will be greater engagement for the youths. Training programmes will be a regular feature in the future. Small and medium scale industrialists will benefit from several loan schemes to boost industry and trade.
Political inclusion will be greatly achieved. Governor Udom Emmanuel has shown himself to be a great democrat and will accommodate every divergent view. By the time the above task is seen to be done, his second term campaign will be mere formality.
Quite a lot in all sectors of the state has been achieved and much more will be done by the hardworking administration of Mr Udom Emmanuel. It behooves us to dakkada and join the government in moving Akwa Ibom state to surpass superior performance and ensure development that is sustainable, impactful and expansive.
*Finbarr is Special Assistant to the Governor, Media