#UdomAtTwo: A’Ibom Headed For A Convincing, Unassailable Victory
On April 11, 2015, you honoured me with your votes and reaffirmed your faith and commitment in my campaign promises. On that day, we entered into a contract, to take Akwa Ibom State to another level of development. The centre of gravity or the very reason why I offered myself to be your Governor was my deep love for you, my dear people, and my faith and abiding belief in your capacity to rise and claim the faith of your greatness.
Today, to use the metaphor of football, we are in the second half of our Divine journey, and together with you filling up the stands, hands up in support, and active participation, I make bold to say that we have not sacrificed your trust neither have we betrayed the faith you had reposed in me.
We have scored many goals, we have shown and displayed deft moves and passes, and as your main striker, leading other passionate players, we are headed for a convincing and unassailable victory, in spite of the hard tackles of the opposing team.
It is a known fact that we came into Government at a time of severe economic recession in the country, arising from the sharp drop in oil prices, which, as you all know, remains the main source of our income. It was a time that demanded the creative application of scarce resources to meet the needs and expectations of the people. I believe, given my professional background, that God prepared me for a moment like this.
So, in spite of the challenging times, we have kept our promise and worked extra hard to fulfill our campaign promises. We campaigned on the bold platform as encapsulated in the Five Point Agenda of Wealth Creation, Economic and Political Inclusion, Poverty Alleviation, Infrastructural Consolidation and Expansion, and Job Creation. Permit me to say that through a focused and pragmatic leadership, a leadership that steers the course and not on the lane of applause alone, we have kept our eye on the ball, and going forward, I dare say that the crystal ball is clear: The Akwa Ibom Project is alive and we are marching sure-footedly to the Land of Promise.
Do we have room for improvement? Are we there 100 percent yet? Do we need to do more, or are there areas for improvement? You bet there are, and on that score, we will not be discouraged, we will not despair, we will not fold our arms, neither shall we rest on our oars until we are able to rouse our people from the mind-set of eternal dependency, of begging for a living, to the new enchanting horizon of earning a living and having the joy of an ownership society. That is our charge- a charge we will and must implement.
It is a known and universally acknowledged fact that the surest and easiest way to escape the pangs of poverty is through education and a sound mind – in effect, a knowledge based society. We have continued the very laudable free education policy, and have gone ahead to refurbish and remodel schools with decrepit structures and, through Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour, have equipped over 500 schools spread across the three senatorial districts with modern laboratories.
We have ensured that those who are entrusted with the task of educating our children are qualified and are conversant with modern tools of teaching and mentoring. We believe that our children are our best assets, and we must guarantee their future today for the challenges of tomorrow by giving them sound and qualitative education.
We have paid over 600 million Naira WAEC fees for students from poor homes, and this initiative has been received with joy and gratitude from the parents of these wards. I recall a story that was told to me by a good friend that he has an old school mate whose parents couldn’t afford to pay his WAEC fees at the point in time. Today, he is a successful man while his friend, unfortunately, is in the village doing menial jobs and unable to fulfill his potentials, in spite of how brilliant he was back then. He told me each time he visits the village, he is moved to tears by the condition of his once brilliant school mate. What that story illustrates is that even a small thing as WAEC fees can be the deciding factor in whether we prepare our children today to become successful tomorrow or leave them to a future of poverty, subservience and doom.
As long as I remain your Governor, I will not allow such to happen. We will continue to pay WAEC fees to our less privileged and indigent students, because they too represent our future. We will continue to invest in them and ensure that we don’t leave any child behind.
We have also paid subventions to all heads of primary and secondary schools; we have procured and distributed free text books and other educational materials, especially in the key subject areas such as Mathematics, English and Sciences.
We have trained our youths in various areas to equip them with the needed skills for the jobs and opportunities of the 21st Century. At a recent economic summit in Lagos, one of the speakers made a poignant declaration that the reason why Nigeria has lacked behind the Asian Tigers- those countries that today are competing with the rich industrialised nations – who were behind Nigeria in GDP at independence, is because those nations invested in their people and created a knowledge and skills based society, and that investment has paid off today.
In Akwa Ibom State, we are laying the solid foundation for our wealth tomorrow by training our people to become independent and able to take care of their needs. No nation that has become wealthy got to that point without huge investment in human capital development. We are securing the future today so that our kids will live productive lives tomorrow. Health, they say, is wealth, and we have not relented in ensuring that we have a healthy population that will drive our industrialization process. One of the first acts I performed as Governor was a visit to Anua Hospital where I ordered the immediate renovation of the gynaecological wards, and intervention works in the deep erosion gulley that had threatened the hospital’s school of nursing facility.
Our free medical care for children aged 1-5, pregnant women and the aged parents remain on course. We have carried out hundreds of medical interventions on Akwa Ibom citizens with life-threatening illnesses and have flown them abroad for various medical attentions. On Monday. May 22, I flagged off the construction of a modern general hospital at Ituk Mbang, as well as the training of emergency response personnel.
We have brought awareness on some health issues such as hypertension, sickle cell disease, cancer and diabetes mellitus to members of the public, and this has helped in changing their lifestyles, and broadened their knowledge of the symptoms of these diseases and how to manage them should anyone be diagnosed with any of these diseases.
A free eye care and treatment programme was carried out during this period, in conjunction with MTN Foundation at Ibom Hall. At that programme, 15,350 people were screened for various eye diseases, 1,150 eye surgeries performed, and 2,000 eye glasses distributed free of charge. This program was carried out through FEYReP, the signature programme of my wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel.
My administration also provided Intervention items and amenities to health institutions in the State. These include is computers and other social amenities.
The State has since June 2015 commenced the payment of Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) to medical and dental practitioners in its employ.
We will continue to invest heavily in healthcare delivery because every Akwa Ibom life matters.
As part of our wealth creation initiative, we successfully launched the Dakkada initiative which essentially calls on us, the great people of Akwa Ibom State, to arise and fulfil the greatness that we are all born with. The circumstance of your birth should not limit you from aspiring to be the best that God had planned for you; you should not limit yourself by thinking small, but to dare and dream. So far, our youths have latched on to this philosophy. They have started to create things that add value to their lives, they have embraced agriculture and other creative avenues to showcase their talents, and, as a talented designer told me last month in a text “I didn’t understand I could use my talents to make money, my creations with raffia are now sold on the internet and I am making enough money to take care of my family and to begin building my house. I can’t believe I wasted these talents all these years”.
What we are doing in areas of wealth creation is beginning to yield fruits and by the time we are done, we would have millionaires among us, who were able to use their God given talents to create wealth for themselves. Wealth creation is not about giving people hand-outs, but by showing them the ways to create wealth in a sustainable manner.
In my Sixth month Anniversary speech, I had told you, my dear people, that even though I was elected on the platform of the PDP, that I will remain the Governor of all Akwa Ibom people irrespective of political affiliation and label. I had also pleaded with my opponents in the 2015 election to join hands with me and build a great and prosperous State because the issues and concerns of the Akwa Ibom people know no political labels.
I have worked hard to abide by this conviction. We have made several outreach efforts to our brothers and sisters on the other side of the political divide, and I am asking them again to join us as we put the building blocks and concrete for a more inclusive and economically sustainable State for us all. In the distribution of amenities and projects, we have covered the entire three senatorial districts which comprises the 10 Federal constituencies. The distribution of projects and interventions is not based on political consideration; we believe that at heart, we are one people, one soul and one destiny. Political parties represent just a label but the spirit and soul of our people remain one.
In the past two years, we have worked hard and tackled poverty with messianic zeal. We have given interest free loans to farmers across the State and have diversified our economy away from over-dependence on oil to agriculture.
Through Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme (AKEES,) our people have embraced farming and today, we are producing tomatoes and onions in commercial quantity. Our Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency remains committed to ensuring that we produce enough food to feed our people and that the prices of food stuff will be affordable. We have re-introduced the second planting season for enhanced food production as well as the cultivation of 400 hectares of cassava multiplication farms across the three senatorial districts. We have also cultivated 800 hectares of land for the planting of cassava under the FADAMA 3+ financial scheme. We have distributed special fertilizers to Cocoa farmers to achieve optimal yield. The Hatchery in Uruan is fulfilling its purpose of producing day old chicks, and thousands of people have benefited from this programme. It is a known fact that some of the richest people in the world are farmers and I am happy to say that our people are fast embracing agriculture.
We had campaigned under the bold promise to expand infrastructural development and I want to say boldly here that we have delivered for our people in a profound and significant way. In spite of the scarcity of resources, we have turned our State into one big construction site. To date, there are over 700 km of roads and 17 bridges completed or at various levels of completion.
1) 3.5km Ikot Udom Road with 30 meter Span Bridge.
2) 1.05km Information Drive in Uyo
3) 1km Awa-Iman Road in ONNA
4) 3.7Km Maryanne Street in Oron
5) 1.5km Efiat Lane in Oron
6) 1.2km Post office Lane in Oron
7) 14km Efiat Street in Oron
8) 3.5Km Awaanasin Street – Oron
10) 9.7km Mkpok – Okat Road
11) Internal Roads in Cornelia Cornelly College (CCC)
12) Dualization of the 19.5KM Eket-Ibeno Road
13) Dualization of the 23.3KM Eket-Etinan Road with 3No Bridges
14) Construction of Roads in Shelter Afrique Estate, Uyo
15) Construction of Abak Nsekhe – Ikot Akpa Nkuk- Ikot Etim – Ikara – Ikot Ibritam (PHASE111).
16) Construction of Ring Road 11KM Ring Road 3.
17) Construction of 55.1KM Ibaka Super Highway with 3 Spurs and 3 Bridges.
18) Construction of 1.9KM Internal Road in College of Education.
19) Construction OF 4KM Mbiatok – Ekit Itam-Mbiaya Uruan Road with Spur in Uruan
20) Construction of Ndon Eyo – Ikot Akpatek-Ikwe-Odio Road with a Flyover across East West Road in ONNA
21) Construction of 7.5KM Obio Ubium/Edem Idim Okpot/Okat Aran with 2No Bridges and Spur.
22) 25km dualized Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road
23) 16.41km Nto Edino – Ekwere Azu Road with 2No. 45m Span Bridge.
24) 4.6km College of Science and Technology Road, Nung Ukim, Ikono
25) 14.1km Ikpe Ikot Nkon-Obotme- Arochukwu Road with 110m Bridge
26) 14.0km Abak Nsekhe-Ikot Akpa Nkuk-Ikot Etim-Ikot Ikara Road (Phase III Section A) Ikot Ikara to Ikot Ibritam
27) 6.1km Atan Offot Road, Uyo
28) 6.0km Idiaba Nsi-Ikot Abasi (Nung Udoe) Road
29) 25.km Uyo – Etinan Road
Work is at advanced stage on the Second Runway at the Ibom International Airport. We are investing heavily in all the three gateways of growth and development-land, sea and air.
The central plank of my campaign was on the need to rapidly industrialize this State and create jobs and opportunities for our people, and I am happy to report that in spite of the harsh economic climate, in spite of the fact that our exchange rate had gone from the budgeted 195 Naira to a dollar to over 500 Naira to a dollar for the most part of 2016, we have been able to attract investments to this State.
In the course of activities leading up to our Second Anniversary, I commissioned a toothpick and pencil making factory in Ekom Iman. The Jubilee Syringe factory in Onna is close to completion, while the flour mills in Okat and metering factory will soon come on stream. I also flagged off the coconut refinery in Mkpat Enin.
Today, the Ibom power company is generating over 153 megawatts of electricity with power distribution sub-stations in 4-lanes, Uyo and Ekim in Mkpat Enin. To tackle flooding which has been a major menance in Nsikak Eduok Avenue in Uyo for decades, we have spent billions of naira to construct and commission an underground drainange and Erosion control system. It may interest you to know my dear people that the Bureau of Statistics in its recent report, stated that Akwa Ibom State attracted the second largest inflow of Foreign Direct investment in Nigeria.
We have been able to achieve this because of the creative approach we have adopted in managing and selling our state to foreign investors. No matter how much bad blood our opponents try to inject into your minds, no matter the l