By Umoh-Obong Kingsley |
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, has credited the achievements recorded by his administration in the last three years to God Almighty and to the good people of the state who graciously entrusted him the sceptre of leadership, saying that the years had witnessed and enjoyed amazing periods of God’s protection in the State.
Describing the oath of office he took on assumption of office in 2015 as a sacred covenant, which vouches irrevocable, uncompromising and resolute commitment to do good to all manners of people, he stated that with irresistible evidence, soaring hope and inspired faith, the event was not his triumph, but the victory of Akwa Ibom State.
In his 2018 Democracy Day speech, Gov Emmanuel stressed that it was the beginning of a revolutionary renewal, not the end of a race for the State. “Like the 28th American President Woodrow Wilson said, ‘the object of love is to serve not to win.’ Though I was elected massively in 2015, I believe the real victor in that election was the ordinary Akwa Ibom man and woman.
“Consequently, my duty has been to render selfless, transparent, integrity-laden and Christ-centric service to you, my beloved Akwa Ibomites, and thereby justify the confidence reposed in me by our Heavenly Father and your good selves.”
The Governor noted his administration came prepared to win and not to make excuses, to secure the future based on the strength and promise of yesterday and the goodness of heart and ingenuity of the people, which have won accolades and commendations even from leaders and institutions of the opposing political party, such as the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) who early this year, gave him the Integrity and National Service Award, right inside Aso Rock.
It could be recalled that Gov Emmanuel had, during his oath of office, promised to be a servant-Leader, to transform the economy of the state through industrialization, consolidate and expand infrastructure, secure lives and property, empower men, women and youths and to give all Akwa Ibom persons a sense of belonging.
He also vowed to undertake rural development and integration, to have good working relationship with all the other arms of Government, to boost tourism, commerce and trade, and to build on the foundation laid by his predecessor among other promises which he graciously delivered within his three-year administration.
Over 1,701 kilometres of roads and 35 bridges have been constructed and commissioned across the state opening up the hinterland; menaces in the society have been made to face the full and merciless wrath of the law; his transparency in government has received national acclaim; workers are paid promptly and regularly
It is noteworthy that the Udom-led administration does everything against the run of play, defied the odds and the circumstances and thrived in turbulent waters and steered the ship to safe harbours. Akwa Ibom soared even when the oil prices dropped and were elevated when the nation had hyper-recession, to becoming the second State with the most Foreign Direct Investment as reported by the National Bureau of Statistics.
ROADS AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Over 1,700km of roads have been commissioned or at various stages of completion, 35 bridges have been completed; and the State Secretariat Annex has been completed. Other projects include the 21-Storey Office Complex which will house the International Oil Companies and change the skyline of Uyo metropolis; the ongoing construction of the 2nd Airport Runway and the upgrade of the Airport Main Runway to Category 2.
It is noteworthy, Akwa Ibom is the only state to own and maintain an International Airport. Additionally, flood control project at Nsikak Eduok Avenue, Uyo, has checkmated the flood menace, which led to occasional traffic gridlocks in Uyo.
The State Government has invested huge resources conscious of the fact that the children must be prepared to compete with their counterparts in an increasingly shrinking globalized and highly competitive world. The Free and compulsory basic education in public schools; recruitment of 4,761 quality teachers; and provision of safe, and conducive learning environment for pupils and students are paramount.
Akwa Ibom pupils and students study under the most welcoming of surroundings, and plans are underway by the Inter-Ministerial and Direct Labour Committee to refurbish and refit a few buildings that are not in an acceptable state. Over seven (7) community secondary schools have been taken-over and turned into model and modern schools, equipped with modern amenities; constructed and renovated 400 school blocks and we have undertaken 700 intervention projects.
Strategic interventions have also been taken in tertiary institutions – roads, equipment, academic blocks, etc. Subventions have been paid, free text books and other educational materials procured and distributed to public primary and secondary schools; over N600 million WAEC fees paid for children in public secondary schools annually; The Akwa Ibom State College of Arts & Science, Nung Ukim, Ikono has been upgraded to a College of Science and Technology, as well as provided significant support for the establishment of the Nigerian Navy School in Oruk Anam and Army School in Etinan.
The Power Infrastructure has been raised to meet international standards with the construction of three Injector Stations to complement the Ibom Power Plant. This forms the bedrock of the industrialization drive with Ibom Deep Sea Port as a pivotal project alongside the logistics hub, the industrial city and international Jetty.
The Syringe Manufacturing Factory (the Largest in Africa), the Electric Digital Metering Solutions Manufacturing Factory (the best in Nigeria) and the Pencil and Toothpick factory, are already in operation. The Peacock Paint Industry has been resuscitated and it is now in full operation. The Plastic Manufacturing Factory, the Fertilizer Blending Factory and Rice Processing Mill are ready for commissioning. New street lights along Oron Road, leading to the Airport have been mounted. Other projects which are in the offing include the Flour Mills and Coconut Refinery.
With kin determination to diversify the economy from over-dependence on oil, the state government under the leadership of Gov Udom Emmanuel, has made huge gains in agriculture. To date, work is on-going in the 11,000 hectares Coconut Plantation; and 16,000 hectares Cassava Plantation projects in 15 LGAs. 450 youths have been trained in cocoa maintenance, shedding and pruning and they are using these skills to grow cocoa all over the state.
It has also subsidized fertilizers and given oil palm and cocoa seedlings to farmers all over the State. Other projects include the Akwa Prime Hatchery, which produces 10,000 day old chicks weekly; the cultivation of over 100 hectares of rice, and the Free Improved Corn seed distribution program for farmers. We have constructed Vegetable Greenhouses which are ready for commissioning.
Constructions of 33 Cassava Micro-Processing Mills are ongoing; and the Training of 300 youths under the Graduate Unemployment Youth Scheme (GUYS), and all graduates in the state will be empowered with one million naira each to embark on any agricultural enterprise. Cassava Processing Factories at Ikot Okudom, Eket LGA; Nung Udoe, Ibesikpo/Asutan LGA and Ikot Ekang in Abak LGA have been refurbished and leased to private operators for the production of high quality garri, odourless foofoo and cassava flour. Over 600,000 bags of fertilizer have been produced for farmers in the State.
Over 300 rural development projects across 31 Local Government Areas; over 400 Inter-Ministerial Rural Intervention projects spanning all the 31 local government areas of the state; and rehabilitation/construction of over 500km of rural feeder roads are on-going. For the records, there is no local government that does not have more than 10 on-going intervention projects in.
A healthy population is a productive population, therefore, in the health sector, over 50 Containers of state-of-the-art medical equipment have been delivered and are currently being distributed to various hospitals; construction and upgrading of secondary healthcare facilities across the State; reconstruction and equipping of the General Hospital, Etinan; and the ongoing reconstruction of Ituk Mbang General Hospital. The Ikono General hospital has been completely renovated and equipped with the first of its kind digital medical records facilities in the State. Also noteworthy is that the state is building the Best Trauma Centre in Nigeria in a joint effort with ExxonMobil, which will come on stream in the next 18 months.
Other ongoing projects include rehabilitation of Ikot Okoro General Hospital; Awa Cottage Hospital; Relief for over 4,000 mal-nourished children; free screening and treatment of over 15,000 people for various eye diseases undertaken by Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Path Initiative (FEYReP), a pet project of the Governor’s Wife, Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel; training of 20 Biomedical Engineers; provision of residential quarters for 48 House Officers in the State Hospitals and 50 in the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH); accreditation for Schools of Nursing, with 272 Registered Nurses; training and certification of 100 Doctors and Nurses in Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) with Medical Emergency Experts from the USA; and procurement of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and Electrocardiograph (ECG) Machines for use in Emergency Response (now fitted in all our ambulances).
YOUTH EMPOWERMENT & CAPACITY BUILDING
Over 20,000 youths have been trained in various skills, and undertaken the Construction of 10 Modern Sports Centres. In collaboration with ExxonMobil, state is building what would be the best Faculty of Engineering at the University of Uyo, alongside a Skills Development Centre in Ikot Akata, Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, which will train the needed manpower for the oil industry, and is affiliated with the Akwa Ibom State University, Ikot Akpaden. N2 billion interest free loan given to small scale entrepreneurs and traders. The First and Second Akwa Ibom State Youth Sports Festival organised successfully. Through sound financial planning, investment and management, Akwa Ibom has become the Football Capital of Nigeria, as it hosted the Super Eagles to becoming the first African Team to qualify for Russia 2018 World Cup with a match still to play, the first state in Nigeria to successfully host a reigning European Champion; Spanish La Liga powerhouse, Atletico Madrid, in a friendly football match against our Super Eagles in Uyo. Akwa Ibom State is now on the world map of football. All Akwa Ibomites should be proud of this achievement.
Other notable feats include Akwa United winning the Nigeria FA Cup twice in the three years under my watch; Ibom Angels emerging runners up in the 2017 Nigeria Female FA Cup (The first time a female team from the state has ever qualified for the finals of a major national competition); Team Akwa Ibom finishing 2nd on the medal table at the 2017 National Sports Festival; Akwa Ibom receiving three Excellence Awards on Sports Development from the Federal Government; Renovation/reconstruction of Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, and Eket Sports Stadia in the State; and the promotion and sponsorship of 4 state football teams namely Akwa United, Akwa Starlet, Ibom Angels and Ibom Youth FC.
SOCIAL WELFARE SECTOR
In partnership with, FEYReP, the state has recorded huge achievements such as caring for over Eight Hundred (800) Orphans and less-privileged children in four Government Homes at Uyo and the one at Ikot Ekpene, some of whom are presently in higher institutions; provision of N200,000.00 grant each for about 500 women organizations across the 31 LGAs to enable them leverage on the public-partnership Initiative of the State Government.
Others include the provision of grants and material aids to about 600 widows and 350 mothers with multiple births across the 31 LGAs to boost their businesses and alleviate poverty; in collaboration with FEYReP; the implementation of the Child Rights Law and prosecution of Child’s Rights offenders in collaboration with the Akwa Ibom State Judiciary and Ministry of Justice, Security services, Police etc. Over 200 cases have been recorded since 29th May 2015 and 120 have received judgment; Donation of over two hundred (200) wheel Chairs and one hundred (100) Special Writing Desks for physically challenged persons in tertiary institutions and secondary schools; training of 20 visually impaired persons in different skills at the Nigerian Farm Craft Centre, Lagos and subsequent empowerment for them to start up their businesses in the trade learnt; and sponsorship of 155 widows to Jerusalem (Pilgrimage) led by Her Excellency, the Wife of the Executive Governor; donation of material aids to over 2,000 members of Market Women Frontline; and the empowerment of widows through the Widows Empowerment Scheme and Financial Empowerment to widows registered with the Ministry.
CULTURE AND TOURISM
The State Government, in the last three years, has raised its stature to national reckoning. The 30th Anniversary last year, with the Colour me Orange campaign was a national sensation, which had driven tourists to the State. The State continues to be the destination of choice for most events. Hospitality industry is growing and keeping pace with the influx of people into the State.