That Akwa Ibom State is standing tall as one of the only three States in Nigeria with the highest recovery rate of COVID-19 cases according to statistics by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, is not just by happenstance.
Again, that the Centre has scored Akwa Ibom 99 percent in contact tracing for suspected cases of COVID-19 is another feat, that cannot be wished away as a commonplace phenomenon.
But as the visionary Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel has emphatically reiterated, COVID-19 pandemic did not meet Akwa Ibom State Government unprepared.
There has been a concerted planned, well defined and designed sustainable Health infrastructure roadmap with the attendant facilities on ground to manage and handle the protocol that revolves round the treatment and curtailing of the spread of the pandemic in the State thus attracting such enviable records of successes and attainments in the fight against COVID-19 so far by NCDC.
With over 407 medical doctors, 2000 nurses, Respiratory and Internal Medicine Consultants working seamlessly in health institutions across the state, energized and motivation by the high emolument and welfare packages in comparison to those of their counterparts in other States of the Federation and even those under the Federal Government payroll, it is therefore not a fallacy that, the government of Governor Udom Emmanuel was well grounded long before the advent of the killer Coronavirus.
In addition to the impressive numerical strength of top notch medical professionals being applauded worldwide for the heroic exploits in the discharge of over 8 negative tested patients after passing through their expertise and magical fingers at the World class state-of-the-arts Isolation centre in the Ibom Specialty Hospital, ISH, Akwa Ibom State Government boasts of time tested state-of-the-art medical equipment to combat medical emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic with 19 ventilators, Oxygen plant and other required medical facilities and accessories.
Notable too is the fact that, each of the ten Federal Constituencies in the State has at least one modernized and digitized secondary health institution fully equipped with 2019 model of medical equipment including digitized beds in the wards to computerized patients filing records unit as well as state-of-the-art operation theartres.
As far 2017, just two years in office, Governor Udom Emmanuel had established the emergency operations center and oxygen plant at the Infectious Disease Hospital, IDH in Ikot Ekpene which also has 18 beds in the Isolation centre, in addition to the 25 beds at the Isolation centre of the Ibom Specialty Hospital as well as 4 more beds still for isolated COVID-19 cases at Immanuel General Hospital in Eket.
With all these facilities long put in place under the sustainable health infrastructure project of the present administration, there is no justifiable reason then, why Akwa Ibom State would not have scored nor will not continue to score very high in ranking when issues of COVID-19 pandemic are placed on the table of discourse by health oriented Agencies like NCDC and even the World Health Organization, WHO.
And as the committed and foresighted leader who sees tomorrow, the champion of the war against COVID-19 in Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel aptly opined, “My government goes for sustainable development so all infrastructures are of high quality and must be in accordance with International best practices” . Taking a look at the soon to be completed 300 bed Isolation centre at Ituk Mbang, for instance, the Governor came out clean on the high standard of the health infrastructure when he stated inter alia “people critized me for putting up a Five Star Isolation Centre for COVID-19 patients at Ituk Mbang. And I told them, there is no substitute to life, every one person in Akwa Ibom State is very important”.
To buttress this point, the Isolation centre, according to Governor Udom Emmanuel, is constructed according to specifications set by the Word Health Organization, WHO. The beds are all connected to the large Gas/Oxygen Cylinder which is not produced in Nigeria.
One cannot claim to be oblivious of the harsh economic realities confronting the world now with the economic lockdown at the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, spreading like wild fire and eating deep into the financial coffers of government, corporate bodies and organizations. With the closure of borders, shut down of travels by road, air and sea, the untold hardship and downturns in resources and income are unquantifiable.
How then would economies of the world survive the excruciating effects of COVID-19 except with focused sustainable infrastructures by visionary leaders in the mold of Governor Udom Emmanuel who have in place well tailored enduring infrastructural facilities that are not only income spinning but also capable of alleviating poverty, creating job opportunities, churning out wealth and stimulating the economy along with enterprising small and medium scale entrepreneurs, SMEs.
At the last count, Akwa Ibom State Government which is rated as number one in Nigeria in attracting the highest volume of Foreign Direct Investments, FDI, only second to Lasos, has over 18 industries running. The State is home to the aviation bride of the skies, Ibomair, now with 4 mint aircrafts in the fleet, the largest Syringe Factory in Africa with an annual production capacity of 400 million syringes per annum, the first digitized Metering Factory, the Fertilizer blending factory, the Kings flour mill, the Lion Plywood, Rice mills and over 36 cassava/Garri processing factories, among others.
All these companies are creating jobs for the teeming youths as well as producing food and other consumables for the people of Akwa Ibom State in line with the vision of Governor Udom Emmanuel to ensure that 80 percent of consumables of the people are produced in the state.
On assumption of Office in May 2019, Governor Udom Emmanuel had pledged his commitment to leave Akwa Ibom State better than he met it by providing the people with people-oriented projects which are sustainable enough to outlive the tenure of his administration. He kicked off with the construction of roads, he termed “economic roads’ linking the hinterlands to the capital city for ease of evacuation of agricultural produce and constructed Power sub-stations, with the realization of the importance of Power as a major catalist in sustainable development.
Within his first 100 days in office, he revamped the moribund Peacock Paint industry, rehabilitate St. Lukes hospital, Annua and carried out massive rehabilitation campaigns in public primary and secondary schools across the state.
The Virgin Coconut Oil refinery is coming on stream, the Ibom Deep Sea Port, a Mega project in the gulf of Guinea, is gaining momentum in Akwa Ibom State just as the 21- storey smart building, a bait for multi nationals and IOCs is nearing completion in the capital City all sustainable infrastructures geared at shoring-up the economy of the state nowvbattered by the fangs of COVID-19.
Ever wondered what would have been the plight of Akwa Ibom people during the lockdown if Governor Udom Emmanuel did not dive squarely into sustainable Agricultural infrastructure. The state-owned Flour mill, Rice mills and Cassava/Garri processing factories produced every single grain of rice and Garri provided as palliatives to the people which trickled to the poorest of the poor in all nooks and crannies of the state, using the village structure.
All these are clear pointers and eloquent testimonies to the fact that the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel was long balanced with sustainable infrastructures before Coronavirus came knocking.
It is hopefull that, with the vigour put into research at various laboratories across the globe for a suitable vaccine for COVID-19, the pandemic will soon be eradicated, but till then, the panacea and best antidote to counter the current devastating economic realities of COVID-19 the world over, from the practical standpoint of what is tenable in Akwa Ibom State is Sustainable infrastructure.
©Grace Akpan, Uyo.