By Umoh-Obong Kingsley
Whoever builds a house on the Rock could go through storms yet remains unshaken.
In 2015 when Mr. Udom Emmanuel mounted the saddle as Governor of Akwa Ibom, he practically took the state from the cradle, as it was solely civil service-dependent. Many had criticised why he ventured into long term projects rather than focusing on their ‘immediate wants’. Little did they know that the need for those things would arise sooner than they ever expected.
Governor Emmanuel started with the Dakkada philosophy, a clarion call to every son and daughter of Akwa Ibom State to rise to the faith of greatness; a voice of hope and vision of a brighter future in each and every Akwa Ibomite, reminding them of the true potentials they truly possess. Many heeded the call and discovered their hidden potentials and today, their products have flooded the markets.
The lockdown exercise occasioned by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, has revealed Governor Emmanuel’s quest for sustainable development through agriculture, as food is the first basic need of man before any other. The goal of achieving self-sufficiency in food production for local consumption and export is within sight in Akwa Ibom State.
In his first term, the Governor took agriculture from the hitherto subsistence level to a level at which it can be a source of livelihood for farmers, feed the people of the state and also be a foreign exchange earner. The cultivation of 2,100 hectares of cassava plantation in 15 local government areas under the FADAMA project; cultivation of 1,200 hectares of rice; registration of 40,000 rice farmers for the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers Programme; training of 450 youths on cocoa maintenance and distribution of 500,000 improved cocoa seedlings to farmers across 28 cocoa producing local government areas at highly subsidized rates, are strings of achievements to show for his efforts.
The government set up the Akwa Prime Hatchery that produces at least 10,000 birds weekly; constructed the Vegetable Greenhouse and constructed cassava micro-processing mills across the state. It also planted 500 citrus seedlings, 600 hybrid plantain suckers and 1,000 pineapple suckers, among many others, with a promise to boost the agricultural sector with a new policy framework that would make the state self-sufficient in food production, generate employment in the sector and also create wealth in the entire agricultural value chain.
Top on his agricultural agenda is establishment of agro processing and allied industries before he bows out on May, 29, 2023. Among industries that are under consideration are fruit and vegetable juice production; cassava and potato production; edible oil production; salt refinery; animal feed production, sanitary wares; water treatment plant and ice making. Others are bottling line for water, juice and oil, as well as establishment of an Akwa Ibom integrated cassava programme to be known as Dakkada Cassava Task Force.
Other projects on which the Udom Emmanuel-led administration will focus on in his Completion Agenda include the Tilapia Aquaculture Project; development of marine fisheries and fish farm estate projects; procurement and establishment of seafood processing facilities with domestic and foreign markets as targets, as well as fish production. With adequate incentives like agricultural seedlings, fertilizer, simplification of access to credit facilities under favourable terms and the right infrastructure, people are not going to require any prodding to see agriculture as the business that it is, not just a vocation for providing food for the family.
Governor Emmanuel fervently believes in the epigram that Health is wealth. This belief has informed the massive turn around in the health sector that the State has witnessed in the past years of his administration, including the Ibom Specialist Hospital, Uyo; Immanuel General Hospital, Eket; General Hospital, Urua Ata, Ikot Ekpor; General Hospital, Etinan; General Hospital, Ikpe Annang; General Hospital, Ikono; General Hospital, Ikot Abasi and General Hospital, Ikot Ekpene.
Others are General Hospital, Ikot Okoro; General Hospital, Iquita Oron; General Hospital, Itu; General Hospital, Ituk Mbang; General Hospital, Oruko; General Hospital, Mbioto II; Dental Centre, Eket; Dental Centre, Ikot Ekpene; Psychiatric Hospital, Eket; Mary’s Hospital, Urua Akpan; Mercy Hospital, Abak; Redeemer Cottage Hospital, Ibesit; Divine Hospital, Utu Etim Ekpo; Luke’s Hospital, Anua, Uyo
St Theresa’s Hospital, Use Abat; Camel Hospital, Akpautong and Leprosy Hospital, Ekpene Obom among others.
The 300-bed Isolation Centre for Quarantine and Prevention of Infectious Disease, being constructed at Ituk Mbang in Uruan Local Government Area, a few kilometres from Uyo, the state capital, is designed to contain Modernized Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Administrative Block, Clinical Laboratories, 20 residential rooms for doctors, Control room where doctors could dump their already used PPEs before and after attending to patients, two generating sets of 150kva and 200kva capacity, modern facilities, canteen that could contain over 40 persons and intercom lines for internal communication between doctors and nurses, among others.
The hospital complements the existing facility in Ikot Ekpene, which also serves as an infectious disease hospital in the state. This development has enabled Akwa Ibom to stand out in the fight against COVID-19 over other states of the federation, thereby making people who may have noticed symptoms of COVID-19, smuggle their ways into the state with the belief that pandemic is well handled in the state, despite the nationwide interstate lockdown enforcement.
Kingsley writes from Uyo