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By Priscilla Christopher

On Sunday, February 23, the Conference of Online Publishers in Akwa Ibom State (COOPA) touched the shores of Lagos State, specifically, venue of the 2020 Social Media Week hosted by the centre of Excellence, to sell the Akwa Ibom brand.

With its ring message being “Experience Akwa Ibom”, the Publishers called on indigenes of Akwa Ibom, visitors and investors across tribes and races to come, live, work and invest in the land of promise using the orange-coloured printed flex flung throughout the 6-day event.

COOPA which aims at rebranding Akwa Ibom State using every viable platform on social media thus created a stir across the length and breadth of Landmark event centre, Lekki, as well as the entire social media handles – an activity which has continued to trend till date.

The “Experience Akwa Ibom” campaign launched on Thursday, the 4th day of the Social Media Week had members of COOPA stand at strategic locations of the event venue with the inscription “Experience Akwa Ibom. Come. Live. Work. Invest”.

According to the Chancellor of COOPA, Ifreke Nseowo, the campaign was geared at advancing narratives that will unveil the beauty of Akwa Ibom State to the world in order to attract investments into the State.

Nseowo offered insights to the fact that the clarion call on people to come, live, work and invest in the State transcends political leanings and stays blind to primordial sentiments as it seeks to help Akwa Ibom leverage on the strength of hospitality, security and cutting edge infrastructure in generating a conversation that will bring Nigerians to embrace and explore the beauty of the Akwa Ibom brand.

The spiraling effect of the showcase immediately yielded result as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) got wind of the clarion call and sought the audience of the online publishers.

At the meeting, COOPA called on the BBC to include Efik/Ibibio among their language services and noted that the broadcast umpire currently broadcasts in 33 foreign languages, out of which 5 are African languages including Hausa, Igbo and Pidgin in Nigeria.

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Ifreke Nseowo again, after taking time to reel out numerous benefits the BBC stands to benefit should it make provision for Efik/Ibibio language service in its broadcast programmes, said that the duo of Akwa Ibom and Cross River States who speak the language are blessed with unique features that will give the BBC rich news content, adding that the inclusion will not only excite the people but will generate more listeners to the BBC.

“I can confidently tell you that you have a good market in Akwa Ibom State. Our State is monolithic in language. Everyone in the state and most parts of Cross River understand the Efik/Ibibio language”.

“Moreover, the state is very media conscious. And we all know that nothing endears one more than his mother tongue. Thus, when you create BBC Efik/Ibibio language service just as you have created BBC pidgin and Hausa, you are invariably building more reach and value through your content. Don’t forget too that Ibibio is the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria.”

Responding, the Head of BBC Pidgin, BBC World Service, Mr. Usifo Omozokpea, alongside Marina Forsythe, the Communications Executive, BBC World Service and Idongesit Essien, News Director, BBC, lauded the team for their overwhelming online presence and state marketing strategies and assured that their requests will be channeled to appropriate quarters.

By the end of the Social Media Week, #Experience Akwa Ibom# had gained momentum and had attracted the Lagos-based “Revelation Properties Group”, an indigenous Real Estate Company with a Corporate vision of reducing the housing deficit in Nigeria through the provision of cost-effective, genuine, Greenfield real Estate projects.

The company which has already concluded plans and taken steps toward the establishment of low-cost Housing Estate along the Akwa Ibom Airport Road disclosed that they were sure making their way to Akwa Ibom in no time.

Its Director of Realtors, Dr. Edwin Eno, had disclosed further that in the buildup to their coming to the state, they were going to ensure that with one thousand five hundred naira (N1,500), anyone could afford a property in their estate through their soft payment plan.

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“Akwa Ibom State as the next location for the real estate establishment promises to bring succor in land and home acquisition to indigents and residents of the State,” Eno said.

He mentioned previous key projects undertaken by the Company to include: Dangote Refinery, Lekki Deep Sea Port, Dangote Jetty, Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lakowe Lakes and Golf Resort, Ibeju Lekki Tourism and Heritage Centre, Merit Park, Famous Garden, Green Island, Celebrity Haven, Country Home and Blue Diamonds all in Lagos, adding that they have expanded their project location to Abuja, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Oyo and will be coming to Akwa Ibom State, adding that Revelation Properties Group is also the brain behind several Real Estate packages such as Landshop.ng, Alacrity City, Lagos; Heritage Homes, Ogun State; Stonecreek Estate; Covenant Estate, Ogun; Maiyegun Beach Estate; ADIVA 2; Emotan Gardens, Benin City; Lakowe Lakes Golf and Country Estate and several projects in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos.

The Group Managing Director of the Properties, Prince David Omaghomi while taking the team round Maiyegun Beach Estate site, adjuged Akwa Ibom State as peaceful and best to host a beach-front commercial and residential properties which he hoped will be a housing relief to prospective buyers and investors who seek beach-front homes.

With these calls and more underway, the Conference of Online Publishers have demonstrated practically the way to go in marketing the Akwa Ibom Project, proving further that it is not enough to sit at home and pray for investors to patronize the state.

True to the Chancellor’s words, “truth remains that in the current millennium, there is hardly a clime that broke even with people who do not care about what happens around them. The partnership has replaced the “mind your business” ideology. The peace of going alone can never be compared to the beauty of companionship”.

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Thus, the need for healthy collaborations with nearbys and distants cannot be overemphasized in an age where the business environment in the state cannot be more friendly, flexible and inviting as it is now, courtesy of the Governor Udom Emmanuel-led administration.

Thus, in exporting the Akwa Ibom brand on the stage of Africa’s biggest media crowd, the Conference of Online Publishers in Akwa Ibom State have aligned with the Governor Udom Emmanuel’s commitment to advancing narratives that will unveil the beauty of the fledgling economic prospects of creating a first-class State in a third world country, where Akwa Ibom State can do more and achieve more through significant collaborations.

Beyond marketing the state, COOPA also gave its members the platform to unlearn, learn and relearn digital publishing and marketing skills at the weeklong Workshop to help them stay relevant and sophisticated in the dynamic world of communication.

Courses such as the future of online publishing and how best the media can deliver were practically discussed and debated by veterans, including the Impacts of Hate Speeches on Audiences, Social Media Wars and how to combat them, Growing Audiences in a Competitive Digital Space, Survivability of the Traditional Media, Monetizing Brands, Emotional Intelligence, Digital Writing and Content Generation, Combating Fake News, Storytelling as well as lectures on social sciences were concisely taught.

It thus happened that COOPA empowered its members with the needed skills to drive growth and create value for themselves and the state at large by helping them build sustainable partnerships spanning across sectors of the economy with contacts to fall back on when the need arises.

It therefore behooves on the people of Akwa Ibom to prepare in mindset and lifestyle to accept the dividends of advocacy the COOPA is bringing into the shores of the state which will engender economic boom, more employment and goodwill for the state.

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