Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-udo, the Political Leader of Ikono Local Government Area who is leading his people to a place of pride in the Political sphere of Akwa Ibom State, appraises Governor Udom Emmanuel’s performance in one year. Excerpts:
How will you assess Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration in the last one year?
The Governor has done so very well in the last one year. He has beaten the expectation of many people who thought that it only politicians who been the system for long can be in leadership position. As administrator and a seasoned career professional, he has done so well and has taken our State far above other State in Nigeria in terms of developmental programmes.
Governor Udom Emmanuel is the Governor of our State at a time his kind of skills and experiences are needed to drive the economy of our State to the next level. In the last one year, he has steadily piloted the ship of governance and has prudently managed the State amidst dwindling resources. In one year, he has set solid foundations and builds the bedrocks for industrial revolution of our State, despite the challenging economic situation. The industries he is building and the many infrastructures put in place with this period are indication that we are on the right path to the fulfillment of the industrialization dream of our State. The revitalization of Peacock Paint Limited at Etinan, the Automobile Plant, the Fertilizer Plants at Abak, Metre Assembling Plant in ONNA and many others are lofty initiatives he put in place within one year. So he is on the right track and he is committed to his campaign promises to the people of Akwa Ibom State.
One year is too short to begin to assess his achievements but he has convinced us beyond doubt. Look at what he is doing to create jobs for the teaming Akwa Ibom youths, the revolution in Agriculture, the Coconut Refinery and many others.
Governor Udom has the right vision for this State and he has done wonderfully well. You may not know this but it will surprise you to know that there some State Governments in this country have not done up to half of what he has done. He has done well. I give it to him.
Your local government area is a beneficiary of a proposed healthcare facility, do you see that as part of the administration’s drive towards Industrialization?
Our Governor is committed and serious about the industrialization of Akwa Ibom State. That is one of the five-point agenda of this administration and he has so lived up to the bidding. Healthcare is one area this administration has also paid serious attention about because it has to do with the well-being of the people. That the General Hospital in Ikono is marked for rebuilding to provide healthcare service to the people within the area is a welcome development and shows Governor Udom’s commitment to the provision of healthcare facility within all communities in the State. The Ikono General Hospital, when after the remodeling, will serve the healthcare needs of Ikono and the neighbouring Local Government Areas like Ini, Ikot Ekpene, Obot Akara and Essien Udim. It is a wonderful initiative that holds the best for the greatest number.
The present administration of Mr. Udom has industrialization as it prime objective, how do you think this will help the economy of the State?
The last administration in the State focused on transformation of the State, building infrastructure. The next stage of our development is Industrialization and that is what Governor Udom Emmanuel is doing. Industrialization holds high hope for Akwa Ibom State and will boost the economy of the State in no small measure.
At first, consider the number of people that will be employed to work in those industries. This will reduce unemployment; reduce crime and violence in the society. On the other hand, it will boost the internally generated revenue of the State and expands the frontier of our development. It is the right decision and the way forward for our economy at this point in time.
In what way do you think Udom’s advent has been of gain to Akwa Ibom People?
The emergence of Udom as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State is the best thing for our State at this moment of economic down turn. He came at the right time to prudently manage the affairs of this State. As a matter of fact, Governor Udom is God sent. He has been able to set-sail despite the dwindling economy and still put down project that could be seen as evidence. This is good governance that requires specialty. When other States could not pay staff salary, Akwa Ibom State is different, this is because of the leader we have. If any other person had emerged, our case would have been pathetic.
Also, Governor Udom coming in as a fresh person in the system is another gain. He came from the Private Sector and has not been involve in the politics of the State. In that case he had no issues to settle with anybody, no political faction and no political enemies. Therefore, on becoming the Governor, he has become a unifying factor in the politics of our State. He is not wasting time to fight political enemies but hits the ground running with his dreams and vision for the people of Akwa Ibom State. This, I must say, is a great gain to our State because we are moving forward at a faster pace.
You are the political leader of Ikono Local Government Area, considering the fact that your predecessor was an Elderly person, how are you able to step into his shoes?
Obong (Prophet) Monday Udo Inyang of blessed memory, who was the immediate past Political Leader of Ikono was a great man, a leader and a pathfinder. I must tell you that he did great works as Political leader and ensured that Ikono was not sidelined or neglected in Political activities in the State. We are proud of his strides, we missed him so dear. But I want to tell you that he was able to give leadership because he loved his people. He was able to show direction because he had lofty dreams and visions for Ikono people, which he pursued till his last days. And since we all came from God and must return someday to Him, God called him back after using him to position the area in the right political spectrum.
I want you to know that leadership comes from God. When God appoints a leader, He also empowers him to function maximally in that office and capacity. It has nothing to do with age, it has nothing to do with where you are from or where you are not, and it also has nothing to do with your dynasty. God has a purpose for raising certain leader at a particular time. God has a mission He wants to fulfill in the lives of his people at a time he raises a particular leader. God used Prophet Monday Udoinyang to set political direction and give Ikono political significance in the political clime of our State. It was during his time as the political leader that Ikono had the first Senator in the person of Distinguished Senator Aloysious Etok, who is the first Senator from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District to serve in the Senate for two terms of his eight years. This is one of the things that will make the memory of his service to Ikono evergreen in our hearts. You must know he did not achieve all he did simply because he was elderly but because he was a leader who had the needed qualities to lead and chart the right course for the good of the people. If that is it, simply syllogism is that anyone who is imbued with same leadership qualities can step into the shoe he left behind comfortable and conveniently.
Look at the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promise Land. It was Moses that God used as the leader to bring them out of the thralldom and servitude of Pharaoh and his concomitants. But at a point when Moses concluded his assignment, God raised Joshua to continue leading the people to their place of rest. That is it in the course of life. At the end of leadership tenure of a particular leader, God raised another leader for particular assignment that is required by that generation. So it is all about God and His divine plan for the people at a particular time. God therefore has empowered me to serve the people and offer the needed leadership at this point in time. I am only but a tool in His hands, it is has nothing to do with my age, experience and others. It is God and God is doing is will for the people of Ikono.
How has it been, being the Political Leader of Ikono Local Government Area and what are the challenges?
Being the Political Leader of Ikono is a call to the service of my fatherland. It is an opportunity for me to contribute in building my area in the capacity that God has empowered me to do. It is not about being the leader but it is rather about being a servant. Like I said before, God raises leaders for a purpose and I always pray for grace to remain humble for him to continue to use me to serve my people. As for challenges, I don’t know if there are challenges. I consider every of such as an opportunity to learn something new and mount up in service to my fatherland. When God sent a man on a mission, He goes with him to deliver that mission. I am only on a mission, He who sent me is always with me to do the work and that is why I don’t have challenges.
What are your words of advice to the people of Ikono?
I advise my brothers and sisters to believe in God, believe in themselves and have faith in the fact that God created us for greatness. That is the message from our Governor on DAKKADA. Together we shall restore the glory of our Ikono as the cradle of Ibibio Nation.