By Gov Udom Emmanuel
My fellow Akwa Ibomites, today, we join our dear nation in celebrating seventeen years of democracy. We rejoice that from the dark days of military dictatorship, God woke us up to a dawn of hope, and bequeathed on us the precious gift of democracy – a Government of the people, by the people and for the people. A gift which has come under attack repeatedly by floods of insecurity, sectionalism and selfishness, but has remained triumphant because of our faith and because what is born of God overcomes the machinations of man.
So today let us celebrate this treasure as well as our success in preserving it. But let us not forget that a key sub text of our national narrative on democracy is the inspirational and compelling Akwa Ibom Story. We stand at the vanguard of our nation’s democratic journey as the people who have benefitted most, and earned the greatest dividends, from democracy, in terms of being blessed by people-centric leaders. But we stand as the tribe of Joseph in the wilderness of complacency. The tribe of Joseph, having the dreamer Joseph, as their ancestor, were never satisfied because their dreams were always greater than their possessions and inheritance.
As the sons and daughters of ancestors who dared to dream of State creation for our nation, who were the first to dream of community scholarship schemes, who were the first to dream of building community schools; we must dream of possibilities where others see impossibilities, dream of highways where others see obstacles and dream of guardianship where others see predators. We must never say die and we must never retreat or surrender.
When the baton of leadership exchanged hands between the last administration and our administration, the mantle of dreaming new dreams, expanding our opportunities and stretching our horizons fell on us. And in the last one year, we have sought to provide vision, motivation, direction and inspiration for a new Akwa Ibom State packaged as an oasis of industrialization and good governance in our country. This is our dream.
Though our national economy is experiencing challenges, our dreams are in expansion. There may be famine in the land, but right in this land, because we are dreamers, we are planting seeds and, like Isaac, we will reap a hundred fold. What is the difference? God’s word that says that when men shall say that there is a casting down your testimony shall be that there is a lifting up.
So today my brothers, sisters and fellow pilgrims in the divine journey of Akwa Ibom State, there is a lifting up and we are marching on. Our compass points remain the five point agenda of this administration namely; wealth creation, economic and social inclusion, poverty alleviation, infrastructural consolidation and expansion and job creation. By God’s grace in each of these five areas we have scored monumental successes in just one year.
We have put Akwa Ibom on an onward journey. The three Technical Committees on Direct Foreign Investment, Agriculture and Food Sufficiency, and Ibom Deep Seaport, which we formed at the inception of this administration, have risen to the challenge of strengthening our economic stakes. We pay tribute to them and solicit your prayers for them.
The Bible enjoins us to enlarge the place of our tents. You can only do this by rising to the faith of greatness and knowing that once the passion is right; nothing is impossible. Look around you and the evidence of enlarging our tents abound in what we have achieved in just one year. You have the Automobile Assembly Plant in Itu, the LED Industry in Itam, the Metering Industry in Awa-Iman, Onna. We have also flagged off the Coconut Plantation and refinery situated in parts of in Mkpat Enin, Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo Local Government Areas. We have also done the groundbreaking for Petro Chemical/Jetty Project in Ibeno and signed numerous MoU’s with investors who would soon develop refineries as well as clay refining in our state.
We believe that the glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former. Just years ago we were the fourth largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria. We lost that position. But we are back on the move towards topping the cocoa chart in Nigeria through programmes to revitalize cocoa farming. Cocoa, it bears mention, is more expensive than crude oil in the global marketplace. We are on the march to greatness.
This is a youth-friendly government, and we know that unemployment is the major scourge of the youths. We are designing plans to provide opportunities for our youths and give them employment. Our belief is that our youths should earn a living through the works of their hands as opposed to begging for a living. In the same vein, we have set up loan schemes for small-scale businesses, especially for our women.
In the build-up to this milestone, we have commissioned numerous roads completed by this administration. So far, we have constructed over 200 kilometers of roads, and 15 bridges across the three senatorial districts. Communities that were once cut off have been opened up. Some moribund industries such as the Peacock Paint in Etinan have been revitalized and is in production. We hope to do same to other companies in line with our commitment to industrializing our dear state.
We have intervened in a number of places ravaged by gulley erosion – Calabar Itu road and St. Luke’s Hospital, Anua are prime examples. Electricity has improved tremendously in our state and several communities such as those in Okobo and Eastern Obolo now enjoy regular electricity. We built a new block at St Lukes Hospital, Anua and named it after that legendary missionary “Dr Ann Ward.” and reconstructed paediatrics and admin blocks. The Ibom Specialist Hospital, has since commenced operations. We have trained thousands of our youths in various areas of ICT, Agriculture and power. We have embarked on the remodelling of some of our urban centres especially in Eket and Oron townships. Few days ago I commissioned over 6.6km internal roads in Oron with outfall drains to the excitement of the people. We are currently building ten sports academies in our ten Federal constituencies, one of which I commissioned in Itam. In our determined effort to arrest the menace of flooding in parts of Uyo metropolis, I inspected an ongoing underground drainage line which will bring succour to the people in the capital city.
Let me pay tribute to my dear wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel for the great work she has done in advancing the cause of women and families in our State. She has, in line with our Five-Point Agenda, brought succor to the weary, hope to the forlorn and strength to the weak. Her uplifting programme, Family Empowerment and Youth Re-orientation Program (FEYREP) has become a pool of Bethesda providing solutions to the problems of multitudes.
We have done more than we can compress into a single address. Suffice it to State that what we have done is in the public space, in the Internet, in newspapers and you can check them out for yourself. Then would you be able to count your blessings and it would surprise you what God has done through us in just one year.
My dear Akwa Ibomites, therefore, let us not only thank God for the gift of democracy, but let us also thank Him for making our state the showpiece of democracy. Let us never forget that to whom much is given, much is expected. Let us face tomorrow with greater commitment to unity, love and brotherhood. When we stand united no foe can defeat us. It was our collective faith that defended our mandate at the Supreme Court and gave every Akwa Ibom person born and unborn victory. Our collective faith shall continue to defend us against every tongue that rises in judgement and no weapon fashioned against us shall prosper.
I am under oath to do good to all manners of persons while executing this office of Governor in trust for all Akwa Ibom people. Let me use this opportunity and this blessed occasion to state in clear and unequivocal terms that I bear no one any ill will. My divine mandate is to bless Akwa Ibom State and its people. This is a great and noble task and no one would distract me from it. As many as would want to join me in rebuilding the walls of this great State, I welcome such with open arms irrespective of party affiliation, religious persuasion or ethnic affinity. Every Akwa Ibomite is a stakeholder in the Akwa Ibom project.
I urge all of us to rise to the faith of greatness knowing that He who began a good work in us is faithful to complete it. My prayer today, and which we enjoin you to join usry, is that God will continue to lift us up where we belong, where the eagles fly, up on the mountains high. And may we arrive that divine destination together and to God’s glory. Akwa Ibom Dakkada. Ami mme dakka nda.
Thank you and God bless Akwa Ibom State.
Being text of a broadcast by Governor Udom Emmanuel, to mark the 2016 Democracy Day Celebration in Akwa Ibom State.