Udom Emmanuel: Building the Akwa-Ibom of My Dream
Among other administrators and governors Akwa-Ibom State ever had, Udom Emmanuel is the 10th. He is however the 3rd governor to be sworn into office since the inception of democratic rule in 1999 and came on board May 29 2015. He launched his political career when he was appointed secretary to the government of Akwa-Ibom State in 2013; he went further to contest in the governorship primaries of Akwa-Ibom State in 2014 and came out successful; in 2015 he became the governor of Akwa-Ibom State after winning the state’s gubernatorial election with a majority vote. Prior to these times, Udom Emmanuel served as an Audit Manager of Price Waterhouse Coopers; Chief Financial Officer of Zenith Bank plc; Group Optimization, Financial Control and Strategic Planning Department at Zenith Bank; he also served as General Manager, Executive Director of Zenith Bank plc; and Manager of Diamond Bank. Udom Emmanuel attended the Advanced Management Program at INSEAD, France; he is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management; he holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Lagos; he obtained Advanced Certificate of Basic Studies (CBS) and Higher School Certificate (HSC) from School of Arts and Science, Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State; he attended Secondary Commercial School, Ikot Akpan Ishiet, Onna, Akwa-Ibom State. Udom was born into the family of Late Ette Teacher Gabriel Emmanuel Nkenang on July 11 1966 and he hails from Awa Iman in Onna LGA of Akwa-Ibom State. As we celebrate his 54th birthday, it becomes imperative to talk about the feat he has achieved so far as the incumbent governor of Akwa-Ibom State; hence this initiative by Raphael Edem; A Good Governance Essay. I have great dreams about Akwa-Ibom State and with the emergence of Udom Gabriel Emmanuel as the governor of Akwa-Ibom state more than half a decade ago, my dreams are becoming a reality.
I believe every good citizen wishes for or dreams of accountable leaders in all levels of leadership, because accountability is one of the best qualities a good leader should possess. Inability to account for billions of huge amount of funds have remained one of the problems some leaders in our country have been associated with over the years. The funds are allocated to these leaders and received by them, sometimes projects are flagged but at the end of the day we are only convinced that the funds were squandered rather than being used for its main purpose. When we are talking about Governor Udom Emmanuel, that is not the case because we see evidences of government funds spent in the best interest of the citizens of the state through the provision of basic social amenities such as good roads for easier transportation, provision of healthcare facilities to cater specially for pregnant women, children, and th e aged, quality education for primary and secondary school pupils and students, and so much more. Little wonder he was nicknamed “Mr. Integrity!” When every governor begins spending government funds judiciously, in a way that benefits the people, then all states in Nigeria will be a dream come true for the indigenes. I am a daughter of Itu local government area and I am proud to say that Gov Udom Emmanuel is building the Akwa-Ibom of my dreams.
Besides having an accountable leader, it is needful that a state as Akwa-Ibom has an impactful leader because this way he shows relentlessness in impacting the lives of his followers. You cannot talk about a governor who has greatly impacted the lives of his people without mentioning Gov Udom Emmanuel. The effort he exudes in order to impact the lives of Akwa-Ibom people and other citizens in Akwa-Ibom is notable. These are seen in the realization of his 5 point Agenda which he presented in a manifesto during his campaign for the governorship of Akwa-Ibom State. In Udom Emmanuel’s manifesto he promised to create wealth, ensure economic and political inclusion, alleviate poverty, consolidate and expand infrastructure, and create jobs. In Governor Udom’s years of leadership, I have come to notice that his manifesto were not merely a plot to brainwash unsuspecting electorates into electing him into power only to abandon them when the time came for him to keep to his promises. Mr. Udom Emmanuel is a man of his words and a perfect description of a dream come true for most Akwa-Ibom people. This tells much about his credibility, no wonder accountability and credibility goes hand in hand. We can see how Gov Udom Emmanuel has holistically fulfilled his promises concerning our dear State in a bid to impact indigenes and all Akwa-Ibom State citizens therein:
CREATION OF WEALTH The infrastructures Governor Udom Emmanuel builds, including social amenities such as good roads which h e provides in the state tend to attract investors; because they know that there is no hindrance in customers accessing their goods and services due to a good means of transportation in the state. Uyo, for example, is seen as a small city but visitors are usually impressed at how far it has come, so in a bid to enjoy the goodness available here, they start a business or establish a personal project that will generate income for them because of the glaring potentials for businesses to thrive. At the end of the day, not only are the owners of these businesses/ projects made richer, the GDP of our dear state is equally boosted hereby increasing wealth. Currently Akwa-Ibom State’s GDP is at 10.470 billion dollars, earning us a spot on the list of top 10 richest states in Nigeria; it feels good to be identified with wealth and riches. I could only dream of this before; but, am I not proud of my motherland today?
ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL INCLUSION Political inclusion to an extent fosters the spirit of cooperation among individuals in a community, and in the absence of ethnic/ gender discrimination, there is peace and togetherness among all. Peace, cooperation and togetherness has been made possible during the reign of Mr. Udom Emmanuel. There is no bias when it comes to political representation as all parts of the state is duly represented. Another significant thing Gov Udom Emmanuel is responsible for is the involvement of Akwa-Ibom State youths in the politics of Akwa-Ibom State today; we all dream of the involvement of youths in politics even at the federal government level but so far that is a reality in Akwa-Ibom State. The involvement of youths in politics in Akwa-Ibom State today goes a long way to reiterating the fact that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow, hence we shall prepare and equip them for the future. I am a youth and Gov Udom Emmanuel is aiding my dream of becoming a leader of tomorrow a reality. As regards the economy, the market only gets wider and better because Gov Udom Emmanuel has positioned Akwa-Ibom in a way that is promising and welcoming to investors, visitors, and tourists. A state which is the destination of the above mentioned has not only advertised herself as being economically beneficial but a prove that such state has an attractive level of economic inclusion. Gov Udom Emmanuel is also helping to ensure that the means are made available for resident citizens who are willing to be a part of economic development. A good example of a project that has boosted economic inclusion in the past few years is the Akwa- Prime Hatchery at Uruan. By keeping to his promise of economic and political inclusion, Gov Udom Emmanuel has proven yet again that he is a man of his words.
POVERTY ALLEVIATION Gone are the days when a majority of the indigenes of Akwa-Ibom state would leave home to other places such as Lagos, Port Harcourt, etc in search of greener pastures. We know that the average Akwa-Ibom person is hardworking, hence their resolution to sort for a means of a better livelihood while leaving poverty behind. Today, a lot of Akwa-Ibomites living in Akwa-Ibom are doing well for themselves, and the need to relocate to other states is now a thing of the past as a result of the existence of a greener pasture right here in their motherland. Gov Udom Emmanuel has really put in effort to ensure that Akwa-Ibom State becomes a desired habitation for indigenes and non-indigenes. Nobody wants to live in a place where poverty is the order of the day and I dreamed of a time when my fellow brothers and sisters would not have to come home only during festive seasons but live in and enjoy the beauty of Akwa-Ibom; with the increasing population of Akwa-Ibom, this dream is already a reality. Gov Udom Emmanuel’s tremendous effort so far has wiped poverty off our state. Truly, as it has been often said, “the grass is greener where you Water it.” Thank you Gov Udom Emmanuel for watering Akwa-Ibom.
INFRASTRUCTURAL CONSOLIDATION AND EXPANSION I will personally give Gov. Udom Emmanuel a 5-star rating when it comes to the fulfilment of this particular agenda. I only read about infrastructures worldwide or saw them on television in far-away lands, but today it is a different story. Right in Etinan, there is a Toothpick and Pencil factory. Not everyone is opportuned to set eyes on such structures but here it is in my home state, I could only dream of a thing like this many years ago. It takes one with a knowledge of how important and beneficial these structures are to the society to appreciate Gov Udom Emmanuel for the work he has done in setting them up. I appreciate Gov Udom Emmanuel for setting up the Akwa Electric Metering Industry, Nigeria’s Syringe Haven; for establishing the Greenwell Fertilizer Plant, the Plywood Factory, and many more. These structures give the environs where they are situated some reputation besides making it a delivery ground for the businesses or the services associated with these infrastructures. Infrastructural consolidation and expansion is a dream come true as the evidences are real and visible all around the state.
Not forgetting the Ibom Air, the completion of the 21st Anniversary Hospital at Ekit Itam, the brand New 21-storey building – a world class corporate headquarters for multi national companies here in Uyo, the ongoing flyover bridges nearing completion, the scores of road networks across the 31 local government areas of the state and so much more. Even though I am aware that His Excellency is ready to do more, and so much more, I will not wait until he concludes before I announce how far he has gone in expanding the infrastructures in Akwa-Ibom State. Thank you for making the dream of the infrastructural consolidation and expansion in Akwa-Ibom State a reality.
JOB CREATION The rehabilitation of hospitals, renovation of schools, directly or indirectly create jobs as citizens are recruited to work in these facilities. Even the infrastructures all around the state employ thousands of applicants. I get phone calls from acquaintances and friends asking me to keep them in touch in case of vacancies right here in our very own Akwa-Ibom State; I see people who come in to the state for the purpose of attending job interviews. Aren’t these things I could only dream of? Recently, the state owned syringe factory advertised her vacancy, Ibom Air did too. Akwa-Ibom State is now a place where job opportunities are guaranteed. I log into my Facebook account daily and I am amazed at the list of vacancies at different organizations and places of business advertised. This is the Akwa-Ibom that I dreamed of, where indigenes will not have to check out of the state for a means of survival, where everyone who stays in Akwa-Ibom State will have a meaningful stay and be able to cater for their needs legally. By creating an avenue where more decent jobs are available for the good people of Akwa-Ibom State, Gov Udom Emmanuel is building the Akwa-Ibom of my dreams.
As I said, the 5 point agenda of Gov Udom Emmanuel went in line with my dreams, although I did not list them out like it was on the manifesto; I know what I have always desired for my humble state, yet that which I hold great pride in. Gov Udom Emmanuel has gone beyond measures to make a huge part of my dreams come true and with a reliable, accountable, credible and impactful governor like him still in office, I will choose to dream more because he is on his way to actualizing them all. For loyally building the Akwa-Ibom of my dreams, I restate my stand as an UDOMIFIED citizen of Akwa-Ibom State by reciting the Dakkada pledge:Akwa-Ibomites rise to the faith of greatness
Rise to the faith that with God all things are possible
Akwa-Ibomites rise to the faith that Akwa-Ibom was created by God out of greatness
Akwa-Ibomites rise to the faith that as a people we can move beyond ethnicity, biases, religion, and gender
Rise to togetherness
Rise to the faith that our resources, beyond what others see, human and intellectual
Rise to chart a new course for us, our children and a generation of Akwa-Ibomites unborn
Akwa-Ibomites rise to the faith that one day; we shall be counted as great people of a great state with great minds
Akwa-ibomites rise to the faith that all these are possible and many more
Hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful
I rise to the faith that Akwa-Ibom was created to be great
I rise to the faith that Akwa-Ibom is destined to be great
I am an Akwa-Ibomite
I rise to the faith of greatness
The Dakkada pledge is not just a sweet tuned chorus but a guide to how I see and perceive Akwa-Ibom State and her people. So far, what Gov Udom urged us to have faith in are manifesting in Akwa-Ibom as a result of his good governance. Truly, God created Akwa-Ibom out of greatness as great things happen here. What do you call all the transformation made Possible by Gov Udom Emmanuel? Akwa-Ibom State is beyond ethnicity, biases, religion, and this is seen in the political inclusion and economic expansion by the governor. We are together, and even the unborn child has a future to look forward to once he is born into Akwa-Ibom State. God who promised us a greater Akwa-Ibom is faithful that is why he sent a leader like Gov Udom to us. His excellency deserves many accolades. I have never been prouder of being a full fledged daughter of the soil than in a time when a Godsent leader holds power and has the interests of his people at heart, a time when Akwa-Ibom blooms like a fantasy in a wonderland; thank you Gov Udom Gabriel Emmanuel for building the Akwa-Ibom of my dreams.
Whereas these great works of poverty Alleviation, wealth creation, industrialisation, political and economic inclusion, infrastructural consolidation and expansion, have given a new face to Akwa Ibom State; however, these achievements would have been buried in the sand without internal peace in the state. Gov Udom Emmanuel upon ascension into office, came as a preacher of peace. He brought lasting peace to Akwa Ibom state. It was against the bac k drop of this peace that every other thing fell into shape. A community of anarchy, wars, insecurity, can never really experience real transformation even if her roads were made of gold and onyx or diamonds and silver. It is peace that sustains every other developmental strides of any government. Ever wondered why Akwa-Ibom State was never industrialized even in the midst of so much abundance over the years? Well, your answer will not be far fetched. Investors will only visit places they perceive safe and secured for their lives and businesses. This is the story of Akwa-Ibom State today, a land of many dreams, a land of my dreams, a land flowing with milk and honey, like the biblical Canaan.
I recall with grand allure when in 2015, His Excellency arrived the scene, topmost among his plans was to step into the Akwa-Ibom North West senatorial district, precisely Ukanafun local government area, mediating and interphasing with community bandit groups that were agitating and terrorising the area for years, killing, maiming, kidnapping both indigenes and expatriates. He brought unprecedented peace and calm to the area, today Akwa-Ibom State is free. Indeed, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu was right when he said “If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” These people were hitherto perceived enemies of the state, but today they are now gainfully and meaningfully incorporated into the society with various skills to help them gain independence legitimately. This is the land of my dreams. Just like the biblical Canaan; the land was good, but it was inhabited by giants, figuratively, these giants today can be likened to insecurity, kidnappings and crass corruption that characterised Akwa Ibom State before the incoming of Udom Emmanuel. All of these can only be remembered as history today. For whose report shall we believe? I believed in the report of Udom Emmanuel in 2015 and 2019, indeed! I have not been disappointed in the new Akwa-Ibom of my dreams.