•Etuk Ekanem pays tribute to Udom Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom State
In this era of dearth of true leaders to steer the affairs of the nation towards Eldorado, Akwa Ibomites are daily thanking their stars that they have a great and visionary leader in the person of Governor Udom Emmanuel. As the governor celebrates his birthday today, Saturday July 11, encomiums have been pouring in from far and near to felicitate with an astute leader, a great banker – turned politician who left his enviable managerial position at the Zenith Bank for politics just to bring accelerated development to his people.
Today, Akwa Ibom, the largest oil producing state in Nigeria, is the best for it. A governor who promised to bring economic succour to the grassroots, has constructed over 1,700 kilometers of roads within five years across the state. He swore even from the moment he became the secretary to the state government that if ever he becomes governor one day the state will witness the most glorious moments of its existence.
A true man of God, a leader with deep unbridled conscience, knowing that foreign investments can only be possible if development is well–spread in the state, he has extended other social infrastructure to the three senatorial districts of the state. Today the network of roads in Akwa Ibom State remains one of the best in the South south. And he believes that as an oil producing state, people must wake up every day to see, perceive and feel the presence and dividends of democracy in and around them. As a financial expert, given to astuteness, his love for health care services and provisions in the state speak volumes. As Covid-19 began to ravage the world, he quickly deemed it fit to swing into action, protecting the state dishing out instructions on how to stay safe.
Of note is his remodeling of the state-owned hospitals to suit the exigencies of the moment and for the people to have enough places to seek for medical succour as the corona virus continues to cause havoc. At the moment, the state has recorded one of the lowest cases of Covid-19. Emmanuel’s administration has built an infectious disease centre, a 300-bed facility and one of the best in sub-Saharan Africa.
Located at Ituk Mbang, one of the sprawling rural places in the state, the centre caters for all cases of diseases as they arise. Indeed it is one of the best isolation centres around. He once said “we do not wish to be caught unawares. When you have modern medical centres, it helps to curtail the spread of diseases”.
This centre also boasts of first class standards PRC laboratories, good enough for an ideal isolation centre and the sort. All the medical personnel there are properly taken care of by the governor and his team.
In the area of education, there have been great improvements in terms of standards, quality teachers and updated modern school facilities to compete with the rest of the world. As he celebrates his birthday, what is uppermost in the minds of Akwa Ibomites is that here is a leader who believes in the people he is elected to lead. He provides and runs the only and most efficient state-owned airline in Nigeria – Ibom Air.
With the airport properly located off Oron – Uyo road, it is central to the needs of the people. Doing business in Akwa Ibom now is lots easier because it is easy to access the state either by road or by air. And being an agrarian society, where you have the best collection of sea foods ever, governor Emmanuel and his well-tested cabinet and technocrats have improved the agricultural status of the state.
Food is one of the best items the state can boast of today. In addition to the over 18 new industries in the state, quite a number of the youths have jobs to do. In so doing, the rate of crime has reduced drastically since Emmanuel assumed office more than five years ago. What is more? The rate of kidnapping has reduced. From being kidnapers’ den, the state today enjoys one of the freest, safest environments in the country. Expatriates, oil workers, the natives, no longer fear to go home or move about in the state.
As the state has suddenly become highly industrialized, people no longer consider it a purely civil service state. Much of what has been achieved came about because governor Emmanuel carries the people along. He is people oriented, no doubt, believing that power belongs to the grassroots. “We are here for the people”, he always says. This is a statement his people are always pleased to hear.
The truth of the matter is that Akwa Ibom is no more rural place it used to be. Much has been elevated and improved upon in all corners of the state. The people, having been encouraged by what they have witnessed since, have vowed to join hands with him to help create more wealth in the state. People usually feel satisfied to open their own businesses now as more cottage industries spring up here and there. The environment is friendly, highly conducive for individual businesses to thrive.
When the righteous is on the throne people prosper. This is a God-fearing man in truth and in action. His intentions are genuine, coated with amazing zeal to put smiles on the faces of the public. “I am for the people”, he would clearly state as often as the occasion warrants him to. He loves peace. He rummages on issues that prosper ideas and usher in brotherhood among the throng of his people. Dichotomy of any sort distorts his psyche. He loves to see his people smile, turning to God for solace, for new ideas of development.
As he turns a year older, we see an exuberant governor bringing vibrancy to reign in his domain. It is a moment to glory in this new era of political, economic, social and ideological fanfare in Akwa Ibom State. Kudos to a leader who does not sing his own praises, but strives on silent achievements as he continuously improves the lot of his people.