By Rose Achu
He came on the scene with a revolutionary mindset. Udom Emmanuel, the governor of Akwa Ibom state in 2015 shortly after he assumed office galvanized the people for the task ahead through revolutionary mindset and paradigm shift tagged Dakkada, meaning self reliance and independence , resoucefulness and enterprise.
The man who had an enviable and successful stint in the financial sector rising to become a director in one the Tier-A raked bank in Africa, Zenith Bank knew that success starts from within. He elevated the confidence and dignity of the people of Akwa-Ibom through the well thought mind shift campaign.
Udom mainstreamed to the world the inherent potential of the state’s greatest asset, The People. He jolted them out from the lazy verdict that aside the oil revenue accruable from federal purse , the state was nothing better than a ‘civil sevants’ state. He started the process of redemption from the mind and in sequence he rolled out ambitious plans before them.
Encaptured in five-point agenda – Wealth Creation, Economic and Political Inclusion, Poverty Alleviation, Infrastructural Consolidation and Expansion, Job Creation. Without usual funfare and playing to the gallery, Governor Emmmanuel constructed over 1700 kilometers critical roads across the three senatorial districts of Akwa Ibomwithin few years of taking reins of power.
He reasoned that for wealth to the created, the infrastructure is the bulwark and enable of industrial revolution that will ensure economic prosperity. On why he didn’t make a big deal out the great stride his administration made in road construction and others, the Governor said, “ The world has moved away from such things as road construction; these things are given in any society that is led by a progressive leader, so why should I announce with fanfare the construction of roads in my state?
“What message am I sending out to investors in Europe, Asia and America- that we did not have such basic infrastructures as road? I think in futuristic terms, not on elements that have been taken as given in modern world of governance and business.”.
He reached for the skies , strectched and defied limitations and status quo. When many states are struggling with management of airport infrasructure, Emmanuel announced Ibom Air, a commercial airliner that will ease movement by air in and out of the states and other destinations. Many jeered against the backdrop that if a national government could not take off ground its plan to relaunch a National carrier into airspace, how could state achieve such feat?
Meanwhile, Governor Emmanuel, a consummate boardroom guru had perfected his plans and subjected the project to sustainability test by conducting SWOT analysis like they do in private sector before embarking on critical projects of such magnitude. He proved cynics wrong and Ibom Air hit the sky on June 7, 2019.
Through the airline, the state has retained reasonable share of the passengers’ spendings on air travels. The scheme piloted with three aircrafts and reported to have airlifted over 50,000 passengers within 100 days of operations. The airline recently added a new Bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft to its fleet, the aircaft is fitted with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters which protects humans from 99 percent airborne microbes and other contaminants in the cabin.
On the success of Ibom Airline and its impact on the socio-economic outlook of the state, Governor Emmanuel submits, “Ibom Air has placed Akwa Ibom State on the international business pedestal, boost the state’s corporate image and heightens her perception as a true highly – rated industrial destination”.
Buoyed by the positive outcomes from the airline project in barely a year of operations, the governor envisioned making the state a reference in Aviation and maritime development. He targets the Gulf of Guninea as the multi-industrial hub where massive industrial productions will boom. The forward thinking leader plans to harness the opportunities of the aviation value chain to create greater avenue for the locals to create wealth.
As more people troop into the state through the air for business and pleasure, the Udom Emmanuel is also upgrading the infrastructure at the state-owned Victor Attah International Airport – overhauling of the hanger, building an international terminal and taxiway among others.
This is practical demonstration of how he intended to create wealth and upgrade the image of the state he promised when he was seeking votes from the Akwa-Ibom people in 2015. As a wealth creation expert of repute, he knew that when enable environment is created, private investments and capital will flow in to harness opportunities and in the process wealth is created.
The administration is also contemplating establishment of Aviation Academy for technology transfer and knowledge sharing. As the governor systematically positions the state as the aviation and allied hub in West Africa region, there is need to develop the local manpower and technical expertise of the people to maximize the potentiaties of owning the hub.
In his multi-dimensional approach to growth and development, the Udom Emmanual administraion is pushing fast the plan to get Ibom Deep Seaport. As the state awaits the approval from the Federal Executive Council, FEC, supporting infrastructure like roads , hospitals , warehouses among others are being built to aide international commerce.
The businesss-oriented leadership of Udom Emmanuel administraion which created a friendly tax policies and vaible business environment for Foreign Direct Investment, FDI to flow in has further strenghtened the Manufacturing, Agriculture and Agro-Porcessing base of the state. Jubille Syringe Manufacturing Company, operating from Akwa-Ibom is reputed to be the leader in production of Syringe, a medical consumable in high demand.
Other industries thriving within the Onna Industrial Layout include; the Lions Plywood factory, Kings Flour and electric digital solutions manufacturing factory. In addition, two fertilizer blending plants are up and running in the state including three medium-scale rice mills. The Ibom Golden Rice Mill, owned by a local government cooperative society competes with another rice mill, Adricon Rice Mill in Ini local government area. These are silent agro-processing revolution raging under Udom Emmanuel administration.
Governor Emmanuel whose father was school teacher places premium on education. He also had tasted of the goodness of quality education as an enbler of social mobility. His education brought him out of rustic Awa Iman village in Akwa-Ibom and elevated him to sit among corporate giants in high-rise building on Ajose Adeogun, Victoria Island before serving as the scribe to the state government and then landed the plum job of Chief Executive of Oil-rich state.
Appreciating the magic powers of education to raise the downtrodden from the dust and to make them sit among the nobles, Gov Emmanuel administration is priotizing education like never before in the history of the state. The State Government set out to boost the state’s Oracle IT skills pool by training more than 1000 youths via the Oracle University Workforce Development Program (WDP).
The administration also hired over 4,800 teachers to improve learning experience of pupils in public schools and reduce the Teacher-to-Pupils ratio. The government picks the bills for West African Senior School Certificate Examination(WASSCE) and National Board for Technical Education, (NBTE) gulping whopping N600 million annually.
The governement reportedly furnished over 100 blocks of classrooms both in public primary and secondary schools while improving ancillary infrastructure such as internal roads, laboratories, lecture theatres, libraries in state-owned tertiary institutions including state-owned College of Education, Afaha Nsit; Akwa Ibom State University, Ikot Akpaden; Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua; College of Health Technology, Etinan; and the College of Arts and Science, Nung Ukim.
The achievements of Emmanuel are numerous to chronicle. As the christ-centric leader turns 54 today, July 11, 2020, the good people of Akwa-Ibom are full of gratitude to the man who changed the face of governance in the state and heralded peace in estwhile trouubled-state notorious for kidnappings, political killings and related crimes.
Happy Birthday, Your Excellency!
Rose Achu lives in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State