On Monday, the Ministry of Rural Development witnessed emotional moods by members of staff, as they bade farewell to the outgone Commissioner for Rural Development, Rt. Hon (Barr) Ekong Sampson who stopped over at the ministry to formally handover all official documents of the ministry to the permanent secretary, following the recent dissolution of the Akwa Ibom State Executive Council by the Governor, Udom Emmanuel last weekend.
Addressing the directors and other staff of the ministry, Barr Ekong Sampson said he is so full of gratitude to the governor for giving him the opportunity to serve the state, and for having found him worthy amongst many other Akwa Ibomites to serve in his led EXCO and also to man the rural development ministry where he served for 16 months.
The immediate past commissioner said that it was a great experience working in the ministry, having met what he reffered to as a team of skilled and experienced staff both at the leadership and subordinate levels of the ministry. He also remarked metaphorically that last year when he assumed office, he had noted that he was coming in as a tenant while the staff were the landlords, and that following the recent development, he had come as the tenant to handover to the landlords.
While commending the staff for having displayed such level of competence and commitment to duties, Barr Sampson thanked them for their show of love and support, and for the very friendly atmosphere which they provided for him- same which he said enabled him work and deliver effectively.
He noted that the commitment of the staff to their responsibilities made the implementation of certain initiatives possible, and very timely. He particularly mentioned the Akwa Ibom Rural Development MasterPlan (AK-RDMP) as one the initiatives which the staff’s commitment has helped bring out, and through which the government has intervened in several rural communities including Ifa Atai, Awa Atai, Ikot Ekpenyong, Ikot Ibritam, Ikot Ekpuk and a number of other villages, where the ministry undertook electrification.
The erstwhile Mkpat Enin Council Chairman also noted that the RDMP can be given as the best among key initiatives of the ministry under his watch, while appealing to the staff to sustain the RDMP as a reference point for rural projects.
Barr Sampson noted that although the current economic challenges affected some projects earmarked by the ministry for implementation, the ministry had led a solid foundation by gathering credible data on rural infrastructure in the 368-paged first ever state rural development master plan. He commended Governor Udom Emmanuel’s diversification agenda which he described as far reaching.
Barr Sampson appealed to the entire members of staff and Akwa Ibom people to continue in their support for Gov Udom Emmanuel, as he explained that the governor has so much passion for the development of rural villages and the state in general, adding that with tneir support and cooperation, the governor and his administration would be able to record more achievements.
He said that the ministry has a lot of potential to develop the state, and remarked that he has now become a consultant to the ministry at anytime his ideas and suggestions would be required for developmental purposes.
In their responses, two directors in the ministry, amidst emotions, spoke exaltingly of Barr Sampson whom they said, worked very hard and cordially with the staff to bring positive changes and boost the prospects of the ministry through his vast knowledge and mastery of the village setting.
According to them, Barr Sampson’s coming to the ministry at a time of economic difficulties has had very minute effect on his performance, as his performance in the 16 months he manned the ministry has been massive and very outstanding, adding that his efforts while in office has projected the ministry to greater heights.
One of the directors spoke emphatically on the ex commissioner’s relationship with members of staff, saying that Barr Sampson did not only build and maintain a very cordial relationship with his staff but his friendly disposition also affected the entire staff in their relationships with one another, causing them to stay in peace with one another. She noted that the former lawmaker never ceased to use every opportunity of meeting with the staff to preach peace and cordiality amongst them. In her words: “Sir, I can say boldly that the entire staff will miss you, and I personally will miss you more, particularly at those instances where your intelligence and experience would be needed to help us out of those difficult situations”.
In his response, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Goddey Stephen Udoidung appreciated the ex commissioner for the friendly working relationship he has enjoyed from him since joining him in the ministry earlier this year. He hinted that as a new arrival in the ministry, someone like Barr Ekong was all he needed to take off very smoothly.
The permanent secretary stressed that though coming at a time where the nation and state had short fall of funds, he (Sampson) still stood out as a model and excellent figure in public service, while recording excellent works that has kept printed legacies behind for the ministry.
Mr Udoidung noted that the Rural Development Master Plan which Barr Ekong initiated is one good example of his legacies, as according to him, the strategically captured data of rural villages and their infrastructural challenges in the RDMP will serve as a roadmap and pointer for any leadership of the ministry to take off easily.
He thanked Barr Sampson for his faithfulness to the course of governance and commitment to duty, as well as the positive strides he brought to the ministry which has affected the generality of staff and boosted their attitude to work. He further led the staff through a prayer session on behalf of Barr Sampson.