It was Deborah Day who said “the more you take responsibility for your attitudes, the more you can adjust yourself in a forward thinking manner”. In advancing a forward thought pattern I have decided to start by appreciating a rare gift, which God has endowed our clime with, one so loveable and unique, one we will never forget, one whose touch has forever changed the history of our patrimony; Godswill Obot Akpabio,CON.
Not many would say a thing about this enigma of time tested humanitarian without starting with a “thank you”, little wonder when Israelmore Ayivor, a transformation passionate inspirational writer said, “a sincere attitude of gratitude is a beatitude for secured altitudes” it is unmistakable to note that our flight to this height was never through a sudden eruption. People braved the odds and status quo to bring us the acclaim we have assumed.
The concluding lines of his May 29, 2007 inaugural speech “this is Godswill Obot Akpabio, reporting for duty” resonates my mind every time the wonders of his Midas touch in our state comes to discourse, as he religiously saw to the fulfillment of the duty he reported for, a clear and uncompromised stride to matching his words with actions.
Succeeding weeks of that mandate birthed in our social parlance the proclamation “I am approaching development with anger” people were yet to catch the fire of what he sought to achieve until he summarily turned the entire state to a giant construction site, which brought the cliché “uncommon transformation”.
In ways that surpasses modesty, the advent of this God given Apostle of unassailable goodwill left tongues wagging in surprise. This was the beginning of an identity for Akwa Ibomites, who were before then referred to as Calabar people. In just four years, our stories had so changed that in him we saw a Messiah, who would spare nothing to salvage his people from the ruins they were condemned to.
Akpabio’s 2007 guber campaigns in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area brings great memory of the people’s desolate state, when a young man while addressing the campaigns on behalf of youths charged the then guber candidate to stay off the old cultured way of mentioning the reconstruction of the Abak-Etim Ekpo-Ika-Iwukem Road, as the road had become a compulsory part of all past campaigns in the area. This submission signaled they had settled to the fate of seeing the road as a misfortune they must live with.
In his words then, he sounded a warning that Akpabio should not play politics with their misery. This got many laughing, even as Akpabio retorted with a more resolute promise to change the infrastructural fortune of the area. Today the popular satirical poem “shine like a star, bright like a moon and as bad as Abak-Etim Ekpo-Ika Road, has given way to a new melody that has forever changed livelihood in this once forgotten clime.
Same feeling of distrust formed a cocoon of unbelief in peoples mind during the electioneering campaigns, as virtually all other parts of the state was under a huge and an unthinkable infrastructural deficit that questioned the amount of achievable salvage, even if an emergency was to be declared in infrastructural revamp.
How can we ever forget that first love that brought so much life to Uyo, the State capital, we traverse the many roads that dots the capital city landmass, with a picture of how deplorable they used to be, prior to Akpabio’s advent. This calls to mind that whoever faults the Ex-governor’s urban renewal commitment, may have only arrived Uyo during the post 2011 era, when street lights, urban beautification, remodeling and other turnkey infrastructures like the fly over, Tropicana, e-library, etc, had become luxuries we stopped watching on movies.
The free and compulsory education policy he introduced may be listed among his great feats, but in every sense was the greatest of his achievements, having eternally banished the ills of pettiness and shallow thought in our clime, giving our people the assurances they can rise above the safe havens mediocrity and ethnicity offered.
Arriving in their droves, children of school age and those old enough to have been out of school embraced the policy, which provided the nail to seal the coffin of servitude that our state was known for across Nigeria. Sooner than expected there was a huge vacancy in the houseboys and girls industry, which other parts of the country had to take up, because Akwa Ibom had redefined a paradigm, which turned out to be the nucleus of our socio economic development.
While I would resist the temptation of delving into the Godswill Akpabio’s template of empowerment and wealth creation, it is a given that he evolved such strategies that ensured everyone had a feel of the government’s magnanimous economic outreach, a gesture that made Akwa Ibom the toast of the Nigerian society in citizens empowerment.
Regrettably, for none of his fault, some known beneficiaries of his magnanimity are the ones who contribute the loudest pitch to the voices of decent calling for his head, putting their antics of blackmails and falsehood, against a man who grabbed them from the brinks of despair to test with the cruelty of Judas Iscariot.
The many kilometers of road he constructed, the facelift given to health facilities and the much he did to put Akwa Ibom to international reckoning, stares even his detractors in their faces, as they unknowingly expose Akpabio’s top of the class performance to the rest of the world, in their attempt to put him to disrepute.
It is common to see every passenger at the Ibom International Airport exude an upbeat feel at the doggedness and determination that greeted Chief Akpabio’s resolve to save the people from the risks of travelling distances to access air transportation.
The components of this Ibom aviation masterpiece may owe its conception to former governor Victor Attah. But in actualizing the plan which has put Akwa Ibom as a choice destination, Chief Akpabio did not only ensure the labours of our heroes past was not in vain, he also worked to ease the rise to stardom of heroes present in the Akwa Ibom that was to emerge after that huge infrastructural renaissance he engineered.
These and more to come are testimonies of how this Ukana born world class leader turned the pitiful story of an Akwa Ibom person to a ravishingly glorious picture and memory.
Uko Akwa Ibom deserves more than a final thank you, for it was Abraham Lincoln who said, “when a man forgets the language of gratitude, he is seen not to be in terms with his creator”. We cannot afford the damage of ingratitude, not even my generation or those yet to come.
Thank you Senator Godswill Akpabio!
* Samuel Ayara writes from Ibong Otoro in Abak Local Government Area.