My Fellow Akwa Ibomites,
Today is the 29th birthday of a gem we all treasure; and which belongs to us. A treasure which God in His bountiful mercies bestowed to us and every generation must hold it in awe and esteem, prove itself worthy of this Divine treasure, and make it better for the next generation. It is the birthday of this blessed State of ours, Akwa Abasi Ibom State.
Today also marks the first anniversary of the Dakkada Philosophy, an initiative of my administration, which is a call to mental re-awakening; a campaign for spiritual re-birth, moral transformation and attitudinal re-orientation that will enable us purge our minds of the feelings of incapability and defeatism that before now, kept us from reaching our greatest possible heights.
My wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel and I congratulate all Akwa Ibomites at home and in the Diaspora on this important milestone. We urge everyone who would join us in this celebration to remember that this precious gift was won for us by the faith, resilience, unity, love, sweat and courage of our forebears.
From when our visionary forebears first gathered at Afaha Oku, Uyo, in 1954 to demand for State Creation, the baton of that struggle was passed from generation to generation. Even when we were overlooked in the first State creation exercise in 1967 and in the subsequent one, their faith never flagged. Then on September 23, 1987, as a testament that dreams never die, as a proof that visionaries may die but visions never perish, and evidence that hope can only be deferred, not destroyed, Akwa Abasi Ibom State was created as Nigeria’s 21st State.
We should be proud that we are the heirs of such blessed dreamers and we must continue to dream big dreams for ourselves and our dear State. It would be a disservice to the heritage and history of our State if we chose to fight over this State, instead of fighting for it. We must celebrate our rise from glory to glory and recommit ourselves at this time of celebration and meditation to fighting for the ideals which brought us this gift. Let us fight to imbibe the cherished ideals of unity, brotherhood, love, resilience, faith, prayers and courage and make these the building blocks of the new Akwa Ibom State.
Let me use this occasion to remind those who still see Akwa Ibom State as a fragmented society of the vision of Ezekiel. God took the Prophet to the Potter’s house and he saw how the Potter could fashion every piece of clay into beautiful vessels of honor. All of us in Akwa Ibom State, with the different tribes and ethnic groups, are like pieces of clay before Our Father, the Divine Potter, and He is blending all of us into a jewel of unquantifiable value and glory. Every Akwa Ibom person who surrenders himself to the Potter shall surely be a part of the glory of the Latter House. Therefore, let every Akwa Ibomite be emotionally invested in the Akwa Ibom Project and strive to make the State better for the next generation.
To those who still wallow in the valley of ethnicity, divisiveness, hatred or those who still appeal to the worst impulses in our people, or exploit such fears to score political points, I urge them to forswear those tendencies and buy into the new Akwa Ibom State which is like a city in the hill – inviting and beguiling. They should remember that our founding fathers laid the foundation of this State on the stone of unity, brotherhood, love, courage and selflessness and it is our duty to hold firm to those ideals.
It is recorded that they were the first people to embark on community scholarship schemes in Nigeria – the first to tax themselves and build community schools without considerations of tribes and ethnicity. One of the proud monuments to their sterling character and a great lesson to this generation remains the Ibibio State College, which was built in Ikot Ekpene and still stands there in honored tribute to their distinguished legacy.
We came, as a Government, to cement those ideals and ensure that the ladder of growth is steady and firm for others to climb, dream and achieve.
Unity and brotherhood are the first fundamentals of my faith and the last fundamentals of my creed. Akwa Ibom’s greatness lies in its ideals of love and sacrifice defined by our founding fathers, and its future lies in the same undying ideals of love and sacrifice that we all must show. It is these ideals which drive me and give me the courage to declare that there is a lifting up where other narrative may be that there is a casting down. It is what drives our many projects when in other places projects are winding down. To put it simply, to make this State a better place is an abiding article of faith, a duty which must be accomplished and an obligation which must be discharged. To us, there is no retreat, no surrender.
In the course of making this State a better place we have embarked on several projects and there are more in the pipeline. Education remains free and compulsory at the basic level and in spite of the lies a section of the media has been peddling, there are no plans to introduce school fees. What this Government is committed to doing is to ensure that our students receive the best education that they possibly can get and at the same time their parents have choices of either sending their wards to a boarding school or utilize other means to educate their children which may be less expensive. This is purely an issue of choice.
Akwa Ibom remains one of the States where citizens enjoy regular supply of electricity. At a recent power sector stakeholders meeting in Kaduna, Akwa Ibom State was singled out for the huge investment we have made in the power sector and the corresponding regularity of electricity supply.
In spite of the economic challenging times we are currently going through, which have made most States unable to pay salaries of their workers; we have through creative application of resources ensured that our people receive their salaries on time. We have paid their 2016 annual leave allowances. Just as I did last year when I cleared a 10-year backlog of pension and gratuities – an act that had seen labour leaders writing letters of appreciation, I am usually gratified when I receive text messages – like the one I got from a retired principal of a secondary school last week who told me that she has just received her pensions and that the money “came in handy”.
To ensure that our students sit for and receive their WAEC result, we intervened and made a payment of almost 600 million Naira to WAEC and as I speak all the result of Akwa Ibom Students have been released. This was a compassionate act, for which we have been applauded by parents of these wards.
We are making significant strides in the agricultural sector, because as I have always said, no nation develops in a sustainable manner if she cannot conquer hunger. With the investments we have made in agriculture and the FADAMA Projects, we are hopeful that in the next few months, prices of food in Akwa Ibom State would be one of the most affordable in the nation. We have no choice because God has blessed us with good soil and a huge comparative advantage in that sector.
Our free medical services for the aged, children between the ages 1-5 and pregnant and nursing mothers remain on course.
The main plank of our campaign centred around the rapid industrialization of our State and we are working assiduously to ensure that by the time we hand over this State at the end of our service, we shall look back and beat our chest and proclaim that we came, we dreamed and we industrialized our State, creating opportunities and expanding the coast of our dreams. If the State of California which is a part of the Continental USA is the sixth largest economy in the world and where, as the saying goes “where California goes is where America goes” we too, can make Akwa Ibom State, a large economy in Africa, with a GDP larger than some African countries. That is my dream and that’s what propels me.
Work had begun at the electric metering manufacturing plant in ONNA and over 150 solid jobs would be created alongside other lower level jobs. 32 are on transfer for technology training in China and 10 will be sent to Italy for specialized training . We have also commenced revolutionary Agricultural initiatives in coconut plantation and refinery, cocoa plantations as well as rice production. Our intention is to ensure we feed our populace from within in the next few years. Let me use this opportunity to advise our people that industrialization is a process and it takes time to get everything together. We live in a federal system where the centre still has to approve a number of things before full implementation of such projects can take off. We need to exercise patience and not get caught up with quick fixes – ours is a developmental paradigm that is as enduring as it is sustainable.
We have been doing great works by utilizing our lean resources to execute a number of capital projects. So far work is on-going on the construction of over 250 Kilometres of roads, 17 bridges and other infrastructural amenities across the State.
We have commissioned the emergency intervention flood control and completion of outfalls and urban roads in Oron – we have constructed and commissioned the Information Drive and 6 kilometre road in Atan Offot. Construction of 3.5 Ikot Udom road with 15 meter span bridge in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area, work is on-going in the dualization of 19.7 Uyo-Etinan road, work is on-going on the construction of Etinan-Ndon Eyo road with 2 bridges and a spur, on-going construction of 7.3 kilometre Ebekpo-Ikot Ebidang Road, on-going construction of 5 kilometre Ikot Usop-Ikot Edeghe-Ikot Ekpuk road, with 30 m span bridge in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, on-going construction of the 5km Mkpok-Okat road in Onna Local Government Area on-going dualization of Eket-Ibeno road, On-going urban renewal projects within Eket township. On-going construction of a 2nd runway at Akwa Ibom International Airport, on-going construction of three collapsed bridges and internal roads in Obot Akara Local Government Area, on-going dualization of Oron-Uyo Road, flag-off of 43km Ikot Okoro-Ikot Ibritam-Ikot Afaha-Ikot Ekefe Road, commencement of the Cocoa maintenance scheme and training of youths in pruning and shedding, over 300 inter-ministerial rural intervention projects covering schools and electricity in the 31 local Government areas, construction of 12km underground drainage in Uyo, rehabilitation of Peacock Paint in Etinan, emergency intervention on gully erosion at Enen Atai along Calabar-Itu road, emergency intervention in gully erosion behind Independence Hall, Abak, construction and commissioning of State Secretariat Annex, payment of subventions for running of primary and secondary schools, ground breaking for the construction of a 132/33KV, 1.30MvA Transmission sub-station at Ekim, Mkpat Enin, construction of Dr. Ann ward Gynaecology block, Rehabilitation of Childrens ward, Administrative Block and Internal Infrastructure upgrade at St. Lukes Hospital Anua including emergency Intervention in gully erosion at the School of Nursing, Anua.
In the area of youth development and empowerment, we have trained over 1,000 youths on Oracle certification program, trained over 200 on power sector, trained 100 youths in special agriculture application in Israel, approved the training of 329 youths in photography and film production, employment of our youths through Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme (AKEES).
We have also sponsored over 300 Akwa Ibom indigenes with various life-threatening ailments for treatment within and outside the country.
Our “dakkada” philosophy has been internalized by our people and a new attitude and a mind-set of success developed. We have done the above in spite of the paucity of funds and we can only imagine what we would do, when the economy improves.
Dakkada, with about 15,861 Ambassadors, has continued to enlighten Akwa Ibom people on the benefits of partnering with Government. With our entrepreneurial campaign entrenched in the new philosophy, we have connected our people and many have been inducted into the Dakkada Business Forum. The business forum has facilitated the initial registration of 31 Dakkada Multi-purpose Cooperatives across the 31 Local Government Area, with a minimum of 25 members each. The cooperatives have been engaged in the cultivation of crops, rearing of livestock and food processing, in line with our vision to reduce the cost of food in the State and minimize poverty.
We declared today a work-free day to enable our people, particularly workers, participate in the activities of marking our 29th anniversary.
As part of the anniversary, we have added new life-touching projects to the stock of our development efforts. We flagged-off the construction of three economic important roads. These are: the construction of 19.3km Anua-Mbak Ishiet Road; construction of Ikpe Ikot Nkon-Obotme-Arochukwu Road; with a 110 metres span bridge and the construction of a 17.4km Odoro Ikpe, Mbiabet Ikpe, Mbiabet Ikot Udo Road with 30m Span Bridge and over 10,000 Hectares of mechanized rice plantation project.
And on Wednesday, we joined the First Lady, my dear wife in celebrating the first anniversary of her pet project, the Family Empowerment and Youth Re-orientation Programme, FEYReP. Indeed, the Lord has been our help and we are committed to bringing glory to Him and great benefits to the people of Akwa Ibom.
When the Lord was about ascending to Heaven, he gave Peter a charge. Three times he told him “Feed my sheep.” God did not send me to Akwa Ibom State to milk His sheep, He sent me here to feed his sheep. We came to improve the lot of everyone in Akwa Ibom State. We came to make Akwa Ibom people lie down in green pastures of agricultural posterity. We are here to lead Akwa Ibom people beside the still waters of economic sufficiency. We are here to restore the souls of those who faint and give hope to the forlorn. We are here to ensure that you fear no evil, for our God is with us. We are here to anoint you with gladness and let your blessing overflow.
As we celebrate this important milestone in the life of our State, we pay tribute to all those who governed this State before us, and contributed one way or the other to making this State one of the leading States in Nigeria. We commend all those who have been a part of the success story of our State.
Once again to all Akwa Ibom men and women, youths and adults, boys and girls we say, “Happy Akwa Ibom Day.” Akwa Ibom Dakkada. God bless you.
* Being a state broadcast by His Excellency Mr. Udom Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom State on the occasion of the 29th anniversary of the creation of Akwa Ibom State and the first anniversary of Dakkada philosophy