In recent times, Akwa Ibom State governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, has managed to stay out of the news and I had begun to wonder if the man has lost his steam.
For a governor who has received sponsored media bashing for different reasons, from the genuine to outright asinine, managing to go for weeks without much hoopla about his ‘benevolence’ or his ‘total support’ for the Presidency appeared to me as remarkable.
But wait, has Akpabio stopped giving? Has he stopped being angry and transforming Akwa Ibom State? These were the questions on my mind, questions I had begun to play up and thinking how the media must have succeeded in ‘clip the wings’ of Akpabio battle, who, to me, and majority of media practitioners both in and out of the country is one of the very few good guys as far as good governance is concerned.
An international standard airport, a world-class erosion control system, a first-of-its’s-kind e-library, massive physical and human development projects and a ton of awards and recognition for good governance and human development, are enough reasons to tag him as one of the few good guys. Only Raji Fashola of Lagos State can be compared to Akpabio, and he too will come a distant second because Lagos is not what the pro-APC media make it seem.
A visit to some places other than the Lagos main city will reveal the stunted growth in the state as opposed to the picture of beauty being painted in the media.
So, I thought since not much had been heard about Akpabio in recent time, save his role in repositioning his party, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), at the state and national levels for the electoral battles ahead, maybe his anger, which he noted had led him to achieve unprecedented developments and transformation of the state, had cooled off.
But a business visit to Akwa Ibom State soon put paid to my thoughts about the governor cooling off. I had first seen a newspaper advert publication purportedly for projects commissioning schedule across the state, about 500 projects or thereabout but knowing our politicians, I waved it off as a publicity stunt. But I was not completely convinced that it was a mere stunt, for Akpabio had made it an annual ritual to list hundreds of projects for commissioning and none has been challenged to be bogus claims by the opposition party in the state (is there even one?).
However, my trip to Akwa Ibom and several interactions with my friends on the ground in the state convinced me that, indeed, the last one month had been one of silent harvests in the state. For instance, in the publication, several projects which were of immense benefit to the people at the grass roots, such as construction and renovation of classrooms, construction of solar-powered water scheme, renovation and construction of laboratories and rural electrification, were listed as due for commissioning in all the 31local governments of the state.
But I never thought such efforts had indeed reached Isaac Inyang’s village; in Ekim, Mkpatenin Local Government Area. Inyang was my course mate at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. But when I phoned Isaac, who has always been a critic of Akpabio, that the state government lied about development projects in his village, I was confounded when he said it was not a lie.
Such had been the ways of Akpabio, he has succeeded in changing the minds of people about governance even those in the opposition camps have come to respect him for keeping to his promises.
Though the point they have always made about Akwa Ibom being the highest earning state in the federation is true, it is indubitable that high allocations do not often transmit or translate to good governance, as a state could earn so high and perform so little depending on the vision and mission of the man at the helm of affairs, in this case, the governor.
I once heard the governor telling his very close associates at a public function that he will not hand over to his successor any abandoned project anybody who would take over from him on May, 29, 2015, would have to wait until he was done with the commissioning of projects on the handing over day.
Akpabio according to findings within the seat of power and from those who are very close to him wants to end his era in the Hilltop Mansion strong and that is why he is leaving no stone unturned towards achieving that.
But then, the question of who succeeds Akpabio has become another germane issue. The state needs a successor that will improve on what has been achieved and continue to give the people more bountiful harvests in terms of good governance, as this season of harvests must continue not only in Akwa Ibom but also across the country lest the people become disillusioned with democracy and lose all hopes in political office holders.
Ibipobong Udom is an Abuja based public affairs commentator.