GODSWILL Obot Akpabio, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State is fast becoming a proverbial golden fish that has no hiding place.
This is perhaps, though a politician, he has proven wrong the assertion of Nikita Khrushchev, a Russian philosopher who once said that politicians are the same every where, they will promise to build a bridge where there is no river and when you show them that there is no river, they will promise to put water under.
There is no doubt that Akpabio’s sterling leadership qualities and performance accounts for what gives him out for groups, institutions and organisations to always wanting to honour him.
Just as he was about resting after being conferred with Commander of the Order of the Niger, CON, award by the President Goodluck Jonathan, the management of the Yaba College of Technology, Yabatech and Federal University of Technology, Owerri, FUTO, came knocking.
The reason? To notify the Governor of their senates decision to confer on him the fellowship and the honorary doctorate degree in Management Technology, respectively. Last week, Yabatech honoured the Governor to the delight of all lovers of good governance.
That Akpabio was on the roll of those recently conferred with national honours by President Jonathan as the CON, further confirmed that truly, rewards should be given to those who work. Expressing his feelings on the honours, Akpabio said he was humbled and that he has dedicated it to the children of Akwa Ibom State. He noted that every child should live upright and contribute to the development of the country, adding that every child who does that stands a chance of being honoured in the country.
That he dedicated the award to the children of his state shows the passion and commitment in which the Governor has for the development and progress of every Akwa Ibom child. Today, Akwa Ibom children who before now were roaming the streets during school hours hawking pure water, moi-moi, akara balls and groundnut, among others, are enjoying free and compulsory education.
Again, some who were slaving in places like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri, Abuja and many others as house boys and girls have had cause to return to their comfort zone at home to benefit from the democratic dividends provided by Akpabio.
Apart from the free education enjoyed by Akwa Ibom children, the state can now boast of good network of roads and other infrastructure, airport, a world class entertainment center, concentric flyovers, free medical care for the aged, pregnant women, and children under five, new health facilities, power plant and pipe-jacking drainage, which is first in the West African sub-region, among others.
Recently, a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in Lagos State and a ranking member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Ipoola Ahmed Omisore, reportedly described Akpabio as one of the very few governors who are genuinely committed to the development of his state, through prudent management of resources since 2007. “Let me publicly commend the Governor of Akwa Ibom State ”, he said, “for his uncommon transformation of the state in the last four years. I had thought performance in government started and ended in Lagos until I visited Akwa Ibom State last year. I then came to the conclusion, because of what I saw, that the Governor is one of the very few with passion, commitment and determination for the judicious use of state resources for the good of all.” Then, he added: “If Lagos State is number one in terms of infrastructural development, Akwa Ibom is number 1A”.
For Barnabas Okom, a Cross Riverian, Akpabio’s transformation is not limited to his state. Commenting in the Leadership newspaper on August 29, 2011, Okom said: “Gov. Godswill Akpabio has tarred all the federal roads in his state, stopping where the boundary of Akwa Ibom stops”, thereby showing exemplary leadership.
A governor, whose people-focused leadership was recently described as “impressive” by Wikileaks, thus making him a man to watch, Akpabio has drawn a large-fan base national and internationally, owing to his unparalleled achievements. Recently, in far away Houston, Texas, United States, the Congress described him as exceptional – confirming the Wikileaks reports that he is worthy of emulation in good governance. Ms Sheila Jackson Lee, a member of the 18th Congressional District of Texas, who conferred Akpabio with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition, on behalf of the Speaker, said Akpabio’s “shining example of leadership is truly worthy of respect, admiration and commendation of the United States Congress”.
The Governor’s wife, Ekaette, also got an award for her charity works centered on widows, women, poverty and the disabled.
The Certificate read in part: “In just a year, a web of modern road network was deployed across all the 31 local government areas of the State for greater accessibility; the state now holds world class events…The focus is industrialisation and to do that His Excellency ( Akpabio) has placed the state’s resources in the right baskets, the baskets of air transport, seaport, tourism, skills acquisition, education, agriculture, among others”.
She described Akwa Ibom under Akpabio as “a state with limitless opportunities”, saying “with so many projects delivered, over 300 of them, and a lot still in the works, Akwa Ibom state now stands out as a foremost state in the Niger Delta, not embroiled in tribal wars or militancy.
Among the international honours in Akpabio’s kitty are the Congressional Certificate of Recognition by the United States Congress, the Gold Humanitarian Services Award by the Government of the Republic of Niger, Exam Ethic Marshall by the Exam Ethics International, Ghana, and Best Governor, Infrastructure Development 2009 by BEN TV, London.
Besides, he has also been honoured by several media houses. These includes; Man of the Year 2009 by both Daily Independent and National Daily Newspapers, 2008 Most Outstanding Governor in Nigeria (South-South) by National Daily Newspaper, Governor of the Year (South-South)by City People Magazine, Best Governor Infrastructure 2009 and Best Governor, South-South by Encomium Magazine.
Others are Best Governor in Nigeria and Outstanding Human Brand 2010 by BillBoard World, Man of the Year 2010 by National Daily Newspaper, Governor of the Year 2010, Nigerian Tribune; Nigeria ’s Emerging Tiger 2009, ThisDay newspaper and Best Governor, South-South 2009 by Global Excellence Magazine.
Moreover, Akpabio also holds honourary doctorate of law from three Universities, namely, Nsukka, Uyo and Calabar, Doctor of Management Science of the Nigeria Defence Academy , NDA, Doctor of public Administration of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University , Awka. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, a Fellow of both Kazaure Polythenic, Kazaure, Jigawa state and College of Education , Bichi.
He is a holder of several traditional titles which includes Uko Akwa Ibom, Atta Ekid, Utuenikang Ibibio, Ntanta Offiong Annang, Ntanta Oro, Iberedem Ibibio among others. His vision remains to lead Akwa Ibom to its final destination where indigenes will burst forth from the shackles of tribalism, subservience, pettiness, blackmail, character assassination, inferiority complex and poverty to a fulfilled, peaceful, virile and united Akwa Ibom state.
Mr IFIOK MARK is a public affairs commentator