By Chioma Onuegbu
THE change in policies and style of governance in the last three months of the administration of Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom state, especially in the aspect of time keeping and management has been a good departure from the past administration.
Another change introduced by Udom Emmanuel is the reduction of his personal assistants. Immediate past governor, Godswill Akpabio appointed 150 personal assistants as a strategy to empower Akwa Ibom youths.
Emmanuel’s failure to dole out money to people, like his predecessor, since his assumption of office clearly indicated to the people of Akwa Ibom State that it will not be business as usual as well as demonstrates his new approach to governance which has been given different interpretations by the people.
While some people attribute the action to lack of funds following the debt he inherited coupled with dwindling revenue, others link it to his banking background as bankers are known to be very strict with spending and managing money.
Nevertheless many people appear unperturbed with the changes in his style of leadership.Rather they hope that the new approach would help him to check reckless spending and use the state resources effectively in actualising his programmes for the state.
To ensure transparency, the governor has put in place a quarterly meeting of stakeholders and leaders of the party in the state aimed at briefing them of his activities.
The recent step taken by the governor in converting the debt the state owed commercial banks into Federal government bonds in order to reduce the financial burden on his administration in the light of the prevailing economic downturn and corresponding decrease in revenue to states has been adjudged by many as impressive.
To reduce the cost of governance, Governor Emmanuel decided to auction the Akwa Ibom aircraft used by his predecessor.
In keeping with his campaign promise to the people to industrialize the state and consolidate on expansion of infrastructure, Emmanuel has awarded many contracts for construction of roads and industries such as the Armored Car Personnel Carrier plant in Itu Local Council, the Ibaka Deep Sea port project, the Revival of the moribund Peak-cock paint in Etinan Local Council.
Also award are the 5-kilometer Ikot Usop-Ikot Edeghe-Ikot Ekpuk road with a 30 meters span bridge in Mpat Enin and Ibiono Ibom local councils; 3.5-kilometer road in Ikot Udom with 15 meters span bridge; 5 -kilometer Mkpok-Okat road; dualisation of 1-kilometer Awa-Ikot Nkan road in Onna Local Council; and Etinan-Eket-Ibeno road dualisation.
Others roads awarded for construction and remodelling in Eket Urban include: Dualisation of Atabong roads extended up to Hospital road; expansion and remodelling of Atabong road Roundabout in Eket, Grace Bill road pavement rehabilitation and drainage, and water fountain at roundabouts.
It was learnt that pensioners in the state recently gave the governor a pat on the back for being able to clear the backlog of their gratuity that had spanned over a decade within a short period in office and in spite of the financial challenge of his administration.
In addition, through collaboration with the Port-Harcourt Distribution Company, PHCN, Udom Emmanuel’s administration has added 20 watts of electricity to the system to boost steady power supply and drive economic activities in the state.
Other laudable strides by Udom Emmanuel in the last three months include his approval to sponsor the training of 1000 youth in ICT at Oracle software firm in California, USA; flag off of Out Fall Drain to tackle erosion in Uyo metropolis and environs to be constructed by Julius Berger Plc; approval for the establishment of 10 Sports academies in the 10 federal constituencies of the state as well as an empowerment programme for 329 youth in the state.