A YOUNG Nigerian from Akwa Ibom State, Ufot Ekong, 24, addressed the last Nigerian Diaspora Day Conference. He was celebrated as the next Philip Emegwali to emerge from Nigeria.

He had, during the year, won four awards including that of overall best graduating student at one of Japan’s most prestigious higher institutions, Tokai University. He also solved a 50 years old universal Mathematical problem. Beyond the invitation by President Muhammadu Buhari to address the Diaspora Conference, his State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, offered him a state government scholarship covering his Masters and Doctorate degree studies, which he has already commenced.

The story of Ufot Ekong, was not always rosy till he won the accolades. Ekong lost his father, a renowned former Nigeria Airways pilot, at 14. At 19, he left the shores of Nigeria for Japan. He enrolled for one year language course and today, he writes and speaks Japanese fluently. Hardwork, determination and dedication is his full story. Without a father, and a mother who had other children to support, Ekong took to working in between lectures. He did two jobs – one at McDonalds between 5p.m and 11p.m; another in a shipping company between 2a.m and 6a.m. He would get home by 7a.m., take a shower and a short nap with multiple alarm clocks so that he could wake up and make school by 9.30a.m. He went through this cycle all through his school years. Today, his adversity and consistency has brought him fame.

In contrast, another 24 year old Uduak Ekanem, from the same State, with a businessman father still alive, and a middle income earning mother who works in the Civil Service, started school at the University of Uyo same year with Ekong.

He had no problem with money as his father supports him greatly. He even had a car at his disposal to take to school. Most times, he loiters in the company of other “cultist” friends, and spends free moments at drinking joints.   While Ekong was receiving his award in Japan, Ekanem was in front of the house of a politician, asking to be hired for “political” duties. He had since withdrawn from school.

It is for the sake of youths like Ufot and Ekanem that Governor Udom Emmanuel design the Dakkada campaign to revive the personality of the Akwa Ibom person – Ekong as a model of revival and Ekanem as a candidate for revival. Dakkada, literally meaning arise is the high point of this year’s 28th Anniversary Celebration of the State holding at the renowned Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on September 23, 2015.

Aniekan Umanah, State Commissioner for Information and Communications, said “Dakkada is a campaign the governor is passionate about.  He comes across as a prophet kept for an appointed time. Governor Udom Emmanuel is that prophet. And the time is the time of economic down turn. A time for creativity. A time for innovation.

A time for ingenuity. Even within this time of adverse economic conditions, Governor Emmanuel has mapped out a five-point agenda and is poised to see them through. For these to happen, he needs the cooperation of his people and for them to have the same mindset. That, basically is the philosophy behind Dakkada. A clarion call for the people to rise up, motivate themselves and be all they never were.”

Umanah said it is about arising to greatness; having faith in God that all things are possible; exchewing cleavages like ethnicity, reliogion and gender; and bonding together in unity. “It is also about rising to chart a new course in development; rising to task our creativity; rising to dare so we can do anything we set our minds to do; rising to the faith that Akwa Ibom was created to be great and that greatness is in all of us”

The campaign, according to the commissioner, is about the elevation of “the consciousness of every son and daughter of Akwa Ibom State, transforming same to think out of the box and recreate in themselves several Ufot Ekongs, several Vincent Enyemas, Ray Ekpus, several Paul Usoros, several Nsikak Eduoks et cetera”. The Commissioner further said the concept is deep and will totally change the psychic frame and mindset of Akwa Ibom people. Why? “It is a more than a mere affirmative declaration.  Dakkada is deeper because it is a call to action and is action itself”.

Affirmative declaration

The anniversary will also see the commissioning of projects by the State governor. The projects include a newly constructed gynecological ward, male ward and children ward at the St. Luke Hospital; the rehabilitated potable water supply headwork’s for Uyo Urban at Ifa Atai and emergency intervention on gully erosion at the School of Nursing, Anua.  The governor will also flag off the construction of three collapsed bridges and internal roads in Obot Akara; the dualization of Oron-Uyo Road, a federal road.

Umanah listed other achievements of Governor Udom Emmanuel so far to include the installation of “dead bus” technology which allows Akwa Ibom to be an island of power supply during national grid outages; resuscitation of Peacock Paint; payment of 10 years arrears of pension and gratuity to retired teachers; payment of CONHES consolidated salary structure approved in August 2014, to Nurses, effective June 1, 2015; renovation of Cornelia Connelly College, Uyo; inauguration of several technical committees viz agricultural and food security, Ibaka Sea Port and Foreign Direct Investment.

Work has also commenced on the construction of the new terminal building and the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities at the Ibom International Airport. Contracts have also been awarded for the construction of 5km Ikot Usop-Ikot Edeghe –Ikot Ekpuk road with 30m span bridge in Mkpat Enin, the 5km Mkpok-Okat road in Onna; outfall drain and urban roads in Oron and Uyo, outfall drain from Nsikak Eduok/Oron Road to Tropicana Complex.

The campaign will see a float of young people move round the town with the message of the campaign. Later in the day, they will ‘empty’ into the stadium where the governor, after planting the seed of belief for the concept, will present the creed, lit the campaign torch and finally declare the campaign running.

By Ini Udoma


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