By Sam Edoho
THE recent economic recession in Nigeria demanded that, right thinking governments both at the national and state levels revisit their economic policies, and ensure that available resources are expended wisely on programmes that would attract return on investment either directly to the government coffers, or to the citizen via the provision of goods and services.
In Akwa Ibom, available statistics reveal that Governor Udom Emmanuel is one of the very few state governors who has been able to stabilise his state’s economy in the face of excruciating recession that ravaged the country after the general elections in 2015. Not only was the state’s economy stabilised, it was rated by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, as being second to Lagos State in attracting Foreign Direct Investments, FDI, into the country.
As if the governor knew that hard times were underway, soon after assuming office in May 2015, he launched what he called ‘The Dakkada Philosophy’ meaning, to arise in Ibibio and most Akwa Ibom dialects. The philosophy harped on arousing the creativity, innovativeness, excellence, integrity and hard work in the people.
Many Akwa Ibomites who have achieved unimaginable heights in their chosen careers or vocations both locally, nationally or internationally were inducted and recognised as ambassadors, with the aim to inspire the indigenes who have attended great heights in their chosen careers or those with similar stories.
Campaigns were embarked on radio, TV, Internet and outdoor venues in addition to town hall enlightenment, while on the other flank, government created an innovation centre through Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Empowerment Scheme, AKEES, to serve as an incubation centre for newly inspired ideas. The Directorate of Marketing and Brand Management, an agency that pilots the Dakkada philosophy also offered technical services to hundreds of indigenes who come to share their dreams and aspirations.
Many citizens of the state began to search, create and spread opportunities. At a time that three million job losses were reported in Nigeria due to sudden crash of the economy and currency, it was an issue of public embarrassment for anyone to be described as jobless or an idle man or woman in Akwa Ibom State, as friends would quickly ask such a fellow if he has not heard of Dakkada.
Churches, families, social groups and other institutions saw in the Dakkada philosophy, a ready-made template for social reorientation, and such messages made it easy for the people to easily register in the over 300 Dakkada Multipurpose Co-operative Societies spread across the state, an initiative that has benefited over 10, 000 Akwa Ibomites who have created small business clusters and got a refundable N1 million seed capital from government for their chosen investments.
Before long, many small and medium scale businesses began to spring up across the state with many of them joyously branding their business premises with the Dakkada insignia. Still in response to the Dakkada messages, indigenes began to convert available land to subsistent farms or gardens, while others turned their plots of land to either commercial farms, poultries or fish ponds, even as typical urban dwellers migrated to their villages for farming.
By the time the economic recession began to bite harder, many Akwa Ibomites already had an escape route. Kudos to the governor, who promptly paid salaries, pensions and other entitlements to civil servants, thereby putting money in their hands to patronise the efforts of other service providers so as to balance supplies with purchasing power.
Without any equivocation, any Akwa Ibomite who understood the effect of hunger that devastated this nation, who read of how people in other states suffered because of salary backlog accumulating for up to 15 months in some states, would easily agree that, people in Akwa Ibom fared better during the recession, courtesy of the Dakkada philosophy of the state government.
Through the Dakkada philosophy, more people have been able to make the best out of the bad situation. It is commonly said that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. That is a truism, but what makes the tough to get going is his or her mental attitude. The Dakkada philosophy has been able to instil in the people the positive mental attitude that is required to keep them in the queue of sustainability and financial stability.
While reports say that the nation is gradually overcoming the economic misfortunes, most Akwa Ibomites are completely free from lack and are already enjoying the boom of the fruits of their labour. This is urging those still sitting on the fence to arise and join the train to economic liberation and wealth creation.