By Iman Imar
Last weekend’s comprehensive victory of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in all three Senate and 10 federal constituency elections in Akwa Ibom State did not come by fluke. Even more, the resounding defeat of Senator Godswill Akpabio, the immediate past governor of the state in his second term bid for the Senate on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC went far to underline the reality of the devotion of the people to the PDP and the governor of the state, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
Given the general opinion that Akpbaio focused much of his development projects in his Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, it would then have been taken for granted that his successor would overlook the region in his development projects.
But alas, that has not been the case. Indeed, the humiliating defeat of Akpabio in last weekend’s Senatorial election was the clearest evidence that the people of the region have gotten their priorities right in terms of their felt needs.
They just did not heed the injunctions of his successor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel to vote for the PDP candidate in the Senate election, they were also prompted by the actions of the governor in taking development higher from where he met it.
One other factor that may have prompted the people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District to vote the way that they did was the realization that unlike his predecessor, Akpabio, that Governor Emmanuel was not selective in his development of the state and the senatorial district in particular.
Whereas people from outside senatorial districts said that Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District got the lion share of development projects and appointments, it subsequently emerged that that even within the senatorial district that some local governments were totally left out.
The favoured localities were the former governor’s hometown Ukana in Essien Udim LGA, Abak, and Ikot Ekpene LGAs.
Given that inclusion is one of the major subsets of the governor’s five point agenda, it was not surprising that all parts of the state and the senatorial district have now felt Governor Emmanuel’s touch.
Even the controversial Four-Point by Sheraton Hotel Akpabio tried to set up in Ikot Ekpenebut did not complete is now being completed by Governor Emmanuel.
The state administration has done the paper work and gotten the approval of the hotel chain to use the brand name for the hotel. Whereas building the physical structure is only about half of the work needed to be done in establishing a hotel, the equipment and branding require even more resources.
Given that the Emmanuel administration met a building without equipment and legally binding contract to any hotel chain, the present government has devoted much resources towards ensuring that the hotel is fully completed and commissioned. It has gotten a legal contract with a hotel chain to formalize a relationship.
The Emmanuel administration has also ensured that areas that did not benefit from road constructions in the past have benefited.
Undoubtedly one of the most touching stories from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District is the makeover of the Nto-Edino- Ekwere Azu Road in Obot Akara Local Government Area. The road which was in the past described as impassable and was infamously called a death trap on account of the regular mishaps that occurred along the road has now been totally reconstructed. That road has now been rebuilt with two 45 meter span bridges. The stories of death and danger that were associated with it have now been a thing of the past.
The rice mill in Ini Local Government Area is another laudable project that has been facilitated by the present administration. Besides opening up the economic potentials of the area and empowering farmers in the area, it has also impacted upon job growth as envisaged in another arm of the five-point agenda of the Emmanuel administration.
Those in Abak Local Government Area who thought that the area had been abandoned by successive governments in Akwa Ibom have been soothed by the establishment of a fertilizer blending factory in the locality.
Besides the Four Point by Sheraton Hotel, another abandoned project that really touched sensibilities was the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene dual carriage way also inherited from the preceding regime.
The road project and the hotel project are believed to have gulped up billions of naira.
However, the reconstruction of the Ikono General Hospital that saw the older hospital being torn down and rebuilt into a state of the art medical facility is one of the landmarks that the people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District have appreciated with the Emmanuel administration.
The senatorial district headquarter in Ikot Ekpene has also been gifted with the establishment of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) at the Infectious Disease Hospital, in Ikot Ekpene.
Several schools have also been rebuilt and the senatorial district has also got its share of the several initiatives aimed at boosting development across the state.
And his development strides appear to have won him confidence of majority of Akwa Ibom people and dwarfed the few dissenting voices expectedly from the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, whose campaign had been hinged mostly on charisma and violence.
It is remarkable that the people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District have also benefited from the heritage of peace that has been generally acknowledged across the state.
It is that legacy of peace that has enabled the actualization of the many initiatives of the governor.
Yes, the people of Ikot Ekpene may have been awed by their former illustrious son, but when it came to the reality of sensible use of their money to impart upon their lives, they have seen that Governor Emmanuel by far has done well to point them towards a better life. That is why they voted the way he asked them to do in Ikot Ekpene.
*Imar is resident in Uyo