By Chris Umoette
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has, since settling into office for a second term, embarked on the process of healing wounds and uniting a state that was considerably fractured in the run-up to the March 16, 2019 governorship election. The process has been as easy as building on the peace that reigned in the state from his first term, but which was threatened by drums of war that sounded in some quarters prior to the election.
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The governor has had little or no difficulty restoring the peace for which the state has traditionally been known due mainly to the numerous achievements he recorded in his first term, which won for him the belief, faith and trust of the people of the state as demonstrated by the massive support they gave him for his re-election.
The people have seen practical proof of what a united and peaceful state could achieve based on the socio-economic development the governor wrought on the state in his first term. The aim of his current unity effort, therefore, is to make them buy into his vision of where he wants the state to be, long after has left the stage in 2023. That is to say that for him, the focus is on tomorrow, not just today. It is on the Akwa Ibom of the present and future generations.
Governor Emmanuel is working on the theory that the state of his dream cannot become a reality without a strong foundation laid by peace and unity – a state whose indigenes would work with unanimity of purpose for the common good. He is therefore seeking to return the state to the era of its founding fathers when the unity that prevailed did not recognize dialect or sub-ethnicity.
He reminded the people of the state in his second term inaugural speech of the founding fathers’ dream of “a state that was homogeneous in culture and contiguous in thoughts and language, the thread that linked this noble aspiration was the uplifting and inspiring belief that we are one people, united by the lone ingredient that has shaped all known societies: the need to live in a united, safe, secure and prosperous society where people are free to dream, dare and drive, where the circumstances of one’s birth or the axis of his or her geography will not limit the individual’s capacity to succeed”.
It was the era when Ibibio State College (now Federal Polytechnic, Ukana), the premier post-secondary institution of the people at that time, was sited on Annang land, though it bore the name “Ibibio”. That was proof that there was no dichotomy between Ibibio and Annang. It is evidence of the unity that has prevailed in the state under the present governor and the people’s resolve to stand with him to build the state that in the last governorship election, his victory cut across all the 31 local government areas. It was a victory that saw all the sub-ethnic groups in the state speak with one voice.
In his first term, Governor Emmanuel launched the Dakkada programme to sound a clarion call to the people of the state to rise to greatness by jettisoning mediocrity, ignorance and superstition. It was a call to unity and love for state and country, as well as a motivation for hard work and willingness to wake the lion that lies in every human being, for their personal socio-economic development and that of the state and nation at large.
The success of Dakkada is evident in the fact that today, the average Akwa Ibomite feels a greater sense of motivation and encouragement to pursue his dream, taking a cue from indigenes of the state that have made tremendous successes in their chosen careers in diverse areas such as law, medicine, sports, academics, arts and entertainment, within and outside the country. The governor hopes to use the success of Dakkada to drive his current campaign for unity.
Now, he is working on what he has christened Completion Agenda to open new frontiers to drive the level of development that has never been witnessed in the state. He is putting in place structures that will place the state’s socio-economic development on auto pilot to guarantee sustainable development for present and future generations of Akwa Ibomites. It is one programme that will cement the unity the governor has succeeded in restoring in the state after the election.
The Agenda encompasses the eight key areas that will drive development of the state beyond the present and well into the future, namely, industrialization, aviation development, rural/riverine areas development and agriculture. Others are human capacity development, security, infrastructure, as well as small and medium enterprises. The areas have been carefully selected to enable the government to work on the twin objective of building the small but rich human resource the state is endowed with alongside development of its vast and scattered natural resources. This would usher into the state a new era that would put it not just on the national, but also on the continental and global maps of socio-economic and industrial development.
Over the next three and half years, the government will build on the successes it has so far recorded in the rapidly improved health sector to have a healthy population that would spend less on healthcare but channel its energy into taking advantage of the numerous economic and industrial programmes at its disposal to improve its living standard. With huge spending on education including investment in ICT and backed by the free and compulsory education programme, it will be possible for the state to have the required manpower that would not only drive its industrial development into the future, but would also be equipped to be marketable internationally.
A faithful implementation of the Completion Agenda will ensure that by the time Governor Emmanuel takes his final bow out of government on May 29, 2023, Akwa Ibom would have been poised for active participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution that has since kicked off, with noticeable benefits on the quality lives of the people of the state.
.Umoette, a legal practitioner, lives in Lagos.