WE CAN SAIL IN THE DEEP SEA
My dear great and purpose-driven Akwa Ibomites, today is a day of celebration of the victory of one party over another. That was two years ago. We had since moved beyond the schema of politics to the illuminating glare of governance. As we progress on this Divine journey today, we stand by the harbour to review the miles we have covered, and forge ahead until we reach our ordained destination.
On this Second Anniversary of our administration, we have come here to celebrate prosperity, report progress and renew our deep and unbridled commitment to the development of our beloved State; the land of Promise, of undying hopes, dreams and aspirations.
The milestones of our journey since 2015 are not anchored by our power or by our might but by the Spirit of God. So, we have come here today, thankful for the great honour and opportunity you gave us two years ago, grateful for the choice God guided you to make on us. We have come to remind you that when we won the nomination, you won; when we won the election, you won; and when we were sworn-in, we took oath to serve you. Our Divine contract with you remains sacrosanct. Our victory remains your victory and our mandate shall continue to be your mandate, and we remain committed to impacting your lives and bringing meaningful developments that will help change your circumstance.
About 56 years ago, the founding fathers of this great country wrest power from the colonial masters, and Nigeria became an independent sovereign nation shaped by democratic values and ethos. It was a feat that brought unquantifiable joy to the land.
But that joy was short-lived and was punctuated by the blazing sounds of tanks and guns on the serene Saturday morning of January 15, 1966 when the five Majors truncated our steady but wobbly march on the boulevard of democracy. Since that day, a greater part of our existence as an independent country has always been manned by the military.
But for 18 years now, after many fits and starts democracy has endured in our nation, and it is our responsibility to make the best out of this opportunity. On behalf of the Government and good people of Akwa Ibom State, I congratulate the President and entire citizens of Federal Republic of Nigeria on this anniversary celebration of our Democracy Day. The journey so far has been worthwhile. Democratic values, traditions and culture have been embraced and internalized by Nigerians and that’s a great and wonderful thing worthy of celebrating, which is what we are doing today. But there can be nothing good about democracy without good governance.
For two years and indeed since the advent of the current dispensation, we have made Akwa Ibom State a shining example of good governance. That is why this anniversary is worth celebrating for we have worked to make our people realize that dividends of democracy also exists beyond the literary definition.
We are a government that is grounded on result and not merely on applause. We celebrate this anniversary because we have seen the rainbow of blessings it has bestowed on us through this administration, as we pay tribute to those who handed over the reins of power to us with formidable foundation.
In just two years, we have built on that foundation of greatness, and defied a tempestuous economic climate to put finishing touches on a marvellous edifice for posterity.
We are an administration that has elected to erect the golden blocks of unity, love and brotherhood. We are knit together in a web of unity- a symphony of love. We are not just a hardworking people, we are a tighter generation. Love has made us stronger in spite of a climate of manufactured divisiveness by people who play perpetual politics instead of contributing to the development of this state.
When we came on board, we declared total rejection of self-pity by our people and launched the Dakkada Initiative. Through that re-orientation programme, we encouraged our people to hold their heads high and stick their chests out. We urged them to come out of the cocoon of self-pity and burst forth to claim the faith of greatness which God almighty has endowed us all, with.
We urged our people to come out of the basement of hopelessness to the balcony of hope; we told them that there is joy in an ownership society as opposed to cradle to grave dependency mind-set; we told the world that we are great and talented people and there is no reason why we should not appropriate the blessings and gifts of the almighty to realize our potentials. We asked them to keep hope alive and bury forever the layers of hopelessness and a forlorn existence. We challenged our people to think like Jesse Jackson, who during a Christmas Carol event few years ago proclaimed that Akwa Ibom should be tired of sailing on little boats far inside the harbour bar, that we should go out where the big ships float, out on the deep where the great ones are. To use his famous phrase, he asked us to keep hope alive and keeping hope alive has been our guiding principle.
Yes, there could be storms in the sea, and there sure have been many, but because the hand on the sail is steady, focused and pragmatic we sail on knowing that suffering shapes character, while character breeds faith and faith translates to hope and hope brings success and stability.
We were faced with tough economic challenges upon our swearing-in to office but we were not deterred. We could not allow paucity of funds to cast darkness over our vision of prosperity for the State. Rather, we reasoned that stars shine brighter in darkness. We drew strength from the immortal words of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, when his cocoa business collapsed in 1939, entered in his diary of March 7, 1939, a poetic chemistry of hope, even in downfall, that: “After the rain comes sunshine; after darkness comes the glorious dawn…” We knew that good policies and programmes for our people which is our guiding light – our lodestar – can, and will weather any storms our voyage may encounter; and that even if it gets dark sometimes, there will be joy in the morning.
In the end, faith has not failed us. Hence, we are rising to the faith of greatness, dear brothers and sisters; we have unmasked the darkness and behold our beautiful morning. This is the dawn of a new era in Akwa Ibom State and we stand poised to be the direct beneficiaries and our children the heirs and heiresses of this vision.
When we signed and sealed the social contract with you exactly two years ago, we promised to fly Akwa Ibom on the wings of a Five-Point Agenda to the destination of Greatness. The compass of that flight of destiny is industrialization, and our flight is cruising at a steadying altitude defying the turbulence that attempted to shake our faith as a result of a harsh economic environment of 2016.
The facts speak for itself. Several industries are springing up across Akwa Ibom State- from the metering factory to the syringe manufacturing industry which will have the highest production capacity in Africa, where, our youths just returned from training in Turkey preparatory to its take-off. There is the pencil and toothpick industry that I had commissioned earlier this week. The coconut plantation we are developing at the Ikot Abasis/Mkpat Enin axis will be a wonder to behold. We are targeting 2 million stands of coconut, and we are using the mulching machine in line with international standards.
It will be a money-churning venture considering the uses of coconut in modern society, especially as we plan to build a coconut refinery side by side with the plantation. We have also revitalized moribund industries such as the Peacock Paints, Etinan which is now producing. In agriculture, we are a shining example in diversification of the economy through cocoa production and introducing improved species of various crops to our farmers in addition to the cattle ranch which would soon come on steam; not to mention the hatchery which is changing the economic circumstance of many of our people.
These achievements go on side by side with infrastructural consolidation and expansion. As you are aware, as part of this anniversary celebration, we have commissioned, inspected and inaugurated several road projects which total over 700 kilometres and these include the Eket-Ibeno Road, the Ekom Iman-Etinan-Awa Iman Road which is at advanced stage of completion. We also inspected the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road with renewed assurance of completion by the contractors. There are other strategic roads which form arteries across the heart of the State, especially in the rural areas with agricultural potentials. We are doing roads with economic viability.
Our eyes are on the youths. Through AKEES, we have provided a vehicle for hope and restored dignity in labour. Today, we are potential exporters of tomatoes and onions. The list of our achievements is endless and detailed in the broadcast speech I had earlier given to you today.
In education and health, it is indeed, obvious that we are in a glorious dawn. We have sustained the free education and health services and ensured that those who are entrusted with task of educating our children are the best in the field, because our children are our assets for tomorrow. We will continue to pay the WAEC fees for our indigent students. Last year, we paid over N600 million, because we believe poor or indigent students should not have their future foreclosed because of their inability to pay their exam fees.
We have rehabilitated through Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour, over 300 schools and equipped them with modern laboratories. We have provided free text books on critical subjects like mathematics, English and the sciences.
We have through, intervention by FEYReP, the signature programme of my wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, provided free eye glasses to thousands of people with diagnosed eye problems as well as enlightenment programmes on how to manage such diseases as diabetes, high blood and sugar levels among others. We have trained our youths in various areas to equip them with the needed skills for the jobs and opportunities of the 21st Century.
At a recent economic summit in Lagos, one of the speakers made a poignant declaration that the reason why Nigeria has lacked behind the Asian Tigers – those countries that today are competing with the rich industrialised nations and who were behind Nigeria in GDP at independence – is because those nations invested in their people and that investment has paid off today.
In Akwa Ibom State, we are laying the solid foundation for our wealth tomorrow by training our people to become independent and able to take care of their needs. No nation that has become wealthy got to that point without huge investment in human capital development. We are securing the future today so our kids will live productive lives tomorrow.
We have invested heavily in the power and energy sector as well as the second runway at Ibom International Airport. Our vision for development is anchored on those three strategic gateways to prosperity which the industrialized world had earlier adopted – land, sea and air.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, our destination is closer than our take-off point. Our destination is a stone-throw from here. Our destination is the land of greatness, flowing with the milk and honey of prosperity, wealth and employment generation. We are inching closer every day.
This administration is poised to offer leadership with a difference. We have come to end terrible living and give pride to our children. We came for the downcast and outcast, we came for the poor and downtrodden, we came for the sake of that skinny boy with a big bowl and tiny bread who does not know when his next encounter with meal will come, except by miracle. Our miracle is good governance.
But there is still clog in the wheel of our progress as a people. When will we end campaigns of falsehood, hatred and blackmail? When will we end campaigns for elections that were won and lost since 2015? When will we separate politics from patriotism, and fantasy from reality? Instead of being professionals in the profitless business of pulling others down, let us all be experts in the lucrative business of forgiveness. This is not time for the anger, the resentment, the bitterness, and the desire for recrimination against people. This can only deaden our spirit and lead to self-inflicted wounds.
As for me and my team, we came to serve Akwa Ibom people and we shall not be deterred until our mission is accomplished. By the time my time is up, it will certainly be said, that was Udom Emmanuel, whence cometh another!
Let me end by saying that the hand that had touched the Jewish people and made them the preferred race, which also had touched Europe and Asia and made them super wealthy, is now moving to Africa and Nigeria and Akwa Ibom State is in the vanguard – the front seat of the path of that holy hand. Let us embrace the hand and fold it under our chest while praying a simple prayer: let it be well with Akwa Ibom State, and it is well with us, in Jesus Name.
Once again, I wish you happy #DemocracyDay and Second Anniversary celebration of this administration.
Thank you and God bless.
Being an address by His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel, Governor, Akwa Ibom State during the second anniversary of His administration on May 29, 2017 (Democracy Day) at Uyo Township Stadium.