Chris Kirubi, a Kenyan successful businessman, entrepreneur and industrialist once said: “Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader…they set out to make a difference”. The renowned philanthropist who is the Director at Centrum Investment Company, a business conglomerate, went on to say that, “great leaders are not always passionate about the role, but goals, performance and achievements”.
As Kirubi, quoted above stated, the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, has demonstrated through his actions and deeds that indeed, the sole motive he abandoned the less headache-induced positions as Audit Manager, Price Waterhouse Coopers and Chief Financial Officer, Zenith Bank Plc, to mention a few, was to make a difference in his home State.
Since his assumption of office on May 29, 2015, Mr Udom Emmanuel, who is the 10th governor of the 30 year old Akwa Ibom, has remained committed to the improvement of the lot of the State in all its ramifications. The financial guru-turned-heavyweight politician has identified projects relevant to the fulfilment of those electoral promises he made to the people of the state and has been quietly and successfully executing them.
Twenty six months on, a keen observer of the Udom Emmanuel led administration would nod his head in agreement to the fact that, the governor has clearly identified projects that have significantly impacted a good number of rural dwellers who hitherto, were not privileged to have some basic facilities. From the construction of rural roads that were in terrible and appalling states to provision of basic social amenities. From the provision of cutting-edge healthcare facilities in our general hospitals, cottage hospitals and Primary Health Centres to complete refurbishment of the education sector, Agriculture as well as ensuring there is enough food for all, to mention a few.
For instance, in the area of Agriculture and Food sufficiency, which Governor Emmanuel considers critical to the wellbeing and socio-economic transformation of the Akwa Ibom people, his government is on the right track and had since gone beyond a subsistent engagement to a business project.
Independent investigations reveal that the Udom Emmanuel government is the pacesetter in Agriculture in the whole country. At the time of writing this report, no fewer than twenty two varieties of vegetables were cultivated in the State and exported in large quantities. The varieties include: tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, radish, onions, local garden eggs, green pepper, yellow pepper, red pepper, Cameroon pepper, okra, to mention a few.
Checks also divulge that the current administration has established no fewer 22 hectares of improved cocoa plantation in six LGAs namely, Ini, Essien Udim, Mkpat Enin, Ikono, Abak and Ukanafun. In collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, government had since commenced the sale of oil palm seedlings at a subsidized rate of N180 each to farmers.
Undeniably, Akwa Ibom State is known to have one of the best flavours of cocoa in the country. That is why Governor Udom Emmanuel has resuscitated cocoa production through the establishment of Cocoa Development Committee chaired by the Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Ekpo MFR. The State Chief executive has also flagged off the Cocoa Maintenance Scheme to improve the yield of cocoa from the present 300kg/ha to 1,500kg/ha between 2016 to 2019. Governor Emmanuel has provided support for 8,200 cocoa farmers to cultivate 30,000 hectares of Cocoa. He has trained 480 youths on Cocoa Maintenance Scheme. Experts have been brought in to work with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Technical Committee to teach Cocoa farmers conventional agronomic practices to improve cultivation of cocoa in the state to earn foreign exchange.
Apart from cocoa, 6,000 hectares of land has been designated for the cultivation of cassava. There are cassava multiplication farms in Ikot Okudom in Eket LGA, Ikot Ekan in Abak and Ishiet Ekim in Uruan to teach cluster groups best practices in cassava production. Government had approved counterpart funds for FADAMA 111 Programme. Under this programme, cassava is targeted for cultivation annually between 2016 and 2019. The state is expected to cultivate 6,000ha of cassava in 2019 thereby moving the present cluster to core status. In addition, the governor had approved the establishment of three new cassava processing factories in the three senatorial districts in the state namely: Ibesikpo Asutan LGA (Nung Udoe, Eket LGA (Ikot Okudom) and Abak LGA (Ikot Ekang). This, experts say, will reduce the cost of processing cassava into other derivatives such as fofo, garri, and pallets as well as their prices significantly. Governor Emmanuel has approved the reactivation and management of the defunct state premier fisheries at Obio Eket, Nsit Ubium by Merlot Anny Limited.
However, the Governor has not just focused on Agriculture and other areas stated above alone. A close look at the state will show why the transformation of the rural areas like Mkpat Enin, Ini, Ikono, Obot Akara, Oruk Anam, Uruan, Nsit Atai, Oron Okobo, Mbo, Urueoffong Oruko, Onna, to mention a few, has been capital intensive; because of the hitherto lack of basic infrastructure in these areas. By so doing, some of the projects impacted on the majority of the state’s population would be identified. Once all the on-going projects in these areas are in place, culminating with an equitable distribution of amenities throughout the state, they will contribute towards reducing the burden of urban migration. This will eventually lead to increased agricultural production on which the population will fall back on without having to look outside for it, and at affordable price.
In addition to infrastructure, the Udom Emmanuel administration has also been providing basic necessities of life. Worthy of citing is the absolutely free and qualitative education which the State government is paying N100per pupil and N300 per student as subvention, hence, spending over Three Hundred Million Naira (N300,000,000.00) every term and close to a Billion Naira annually as subvention for our children in the Primary and Secondary Schools in the State
The provision of steady electricity, clean and safe drinking water by the current administration have indeed, encouraged establishment of cottage industries in some urban and rural areas. Moreover, our youth in rural areas have been empowered and engaged in various programmes which has been keeping them busy and away from trouble. All told, the governor’s effort has contributed to fight against poverty that should raise the development index of the State in fair assessment.
A lot has been done by way of execution of projects that alleviate the hardship of the people and improve their lot, and yours truly will surely dissect and deliberate on these projects and programmes in subsequent report.
Without any doubt, even a sightless person could feel the aura of Governor Emmanuel administration’s refined and swift execution of inestimable life touching projects in the state.
In fact, on a particular occasion, one of the governor’s aides was short of words in realizing the pace at which his boss accomplishes projects in various places that were not announced through them. This explains why Udom Emmanuel is a performing governor whose intention is to leave positive indelible marks in the sands of the development of Akwa Ibom State.
Indeed, Mr Emmanuel’s conscientious efforts will be there for posterity. Judging from his gargantuan achievements in just 26 months as the governor and considering the very harsh, unfriendly and seriously biting economy, I make bold to state here and now that, the present government has surpassed every other administrations in opening Akwa Ibom State to the modern world.
Suffice it to say that, this is one governor that believes in PERFORMANCE and results, not rhetoric.
NYONG is Editor, The TOWN CRIER Newspapers.