-By Otobong Sampson
The 17.4 kilometre Odoro Ikpe road was officially flagged off last Thursday by Governor Udom Emmanuel as part of activities to celebrate the 29th Anniversary of the creation of Akwa Ibom State. But prior to then, the proactive and forward-thinking Commissioner for Special Duties, Engr. Etido Inyang had already engaged the management of AshDin, the project contractor, to commence work at the site as soon the necessary agreements were signed. Few weeks ago, the commissioner and his team held an inaugural meeting with the company/inspection visit to the project site where he engaged the media and the locals thereafter in a brief but frank interactive session on the economic importance of the road. Beyond upping the credit unit of the infrastructural efforts of the government, it was the economic value of the road which drew more joy from Engr. Inyang as he passionately explained the sincerity of Governor Emmanuel in creating meaningful and sustainable openings for the economic emancipation of the state.
The Odoro Ikpe road clearly provides a compass regarding the direction which the governor is headed in his industrialization drive. For those who have been unnecessarily critical of the seeming veer off the lane of industrialization to that of infrastructure development, precisely road construction, perhaps they should listen more to the key argument. As consistently explained by the Special Duties Commissioner, the rural communities in the hinterlands are the ones with abundance of agricultural lands and raw materials and it is imperative to give prospective investors vehicular accessibility to these communities either for the citing of industries or easy transfer of raw materials.
The Ini rice farm is a case in point.
The road in view, until completed or worked to an appreciable level, is a set back to the development of that facility. It has stalled progress because machines meant for the rice farms cannot move in. In the face of severe cash crunch, it is heartwarming that government adopted a shrewd negotiating position and ensured its international partner for the rice farm got half the financial burden of working the road which is expected to be completed in 14 months.
In the words of Engr. Inyang, “…this is the kind of investors that the governor wants. An investor, who when he sees that his investment is likely to be delayed because of paucity of funds, can move in and expand the scope or concept of agreement. The state government had already earmarked the road for construction but it may take us more than 14 months to complete it and this will delay the take off of the rice project.
“AshDin does not want to wait. They said they want to partner government as their Corporate Social Responsibility by contributing to the road construction.
They are not taking anything from government, rather, they are adding. They are bringing fifty percent and the state government is bringing fifty percent into this construction. The road terminates at Mbiabet Ikpe, the rice farm itself. There will be another phase from there that will be handled by another contractor”.
This is a smart and commendable position by government as it will free up some few naira for other pressing necessities. In this down moment of national recession, the Udom administration is showing sufficient will to re-work the economic model of the state. The people must encourage the current efforts of government at altering obsolete patterns if Akwa Ibom is to emerge a key state in the post-recession era. The 10,000 hectre rice farm at Ini Local Government Area will undoubtedly remain a prominent legacy of this administration even as the envisaged benefits are huge. From economic traffic which will in turn spring up other micro businesses, land and rent appreciation, the need for motels and standard accommodations, there is every possibility for the rural community of Ini to evolve into a semi urban centre.
Today, skills, industry, productiveness, and competitiveness are the determinants of societal greatness. Ibrahim Gambari argues further that since the time of Adam Smith, every serious leader and politician has come to know that the wealth of a society is not based on the wealth and opulence of its leaders, but on the productivity and industriousness of its citizenry.
The industrialization programme of Governor Emmanuel has the capacity to lift Akwa Ibom above the lines of allocation-dependent states in Nigeria. All it requires is the right attitude to service and consistent commitment from the governor’s subalterns, both as exemplified by the Special Duties Commissioner. While the Odoro Ikpe/Mbiabet road has affirmed Governor Udom as Mr. Industrialization, Engr. Inyang’s knack for perfection will add to quality service delivery of government.