Gov. Akpabio and His Uncommon Achievement – By Anietie EkongAkwa Ibom, Anietie Ekong, Articles, Columnists, Headlines, NNP Columnists, State News Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
By Aniete Ekong | Abuja, Nigeria | June 27, 2012 - In 2006, a certain young man, Godswill Obot Akpabio had indicated his intention to serve Akwa Ibom people as the Governor. Apart from having served as a Commissioner in three key Ministries in Akwa Ibom State, he was largely untested. His ambition was seen as a tall order considering the fact that the out-going Governor had anointed his son-in-law as his successor. Moreover, he was up against political heavy weights, men who had made their marks in national politics and had a lot of cash to play with.
However, undaunted in what seemed as if he was a David fighting many Goliaths, he embarked upon an aggressive campaign which struck a chord with mostly the youth. He went about not asking people to vote for him but telling them: “Let God’s will be done.” And indeed God’s will was done in Godswill Akpabio and a supposed political rookie was elected the Governor of Akwa Ibom State. In 2011, he returned and told the people: “Let God’s will be done again.” And the people overwhelmingly voted for him to continue with the good work which he had done.
The emergence of Chief Akpabio as the Governor in 2007 was not normal. It was the first time a candidate had emerged through the popular will of the people, defeating a record 57 people. In fact, the people had waited for five days under very harsh conditions to participate in the primary because they desired a change that would positively impact in their living standard. In the last five years, this man who tells anyone who cares to listen that he came into government with anger and a burning desire to make a difference and change people’s perception about government, has not disappointed.
One noticeable feature in Akwa Ibom State when Governor Akpabio assumed the mantle of leadership in 2007 was the fact that the state was literally littered with failed or abandoned projects by the previous administration. In most cases, huge sums of money had been paid to contractors who collected the money, cleared the site and vanish into thin air. For instance, there was no debate on the desirability of an airport for the state. Residents of the state had to endure long, gruelling journeys through pothole ridden roads to travel by air in neighbouring states. The previous administration had engaged a contractor, mobilized with huge sum of money but what Governor Akpabio met as Ibom airport project was a mass land with just the site cleared.
Chief Akpabio wasted no time in salvaging the project and completing it on schedule. Ibom International Airport reputed to have one of the longest runways in Nigeria, international flights have already commenced from the airport. But as a man of vision, Governor Akpabio has moved on to complete the second phase which would have the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities to serve the West African sub-region. With the MRO facility, airlines could do some basic checks of their fleet of aircrafts in Akwa Ibom State and save the nation capital flight. That’s uncommon!
One of the major problems that have confronted successive administrations in Akwa Ibom state is the flooding of the state capital, Uyo. Living in some parts of Uyo during the rainy season is always a nightmare. From the Idoro area through Itam road area to Ikot Ekpene road area, it is always a pool of water after rainfall. It was so bad that many houses in the flood-prone areas were submerged. In the last dispensation, residents of these areas, out of frustration on their plight, had decided to name the pool of water after the reigning Governor at the time, like “Inyang Attah,” literarily meaning “River Attah”.
In fairness to the immediate past administration in Akwa Ibom State, it was not as if the government was totally unconcerned about the plight of the residents. Year in, year out, huge budgetary provisions running into billions of naira were made to curb the problem of flooding and erosion in Uyo, but the problem simply defied every solution. On assumption of office, Governor Akpabio decided to take the bull by the horns and confront the problem of flooding in Uyo once and for all.
And for this, a giant construction company was engaged to deploy the “pipe jacking” or “micro-tunnelling” technology to put an end to the menace that had become a yearly horrific experience for the people of the city. Apart from saving the structures in the areas from being submerged, Governor Akpabio had reckoned that flood would make nonsense of the huge sums of money that had been sunk into road construction and the fly over projects in the Itam area if the issue of flooding was not addressed.
Under the pipe jacking method, water is channelled into well lubricated huge pipelines buried 40 metres under the ground, passing through the discharge drain at Ekim Itam-Ikot Oku road, Uyo. But now like a magical trick, after the rain stops, the water just disappears within a few moments. During a visit to the state, President Goodluck Jonathan was so amazed at the project that he said: “One of the projects that is quite interesting to me is the drainage system. I think this is the first time I have seen that kind of drainage system and I believe it must be one of the firsts in the whole continent of Africa,” he said. That’s uncommon!
So much has been written about the penchant of the Akwa Ibom State Governor in opening up the state through aggressive road construction projects. As at the last check, the administration had done over 290 brand new roads. This in itself is phenomenal. But as an icing on the cake, one cannot fail to notice the flyovers springing up in different parts of the state to ease vehicular movement and enhance scenic aesthetics across the state.
It is remarkable that building flyovers is one project that not many states can afford but the Akpabio administration has done six so far and still counting. According to an obviously elated President Jonathan when he visited the state to commission some of the flyovers, “One thing I have seen today is that the projects I have seen are not just projects, but with very high quality…And I’m quite pleased with that because the Governor is not just playing politics with projects; it is so glaring that he is committed to changing things,” the President said. That’s a celebration of uncommon transformation.
Akwa Ibom State also boasts of the first-in-West Africa e-library. The project is a component of the free and compulsory education policy of the administration, which impact has been phenomenal. Apart from the five floor edifice which is an architectural masterpiece in itself, it is the only library in Nigeria with a multi-media conference hall with a capacity for 200 guests. It also has facilities for teleconferencing from any part of the globe. The sheer quantum of the book resources of about 70 million downloadable e-books and 30 million books in print with in-built alarm system to prevent pilfering; and access by users to the best libraries in the world makes this achievement uncommon.
Spread across the 31 local government areas of the state are over 4,000 life-touching projects. But in the area of rural electrification, the achievement of the Akpabio administration has been unprecedented. Over 1600 Communities have been linked to the national grid. This has raised electricity coverage in the State to not less than 85 per cent. It is noteworthy that the African average is five percent while the national average stands at 17 percent. But beyond this, Governor Akpabio has promised that there would be no community in Akwa Ibom State that would be in darkness by the end of his tenure in 2015.
Ekong, a public affairs analyst writes in from Abuja.
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