By Aniedi UKOENANG
In the build up to the celebration of the fourth year in office of Governor Udom Emmanuel in May 2019, I wrote an article that I titled ‘Udom the Jinx breaker’. Before making that write up public, I dug a lot of information across the state, and through such data I discovered GOV UDOM EMMANUEL has debuted many feats either in Akwa Ibom State, the Southern region or Nigeria.
THE First Akwa United trophy in 30years is under Udom, first since 1999 to build and operate an industry, first Governor in Nigeria to launch a state owned airline, many more outstanding feats of his made that list.
With due respect to the respective Excellencies that have led this state since creation, especially from 1999, they also left behind footprints in the sands of time.
Then came Udom Emmanuel in 2015 as the 3rd executive governor of the state since the 4th Republic in 1999. During his campaign he made promises that are politically rare In Nigeria. In this clime, especially at the state level, nobody campaigns with a promise to build industries. Governorship aspirants usually promise to build stomachs, do bridge across the mountain, PROVIDE pipe borne water, street lights and other things that are VERY elementary and comic.
Alas, Udom Emmanuel has fulfilled the industrialization promise and has gone a step further to redesign the economic outlook of Akwa Ibom State by employing high level business development skill sets to the benefit of the people.
This Governor is doing to the state’s economy what Obong Victor Attah did to her PHYSICAL landscape, and the evidence of both are so glaring and the impact, undeniable.
Expectedly, his traducers will continue to wail about the absence of free cash on the street, and zero tolerance to the promotion of destitution, begging and political jobbing in Akwa Ibom by this administration, but the murmurings won’t stop the salaries of thousands of youths, working at the COUNTLESS industries built or attracted by the current administration.
One should wonder, why is it that more commercial buildings, enterprises and even international franchises are springing up in Akwa Ibom State now, despite the gloomy economy globally, as against when we sang ‘Akwa Ibom ayaya’ and ‘Akwa Ibom ado ok’?
For example, in August 2020, a franchise of Cold Stone opened their branch in Uyo, and while the joy erupted amongst fun seekers and those who will tap direct or indirect economic benefits from that establishment, Chicken Republic also exposed their brand to the public, to create awareness even without completing the building. The next big news within the same month was that Ibom Tropicana Centre, the supposed one-stop world class entertainment centre that was however left uncompleted and reduced to a mere cinema, has found favour in the sight of some investors who are currently working day and night to launch a world class mall, Ibom Tropicana Mall , with its accompanying potpourri of outstanding brands by December 2020.
All these goodies wouldn’t just fall on Akwa Ibom people at this time by a stroke of luck; they are evidence Udom Emmanuel meant serious business when he pledged to industrialize the state. And for the traffic of investments to Akwa Ibom State to remain uninterrupted since 2017 that NBS ranked the state second highest in Foreign Direct Investment, it means someone is doing a very diligent and technical job in the background.
Again, just recently, while Ibom Air was receiving her fourth and fifth aircrafts, the news of the contract signed by BUA Group in France to build a refinery in Akwa Ibom filtered in, the Federal Government also approved an oil/gas free trade zone for the state, still around the same period work began at the proposed vehicle assembly plant in Itu Local Government Area, is this not becoming miraculous?
Indeed, there is no other interpretation to this than the fact that this Governor, having attained the highest level of knowledge in business development has deployed this knowledge to inject life into the economy of this state, possibly through proper marketing of opportunities embedded in our land to the right people and throwing the right baits at the investors with peace and security being the number one bait.
His shrewdness also reflects in the fact that under his administration, government investments worth billions of dollars that were gasping for breath in economic ventilators, especially those initiated by the immediate past administration have now been rescued and are now operating with ease.
A quick example is the Ibom Specialist Hospital that recently announced their successes in multiple cases of brain surgery, kidney transplant and other medical exploits. Akwa Ibom people and indeed Nigerians are very familiar with the story of the near abandonment and scrapping of that edifice which was a mere building until this administration painstakingly worked out an operational plan, in addition to meeting very tough conditions given by world class experts, experienced in managing such facility. That hospital is now a 24hour referral centre, carrying out the exploits it was designed for, courtesy of Udom Emmanuel’s wizardry.
Ibom Tropicana Centre, Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort also got rescued from comatose, while the supposed four Point by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene is on the queue waiting to be rescued through his craft, otherwise it may keep standing up there in the sky as a carcass of useless twelve-storey skyscraper that it is, serving only the function of providing beautiful background for photographs in Ikot Ekpene.
Indeed, through Udom Emmanuel’s wizardry in business development and managing the economy, Akwa Ibom people have been made prosperous even in a season of drought, the state is now the toast of investors, jobs are created, his dakkada message has made the people entrepreneurial, while the economic architecture of the state have been redesigned, to the benefit of the people. As Akwa Ibom celebrates 33 years of statehood as an economic force in Nigeria I salute the helmsman for both his wizardry in business development and statecraft.
(Aniedi UKOENANG, a PR enthusiast writes from Uyo. 08065566247)