Akwa Ibom @34: We have been lucky – Owodiong
In view of the ongoing celebrations to mark the 34th Anniversary of Akwa Ibom State creation, a frontline political activist, Obong Ide Owodiong has adjudged the State to be lucky amongst her contemporaries, in terms of development and advancement.
Owodiong gave his judgment on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 at his residence in Ibesikpo Asutan.
Recalling the State’s long walk to fame and relevance, the founder of the 1000 and 1 plus initiative thanked God for where the State is, while noting some lapses which should be corrected subsequently.
“We are on the path of progress. We thank God for coming this far but there’s more to be done. We’ve not done badly. Since the commencement of democratic rule, every administration has tried to lay a block over what the previous administration has done, starting from the visionary leadership of Gov. Attah to the present. We have been lucky in this State, compared to others, to have leaders that have been able to put something on ground”, he said.
While expressing hope that the growth of the State will not be stagnated by those saddled with the responsibility of nurturing it, Owodiong called on Akwa Ibomites to contribute their quota to the State’s development by opening up their minds to opportunities around them.
“We hope that we can continue to deepen the structures of democracy. I would like to see Akwa Ibom become one of the major economies in Nigeria going forward and within the African continent, regarded as a strong economy even as a state”.
“The whole bane of democracy in Nigeria is the issue of governance and leadership. If we have the right governance structure and a progressive leadership, every other thing would be added to ensure that we can get there, including the full engagement of the people. That is what the next leadership should be focused on”, he stressed.
“I want to see Akwa Ibom open up to unimaginable opportunities. There are massive opportunities to tap in to. The rubber industry, gas, oil, clay; we can have a thriving ceramic industry from that. We have raffia, we have palm, and we have one of the finest sands that can be used to produce glass on our beaches. So, we’re quite endowed with resources. Our blue economy is still very much largely untapped. We have some of the best prawns; we have coconut, we are the largest producer of cassava; so what do we do with all these? There are lots to be maximized”, he maintained.
The 2023 governorship hopeful however noted some shortfalls on the part of government and promised to maximize on them if given the opportunity to govern the state.
“…I think we need to do a lot more in four basic areas: Education, Health care, Affordable Housing and Food Security. We have private schools but the public schools need to be that institution that helps to equalize the existing inequalities between the very rich and the very poor. If the public schools are functioning well, you can have both the rich and poor there”.
“How many people can afford the Ibom Specialist Hospital for example? What you can get there, can you get it at the General Hospital? I know a lot has been going on in the Health care system but we need to do more to ensure that it is solid so, healthcare is key. The same with affordable Housing: how do we create a framework that allows affordable housing for all people; civil servants, non-civil servants and others?
Speaking on food security, the former Exxon Mobil Manager submitted the need to agriculture more interesting and appealing to young people.
“We need to get more people involved in agriculture and see what kind of agro allied industries we can bring in to place. We need to make agriculture more interesting for the young people and that has to be embedded in our curriculum right from the early ages in a child’s development. That would excite young people. It doesn’t speak well of youths to be seated somewhere in the morning and drinking or gathered at the Airport to welcome a big politician to the State when they should be at school or at work”, he lamented with passion.
Mr. Ide Owodiong is a Human Resources Manager, Political Scientist, Administrator, Change Agent, Project Manager and Community Service Leader.
He is also an alumnus of the PeopleSoft University, Reading, U.K.; Insead School of Business, Fontainebleau – Paris, France; and Thunderbird School of Global Management, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
He has over 26 years of experience in Human Resources Management, with 17+ years at Supervisory and Senior Managerial levels, including extensive work experience in the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry, and across many countries in Europe, the Middle-East, North America and South America.
He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPMN) since 2012 and currently, the Institute’s Chairman, Strategic Planning & Implementation Committee and Member, Governing Council.