Let me first and foremost give thanks to the ONLY GOD, who has never disappointed us; who has been there for us, and has seen us through the mountains of hope and the valley of despair but never stops stretching His hands to lift us up. He was there for us when our knees appeared to have buckled under; when the tempest of distractions and vile temperaments had gathered its fiercest winds, when to the ordinary eye; it appeared the wind in our sail was not strong enough to withstand the gathering storm. By His Grace, we overcame the manufactured might of man so we can stand today to testify to the enduring and time-tested Might of the ONLY GOD who was alive yesterday, is alive today and will be alive tomorrow. To Him alone be all the glory!
We stand at the intersection of history where the destiny of our people beckons and demands of us a reaffirmation of the immutable fact that we are a special people furnaced and shaped by the Almighty God for greatness, designed and structured by the Heavens to be all that we ever desired to be, and conditioned by a focused and people-centric leadership to live out our destinies and our dreams in a safe, secure and prosperous environment.
Also Read: A’Ibom Governor Sworn-in for a Second Term
Today, I stand here humbled by the love you have shown me, eternally grateful for the belief you have expressed in my leadership qualities, inspired and propelled by the faith and the conviction you have reposed in my humble capacity to continue to pilot the affairs of this great State – a State that we affectionately refer to as God’s own piece of Real Estate. I stand here again today, as I did, in 2015, to promise you that since the God we worship and adore did not fail us, I will not fail you. I will continue to serve you as your Servant-Leader, in absolute humility and devotion to your needs and desires and will appropriate your resources to improve your living condition, and secure the future for our children so they too, can be as productive and fulfilled in their aspirations as their counterparts elsewhere.
Decades ago, when our Founding Fathers dreamt of a State that was homogeneous in culture and contiguous in thoughts and language, the thread that linked this noble aspiration was the uplifting and inspiring belief that we are one people, united by the lone ingredient that has shaped all known societies: the need to live in a united, safe, secure and prosperous society where people are free to dream, dare and drive, where the circumstances of one’s birth or the axis of his or her geography will not limit the individual’s capacity to succeed. They projected this ideal and today, we stand as worthy heirs and heiresses to their noble aspirations.
Our Founding Fathers did not see their struggle through the prism of ethnicity neither did they believe that to succeed, you must pull down your brother or sister. Even though they may have had disagreements but those were purely philosophical and were not one rooted in anger, hatred or animus. They envisioned a State where people will rise to the faith of their greatness, where our sons and daughters will accomplish great things and become major players in the boardroom of the Nigerian enterprise.
And so today, my dear compatriots, on this great and wonderful day of our socio-political renewal. I urge you to de-robe the garment of hatred, of mutual recrimination, and replace such with the shining apparel of love, of togetherness, of unity and deep faith and belief in our common essence and values. I urge you to see all that is great and ennobling in us and use this great occasion to start a new vista of love, unity and brotherhood.
Let me use this opportunity to thank you my dear people for your faith, fidelity and prayers. When our State was seen as a flashpoint, where a new phrase in our political lexicon was introduced “ Warsaw saw war”, when the process of electing your leaders was likened to going to war, when the world thought you would give in to the cloud or welter of intimidations and violence that was swirling around us, when the vile propaganda of an impending Armageddon was meant to create fear in you, and cow you so you would stay at home and refuse to exercise your civic responsibility, you refused to be intimated. Not only did you go out to vote, you formed an electoral human shield and protected your votes. Today, the peaceful manner the elections were conducted in our State has become a reference point in how to conduct credible and transparent elections in the face of threats and intimidations. I owe you my eternal gratitude.
This is a State that is named after God and the church rose in unison and demanded that the Christ-centric Administration I have led in the past four years must continue. To our Fathers in Faith, and the entire Christian community in our State, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for honouring our God and for disappointing the machinations of man.
To our great Party, the PDP, especially the Party Chairman, Obong Paul Ekpo and his entire EXCO, I remain eternally grateful for finding me a worthy product to carry on the cardinal principles of good governance predicated on the need to raise our people’s standard of living, ensure development, peace and security. To our Stakeholders, thank you for believing in the larger Akwa Ibom Project and insisting on the continuation of the rewriting of the Akwa Ibom story through my humble leadership.
We have just concluded an election where the atmosphere of engagement was poisoned by the manufactured instrument of division, where political power was defined as a matter of life and death, where certain tactics and approaches employed by the other side, challenged and called to question the foundational core of what we are known for: a peaceful and hospitable people. The elections have come and gone and the people have made their choices known on whom to govern and represent them.
The time then has come for the healing of our land. As I said in my victory speech, I extend again my hands of fellowship and bond of friendship to my brothers and sisters on the opposite side of the political divide. I call on them to join me in building a State that we all, irrespective of political affiliations will be proud to call our home. We went to the polls as brothers and sisters and as the 6th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln said in his second inaugural speech on March 4th 1865 “we are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”
Today, we remain the proud sons and daughters of Akwa Abasi Ibom State, and no fleeting passion of politics should break the cords of our brotherhood. We must encourage civility in our daily engagements and not throw bricks and bats at our fellow compatriots. It was the iconic former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela who once said that “It is easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.” May our land be blessed with leaders who desire to make peace and build than seek to destroy or tear the fabric of our unity.
Four years ago, when you first entrusted us with your mandate, we came emboldened by the Five Point Agenda of: Wealth Creation, Economic and Political Inclusion, Poverty Alleviation, Infrastructural Consolidation and Expansion and Job Creation. Even though the economic horizon was darkened by the clouds of uncertainties due mainly to a deep economic recession that had come upon us, when it was challenging to meet even the basic needs, I can beat my chest here and assert that through prudent management of the lean resources available to us, we have achieved a lot for you, our dear people.
We came determined to rapidly industrialize this State and create employment opportunities for our teeming youths. On that score, we have achieved a lot and are rearing to do more. To date, we have established over 16 industries, most are fully operational, while others are at various stages of completion. Our youths have been gainfully employed in those industries and the value-chain has ensured steady income to our people. Our State remains the destination of choice for foreign investors and comes second, only after Lagos in attracting the most Foreign Direct Investments.
We have deployed enormous resources in ensuring that our children are prepared for the future through quality education received in an atmosphere that is conducive for learning. We have expanded the free and compulsory education policy, paying over 600 million Naira WAEC fees annually, providing modern science laboratories and other amenities that aid the expansion of knowledge. Through Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee (IMDLCC), we have re-modelled, refurbished and equipped our schools with modern tools for learning. The attendant result of this is that our enrolments have quadrupled. Our students are winning awards all over the nation and elsewhere and this is a testament to the quality of education we have exposed our students to. We are rearing to do more!
Our health care delivery services have been celebrated nationally. We have remodelled hospitals across the three senatorial districts and equipped them with the most modern facilities; some are fully digitalized – from Methodist Hospital in Ituk Mbang, to Ikot Okoro, Etinan, Iquita, Ikono, etc. “Health”, they say, “is wealth” and our hope is to have a healthy population to help drive our industrialization agenda. We are rearing to do more!
In spite of the turbulent economic horizon, we have invested heavily in infrastructural expansion and renaissance as promised in our Five-Point Agenda. To date, over one thousand kilometres of road have been constructed and commissioned while some are on-going. Areas long cut off have been linked, and these roads criss-cross the three senatorial districts. The second Runway at the Victor Attah International Airport has a Category 2 Classification and work is on-going on the Taxi-way. We are rearing to do more!
In our First Term, we have diversified our economy and placed a lot of premium on agriculture. Produce such as onions, tomatoes, etc. that were thought not to be suitable for our soil have been produced in large commercial quantities. Our Ibom Rice is being produced and packaged in Ini, cassava processing mills which produce our staple food – garri, are scattered all over the three senatorial districts, leading to a huge reduction in the price of this main food item. Our cocoa production is booming, several hectares of land have been cultivated for cassava plantation and the propelling desire of my Administration is to ensure that we feed our people and create millionaires through investments in agro-allied industries, and we are rearing to do more!
Power sector has received huge boost in our First Term. We have constructed and remodelled a number of sub-stations and work is in advanced stage of completion at the sub-station in Ekim, Mkpat-Enin. I have always emphasised that the provision of regular electricity is not rocket science. In spite of regulatory challenges, we have improved the power supply in our State and linked places in Eastern Obolo and Mbo with electricity. Today, some parts of our State now enjoy up to 18 hours of uninterrupted electricity and we are rearing to do more!
The central reason government came into existence is the provision of a safe and secure environment for people to undertake their legitimate aspirations. I make bold to state here that we have done exceedingly well in this area, leading our State to be classified as probably the most safe and secure State in the nation, which has, in the process, attracted foreign direct investments. We have zero-tolerance for criminal activities and parts of the State that were the flashpoints for cultism and other anti-social vices have today been completely restored to their once peaceful nature. We remain committed to continuing this noble act of ensuring that our people live in peace and safety.
Our State has broken a record: we are the first State in the whole of Nigeria and indeed Africa to have a commercial airline business. The Ibom Air today stands as a testament to visionary leadership and an acute determination to prove that what was once thought to be impossible can be made possible. This airline will prove the cynics wrong and show the world that a viable commercial airline can be achieved.
We have achieved a lot in the areas of youth empowerment, small and medium scale enterprises as well as women empowerment schemes, which have seen our women expand their businesses through the soft loans we have granted them. Our youths have internalized the dakkada philosophy and today, are applying the works of their hands to earn a living rather than engage in other unwholesome acts, and we are rearing to do more!
On this note, my compatriots, you may wish to ask: having been able to achieve all these great feats in spite of the lean resources we had in our First Term, what would our policy thrust in the Second Term focus on? The answer to this question is simple: we will surpass Superior Performance which we recorded in our First Term, and on this noble passion and vision, we strongly rely on the might and guidance of our ONLY GOD
In my 2019 Manifesto which we christened Completion Agenda, I emphasized eight major policy thrusts: Industrialization, Aviation Development, Security, Infrastructure, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, Human Capacity Development, Agriculture, and Rural and Riverine Area Development. Most of these areas also formed the basis of our First Term policy direction. In our Completion Agenda, we will raise the bar of performance in all these areas and lift our State to such an enviable height that it will be the pride of the nation.
We will aggressively industrialize this State and continue to attract foreign investors, ensuring that the environment is made ferment for investments. We hope to make Akwa Ibom the industrial hub of Nigeria. The Ibom Industrial City and the Ibom Deep-Sea Port will remain the signature projects in our Second Term industrialization plans. The list of industries we hope to establish are included in our 2019 Manifesto and I urge you to get a copy.
It is an acknowledged fact that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises are the drivers of the economies of the developed world. In our Completion Agenda, we will focus on this crucial area and will partner with relevant organizations and agencies both in Nigeria and abroad to execute this policy.
One of the key drivers of economy the world over is the provision of modern infrastructural facilities. We will pursue this policy with messianic zeal. In my First Term, we were able to construct over 1000 kilometres of road across the State and opened up the hinterlands for free -flow of goods and services. We will surpass this achievement with emphasis on commercially- viable roads. We will continue to invest heavily in the power sector, well aware of the importance of having steady electricity supply in our industrialization agenda. We hope to work towards having power for all in our Completion Agenda.
Education, agriculture and human capacity development will receive the needed boost in my Second Term. The reason developed world keeps inventing the wheels of their development lies in the huge resources they spend on human capacity development. The Akwa Ibom child has all it takes to take on the best in the world; we have seen such manifest already. We will not relent in this drive for excellence. Our youths have already arisen to the faith of greatness, in tandem with our Dakkada philosophy and we will strive even harder to ensure that we encourage the new attitude and mind-set predicated on an entrepreneurial spirit.
Agriculture will continue to receive the needed boost in my Second Term. We will continue to ensure that staple food items are made available and at affordable price for our people. We will encourage the investments in agro-allied industries as a way of generating employment opportunities and wealth creation.
We have achieved a lot already in my First Term in the health-care delivery sector. In my Completion Agenda, we will continue to rehabilitate hospitals and procure and distribute health care equipment to our hospitals. We will continue to train and expose our medical practitioners and bring their expertise to be at par with their counterparts elsewhere. In my Completion Agenda we hope to bring development to the rural and riverine areas. We will do this, as a strategic way to reduce rural-urban migration. In our determined efforts to open up our land, air and sea to aid our industrialization agenda, the Ibom Airline and other investments in aviation will continue to receive great attention.
Sports, tourism and information technology will continue to form the building blocks of our development as well as housing, women empowerment and social welfare services. We will continue to partner with the vision of Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel’s Signature Pet project FEYReP in providing services to the poor, the needy and the vulnerable in our society.
We will continue to ensure that we enjoy peace and security in this State which has already been nationally acknowledged. Our zero-tolerance for criminal tendencies will remain in force. We will continue to foster close working relationships and partnerships with our security agencies.
My dear compatriots, as former U.S President, Barack Obama once stated “what we have already achieved gives us hope, the audacity to hope, for what we can and must achieve tomorrow”. Let me state here that what we have achieved already in my First Term gives me hope for what we, together can achieve tomorrow for our dear people. I therefore, ask for your continuous prayers and support as we work to re-write the Akwa Ibom story in gilded prints and colours.
Let me end this speech by quoting from former U.S President, Lyndon Johnson’s speech on May 22, 1964 while launching his call for Americans to rise and create a great society where the poor will not be trampled upon by the untrammelled forces of capitalism”your initiative and indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For you in your time, we have the opportunity to move not only towards the rich society and the powerful society, but towards to the great society.”
Akwa Ibom in my Second Term will move from a fast industrializing society to a great and rich society, as well as witness an unprecedented growth in all spheres of development and capacity enhancement.
To these aspirations, and vision of re-dedicating ourselves to the course of upliftment of the Akwa Ibom people, we hereby jointly reiterate, that it can ONLY be God who will see us through.
So help me God! Amen