In recent times, the media space has been inundated by smear campaigns against the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, that there is abject poverty in the state, and that the Governor has not done anything to better the lives of the people.
A Development Historian and International Public Affairs Analyst, Mr Uwemedimoh Umanah, has described such campaigns as fallacious and mendacious from the pit of hell by the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to indoctrinate the people and distort the developmental strides of the Governor in the state.
Speaking while addressing journalists in the state, Mr Umanah who had spent over 20 semesters studying African Development, made an inside-out analysis, saying that development goes beyond the provision of tall buildings and bridges and perhaps flyovers, and added that Akwa Ibom should be ranked among the top 3 most developed states in Nigeria.
“In the African Context, development is geared towards addressing the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequalities. In this Context, Akwa Ibom is the most developed state in Nigeria. The reason for this is not farfetched from the Governor’s 5-point Agenda, which hinges on Poverty Alleviation, Wealth Creation, Job Creation, Infrastructural Expansion and Political and Economic Expansion.
“In the last 3 years, there have been robust strategies to industrializing the state through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model. This has led to industries such as the Jubilee Syringe and Metering Plant, the revitalization of Peacock Paint, and the Coconut Refinery among others, as well a robust effort at growing Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), taking into cognizance that it is the hallmark of development in the global economy.”
“Resultantly, the Governor has invested in agro-based industries such as Garri and Oil Palm Processing Mills, Rice Processing Mills to mention just a few. Currently, there are over 340 food processing mills in the state, and about 200 of these owe their existence to the recent interest-free loans from the state government. In Abak, Oruk Anam, Ukanafun and Ikot Ekpene, there are about 75 food processing mills.”
Mr Umanah further disclosed that with these micro, small and medium enterprises on board, thousands of direct and indirect jobs have been created in the state and poverty reasonably reduced, adding that these businesses employ between ten and twenty persons.
“If we look at the multiplier effect of this, the future is very bright. According to the United Nations, SMEs, particularly those that employ fewer than 250 persons are backbone of most economies worldwide. They constitute over 90 percent of all the firms and between 60-70 percent of total employment and 50 percent of Gross Domestic product.”
He stated that Governor Emmanuel is deliberately empowering Small and Medium Enterprises by providing the needed finances such as the N2 billion interest-free loans given to traders in the state, which he said has stimulated the economy, resulting in Akwa Ibom having the lowest poverty rate in Nigeria and the highest inflow of foreign direct investment in the country after Lagos.
Mr Umanah who doubles as Media Aide to the Governor, added that the State has created more jobs than any other states in Nigeria, contrary to the fallacious campaigns by the APC media surrogates to indoctrinate people with falsehood that unemployment rate in Akwa Ibom is one of highest in the country.
He said it contradicts reality to speculate that unemployment is high in Akwa Ibom when the National Bureau of Statistics in 2017 said that Akwa Ibom had the highest inflows of Foreign Direct Investment in Nigeria, after Lagos.
According to him, the people of Akwa Ibom State are pleased with the Governor’s unparallel performance, the reason they are asking him to seek re- election in 2019 in order to stabilize the good things he has put in place in the state in the last 3 years.
By Umoh-Obong Kingsley