My dear Akwa Ibomites
My wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel and I congratulate you all on the occasion of the 31st Anniversary of the birth of our State. We should all be very proud of what God has done for us as a people in the past 31 years; the developmental strides we have witnessed, the rising profile of our State, the re-definition of our identity, from a people whose voices were not to be heard at the table of decision makers, even when decisions taken had profound effects on the lives and the fortune of our children. We should be proud and give praise ONLY TO GOD for taking us out of that valley of despondency to the mountain of hope and self-fulfilment. Let me salute all our past leaders for their contributions towards the re-writing of the Akwa Ibom story.
Fellow Akwa Ibomites, I am happy to announce that the state of our State is strong and on the right track. However, it is that happy and glittering Akwa Ibom story which we are all proud of today to tell, that today, is at the risk of being returned to the dark chapters we had worked hard and collectively shredded and rejected. It is that great story of a people who had been emancipated from internal slavery and cruel domination, from the naked and broad daylight stealing of our commonwealth and common blessings that today is at risk of repeating itself.
My dear compatriots, the future of Akwa Ibom State that has become a source of pride to us as a people and even to fellow Nigerians is in serious jeopardy. We are at an important point in our State’s history, a moment that recommends a Pan-Akwa Ibom mind-set; where the Ibibios, the Annangs, the Oros and others must stand up and celebrate our hard-fought freedom and help secure the future of our children. If we miss this moment, if we allow the raw desire of an individual to supersede the collective interest of our people, we will forever remain bound by the shackles of domination and slavery. May God never allow affliction to happen a second time!
Fellow Akwa Ibomites, we are confronted with two stark and distinct choices: the choice of living in a State that is peaceful, devoid of kidnappings, politically motivated assassinations and where the security of lives and property is assured or a return to the fearful years when death and insecurity walked on two legs; where people were afraid to visit or pursue their legitimate businesses for fear of being kidnapped or outrightly murdered. It is a chapter in our State’s history we wished had not been written!
We have a choice between our freedom, that of our children and the utilization of our God given resources to develop our State at our own pace while securing a prosperous future for our children or the choice of those who want to sell our State on bended knees to the highest bidders just to secure their political future. The interest of one man cannot override our collective good. Akwa Ibom interest must supersede one person’s interest. Can we afford to sell our State to those who had once enslaved us, simply to satisfy the desire of an individual or a tiny percentage of those who permanently think they have an eternal sense of entitlement to power and our wealth? May God not allow affliction to happen a second time.
My fellow Akwa Ibomites, you have a choice of continuing on the path of steady growth of our State and our people, of a State that is fast industrialising and where our youths are gainfully engaged and have a reason to dream and dare or a return to the years when the promise of industries in each of the 31 Local Governments Areas were made with fanfare and not even a cottage industry was established; where monuments were built with great fanfare instead of Projects that have enduring benefits to our people. Remember, building monuments is not the same thing as building lasting and economically viable projects.
You have the choice of having a society where our youths are being developed and asked to dakkada and use the works of their hands to earn a living, or a return to the dark days where they were only seen as thugs to be used and dumped by their political paymasters. Akwa Ibom youths, is this what you deserve? I have heard people boast of using and dumping you justifying the reason for doing so, on the morally shocking reason that, “they were paid to do the job, and therefore, should expect nothing more,” Akwa Ibom youths, this is not about Udom Emmanuel, this about your future and you have a choice to embrace progress or embrace darkness?
My fellow Akwa Ibomites, we have a choice of educating our children and equipping them with the skills- set that would make them compete with their compatriots like the students of Northern Annang Secondary Commercial School (NASCO) in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area who recently won academic laurels in Stockholm, Sweden, thus bringing glory to our State. You have a choice to have a State where no child is left behind on the lane of education and where the quality of education received can compare to those in private schools, or the other choice which is to seek faults and engage in propaganda without telling us what they have done.
We have a choice, my fellow brothers and sisters of continuing to enjoy the steady electricity made possible through our massive investment in power sector, or return to the dark days when every home had “I better pass my neighbour generator with the noise pollution that comes with it.
You have a choice to continue to enjoy our economically viable road network, where every part of this State is covered- parts such as Obot Akara in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, where the Nto Edino-Azu-Ekwereazu Road has ended the reign of tears and pain the people of the area had experienced, where children were drowning from makeshift canoes that took them to school daily, or parts of Mbo or Ini Local Government Areas where for more than eight years, not a single kilometre of road was constructed, but today, these areas enjoy good roads.
When they lie to you my dear Akwa Ibomites about what we have achieved, you should ask them to show you what they have used the massive budget to do for Akwa Ibom people. Governance is not about lies and propaganda, governance is about character, integrity, transparency and doing the job of the people. Governance is not about giving people fraudulent contract papers for road construction. Akwa Ibom people deserve better, they deserve to be told the truth. The era of taking our people for granted, playing on their perceived gullibility is over. Our people deserve a fair deal from those who wish to lead them and not a raw deal. That is the choice you have my fellow Akwaibomites.
You have a choice to continue enjoying the investments we have made in health care delivery, equipping hospitals with modern amenities such as those of Etinan, Ikono, Ikot Okoro, Ituk Mbang, Iquita, in Oron, Immanuel Hospitals etc. or return to the years when the above named hospitals were overtaken and overgrown with weeds; where reptiles of all manner took up residence in place of patients. You have a choice of having these critical secondary healthcare facilities run optimally and where the lives of our people are saved or dwell in the world of propaganda.
The choice is there for us my dear Akwa Ibomites if we are to continue to support our women with interest free loans through which they have expanded their business of trading or the other choice where women are seen and regarded as expendable commodities. The people of Akwa Ibom State, especially our women should ask them what plans they have for them that is different from what my wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel’s signature Pet Project “Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Programme” (FEYReP), under whose instrument, the lives of our women have been touched profoundly.
As we go to the polls next year to elect our leaders both at the national and the state levels, Akwa Ibom people should ask themselves this simple question: are we not more united in 2018 than we were pre-2015? This is a critical point because every element of our development depends on a stable and peaceful State. The escalating exchange rate has affected all facets of our economic lives, yet the opposition here would embark on propaganda trying to speak ill of the achievements we have made for our people which are all there for everyone to see.
You should also my dear Akwa Ibomites, ask yourself this fundamental question: What is the perception of the Akwa Ibom person today in Nigeria? We are nationally known for our honesty and integrity. We are never known for being a people who speak from both sides of our mouth; if we gave our word on any given issue, we always kept our word. If we were a part of a group and certain decisions were made, we were not known to be the people who will go and betray confidentialities or agreements we had reached collectively for our selfish interest. But today, my dear Akwa Ibomites, certain individuals have made us look bad, untrustworthy, unreliable and one that would betray a group interest to further personal interest. We must tell the world that we are better than this negative perception; that we will not sell our conscience for a portion of porridge. We have to restore the integrity and moral fibre of our people and our sterling character. You have a choice to make this huge statement and reassure the world that the Akwa Ibom person is a man of honour and integrity.
My dear Akwa Ibomites, as we celebrate our 31st Birthday, I am happy to announce to you that our State is on the move, Akwa Ibom is rising, the fundamentals of our growth are strong, and we are laying a great and sustainable foundation for the economic prosperity of all Akwaibomites. We are not playing politics with development. For over three years now, we have been engaged with the sole task of providing quality leadership with tangible results; we have devoted ourselves to moving Akwa Ibom State forward, challenging our people to dakkadaand claim that faith of greatness. Mine, is not about applause or playing to the gallery. Mine is not about lying to you to score cheap political points; mine is not to go on the social media and indulge in propaganda, mine, is about ensuring development for our people that is both immediate and sustainable.
The choice we have as we celebrate our 31st anniversary is simple: Akwa Ibom State is moving forward, everything is moving in the right direction and train of progress is moving calmly, steadily and assuredly and in firm and capable hands. We are diversifying our economy and placing emphasis on agriculture. We are producing food to feed our people through our investments in agriculture. When we came in 2015, two cups of our staple food, garri sold for 200 naira, but today, the same garri sells for 12 cups for the same 200 Naira. This is an achievement that touches directly on the lives of our people. When our people go to the market to buy 12 cups of garri for 200 Naira, the sellers don’t discriminate between the PDP buyer or any other Political Party, we are all Akwa Ibomites. We should not lie to our people to score political points; we should celebrate achievements even if we don’t agree with the person bringing about the progress politically. Our rice mill in Ini which the opposition has been telling you lies about will soon flood our State with high quality but affordable rice, Akwa Hatchery is working and producing, the Cassava mills are in operation across the State. In the area of industrialization, through our efforts at attracting Foreign Direct Investments and the conducive environment we have created, we have been able to attract industries to our State such as the Syringes Manufacturing Company, which today is producing syringes that are used all over this State and the nation. The other day, I received text messages from medical practitioners across the State commending my vision and wisdom in establishing the syringe manufacturing company and that hospitals and clinics in the State now use the syringes and they feel proud of the achievement. When I asked why they have not spoken out in support of this, as proud Akwa Ibom professionals, they told me “sorry Your Excellency, our party has told us to lie against all your achievements. That, unfortunately, my dear Akwa Ibomites is the state of the opposition, their overall strategy is to lie about our achievements to you, because they are shocked that we have achieved so much in three years and three months. All the metres that are being used in our State and mostly in the South-South are from our metering solutions company. The company cannot keep up with the orders, yet the opposition will tell you the metering solutions company is not working. We are proud of what we are doing and will not pay attention to them, but you, my dear Akwa Ibomites know that they are lying because they are clueless about how modern economy works. From our huge improvements in education, to our passionate commitment to the welfare of our workers; the regular payment of salaries and pensions, to youths empowerment programmes, our State is Rising and our slogan should be forward ever backward never.
As we mark our 31 Anniversary, let us celebrate our common good over personal interest; let us know that Akwa Abasi Ibom State is like a shining city on the hill, inviting, attractive, and proud. Let us continue to water the seeds of its growth, and resist the attempts of a few individuals to re-write backwards the story of our growth and development.
I came here in 2015, with a governance philosophy based on my Five Point Agenda of: Job Creation, Poverty Alleviation, Wealth Creation, Economic and Political Inclusion and Infrastructural Consolidation and Expansion and in spite of the challenges we have faced on the economic horizon, I make bold to say today, that we have made huge gains. We are determined to industrialize this State and we are right on the mark. I came to create opportunities for our people to be gainfully engaged and, on that; we are right on the money. I came here to change the mental and attitudinal disposition of our people, we are right on target. I came here to improve the quality of education of our people, fully conscious of the fact that education is the only way out of poverty and ignorance, we are doing great in that area; I came here to move our State from over -dependence on oil and place emphasis on agriculture, we are doing just that. I came to give integrity and character in the art of governance, our State today is a beneficiary of that needed value, as evidenced in the investors that are trooping to our State.
I came to give our people a Christ-and-people centric Government, where there is an acute understanding of the principle of right and wrong, we have done just that. I came determined to ensure we enjoy peace and security, because that is the fundamental mission of any government the world over. Today, I have done just that. Our State is peaceful and secure. I have been your Servant-Leader, and will continue to be bound by a deep feeling of humility and the supremacy of the people over personal desires. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THREE YEARS OF TOUCHING LIVES PDF
Our State is Rising and will continue to rise. Let us as Akwa Ibomites at home and in the Diaspora tell ourselves: Never again shall we fritter away the huge gains we have made in the last 31 years just to satisfy the ambition of one individual or a few group of persons. Akwa Ibom is our heritage and we will, and must guard this heritage jealously.
Happy birthday to us! God bless Akwa Abasi Ibom State, God bless Nigeria and God bless us all! Akwa Ibom Edakkeda, Ami mme dakkanda!