IN THE NEWS: Udom Emmanuel’s Three Years of Eventful Leadership
By Uwemedimoh Umanah
………….This treatise analyses the 3 years of the administration of Udom Emmanuel as Governor of Akwa Ibom State. It establishes with sufficient evidence that a new development momentum is gathering in the state, and that Ibom State is in the process of an economic miracle.
Why 3 years? Time, is divided into three portions: The past, the present, and the future. The number three expresses connection and permanence. The event of the third anniversary of Udom Emmanuel’s administration, therefore, provides an ample opportunity to situate the prevailing socio- economic and political dynamics in the state within the context of the past, present and future.
“Leadership is the brain of a state…”, said John Stoessinger, a Professor of Global Diplomacy. It took Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s ingenuity to turn Dubai to one of the world’s most renowned business hubs.
Al Maktoum guided the Emirates with compassion and understanding. He realized that quality leadership was all that’s needed to transform Dubai into the cosmopolitan, prosperous city.
That’s the spirit Udom Emmanuel is imbued with. His approach to development in anchored on what Arnold Toynbee theorized as “The law of ‘Challenge and Response”. The theory explains the rationale for the growth of most great nations of the world, and could be used to explain the reason Akwa Ibom rising to greater heights.
Is the ongoing miracle in Akwa Ibom a coincidence or a coordinated effort by the leadership element led by Governor Emmanuel? During his electioneering campaigns through the length and breadth of Akwa Ibom in 2015, Udom Emmanuel enunciated a 5-point Agenda hinged on Poverty Alleviation, Wealth Creation, Jobs Creation, Political & Economic Inclusion and Infrastructure Expansion & Consolidation. Interesting, he has not reneged upon it’s realization.
Mr Emmanuel sees growth and development as products of a paradigm shift- in perception of reality and attitude. This aligns with the thought of Woodrow Wilson, a statesman and President of the United States, that “The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome. All that an obstacle does with brave men is not to frighten them, but to challenge them”.
The obstacles of misery, poverty, joblessness, inequalities, institutional decay, among others, which bedeviled the state since its creation are currently being arraigned through Mr Emmanuel’s passion and dynamism.His unconventional business strategy has has great impacts education, healthcare delivery, infrastructure, human capital development, the economy and security.
AGRICULTURE & FOOD SUFFICIENCY
Development Experts say that 815 million people are chronically undernourished, and malnutrition affects around one in three people on the planet. A healthy population results in a wealthy and prosperous people. This thought has shaped Governor Udom Emmanuel’s food sufficiency policy in the state.
Through a Public-Private Partnership arrangement, efforts have been geared toward the cultivation of rice in about 10,000 hectares of land in Ini Local Government Area, improved seedlings of Cocoa, vegetables and other arable crops. Government has also built a ranch for the growing of Mexican breed cattle.
The Akwa Ibom Youth Economic Empowerment Scheme has been relentless (AKEES) in the cultivation of tomatoes and cucumber in the state. The state is experiencing an impetuous harvest in these commodities to cater for domestic consumption. A GreenHouse in partnership with a Mexican firm, San Carlos, at the Ibom International Airport has been built to strengthen this initiative and produce some crops that rarely survive in the this part of the country.
Through the FADAMA 111 scheme in which Mr Emmanuel’s administration has invested hugely in addition to the various financial facilities given to farmers in the state, Akwa Ibom is currently the largest producer of Garri in Nigeria.
Governor Emmanuel’s Educational Policy aligns with the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’. It underpins that education should respond to the changing needs of society.
Schools, according to Governor Emmanuel, “should become environment that develop individual capabilities and further the idea of democracy and sensitivity to social and ecological responsibilities”. His intervention in education is premised on his avowed commitment to grow a sophisticated workforce and optimum population.
In this regard, the free and compulsory education has been strengthened through effective monitoring, training and retraining of teachers.
Through the Inter- Ministerial Direct Labor Agency, dilapidated classrooms blocks in state- owned schools have been refurbished. Also, desks and office accommodation for teachers which were in gory states are being provided and rehabilitated in several state- owned schools.
His partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria in educational development has resulted in the siting and construction of Military Schools in the state. In certain cases, he has deemed it imperative to build and donate educational facilities to the Nigerian Navy for a Naval College in Ikot Ntuen, Oruk Anam and the Nigerian Army at Efa, Etinan Local Government Area.
Mr Emmanuel has also intervened in the Girls Model Secondary School, Ikot Ekang, Abak. From a near -abandoned Federal project, the Governor’s magic wand has turned the facility into one of the most equipped schools in the country with a state -of -the -arts laboratory and library, modern classrooms, residential quarters for teachers, dormitories and teaching aid, dining hall, among others.
There are also qualified teaching staff that have made the school an enviable one. What makes it the more so, is the regular training and Re- training programs/ courses for teachers in state, courtesy of the Governor’s magnanimity and undiluted passion for education.
It was Dudley Seers, a Professor of Economic Development who said in his ‘Theory of Economic Development 1969)’ that “Development means if the level of poverty, unemployment and inequality have decline over a period, then development can said to have occurred”
Akwa Ibom, in the last 3 years has witnessed an unprecedented avalanche of industries and Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). This growth is inextricably tied to Governor Emmanuel’s agenda of wealth creation, poverty alleviation and job creation.
The Jubilee Syringe factory, Africa’s largest manufacturers of syringes and the Metering Company both in Onna, Akwa Ibom were recently commissioned by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
These are major milestones in industrial development, as numerous direct and indirect jobs have been created for the indigenes of the state and beyond.
Other industries that have berthed the state include the GreenWell Fertilizer Plant in Abak, AKEES Pencil/ Toothpick Factory and a Plastic packaging factory in Uyo, a Floor Mill in Onna and the revamped Peacock Paints in Etinan.
Needless to reiterate that these industries have provided jobs for the teeming unemployed youths in the state and Nigeria in general. It would reasonably ameliorate the challenges poverty and inequalities.
SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (SMEs)
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) posits that one of the ways African countries can stimulate their economies is to encourage the growth of SMEs through access to credits.
Governor Emmanuel has provided over 4 billion Naira soft loans to market women and another 2 billion to traders across the state to grow Small and Medium Enterprises in the state.
Beneficiaries of government credits are in diverse productive venture and are employers of labor. The numerous Agro- based SMEs have been responsible for the decrease in the price of food stuffs in the state , particularly, palm oil, fish, vegetables, Garri and Tomatoes.
Sustainable Development Goal 3 is “to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages”. On assumptions of office in May 29, 2015, Governor Udom Emmanuel declared a state of emergency on the health sector things haven’t renamed the same. All the tertiary medical facilities in the state are undergoing a rehabilitation.
Hospitals that have currently been touched are, Etinan, Ituk Mbang, Ikono and Ikot Okoro General Hospitals. The quality of work and equipments purchased for these hospitals are of global standard, capable of competing with those in civilized climes.
Ibom Specialist Hospital, a quaternary facility has also received adequate boost from the the Governor through adequate funding, staffing and purchase equipments. Recently, the Governor provided the Hospital with over 10 kidney dialysis machines to enhance treatment of kidney disorder. An MOU was signed between the state government and a Canadian medical firm for the management of the hospital in accordance with international best practices.
ROADS & INFRASTRUCTURE
The administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel is currently embarking on robust infrastructure expansion across the entire state. This drive is founded on Mr Emmanuel’s persuasion that quality infrastructure is a requirement of globalization.
There is a ‘clean sweep’ in both urban and rural roads to create linkage between the factories/farms and the markets where product are needed. Over 1500 kilometers have been strategically constructed across the entire state.
Governor Emmanuel’s Infrastructure Expansion Policy has a nexus with his agenda of job creation, wealth creation and poverty alleviation. It’s ‘Local Content’ element encourages indigenous firms to participate in road/ infrastructure construction across the state. This has ameliorated unemployment and poverty reasonably.
Power is critical to industrialization, sustainable livelihood and the realization of Governor Emmanuel’s 5-point Agenda. The ongoing revolution in the state’s power sector has been far-reaching. Mr Emmanuel’s administration has secured license for the generation of 685 megawatt by Ibom power Company.
To boost electricity supply in order to the 24/7 power target set by Governor Emmanuel, rehabilitation has been completed at the power holding facilities in Ekim, Mkpat Enin and others in Ikot Ekpene. A 300 KWA Sub-station at Wellington Bassey Barracks, Ibagwa Abak has been built and operationalized.
To ensure that Ibom Power operates at 80 percent, a GT2 has been configured and commissioned, A ‘dead bus’ which enables Akwa Ibom to pilot the national grid in any case of national power outage was recently installed at Ibom Power Company.
A 33/11 Kv, 2X15MvA injection sub-station at Four lane area of Uyo and another at the Ibom International Airport were recently completed and commissioned.
A ‘quick fix’ was also made by the Governor at the Afaha Ubeh power substation which was recently gutted by fire. These have enabled residents of Uyo Metropolis and the airport to enjoy electricity for a minimum of 18-20 hours daily.
There is, in Akwa Ibom, a ‘new security statement’ that has made it the safest state in Nigeria for livelihood and investment.
By proscribing cultism and stating his zero- tolerance for armed robbery, kidnapping and other vices, Governor Udom Emmanuel has made the state most fertile for Foreign Direct Investment in the Nigeria.
Recently, the most dreaded armed robbery gang in the state led by “Iso Akpafid” was ‘nipped to the bud’. There is is also a conscious synergy between the state and security forces, and this has sustained the tranquility the state is known for.
The Country Director, World Bank, Rachid Benmessaud recently reinforced this in bolder relief: “I have seen your vision to make the state attractive for private sector investment and i am here to let you know that the World Bank support both the public and private sectors in their investment drive”.
Governor Udom Emmanuel’s midas touch transcends the above to include areas like the Civil and Public Service through timely payment of salaries, pensions and entitlements; Youths Development, in which the youths are made the focal point of Mr Emmanuel’s development initiatives such as the Dakkada philosophy; and Women Development, through bridging gender disparities and women involvement in governance and other development processes.
In conclusion, it can be posited that the unprecedented transformation going on in Akwa Ibom in the last three years is the function of the viable, bold and imaginative leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
His professional background, exposure to best practices, passion for development and the goodwill he has enjoyed from the generality of the people, are assets that have aided the the great leap in Akwa Ibom!
Happy third anniversary as Governor, Your Excellency!
Uwemedimoh Umanah is a Special Assistant on (Media) to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State