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2023 GUBER RACE: The Governor A’Ibom People Want

2023 GUBER RACE: The Governor A’Ibom People Want

By Saviour Ekpe

In 1999 generally known as the year that birthed the enduring democracy in Nigeria when Akwa Ibom people unanimously, through sound and representative voices selected Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah to run for the office of governor brought a formative and constructive era, no wonder he came with an Attahism philosophy, “Come, Let’s Rise And Build together”. This building mantra was so clear in the ear of every citizen who came from all walks of life, including his political opponents from all professions, irrespective of the ethnic or religious divide, this is probably the reason he was able to create such a lasting impact that posterity is still leveraging on, which no government has so far been able to measure up but builds on it till today.

For the sake of space and time, I will dwell on only two outstanding areas of his enduring legacies that the state and all the governors are and will continue to benefit and build on them viz: 1. Resource Control where Obong Attah (I thank God, he is still alive and strong, though no governor really celebrates him) ‘fought’ the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to a standstill until he came up with what he then called, a political solution, which metamorphosed in the 13 per cent derivative formula. It could be recalled that since after the ‘fight’, though many Akwa Ibom people called him names of being ‘confrontational’ with the powers that be, Obong Attah won the fight for Akwa Ibom, the highest allocation that he would have received was N8Billion (eight Billion) Naira came in few months before he handed over power to Chief Akpabio and the money was received by Akpabio’s government, from that amount, increased to N10B, N15B, N20B and up to N75B every month aside excess crude oil revenues that some time amounted to N150B (this is factual, incontestable and in good authority) 2. The design of the Uyo Master plan gave birth to what is known as ring roads that every governor is struggling to build even after about 16 years of Attah’s exit from office (this is very shameful and ridiculous). As long as state government is concerned, who is like Obong Attah, I have seen none, please quote me. Though I promised to only mention two areas, please permit me to add one (though this piece is not meant to eulogize Obong Attah but nkanna mme), it could be recalled that after eight years of governance, Obong Attah never build even one room apartment for himself (please judge, is this a vice or virtue?) it was Mothercat, a construction company that probably benefited from Attah’s gesture that got his permission and built the present house in which he lives in Uyo free for him to have where he retires to after eight years of governance.

For 2023, Akwa Ibom people want the like of Obong Attah in the Hilltop Mansion who is not an angel but a man or woman who is a selfless, visionary, people-centered, focused, knowledgeable, strategic and critical thinker, flexible and open-minded, a man or woman of conscience. Aside from these, Akwa Ibom wants a governor who will take very seriously the security of the state and her citizens as a top priority, a man or woman who will sincerely unite the state rather than fragmentally and logically divide the state through family lines, political party or personal ideological or even historical reasons. In order to achieve the above, the following critical areas Akwa Ibom people want the next governor to focus on:

SECURITY: It could be ones in a year or when occasion demands, the governor as the chief security officer of the state should as a matter of state and urgent important converge military and para-military top-notch of Akwa Ibom extraction for a security summit, not for a jamboree but a serious security concern who will advise the governor and the state actors what to do (including employment opportunities) and what not to do to secure the state based on their wealth of experiences and come up with a communiqué at the end of the summit and the communiqué should be made public and binding on all, both citizens and visitors including those doing businesses in the state while other top security matters should be implemented by the governor himself.

JOB CREATION: the federal government of Nigeria in which Akwa Ibom State is an integral part doles out juicy jobs every year in all ministries including all forces. For Akwa Ibom people to benefit maximally, the governor should invite all federal permanent secretaries and directors as well as National Assembly members alongside Heads of federal government parastatals, boards and agencies (such as NDDC, NIMASA, NPA, CBN, FIRS, AMCON, BoI, etc.) irrespective of the party affiliation of the Akwa Ibom State extraction for crucial meetings from time to time to deliberate on possible ways of employing our people based on merit and qualification as Akwa Ibom people often missed the opportunities because of lack of proper and timely information.

ECONOMIC INCLUSION: it is unfortunate that year by year, except very recently, Akwa Ibom people used to troop in their numbers led by the governor to the US for a yearly ritual organized by the Akwa Ibom State Association of Nigeria (AKISAN) where the governor himself, and heads of all tiers and institutions of government including local government chairmen, commissioner, Special Advisers, wasted Billions of naira, the state resources in the name of the summit and come back with programme booklet and awards with little or no impact on the state and her people. The next governor can utilize this body including Akwa Ibom Home And Diaspora Entertainers (AKIHADE); Akwa Ibom Professionals in the Diaspora (AKPD) etc. by interfacing with them, including them in the affairs of the state while they bring their professional prowess and connections to the state and her people.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: there are many ways the state can partner with international and even regional organizations such as UNDP, WHO, AfDB, etc. to grow the state economy. For instance, the Cross River State Government may no more receive the 13 per cent derivation fund but creates wealth using many other ways including making effective use of foreign aids and grants by partnering with international organizations for their economic growth and development. The 13 per cent derivation fund should not be the major if not the only source of income outside the diminutive internally generated revenue that is even dwindling. There is so much the State Ministry of Economic Development can partner and benefit from the UNDP in all facets of life if proper personnel is manned to stir the ship.

MARITIME DEVELOPMENT: someone jokingly or seriously said that there is so much money in the sea. This is true because apart from seafood that abounds in the waters, the transport sector has neither been harnessed by the Akwa Ibom Government nor sublet to private concerns that could generate resources thereby empowering others in the process. In order to properly harness these God-given resources, there is a strong need to create Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Marine Transport and Seaport Development for optimal benefits. According to an ace Maritime Expert, Idongesit Auntung, “Seaport constitutes a nodal point in the sea transportation logistics. It links two or more locations between countries or within a country reasonably separated by a body of water. It creates an environment for the generation of business opportunities, among other benefits. Ancillary activities such as clearing and forwarding have the significant revenue-generating capacity, which can contribute a huge chunk of revenue to boost the Akwa Ibom State Internally generated revenue base”.

According to research, the maritime sector of the economy has the potential of creating enormous jobs for the teaming unemployed youths. For instance, Stevedore and Stevedoring companies that organise the cargo-handling in port, loads and unload cargo on the ships with expensive and sophisticated cargo handling equipment in ports and terminals such as derricks and cranes on the ship as well as the huge container cranes on a ship or onshore employs thousands and pays heavily. This alone has the capacity to contribute humongously to the economy of the state and take the youths off the street, thereby reducing crimes, criminalities and other social vices from the land.

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