By Hon Eseme Eyiboh
AKWA IBOM STATE is unarguably a land of limitless possibilities. The state is blessed by nature. Beneath the ground, she holds one of the largest deposits of hydro carbon in Africa; above the ground, she holds limitless acreage of fertile and abundantly productive lands. The seas and the oceans favour her; with miles and miles of coastal beauty and the embedded sea wealth, Akwa Ibom sits on nature’s splendour and abundance.
Akwa Ibom State is the foremost oil producer in Nigeria and the highest earner of revenue from the federation account. Our state is a very strategic state to our country’s national development. God has positioned our state as Nigeria’s potential springboard to the power and wealth of the Gulf of Guinea.
Most importantly, Akwa Ibom state is occupied by a people, you could describe as near geniuses, and you will still be short of the right word. She is blessed with resourceful and humane people; creative and resilient individuals, with teeming intellect.
Akwa Ibom State is adorned in the flowery cloak of greatness. Yet, the ordinary man in the state still endures the hardship that brings tears. The majority of our people still suffer in penury and unimaginable want, but why? We have had flashes of developmental possibilities; from the futuristic visionary years of Obong Victor Attah, to the infrastructure renaissance of the Akpabio era to the pitiable present of a dour bland nondescript leadership. What actually has gone wrong?
Akwa Ibom State is in urgent need for a progressive leadership. Her natural possibilities deserve the quality of leadership that would instigate development.
In the very recent time, the quantum of money that has accrued and released to the state has been deployed in a cesspool of waste and crippling ineptitude occasioning a dearth of infrastructural development, human capital depreciation and deficient statutory governance protocol.
The recent years have been an unfortunate era of motions without movement; a rise in self-adulation and rhetoric in place of sustainable developmental strides. But we can do better than that. We have the capacity and the right type of leaders to change the negative narrative of development in our state. A lot can be done with the money that comes into the coffers of the state with the right leadership.
If we have leaders who are concerned about the masses, things will change for the better.
But there is a glimmer of hope in the horizon. After the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries and Obong Nsima Ekere emerged as winner of the election, I was thrilled because I believe in his asset management skills and reform-minded pedigree to reposition the state for greatness. Apart from being a former deputy governor, who understands the inner workings of government, he has served the state in various capacities. He has been chairman, AKIIPOC, Chairman, Ibom Power Company Limited and he is currently the Managing Director of the NDDC, which template is development interventionist in the nine oil producing states of the Niger Delta.
As the chief helmsman of the NDDC, Ekere has acquitted himself creditably. He showcased uncommon courage to redirect the agency back to its core mandate by strict adherence to the Niger Delta Development Master plan, which has impacted on infrastructural improvement, human capital development, and generation of wealth for the region through capacity building, as well as skills training, education, sanitation and improvement of health care in the region. His reforms have led to the streamlining of contract administration and frugal resource mobilization and management.
It is hoped that with Obong Nsima Ekere, there would be a restoration of a human interest administration and leadership in the state; an administration that would focus on the human being, with the humanity to improve the condition of the people.
Also, there is no gainsaying that Akwa Ibom State, under the current administration at the federal level has fared well. The President Muhammadu Buhari administration has been fair to the state and its people and this is evident in the appointment of some of its brains into key positions. Besides that, the federal government has always taken issues that concern the state seriously; thus it will be wise to move from opposition politics connect the state with national political grid. For Akwa Ibom to enjoy more of the dividends of democracy which the Buhari government has to offer, it needs to key into the federal government policies and agenda. Therefore, it is imperative for the people of the state to have that in
mind as they approach the 2019 elections.
We deserve more as a state. Akwa Ibom State is huge in terms of its human and natural resources, and one way to harness them properly, such that they translate into development, which every indigene and visitor can benefit from, is to entrench a good and purposeful leadership. We must act wisely even as we deserve better
Hon Eseme Eyiboh is a former member of the House of Representatives, former chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Media and Publicity and Spokesman of the House. He is currently the chairman, Governing Board of the Cross River Basin Development Authority and a member of the All Progressives Congress.