Akwa Ibom State's Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Udoh

Two years after the ‘Dakada’ Campaign was unveiled in Akwa Ibom State as a philosophy, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh, in a recent encounter with Raheem Akingbolu, explained how the government is walking the talk in an attempt to reposition the state

Unveiling of new logos and slogans is not new in Nigeria. From corporate bodies to state and federal government, the word ‘rebranding’ has almost been abused. To this end, only a few people take the news serious anytime the drum is rolled out to announce a new colour and slogan.

Two years ago, Akwa Ibom State joined the league of states that had keyed into this global phenomenon. Of course, many people thought it would be another platform for the state to make noise and create another set of millionaire. But in an interview with THISDAY in Lagos, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh, said Akwa Ibom was still committed to the dream. He went further to give the statistics of the achievements of the administration of Governor Emmanuel to support his claim.

Explaining what led to Dakkada, Udoh described it as the new Akwa Ibom spirit and that it was designed to recreate the state and redefine the people. ‘’From day one, Governor Udom didn’t mince words on the philosophy behind the campaign. According to him, it is a spirit that is aflame with greatness, a spirit that is not willing to play a second fiddle, a mind that is conditioned to achieve success in spite of odds that may be stacked against him. To our governor, who is the captain of the ship, if America had their American ‘Exceptionalism’, we, too, can have our own,” .

Until recently, the first impression one had about the people of Akwa Ibom was their penchant for unskilled jobs. In the last few years, various administration in the state, had successfully changed the narrative and repositioned the state. Rather than living with what fate had put on their laps, leaders of the state summon the courage to showcase the best attributes of the state and play up stories of citizens, who had contributed to the development of the country.

According to SO & U, the creative agency that conceptualised the campaign, ‘Dakkada’, which is translated as ‘Arise’, is about attitudinal rectification, mental reformation and economic re-generation. The five fingers, shown in the new logo depict the continued transformation, rebranding and repositioning of the state. The bond between the fingers and the map of the state is meant to point out the unity and peaceful co-existence of the people.
With the new campaign, Akwa Ibom appears to be calling on its indigenes to rise up and display their hidden treasures. In his remark at the unveiling, Governor Emmanuel spoke glowingly about Akwa Ibom potential of greatness, spiritual rebirth, moral transformation and re-orientation.

“The campaign is a call to the faith that with God all things are possible, that we can rise above our primordial biases, ethnicity, hatred, anger, bigotry and the exclusionary tendencies. The campaign is a call for all AkwaIbom people at home and in Diaspora to deepen their value – sets; to re-invent the spirit of creativity and chart a new course for the present and future generations.”

The governor also expressed his disappointment over the way the core value of honesty and integrity, which is known with the people, suddenly became their undoing.

“Nigerians could only trust Akwa Ibom people with their homes and kitchens; children and jewelry. So we served the rich and the powerful and took care of their culinary needs. Servitude became a badge pinned on us by the nation. But times have changed and the new Akwa Ibom identity has emerged: bold without being obnoxious, confident without being condescending, self-assured without being arrogant and above all, loyal and deeply inspirational.

Akwa Ibom today
Speaking on how the governor has shown commitment to realise the philosophy behind the campaign, the commissioner said the government has made great strides in virtually all sectors in line with his determination to fulfill his campaign promises.

‘The major pillars of Governor Emmanuel’s administration include: wealth creation, poverty alleviation, job creation, infrastructure consolidation and political inclusion. It excites this writer to highlight the positive strides of the government in the different sectors of the state. Nothing excites him than the privilege to change the chronicle of the story of the state through its development stages. May 2015 to date can be rightly described as the most interesting period in the state’s history, characterised by blight in the state’s resources and defined by the can -do spirit of a leader who believes that whatsoever the mind conceives can be achieved. Succinctly speaking, the governor’s performance as at today has been awe inspiring as the state can boast of tangible growth and development in all sectors of the economy.

“The biggest of it all has been the reawakening of the consciousness, drive, and push of every son and daughter of the soil through the ‘Dakkada’ Initiative. Emmanuel, the visioner, leader and governor saw the need for a mind-set change and attitudinal rebirth, which gave birth to the ‘Dakkada’ Initiative.

“Dakkada is a movement to unshackle the people from underachievement by inspiring self-belief, confidence and courage to utilize skills to maximize results. Dakkada charges us to see beyond what others see, human and intellectual. It inspires us to rise to the faith that as a people, we can move beyond ethnicity, biases, religion and gender. The ‘Dakkada’ efforts are yielding fruits. Consequently, there is a proliferation of various trades, crafts, products and services across the state and it is very heartwarming to see the sense of accomplishment with which these entrepreneurs, at their various levels go about their businesses,” he said.

In the area of industrialisation, Emmanuel pointed out that the state has been rated by the National Bureau of Statistics as attracting the highest number of foreign direct investments (FDI) after Lagos. He stated that the governor has attracted not a few industries to the state. He gave the list to include; the syringe manufacturing company, which he described as the largest in Africa, the electric metering factory, the resuscitated peacork paints, the flour mill, pencil and a toothpick factory.

Emmanuel further added that the state’s education policy has also given birth to a free, compulsory and qualitative education scheme where the cost of education in Primary and Secondary school is free.
He said: ‘’As part of his plans to boost the free and compulsory education, government has also created a more conducive learning environment through rehabilitation and reconstruction of school blocks, provision of science and laboratory equipment, construction of hostels and supply of desks in the 31 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the state.

‘’As a way of ensuring that final year secondary school students are not constrained by lack of money, Governor Emmanuel undertakes payment of WASSCE fees for all students in public secondary schools. This also includes payment of NABTEB fees for all students in public technical colleges and also providing funds for laboratory reagents for practical examinations. Emmanuel has ensured prompt payment of primary and secondary school teacher’s salaries despite the economic situation while also providing subvention for the payment of newly recruited staff of Akwa Ibom State University,’’ commissioner said.

Akwa Ibom Rural Devt Master Plan
Another thing the commissioner pointed out as tool for positioning in the state is The Akwa Ibom Rural Development Master Plan (AK-RDMP), which was recently approved and adopted by the governor. Udoh, was, however, quick to point out that it is not just another project proposal for random distribution of infrastructural facilities across rural areas that will soon be tagged “defunct”, or an amenities allocation plan for aggrandizement of the politically powerful within a rural community

‘’The idea of AkwaI bom Rural Development Master Plan is a blueprint to recreating the village. It basically offers a mosaic of rich data base which captures all gazetted villages in Akwa Ibom State, numbering 2,240 as at the time of its compilation, identifies their peculiar socio-economic challenges and infrastructure deficits, with considerations to population density, in areas of key drivers of rural development, such as electricity, potable water, access roads, security and some proffers systematic solutions and special interventions, as basic requirement for the desired rural transformation. It also explores the economic potentials of the rural communities, to harness their productive capacity towards self-sustenance, internally generated revenue (IGR) and economic diversification.

‘’It is a charter defining the compartment of duties and obligations for sustainable rural development between the government and the governed. It initiates peculiar patterns of conversation to systematically address the hitherto prevalent challenge of supposed beneficiaries of rural infrastructure turning around to compromise the same facilities brought to improve their pitiable living condition,” he said.
On security, the commissioner stated that the location of security in the AK-RDMP would assist Akwa Ibom State and indeed Nigeria address the futility of trying to create a safe the urban area when the more vulnerable rural nursery is so porous. He added that it has an inbuilt mechanism for monitoring, evaluation and measurability of its implementation and deficit recovery.

Speaking on how the idea was conceived, Udoh said it was a product of a long period of brooding over a possible rural development trajectory to radically transform the abandoned wasteland of sleepy villages characterised by vast greenery, wild chirp of insects, dusty untarred roads, hideous country-side of millions of homes only depending on lanterns at night, into a bubbling behemoth.

In driving home his point, Udoh was quick to make reference to the recent 30 years anniversary of the state and pointed out that the state has covered a million miles and it has recorded milestones. To this end, he called on Nigerians, who believe in agriculture as the future to key to the fact that Akwa Ibom is the only state where farmers can plant all-round the year because of the good soil and climatic conditions it is blessed with. ‘’There are areas where farmers have planted over years without having to use fertilizers because whatever is planted naturally comes out with a bumper harvest,’’ the commissioner stated.

If his submission about the current situation about the state is anything to go by, one can therefore rightly conclude that even if ‘Dakkada’ is not the destination, it is a beginning of a new dawn for Akwa Ibom State.