About Ikot Ekpene Sheraton and other Takeaways from Udom’s Declaration

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By Iman Imar

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State made his public declaration for a second term as governor last Friday before a tumultuous crowd of witnesses in Uyo. The public declaration before the impressive crowd and the ensuing developments may have redefined the narrative as to what the people of the state knew about the affairs of the state in the last eleven years.

The disclosures and developments have inevitably reset the permutations and put the ordinary people of the state in better position to assess the political players in the fray.

Takeaway Number One: Ikot Ekpene Sheraton Hotel was a lie

Governor Godswill Akpabio had commissioned the 14 floor “Four Point by Sheraton Hotel” built in his hometown, Ikot Ekpene in May, 2015 just before he left office.

But as we now know, what was merely commissioned was a building without facilities and even worse, without a contract agreement with the brand owners of the name, Sheraton!

Governor Emmanuel on Friday said: “It is just now that we have incorporated a company to negotiate with Starwood for that name Four-Point by Sheraton. If anybody has ever done that, let him show me the agreement he signed.

“It is now that we are doing external works in that premises in order to turn it into a hotel. Can a building be a hotel?”
“But the truth must be told that it is just now that I have paid $7.2 million to Starwood so that we can retain the name that was surreptitiously put on the building called Four-Point by Sheraton Hotel.”

Takeaway Number Two: Udom will not allow Akwa Ibom See War

Governor Emmanuel for more than three years had almost consistently turned the other cheek to the provocations from his predecessor. Akpbabio had regularly defied protocol and in several ways sought to put down his successor. The public declaration, however, showed a different Emmanuel who was apparently provoked by the suggestion of Akpabio that the battle to take over the state in 2019 would be like the German push to take over Warsaw, Poland during the Second World War.

A sufficiently provoked Emmanuel rose to the occasion as Chief Security Officer of the state to assure the people of the state that they would not see war.

“I heard one human being boast that the Akwa Ibom politics in 2019 will be like the invasion of Poland by Hitler. Whoever is buying guns, trying to kill our children, meanwhile they have gone to hide their own children abroad, we say Holy Ghost….”
“Politeness is not weakness, so you need to go and warn them”.

People sometime like to be reassured that they have a leader who can rise to the occasion to fight for them. Udom has assured those who were in any doubt that he would not allow his people to see war.

Takeaway Number Three: Truth emerges on Uyo – Ikot Ekpene Road

Akpabio had enough time to work and commission the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road but never did. Akpabio had given the impression that his issues with his successor had to do with Governor Emmanuel’s failure to complete the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road. But was it really so? The road contract was given out in December 2011 and the former governor had enough time to construct and finish the road, but he never did.
“Let nobody deceive you, it is this administration that has taken that road (Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road) up to 23 kilometres,” Governor Emmanuel disclosed last Friday.

Takeaway Number Four: Governor Emmanuel has credentials to flaunt.

The governor had for so long acted like a banker not wanting to betray the assets of his customer in his custody. However, last Friday, the governor opened up on his democracy assets albeit without compromising his respectability.

He said that his administration “has done over 1,700 kilometres of roads in the state in less than three years, renovated over 349 schools, brought down the cost of garri, (a staple food in the state), at least by 50 percent, and revived the healthcare system”.

The governor’s assertions on his performance were soundly echoed by the enthusiastic crowd who have been beneficiaries of the governor’s superior performance in governance.

One performance that really astounded many was the marked improvement made by the Udom administration in the area of education over what it inherited from the Akpabio administration. From a 56% pass rate in five subjects, the Udom administration reflective of its huge investments in the education sector has been able to boost success rate to as much as 80%. As the governor spoke last Friday, a school from the state was representing Nigeria in a competition in Sweden.

The equipment of some General Hospitals in the state, including those in Ikono and Entinan which have been digitalized were also marks of the success of the administration.

The governor also spoke about successes in other areas including sports observing that he had in three years brought two trophies through Akwa United to the state a giant leap compared to the nothing brought in in the eight years before then.

Takeaway Number Five: Akpabio’s loss of his political disciples

Godswill Akpabio had personified the political culture of the state and projected himself in a way that few could countermand his political nuances.
Last Friday many of the people Akpabio brought to political limelight showed that they had seen the light for themselves. Many of them made a public renunciation of his defection to the All Progressives Congress, APC by their public appearance at the declaration of the man that Akpabio had publicly vowed to reject. Even more, many of them including the speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Offiong Luke publicly disavowed him putting to question his acclaimed political weight.

Virtually all the state’s political elders in the PDP were on hand to endorse Governor Emmanuel. The huge turnout at the stadium was also another feat that showed a public affection for the governor.

By their public association with Governor Emmanuel and renunciation of Akpabio, the people showed that no man is God in Akwa Ibom.
“No man is God. Senator Akpabio’s migration to the ruling APC, at the centre, would not stop my re-election. I would work with the people to continue with our superior performance,” the governor said.

Imar wrote in from Lagos