Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State is using unusual ingredient to oil the machinery of development
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State hardly makes a statement without making a reference to peace. To Emmanuel, peace is the be-all-and-end-all. It is the most important ingredient needed to oil the engine of development. A product of a rancorous primary in the Peoples Democratic Republic (PDP), Emmanuel was allegedly foisted on other aspirants for the office of governor of the state in the process leading to the 2015 governorship election in the state. As one who emerged through an acrimonious process, the earnestness with which he seeks peace can be appreciated. He needed to calm as many frayed nerves as possible before settling down to serious business of governance. To his credit, he has been able to reconcile a good percentage of the over 20 aspirants who jostled to for the post with him.
Last week, Emmanuel was able to drive his peace crusade to another sphere by engaging the state governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former deputy governor, Obong Nsima Ekere and committing him to keep the peace as both men continue their quest to lead the state. Perhaps, Ekere represents the extreme opinions against the governor. Before the governorship contest proper started heating up, Emmanuel and the APC governorship candidate, working as Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) were already on a collision course over claims and counter-claims on who was building what infrastructure in the state. The state government believed the NDDC was trying to score cheap points that it would later present to shore-up Ekere’s performance and projecting him as one fitting to become governor of the state.
By appealing to Ekere alone, and ignoring the likes of Mr. Iboro Otu of the Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party and Architect Ezekiel Nya-Etok of the Young Democratic Party, the governor has unwittingly underrated a good number of his co-contestants and their teeming followers. This may prove to be a costly oversight. For instance, Otu, a fresh face on the political turf of the state has been able to command the respect and confidence of 16 other political parties who adopted him as their governorship candidate. This is not to say that Otu and Nya-Etok have the capacity for violence. But there is no doubt that these candidates are very hopeful and have resolved with their followers to defend their vote. Observers of the political process in Akwa Ibom are hopeful that Emmanuel will widen the pool of peace-loving governorship aspirants by committing them to support a violence-free election.
Emmanuel was elected on the premise that he was going to take the state to the comity of states with thriving industries. To attract investors, he needed to convince them that the malaise of militancy and violence had been totally wiped out in Akwa Ibom State. Many have attested to the fact that under Emmanuel, the state is experiencing a peaceful era. The peace currently enjoyed in the state did not come by accident, but by zero-tolerance adopted by his administration against all forms of criminality. The governor said because his people are not wired to war tendencies, the state will not experience a war and crises situation during the general elections. Today, 12 industries are either fully operational or nearing completion. Akwa Ibom has been acknowledged as placing second on the rating of Direct Foreign Investment, largely because foreign investors believe that the atmosphere in the state is conducive.
Emmanuel is confident that God has so far used him to accomplish so much for the state in the last four years.
The efforts of Governor Udom Emmanuel in partnering with security agencies towards a peaceful Akwa Ibom has yielded positive results as over 200 leaders and members of respective cult groups in the Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun axis of the state, dropped their weapons in exchange of peace. Without peace, it is difficult to bring development to areas of the state where insecurity is prevalent.
At one of the ceremonies that repentant former cultists were presented to him, Emmanuel said, “I wanted to bring a World Bank-assisted project to Ukanafun, but those people preferred to go elsewhere. At the moment, because of you people, no contractor accepted our offer to come and execute a project in Ukanafun. I promised you people that the day you come out, nothing will happen to you. Have I not kept my promise?”
OFF THE CUFF:
*You will agree with me, that the Akwa Ibom story requires bold new chapters and those chapters are what, together, with your support we have written glowingly in the past three and half years
Emmanuel encouraging the people of Akwa Ibom State to think differently
*Politics will come and go, but Akwa Ibom will remain non-negotiable and sacrosanct. May we have a peaceful and violence free electioneering and elections come 2019. We must keep the peace, we must not stoke the fire of violence in our state. I stand here to declare that our people reject war and embrace peace. If Warsaw saw war, Akwa Ibom will see and enjoy peace. If Warsaw saw destruction, Akwa Ibom shall continue to see development. If Warsaw saw war which led to its destruction and decayed infrastructure, Akwa Ibom people will enjoy good roads, more industries, employment opportunities, free and compulsory education, and fantastic health care delivery
Emmanuel tasking politicians to keep the peace
*I do not go on a commissioning spree. How can you commission a classroom or borehole, I can’t do that. It is shameful. People who would have listened to you at different investors forum, seeing you commission electricity and borehole, will say, ‘so, this guy who was lecturing us in New York didn’t even have water to drink’, and you never can tell when you will speak again after leaving this office
Emmanuel explaining why he takes development of infrastructure seriously
*Unfortunately, politics in Nigeria is a little bit tough. In your first year as governor, you are at the Tribunal, Appeal Court and the Supreme Court. And as you try to settle down to work, the first tenure of four years is over. You are already campaigning for another term. You are so distracted. You can’t just focus as a governor. If you are not careful, you can’t put anything in place. But people don’t know where we are going
Emmanuel advocating a new attitude to politics in Nigeria
*We are in haste. We are trying to touch every aspect from infrastructure, agriculture to industry. We are talking about electricity but we didn’t think of metres. That’s why we developed a metrering factory to bridge the gap. You see the quality of roads here, I’m not mincing words, check the kilometre of roads we have done compared to what federal government has done
*Political fathers can disappoint, but spiritual fathers cannot because the presence of God goes with them at all times
Emmanuel stating his belief in God and in a godfather