Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that although he has somewhat come full circle: from being a commissioner to governor, then to the hallowed chambers of the Senate where he was the minority leader and now as a minister- designate. Senator Godswill Akpabio is yet set for another round of service as he has much more to offer the society. Thus, when he was announced as minister designate, not many were surprised given his past records in developmental strides, especially in Akwa Ibom State
Born on December 9, 1962, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio (CON) is a Nigerian lawyer and politician. A former Senator, he was once a commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, then became governor from May 29, 2007 to May 29, 2015 before proceeding to the National Assembly where he was the Senate Minority Leader. Now a minister-designate, there is truly no stopping him in rendering service to society.
It is instructive to note that Akpabio’s transition from a state governor to the national stage was made possible by his selfless desire to serve.
He came into government with the desire to make a difference and change people’s perception about governance. For many, he achieved the set objectives, thus earning himself the sobriquet of a trail blazer.
When he held sway as governor of the oil-rich state, he was known for transforming the state to one of grandeur. Asides his Midas touch in the general welfare of the indigenes, he would best be remembered for the multiple construction of roads, both single and dualised, with street lights, flyovers, bridges, and other appurtenances.
One of such constructed and dualised road was the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road, the Aka-Etinan Road also adorned with street lights, a modern drainage system that spans 4.6 metres from the Ibom International Stadium road to Obot Idim Ibesikpo on one side and from the Ibom Tropicana Center to Obot Idim on another side.
Other projects by the governor include an ultramodern car servicing workshop in government house, the government house fuel pump station which was relocated due to the nuisance it posed to the governor’s lodge.
Prior to his handing over in 2015, a record of 165 projects were inaugurated and they include the VIP Guest House, Uyo; 8.7 kilometres of internal roads in Akwa Ibom Polytechnic, Ikot Osorua; Cottage Hospital, Urua Inyang in Ika; 13.5 kilometres of roads in Mkpat Enin and Cottage Hospital, Okoroete in Eastern Obolo Local Government.
At the twilight of his career as a governor, he constructed the Akwa Ibom International Stadium, now known as the ‘Nest of Champions’. According to the article written by Sports Marketing Consultant; CEO, GreenHunters Sports International, Benson Chukwueke, the economic impact of the stadium on Uyo and its environs has been unquantifiable.
According to him, its multiplier effect has spread to neighbouring cities like Calabar, Port Harcourt, Aba and Umuahia, as it has already attracted lots of top class matches: Nigeria national team (Super Eagles) World cup and AFCON qualifiers, with more to come.
Also, Akwa United, the state’s professional football club play their NPFL, Federations cup and CAF confederation cup matches in the stadium.
Some of the area that receives direct multiplier effects through the stadium include transportation sector, both land and air; hotel accommodation, sales for food vendors, tourism explosion. On the other hand, the indirect multiplier effects for the state include more business and employment, constant upgrade of infrastructure, media attention, and population boost, among others.
One noticeable feature when Akpabio assumed the mantle of leadership in 2007 was the fact that the state was littered with failed or abandoned projects, some of which the contractors had been paid for. That was the situation of the airport in the state until
Akpabio salvaged and completed the project. Now, Ibom International Airport is reputed to have one of the longest runways in Nigeria and international flights have already commenced from the airport. He is also credited to have moved on to complete the second phase which has the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) facilities to serve the West African sub-region.
One of the major problems that had confronted successive administrations in Akwa Ibom state was the flooding of the state capital, Uyo; from the Idoro area through Itam Road to Ikot Ekpene Road, it was always a pool of water after rainfall and had so many houses in the flood-prone areas submerged.
Taking the bulls by the horn, he engaged contractors that carried out the under the pipe jacking method, through which water was channeled into well-lubricated huge pipelines buried 40 metres under the ground, passing through the discharge drain at Ekim Itam-Ikot Oku road, Uyo. It worked wonders, as that challenge of flooding has stopped.
So much has been written about Akpabio’s transformation of Akwa Ibom State through aggressive road construction projects. As at the last check, the administration constructed hundreds of roads but one must not forget the Akwa Ibom State library, which is supposedly the first-in-West Africa e-library.
The project was a component of the free and compulsory education policy of his administration, which impact has been phenomenal. Apart from the five-floor edifice which is an architectural masterpiece in itself, it is the only library in Nigeria with a multi-media conference hall with a capacity for 200 guests.
It also has facilities for teleconferencing from any part of the globe. The sheer quantum of the book resources of about 70 million downloadable e-books and 30 million books in print with an in-built alarm system to prevent pilfering; and access by users to the best libraries in the world makes this achievement uncommon. Health wise, a a world-class hospital was also built by the governor to the admiration of Nigerians.
As a Senator
Right after his governorship tenure, Akpabio took service to a higher notch by representing the Akwa Ibom North-west Senatorial Constituency in the eight assembly. While in the house, he wasn’t a benchwarmer as he was the Senate Minority Leader.
He also never forgot that he was there as a representative of his people. In one of his constituency briefings and empowerment scheme in Ikot Ekpene, items worths several millions of naira in fulfillment of the promise of the senator to change the narrative and bring about an uncommon representation, was given to his people. The beneficiaries were selected from the 25 wards of the senatorial district.
Items given out included 11 (6.5KVA) generators, 24 (5.5KVA) generators, 69 (2.5KVA) generators, 55 block mounding machines\Listers, 113 computers/printers, 194 sewing machines, 154 grinding machines, 58 tricycles (Keke), 10 cassava processing machines and 30 home grinding machines.
Other items dished out included 40 industrial sewing machines, 20 cars, 10 buses, four tractors, scholarship to 250 beneficiaries, bursary allowance to 22 beneficiaries and 40 cargo tricycles.
As a minister-designate, many pundits do not expect any less from him in terms of servitude to the nation. According to them, this is a call to higher service at the national level, thus they expect him to double his efforts in nation building at whatever ministry he is assigned to head.
Although a few voices have been singing discordant tunes, many others opine that President Muhammadu Buhari made the right choice. The onus therefore lies on him to continue on the path of servitude in whatever ministerial capacity the presidency deems fit to appoint him to.