Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has reinvented the state with the launch of a set of new state symbols that inspires a fresh look at the meaning of being Akwa Ibomite
The orange colour has been accepted for long as a marked visual identity of Akwa Ibom State. Commercial vehicles started using the colour to distinguish their vehicles from the blue and white colours of commercial vehicles in Criss River State from which Akwa Ibom was excised. The colour quickly became entrenched and offices of state institutions proudly began to adorn same. This may be accepted as the period when orange became adopted as the symbolic shade of the state with the moniker, ‘Land of Promise’. What is not in doubt is that at the 32nd anniversary of its creation on September 23, Governor Udom Emmanuel bequeathed a legacy official ethos that will forever define his tenure in governance.
Perhaps, a more elaborate ceremony would have been enacted at the public presentation of the novel Akwa Ibom State symbols, if the demure mood of the times ocassioned by the global Coronavirus pandemic did not dictate otherwise. All thesame a very decent open and experiential formality was carried out to expose the Akwa Ibom Flag, the Akwa Ibom Anthem and the Akwa Ibom Coat of Arms inside Government House, Uyo within the limits of what is allowed.
The choice of Sergeant Habilah Adamu of the Nigeria Police to receive the flag from Governor Emmanuel may be sending a wide and all-embracing invitation to all men and women of goodwill all over the world to consider making Akwa Ibom a home. This willingness to play a hospitable host to all and sundry is one of the cardinal programmes of the Emmanuel administration which he is pursuing vigorously by establishing industries that attracts a wide range of skilled professionals from all walks of life and every part of the country and across the world.
True to the words of Stanza One of the anthem, Akwa Ibom is determined to ‘Rise Beyond Ethnicity .’
Disclosing details of the state symbols, Mr. Ini Ememobong, Commissioner for Information and Strategy said, ” the flag was designed by Nsikak John. The Coat of Arms by Mbuotidem Ukpe, while the anthem was produced by Dr. Iberedem Iwok.” He further disclosed that the state government had resolved all copyright infringement issues by making sure that the designers of the flag and the coat of arms and the composer of the anthem were properly rewarded.
The Akwa Ibom State Coat of Arms has 10 icons which convey different meanings: The Lion with a Crown on its Head is a figure of courage, boldness, dignity and authority. The Cross is a representation of the peoples’ faith as Christians and a public declaration of its destiny as a state named after God.
The Tusks represent the culture of the people and regard for royals as custodians of the peoples cultural legacy. The Green Grass represents the arable land and good vegetation. The Shield represents the safety and security of Akwa Ibom State. The Oil Rig represents the state’s rich heritage in oil and gas. The Palm Tree in the sunrise represents Akwa Ibom’s God-given agricultural heritage. The Blue Colour with the fish and the crab represents its rich aquatic life and longest shoreline in the country. The cowries and manila represents a history of trustworthiness in finance management , while the Woven Cord stands for unity and the strong bond among the people.
These meanings fire up in the people deep emotions relating to its history, myths and values. They raise the consciousness of the the people to celebrate their identify which extends beyond their immediate communities. Going forward, Akwa Ibom is going to demand respect for its state symbols from her indigenes and other compatriots.
At the onset of the Emmanuel administration, a novel ethical and moral campaign, Dakkada, which literally means, ‘Stand Up’, was launched. The crusade has since assumed broader dimensions of celebrating hallmarks and achievements of the Akwa Ibom people. Ememobong agrees that the meanings and representations of the new state symbols align totally with the Dakkada philosophy “as they stimulate our people to rise to the faith of greatness.”
By launching its state symbols, Akwa Ibom State is in the good company of other states that blazed the trail. Her neighbour, Cross River adopted an anthem and flag since the tenure of former Governor Donald Duke, who hugged history by hoisting the biggest national flag. Ogun State has ‘Ise Ya’ as its state anthem. During the tenure of Rauf Aregbesola as governor of Osun State, the promotion of state symbols was taken to an extreme when he insisted on a change of nomenclature to State of Osun. No matter how it is viewed, state symbols once approved, remain eternal pillars that attracts precise commitment from peoples with diverse ideals that can be cemented into an indivisible whole. Like the Dakkada crusade, the new Akwa Ibom State symbols is expected to generate a lot of debate and conversation, while inspiring a generation of creative entrepreneurs who will reinvent and exploit these symbols for personal and commercial gain. “Private people can use the symbols, same having been launched apart from those restricted to government use,” explained the Information and Strategy Commissioner. With the new Akwa Ibom State symbols, another set of heroes have been created. Messrs Ukpe, John and Iwok are the latest entrants into the Akwa Ibom pantheon. They take a deserved place along with other distinguished Akwa Ibomites, living and dead.
Kudos to Governor Emmanuel for leading a generation of Akwa Ibomites who have reinvented, redefined and reimagined their relationship with a view to forging symbols that promote unity. Henceforth, many Akwa Ibomites will be forced to take a fresh look at the meaning of being Akwa Ibomite.
Ememobong said having come of age, Akwa Ibom “must have an identity which is reflective of our values . We have always had orange as the colour of the state and the flag is made of green, white, and orange. The orange colour has been around for as long as the state has been in a bid to differentiate us. I think Akwa Ibom Transport Company (AKTC ) was the first to use it to colour their buses differently from the blue used by Crossline.”
By launching its state symbols, Akwa Ibom State is in the good company of other states that blazed the trail. Her neighbour, Cross River adopted an anthem and flag since the tenure of former Governor Donald Duke, who hugged history by hoisting the biggest national flag. Ogun State has ‘Ise Ya’ as its state anthem. During the tenure of Rauf Aregbesola as governor of Osun State, the promotion of state symbols was taken to an extreme when he insisted on a change of nomenclature to State of Osun