The governor is off to a good start, reckons Francis Ukot
One hundred days is a charm. In numeracy, it’s the first triple number. For many children, counting to 100 is a significant feat just as being able to recite the alphabets. And among adults, 100 signifies many things, one of which is an important timeline by which many things are measured.
Getting into office after a tough campaign, detractors and opponents have not relented in chastising Pastor Umoh Eno, the Akwa Ibom governor. But with the events of the past three months, it’s clear that Pastor Eno, governing along his ARISE theme, is surely on course. This much was disclosed in the speech on September 6, to mark 100 days in office.
“We have established an Agency with the sole responsibility to drive our rural development, improve the quality of life of our rural dwellers, stimulate economic activities and stem rural-to urban migration, the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP),” he said.
As reminder, ARISE is an acronym for: Agricultural Revolution, Rural Development, Infrastructural Maintenance, Security Management and Education Advancement.
In the area of infrastructure, the Eno administration has kicked off road projects in the three senatorial districts. And it is pleasing to hear from the governor that internal roads constructed by local-based firm, HENSEK Integrated Services, was completed on schedule.
Also recognising the importance of food security, the Akwa Ibom government has continued to focus on agriculture in similar vein like the past administration. According to the governor, the state “acquired over 50 thousand hectares of land in all the 31 local government areas, to ensure food security and to get our people involved in agro-allied enterprises.
“As a practical demonstration of this resolve, we recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the world- renowned Songhai Farms to start a model farm in our state, We have already sent hundreds of our people for training so they could form the nucleus of the skilled workers to drive this exercise.”
These are definitely cheery news. But Pastor Eno wasn’t done yet. Within the first 100 days he has also started placing smiles on the faces of retired workers in the state by disbursing their gratuities. “We have steadily paid gratuities to local government, primary school teachers and state workers,” he stated.
“Three billion naira has so far been released for this exercise. We have commenced an initial five-month payment of leave grants in the main service. This exercise started last month (August), and the first phase will end in December. You will agree with me, that, this has been bold steps taken to address this issue.”
On education, Pastor Eno reiterated that “Education remains free and compulsory at primary and secondary school levels and as part of the palliatives we are rolling out, based on the initial two billion naira we received from the federal government, in form of loan and rice, we intend to support parents with school uniforms, shoes and the payment of bursary to students in tertiary instructions after proper verification. Our commitment to the payment of West African Examination Council (WAEC) fees is irrevocable and we have already done so, since we came in.”
And knowing the importance of good primary school education, Pastor Eno also talked of his administration’s plans to build model primary schools across the state.
“Work is ongoing at a fast pace at the location of the first of these model primary schools, the Christ the King School, (CKS) on Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo,” he said.
The governor also pledged to build model primary healthcare facilities in the three senatorial districts of the state. And to ameliorate the hardship occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy, the governor listed the state government’s efforts to include the “Distribution of additional bags of rice to each of the 2,272 gazetted villages; cash transfers to 53,000 workers in the state for three months, levy-free Fridays for transporters and traders for three months; all these have raised our contributions to the palliatives scheme to over five billion naira.”
Also, within 100 days, the new Akwa Ibom government hatched the idea of a skill acquisition centre – Ibom Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development Centre (ILED). What a smart way to demonstrate the old adage of ‘teaching a man to fish rather than giving him fish.’ According to the governor, ILED “will soon be up and running aimed at equipping our people with the right entrepreneurial and leadership skills, thus preparing them to compete with their peers elsewhere.”
While these are smart initial moves, they can only be fruitful in an ambience of peace and security. Thankfully, Akwa Ibom is not known for restiveness which characterises some other states in the country. But the Eno administration is being proactive and not taking any chance at that.
“To ensure that we continue to enjoy the peace we are known for, we have created a full-fledged new ministry – the Ministry of Internal security, headed by a retired general of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Koko Essien,” he said.
“Our security architecture is robust and remains committed to working collaboratively to ensure our safety. We thank the security agencies immensely for this deep sense of collaborations.”
With the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy newly created by the federal government, aquatic-rich states like Akwa Ibom stand to benefit a lot. I’m happy that the Eno administration sees this and is poised to use it. Hear the governor: “We are determined to ensure that our comparative advantage in blue economy is utilized to improve the quality of lives of our fishermen as well as our tourism sector, which is a critical sector in our ARISE Agenda,” he said.
Though it was a tough campaign Pastor Eno engaged in to emerge as governor, it is clear he has now settled down to governance. What is clearer is the humble way the governor seems to be going about it.
“Against conventional wisdom, I have stopped by at various road side shops as I traverse the length and crannies of this state, and have patronized road side vendors, empowered them with seed funds to expand their trade,” he said.
“I will continue to do so, because if I could overcome adversities to fulfil God’s plans in my life, others too, can!”
Ukot writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom