Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A’Ibom @ 27: What we have witnessed in this State these past seven years is a proof that God honours His words – Gov Akpabio

My dear people of Akwa Ibom State, I share  with you the joy of the momentous event of the creation of our State twenty-seven years ago. It was like the joy of daybreak to those who worked behind the scene for the creation of this blessed State.

As the announcement was being made by the then Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, on that happy day, most Akwa Ibom indigenes waited anxiously to know the local  government areas the new State was composed of. As each local government was mentioned, floodgates of joy and ecstasy accompanied the announcement in that local government area. There were street parties all over the State. There were celebrations all over the State. There were mutual congratulations all over the State.

On that day, God turned again our captivity, and we were like them that dream. It was everybody’s dream because General Babangida did not create Akwa Ibom State for any tribe or ethnic group; he did not create the State for the poor or the rich; he did not create the state for the educated or the illiterate, he created a State for all the people in the local government areas he mentioned.

I am conscious that this is the last time I would address you on the Anniversary of our State as your Governor. Let us, therefore, review the events of that day. The creation of Akwa Ibom State was not an  event; it was a process. It was the culmination of the efforts begun by our forefathers at Afaha Oku in 1953 when they made the first demand for state creation in Nigeria.It was the reward of a relentless campaign by a determined people who stood together and kept tugging at the strings of justice until the walls came tumbling down. So how did it happen?

Five months after the coup of August, 1985, which heralded the General Ibrahim Babangida administration, Babangida set up a seventeen-member Political Bureau with Sylvanus J. Cookey as Chairman, and Abdullahi Augie as Executive Secretary. This Bureau was set up on January 13, 1986. The Bureau was charged with a review of Nigeria’s democratic experience, appraising the socio-economic and political problems facing Nigeria, and developing a blueprint for our future democracy.

In this context, the Bureau believed that the creation of more States was necessary in the interest of a much more balanced and stable federation. The Bureau noted that the creation of more States would ease political and social tensions, which had bred instability and frustrated the country’s march towards national greatness. Akwa Ibom people took advantage of this and we intensified our demand for a State of our own. We submitted memoranda upon memoranda to justify our demand.

The Bureau members agreed that States should be created but differed on the number that should be created. But because of the intensity of our campaign and that of Katsina, they all were unanimous in the agreement that Akwa Ibom State and Katsina State should be created from Cross River and Kaduna State respectively. The people of these two States had waged the most relentless and strident campaign for states to be created for them. The Bureau submitted its report with several recommendations including the creation of these two states on March 26, 1987. The Babangida Administration accepted this recommendation and created Akwa Ibom and Katsina States on September 23, 1987.

We saw in this gesture an act of God and concluded that it was a fulfilment of God’s promise to us. We named this blessed State the “Land of Promise” in the faith that the promise of God was for everyone irrespective of ethnic group or tribe. Fully conscious of this, in 2007 I proposed that we should not only rest on God’s promise, we should also let His will be done in our State. Akwa Ibom people accepted my proposition and we began an experiment in handing over the State to God for direction, guidance and leadership. The end result had been the uncommon transformation of our dear State.

My dear compatriots, what we have witnessed in this State these past seven years is a proof that God honours His words and that whatever is put in His Hands can never decay. We who are custodians of such divine blessing cannot afford to bring blemish to God’s name through injustice, ethnicity or pettiness.  Let us justify the grace bestowed upon us and lay a foundation of righteousness for this generation and posterity.

Our covenant with Akwa Ibom People will terminate in less than eight months. It is, therefore, pertinent that we attempt to give account of our stewardship.  Right where you are there exist evidences of what God has done. You can start from there to count your blessings.

We are delighted that our children now have an assured future through our free and compulsory  education policy. We are also glad that our people, especially children under five, the aged and pregnant women now have access to free healthcare services.  We are happy that Ibom International Airport is functional – a project we met at the site clearing level. Today the second phase is nearing completion. We completed its first phase with a runway of 3.6km (which could be expanded to 4.2km). Under construction at the airport are state-of-the–art Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility, as well as the International Terminal building, the Cargo Terminal with associated Aprons, a second parallel runway, passenger terminal building, 3-5 Star Airport Hotel, Aviation training College and other auxiliary facilities.

The Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre: a one-stop hospitality complex boasts of a galleria, Cineplex; shopping malls, ultra-modern convention centre with multi-floor capacity; a 14 storey five-star hotel with 250 exquisite rooms; a theme Park with various dry (16 rides) and wet park. The Tropicana will be commissioned in January, 2015. The Cineplex was completed in 2011 and had since been in use.
A brand new Olympic-size Stadium rests in the fringes of our capital city. Rated the best in West Africa in terms of facilities, aesthetics and architectural design, it is completed and ready for commissioning.

The Ibom Specialist Hospital, with a 308 bed space, is at an advanced stage of completion. The Hospital on completion will serve as a major referral hospital in our nation. Other projects include the Ibom Gas Processing Plant, which the President Commissioned recently; the 4-Star Four Point hotel in Ikot Ekpene; the Ibom E-Library, the first of its kind in West Africa; the Akwa Ibom State University etc. We are also glad that we can boast of over 95 per cent rural electricity coverage in the State (the national average is 17 per cent); we have empowered youths and women in various fields of agro-businesses; we have built and equipped five brand new General Hospitals, in addition to other cottage and medical centres. Compatriots, the list is endless.

Let me also report that there are other numerous projects that are on-going or nearing completion across the State. These include the dualized Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road; dualized Eket – Etinan Road; dualized Eket - Ibeno Road - all with streetlights, and many other projects.

My dear People of Akwa Ibom State, I have run the race and I am set to complete my course. Joshua led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. When his reign over the people was coming to an end, he addressed them saying, “Choose ye this day who you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were in the other side of the flood or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell. But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”  It is a question I want Akwa Ibom people to ponder on. Choose this day whether you will serve the gods of tribalism and ethnicity and the gods of hatred and bitterness, which led to the spilling of the blood of innocent Akwa Ibom People in 1969 and again in 2011. Choose whether you want to follow injustice and divisiveness and deny the good People of Eket Senatorial District their right. But as for my house, and me we will serve the Lord and toe the paths of justice, equity and fairness.

My compatriots, this 27th Anniversary is a milestone, and we are happy that God has brought us out and made us a showpiece of His grace in our nation. Therefore, as we celebrate, let us not lose sight of the initial love and unity that brought us together. Let us rekindle memories of that electric moment when we celebrated as one. It is only in such spirit thatwe can justify God’s love for us in this blessed state named after God.
I wish you a happy celebration.

Thank you and God bless Akwa Ibom State.

Being a State broadcast by the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, on the occasion of the 27th Anniversary of the creation of Akwa Ibom State, September 27, 2014

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