WHAT WILL A’IBOM REMEMBER UDOM FOR?

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By UbongAbasi Ise

 

“Stick to one thing and all will come; aim at everything and all will go” – Hindu Proverb

 

History is replete with accounts of leaders who redefined governance to address common yearnings of their people. These leaders establish their own names by changing the course of history through their significant commitments to common cause; they identify popular cravings created by circumstances of the time and single-mindedly redirect all energies towards them and ensure that collective aspirations are achieved. At the end, their selflessness and rare feats crystallize into a profound legacy thus engendering commemorative adulations, making their names ever immortalizing.

Without going historically far, a look at Akwa Ibom leaders since the commencement of Fourth Republic in 1999 would rather be more useful here. In a way, Obong Victor Attah may not be remembered so much for some of his endeavors such as construction and dualization of major roads in Uyo; the commencement of international airport project, construction of Ibom Power Plant, establishment of Akwa Ibom State University of Technology, designing of Le Meridian Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort and so on, but assuredly, his name would stand to be remembered for the battle for resource control that later leave Akwa Ibom State with 13% derivation from crude oil as against 1%. Indeed, when Obong Attah realized that Akwa Ibom income was too miniscule in relation to the wage bill at the time, he had to dare the devil, and struggled against the monstrous power at the centre. Today, no attempts to mutilate history would succeed in obliterating his legacy because his name is synonymous with the struggle for resource control.

Chief Godwill Akpabio, love him or hate him, the former governor and the present Senate Minority Leader would never be forgotten as far as his version of free and compulsory education from primary to secondary schools still subsist to sing his name, even with bad voice when we consider the level of attention the programme receives today.

Akpabio’s legacy as manifesting in deluge of physical infrastructures such as dual-carriage ways with flyovers, water fountains, international standard stadium, 4-Star Sheraton Hotel, Ibom International Airport, to mention just a few, would immortalize him because his uncommon transformation agenda aptly responded to question of modernization, thus, raising the bar of infrastructural development in the state.

Today, Akwa Ibom State is in unfortunate era of unprecedented hardship characterized by hunger, ridiculous height of unemployment, mass misery and deepening despair. The state’s economy is retarding severely. To put in more blunt terms, the state’s economic performance is just an oscillation between stagnation and backwardness. The ineluctable question now is: if Mr. Udom Emmanuel does not lead Akwa Ibom people to escape this precarious economic situation, what will he be remembered for after his possible four years, or perhaps, eight years in office?

Majority of Akwa Ibom electorates during 2015 guber campaigns were inebriated by Udom’s industrialization promises in such a way that they had to be give him whopping 999, 071 votes. People believed in his fairly untainted reputation in the banking profession and trusted that, with the fulfillment uncommon industrialization promise, economic opportunities are manifold. Today, is there any hope that Mr. Emmanuel would march common yearnings with the promise he made during electioneering campaign?

Since Mr. Udom Emmanuel took over power in 2015, there are incessant project groundbreakings and programme flag-offs being performed with absolute lack of commitment in implementing them, while a section of the media consistently overhype every move made by the state government, at times, blowing it out of proportion. Few days ago in Uyo, I noticed an over-sized billboard at Wellington Bassey Way facing Dominic Utuk Avenue designed with Udom’s picture with inscription that referred the governor as Mr. Industrialization. In another breath, I felt extremely disappointed, if not ashamed with the misleading, deluding, cheap propaganda well-crafted by the state’s Ministry of Information and Communication to score cheap political point.

Considering several groundbreakings and flag-offs, is there any sign that Akwa Ibom State is undergoing industrialization? How many vehicles has Automobile Assembly Plant in Ikot Ukap Itam emitted into the market? To what extent has Peacock Paint factory in Etinan flood Nigerian market with our paints? How many tonnes of fertilizer does the Plant in Abak produce for our farmers? How much do we need Coconut Plantation and Refinery in Onna? Is electricity metering company at the governor’s backyard in Onna not another political gambit? How serious is the state government in pursuit of Ibom Deep Seaport project? Is there any hope of mass youth employment in this industrialization regime?

To sympathizers who would vehemently argue that it is too early to judge Udom Emmanuel’s performance, they should remember that Dr. Clement Isong, who also hailed from Onna, spent four years in office as governor of then Cross River State and left behind several industries inherited by Akwa Ibom State at creation in 1987, some of which include Quality Ceramic Industry, Itu; Qua Steel Industry, Eket; Biscuit and Abestonic Industry, Oron; Sunshine Batteries, Essien Udim; Plastocrown, Uyo; and so on. These industries employed a lot of people, but owing to military take-over coupled with inexcusable ineptitude of leadership, these companies are moribund today.

Agriculture in Akwa Ibom State has suffered a profound neglect despite the much talked about agricultural revolution. If government is very serious about agro venture, then why is it that a common man today is paying N200 for three cups of garri? Let’s face realities and forget about all these hype on billboards, radio, television, internet and pages of newspapers.

I once ran into Engr, Chris Ekpenyong who served as a deputy governor in Victor Attah’s administration. He said that most of the projects initiated by Attah had linkages. For instance, the Akwa Ibom International Airport was conceived to be centred on Aircraft Maintenance, Repairs and Overall Facilities (MRO). As an engineer of repute, he then suggested that MRO would require a lot of power supply, and this provoked the search for reliable source of power supply which eventually led to conception of Ibom Power Plant project at Ikot Abasi. But looking at several projects initiated in Udom’s administration, they apparently lack that interconnectivity. Indeed, they are misbegotten, maybe to show the quantity of what the government has created, not to address the common longings of the people.

Stick to one thing and all will come; aim at everything and all will go” there goes a Hindu proverb.

American power strategist and author, Robert Greene, advised thus: “Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point. You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper than by flitting from one shallow mine to another.” Again, Baltasar Gracian posits that, “It is the misfortune of men with wide general interests that why they would like to have their finger in every pie, they have one in none.” What Udom’s government needs is the aptitude to concentrate on a single goal as Robert Greene would say, and push at it until it yielded. It will not help the state if the governor continues going about breaking grounds here and there, at the end nothing much is achieved. Instead of dissipating the state energies, it is better to go for very few correlated industries where synergy could be derived. In this way, matrix of industries may still roll in.

 

Yes! I am UbongAbasi Ise. For comment, send Sms to 08189914809

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