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WHY UDOM IS STILL THE OPTION

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by Joe Iniodu

 

It is a few months to primaries and less than a year to general elections. 2019, the year which holds great anxiety is steadily coming close. Permutations and re-permutations. Perfuse the atmosphere and political space, sharing people into camps, groups and school of thoughts.

 

In Akwa Ibom State, pundits may not have much work as the trend so far shows that the incumbent governor, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel would coast home to victory in the upcoming election. That much is obvious given many indices which this treatise would proceed to analyse with intense dispassion.

 

The first parameter among the series of indices is performance. There is little dispute in the assertion that he has performed. The little or minor dispute is from opposition politicians who want to drown his achievements and make him less credible for the 2019 election. But in private and public, most of them have been caught admitting that Governor Emmanuel has performed. Since every political party’s quest is to take power, it behooves those on the other side of the divide to perpetually shut their eyes from the achievements of the party they want to wrestle power from. This is what seems to bedevil some of the assessments of the Udom administration vis-a-vis the railings of the opposition.

 

But performance is like pregnancy, it can hardly be hidden from public glare. This is why various segments of the society even beyond the shores of the State have eloquent testimonials attesting to his performance. A publication from the Presidency which undertook the assessment of national development in the period of Buhari administration devoted 32 pages of the publication to highlight the achievements of Akwa Ibom State Government under Mr. Udom Emmanuel with the intent to construe them as achievements of the federal government. As if that was not enough, Governor Emmanuel was also honoured in the Presidency as the Most Sports Supporting Governor in Nigeria. The Award was bestowed on him by Mr. Boss Mustapha, the SGF of an APC controlled government.

 

Like a lamp set on a hill, Governor Emmanuel has severally either been honoured or endorsed for another term by various bodies because of his record breaking performance in the face of dwindling national fortunes. One of the bodies that spotted Emmanuel early and perhaps saw the potential in him was Leadership Newspaper owned by a Chieftain of the opposition party. The organization invited him to deliver a paper to which Governor Emmanuel rose to the occasion with loud ovation from the audience which included Mr. President . In the paper, he had espoused various governance models. It is obvious that Leadership Newspapers subjected him to thorough scrutiny using his postulations. But as one who works the talk, he acquitted himself creditably and was honoured with Leadership Newspaper Man of the Year the following year.

 

His determination to perform has taken him across many facets covering industrialization, agriculture, education, capacity building, social investments infrastructure, health sector and empowerment programmes. In each of these facets, he has recorded achievements to merit him a second term. The industrialization agenda which many are approaching with a “cash and carry mentality” rather than viewing it as a process is on course and yielding tangibles in just 3 years with cynics still kicking. But just as they did during the lsong’s administration in the then Cross River State and rued over that era in irredeemable regrets, this time Akwa Ibom people must not allow selfish politicians to abort the dream of industrialization with warped politics. They must collectively drive this dream of industrialization but with the understanding that it requires patience especially in the face of the current fiscal policies of the APC led administration. And one of the ways to ensure this dream is to return Udom for a second term in office to continue to push the industrialization agenda and rescue our youths from the vise grip of unemployment.

 

Governor Emmanuel’s diversification of the economy moved beyond the realm of rhetoric. While successive governments at both the federal and State levels turned “diversification of the economy” into a buzz word, Nigerians had come to reason that it is impracticable. But with plummeting oil revenue, Governor Emmanuel took programmatic steps by foisting a revolution in the area of agriculture and turning that sector into an engaging endeavour. It started with the Prime Hatchery in Uruan with the production of day old chicks. Before now, those engaged in poultry business had to travel to the Western part of Nigerian with the attendant risk of mortality for the day old chicks before arriving the State. The cocoa maintenance scheme also came in handy with the training of several Akwa Ibom Youths for the scheme. They are today engaged and making fortunes from it. The vegetable revolution which introduced the cultivation of tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, garden egg etc and which are today successful preoccupations for our youths is something to cheer as it has become a  source of livelihood to many.

 

The Udom administration has identified agriculture to be a goldmine.  But it is also conscious of the challenges like poor seedlings and the lack of fertilizer which could make efforts invested in farming not worth the while. To curb this, government is heavily involved in the provision of improved seedlings of crops and vegetables cultivated in the State. It has through AKEES trained many on the cultivation processes that would assure good yields and improve the revenue profile of the farmers.

 

One of the periods which the State Government’s interest in agriculture proved its mettle was during the scarcity of garri with the commodity sold at a prohibitive cost of N100 per cup. It was a national malady that afflicted all homes especially large families. But Akwa Ibom was one of the States that was to exit that quagmire first. Government encouraged the planting of cassava on several hectares of land across the State. FEYReP, the pet project of Her Excellency, Deaconess Udom Emmanuel led the charge by getting the organization involved in the planting, harvesting and processing of garri. The surplus of the staple brought down the price and today excess of the product from the State is servicing other States. FEYReP also intervened in oil palm production by providing facilities for the processing. It has also provided dryer facilities in areas where fishing is the preoccupation and garri processing equipment where cassava cultivation is the dominant trade.

 

The area of infrastructure which he pledged shall enjoy consolidation and expansion has not fared badly. Road constructions are continuing at feverish pace with over 1700 kilometres of road and 35 bridges already constructed across the State. Healthcare delivery system has been upped with the renovation of many General Hospitals and construction of new facilities to serve the needs of the hospitals. Primary healthcare system has been revamped to give those in rural communities access to minor medical services. Also about 100 containers of medical equipment have been received from America for the equipping of hospitals in the State. The Quaternary Hospital which is designed to undertake major health challenges is to be run by a reputable Canadian medical Outfit.

 

The above and many more makes the Udom administration the preferred option for 2019. It’s governance style which is holistic sees the State as the centre piece of its development agenda and the people of the State as the central measure of value. Any government which considers the two decimals isolated above is people centric and must be courted, enamoured and preserved.

 

Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst

 

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