Under Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom is like Easter, witnessing a rebirth, writes John C. Ibanga
While the world marked the return to breath and life of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ, the Akwa Ibom State governor reminded the people of the state, by way of his own stewardship, that while Jesus Christ rose, he made sure some things would remain buried, while the good things would rise again.
Because Christ died from the violence of betrayal, Governor Udom Emmanuel noted that Jesus came for peace and therefore he did not come for violence to be reborn. “Peace I live with you,” noted the saviour, “The peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” He tied that to the Akwa Ibom State he took over as the chief steward.
He reminded the citizens on how the state was a hotbed of violent men. He gave the people another opportunity for brotherly kindness. Nobody would wake up again to a bloodshed of their neighbours. No Sunday for deaths at the churchyard instead of praises to the Almighty. That was a very bad era. It was a very bad time for citizens who thought any sound was of gunfire, or any one running might be fleeing a gunman.
“We will never go back to the years of violence and the years where we couldn’t sleep with our eyes closed. We will not return to the years where kidnapping and politically motivated killings numbed our sensibilities and made us question the central purpose of governance,” said the governor in a broadcast to his fellow citizens. He announced that “Akwa Ibom people have collectively and unanimously said goodbye to those years, and have welcomed the era of peace and security.”
That is the feature of the state’s history that should suffer eternal burial. It is not worthy of resurrection. He was saying that in the context of some reported moves in the state of some elements of a bygone era who want to resuscitate the era of the blood-stained sword. They are now regrouping, and want to push a candidacy in the polls of 2023 in which the slew of men of women would run for office and try to seduce an innocent electorate of their qualities.
But Governor Emmanuel has made it known that he is on to them. He can see their wiles and scheming and he is alerting the country and state to the dynamics of a set of evil men who want to impose their string of moral turpitude.
Those in that state know where they hurt the last time and who hurt them. They are not ready to band with such underworld kin who want to show that they have everyone’s interest at heart. Once violence is put at bay, the rest of the easy-going life of the state can come back to life. With violence reigning, there can be no development. That is the key of the broadcast Emmanuel made to his people on the Sunday of the Lords return from the grave.
One of the stuff he says has come to life since he came to office is in the field of aviation. One of its hallmarks is the Victor Attah International Airport, which is a work in progress. When it is done, promises to be the best on the continent. Its maintenance, repair and overhaul will lap up four Boeing 737 and four Airbuses A320 aircraft as well as all aircraft in the fleet of Ibom Air, the reigning sensation. The project is already 85 percent completed. Its taxiway is world-class and can land a Boeing 747.
Ibom Air is now lord of the Nigerian sky. Just like in the past when some airlines became synonyms for flying, Ibom Air is now the mainstay. It began as an airline to carry passengers from Uyo to Lagos and Abuja, but now it is taking on many routes. And it is becoming the airline of first refusal for many passengers because of its comfort, efficiency and punctuality. Its aircraft are also very new, and give an air of comfort travel. Emmanuel describes the airline as “a reference point for excellence in the Nigerian aviation industry?”
But is all part of the vision of the governor to make the state an entrepreneurial haven as against the old mantra of the state as a civil service abode. He has done that not only with aviation, which is humming along, but also with a slew of investments. A big flagship picture is the 21-storey Dakkada building hugging the Uyo skyline. The cloud-capped edifice is now a special architectural icon in the Nigerian sky as well as in the West African sub region. It is a soft pillow for the oil majors who had complained that they did not move their major administrative operations to Uyo because they did not have an office. That was a lame excuse for all it was worth. But the governor decided to obviate any excuses, and his initiative now had turned into reality as the building, the smartest in the country, is now set for the companies. He is hedging it with a housing estate not far from the airport. That will take away another excuse for the staff of the majors as well as other high-brow persons whether or not associated with the oil majors.
That is on the expressway that the governor has now expanded to a six-lane marvel. He is upbeat about this as he himself noted, “As you leave the airport, I am sure you have seen the expansion of the road to an eight-lane boulevard. All over the world, the heart and character of a city is defined and shaped by what people see as they enter into the city centre.”
Under Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom is like Easter, witnessing a rebirth, and this is a rebirth that is always being reborn with every initiative and every act of his government.
Ibanga writes from Uyo