Created on 23rd September, 1987 by the then Federal Military Government under the leadership of General Ibrahim Babangida, Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria is located within the South-East region of Nigeria. With a common boundary in the South-East with the Ijaws of Rivers State, neighbouring the State in the West and North-West are the Igbo of Imo State and in the North and North-East are the Ekoi people and other numerous ethnic groups in Cameroon.
Historically, by the creation of Akwa Ibom State from Cross Rivers State, Akwa Ibom people have lost their brothers from the Efik tribe although the people are uniquely recognised and identified with Ibibio, Annang, Oron, Ibeno, Eastern Obolo and other ethnic groups that have enhanced its bond of unity even in its diversity in tribes, tongues and minor cultural differences.
With Uyo, serving as seat of power of the State, Akwa Ibom is blessed with distinguished cities of Eket, Ikot Ekpene, Ibeno, Oron, Itu, Ibesikpo Asutan, Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin, etc. as major drivers of the State economy.
Today, 32 years in retrospect, appraising the leadership; past and present, our gains and loses, our growth and development, wars and peaceful moments and the entirety of the people, Akwa Ibom has grown in leaps and bounds, in unity of purpose, we have joined hands to build the State for what it is today.
On 23rd September 1983, the first military governor of the State, Tunde Ogbeha, was the pathfinder in infrastructural development, agricultural renaissance and transportation system of the State when he awarded the dualization project from roundabout (now Ibom plaza) to Itam Junction along Ikot Ekpene road, he gave the state a motor transport corporation which later became a transport company. Even then, he left veritable impression on the minds of the people.
The next Governor of the State was Godwin Abbe who arrived the State on 31st July, 1988, he satisfied himself with judiciously running the recurrent expenditure of his predecessor and left in September 5th, 1990.
An Akwa Ibomite, being an Ibibio son, Idongesit Nkanga took over from Abbe. He constructed the State Secretariat which Obong Victor Attah came to improve upon by adding more structures and doing more landscaping. His administration was an eye opener to Akwa Ibomites that there are funds to construct a secretariat against the what his predecessors termed “lack of funds”. Idongesit Nkanga also built Ibom Hall and constructed the Afaha Offiong-Afaha Nsit road that was later dualised by Godswil Akpabio. Nkanga left a lasting legacy and wrote his name boldly in the annuals of the State governance, perhaps this may be amount to his being very relevant in both Akwa Ibom politics and administrations.
Even as Akwa Ibom People had wished his long stay in office, Nkanga left the saddle for Late Obong Akpan Isemin after staying barely fifteen months in office.
Late Obong Akpan Isemin came into office in on the second day of January, 1992, giving people very high hopes. He blew the clarion call for unity and at the same time advocated for the sinking of differences and a zeal towards the State development. Short lived as his tenure was, (just twenty three months) je fought for the abrogation of the on-shore/off-shore dichotomy decree that short-changed Akwa Ibom Ibom from all its oil royalty.
He kicked against the “Etok Syndrome” which was a great message even though the people were always taking it to be a joke.
As he brought out a blue print to massively supply potable water to all the communities in the State, Abacha’s military coup eased him out of office on November 18, 1993.
Then, the doldrums’ years ushered into the State. Even though the Babangida administration abrogated the oil dichotomy decree, subsequent administrations of Yakubu Bako (15th December, 1993 – 21st August, 1996). Joseph Adeusi (21 August 1996- 9th August 1999) did virtually nothing except the supervision of recurrent expenditures.
As democratic leadership fully came into the body politics of the State twelves years after its creation, Arch. Victor Attah became the first democratic Governor in May, 1999.
Obong Attah praisely called Eduek Ekpe became the foundation of modern Akwa Ibom State. His early years in office was characterised with the struggle for Resource Control and plans towards changing Uyo from a Local Government headquarters to a s status befitting of a State Capital.
He embarked on long term benefits projects – Independent Power Plant, Ibom Science Park, Le’Meridian Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, (now Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort) Ibom International Airport (now Victor Attah International Airport), above all, the actualization of Resource Control endeared Obong Victor Attah to Niger Deltans and Nigerians as well.
Perhaps, his resource control pursuit may have led to his administration not being able to complete most of his projects and even with this, Obong Attah deserves accolades in the 32nd anniversary celebration of the State.
Successively, the mantle of leadership left Obong Victor Attah to Obong Godswill Akpabio on May, 29th 2007. Akpabio’s entrance into governance scene of Akwa Ibom State undoubtedly catapulted the State into enviable heights. His administration witnessed wind of Uncommon Transformation that ushered in fresh breath in all sectors of the State.
During the Akpabio’s rein, the State had life touching projects as Ibom E- Library, new Governor’s lodge, remodelling of major junctions within the State Capital, completion of Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort, Tropicana, Dualization of roads across the three senatorial districts of the State, flyovers. Specialist hospital, free and compulsory education, electrification of almost all communities in the State, free medical services for the vulnerable among other numerous projects and programmes. His administration above all, gave Akwa ibom State a place in the committee of States in the country.
Then, Governor Udom Emmanuel took over the mantle of Akwa Ibom governance on May 29th, 2015 after an excruciating political struggle. Mounting the stage of leadership with his locale: the “DAKKADA SPIRIT”, his most spectacular achievement was the industralization visionary drive of turning the State into an economic hub of the nation and with establishment of over fifteen vibrant industries within the first four years of his administration, his Completion Agenda is gradually garnering momentum in putting finishing touches on his programmes, policies and projects.
Governor Emmanuel’s administration beyond every doubt has changed the narrative of Akwa Ibom State from a Civil Service State to an industrial driven destination. His first 100 days into his Completion Agenda journey which commenced May, 29th, 2019 has been adjudged more focused, directional and vigorous in nature.
Pundit can attest to his visionary drive of leaving no project unfinished by may 29th, 2023. Ubong Ntekim went further to enumerate some of the giant strides recorded by the present administration when wrote: “Within his first 100 days in office, the governor has completed the 3.0km Ebekpe – Ikot Eket Road in Eket LGA which was handled by Zerock Construction company, while the following massive road projects are nearing completion. They are: 2.7km Ikot Odiong – Ikot Abasi Road in Eket by Zerock Construction as well as the 13.5KM Ikot Ebiere – Ikot Edor – Ikot Iko Ibom – Akom – Ukpana – Ikwe Road with 15 metres span bridge by Ber Jin Construction Company (BJCC) to completed December 2019.
“Others include: 15.1km Odio – Ndoneyo – Ikot Akpatek Rd by VKS Construction company. The road cuts across Eket and ONNA LGAs, Ikot Ukpong – Ikot Amba Road with a bridge at Mbiaso. The road cuts across Obot Akara and Ikot Ekpene LGAs by Seyang Construction Company, Nnung Obong Road with a bridge at Mbiokene River in Nsit Ubium LGA handle by Bulletin Construction Company, 3.3km Idua Road in Eket by Limech Development Limited, Etinan – Eket Road, handle by CCECC and 18.95Km Ikot Ibritam – Inen Ekeffe – Ikot Akpan Afaha road construction which cuts across Oruk Anam and Ukanafun LGAs by Almajdal.
“Other ongoing projects are: 9.5Km Ring Road 3 by Hensek Integrated Services Limited, 25Km Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Highway by Julius Berger, 15.13Km Ikot Otomo – Azumini Road, which traverses over ten (10 villages); Ikot Akpan Okure – Ikot Esu – Otomo – Obio Ebenwang – Ikot Akpa Ofiong – Ikot Otong – Ikot Urom – Nto Udo – Nto Udo Enwang in Ika LGA by Cossels Construction Company, 14.1 KM Odoro Ikpe – Ikpe Ikot Nkon- Nkana – Obotme – Arochukwu Rd with two bridges by Peculiar Concerns Limited, 19.8Km Ikot Oku Ikono – Etinan Road handle by Julius Berger, a new flyover at Ikot Oku Ikono Junction by Julius Berger as well as other massive road projects”.
Within 32 years historical analyses of Akwa Ibom as a State, the Legislature being the soul of democracy has not failed in its bidding in the democratically elected governments within the 32 Years of the Statehood.
The seventh Assembly has been positioned to enhance productivity, efficiency and remain focused in the drive of fulfilling the vision of Mr. Udom Emmanuel. The pace of legislative agenda of the present State House of Assembly remains steadfast in upholding good values for Akwa Ibom people and active ambassadors of the Dakkada Rebirth Programme of the present administration.
The present administration of Mr. Udom Emmanuel is poised and committed to repositioning the economy of the State, with this renewed political will as demonstrated by Governor Emmanuel as it is, the sky could only be the beginning in whatsoever target one may be pursuing.
Going by the afore, as we roll out drums to celebrate our 32 years of statehood, it becomes imperative to shield swords of political divides, and join hands as a people united by one God and build Akwa Ibom of our dreams where posterity will appreciate our little effort towards the greatness of our dear state, our contributions may seem a drop in the ocean but the ocean cannot be complete without the drop.
By Abigail Isaac