Akwa Ibom State Governor, Umo Bassey Eno has paid unreserved tributes to the former Military Head of State in Nigeria, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) for seeing the need to create the present Akwa Ibom State from Cross River State, saying the state is better off as an independent entity.
Eno also paid glowing tribute to all former governors of the state before him, including the military administrator, for laying the solid foundation on which he is building upon.
He, however, thanked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the recent invitation for him to be a part of his delegation at the recently concluded 78 United Nations General Assembly in New York, saying it was a true spirit of inclusivity and bipartisanship that is most needed in the state and in the nation.
The governor’s tribute is contained in his statewide broadcast speech to make the 36th anniversary of the state’s creation, made available to Tribune Online in Uyo.
“Permit me at this point to pay our glowing tributes to the man whom God used to give us this priceless Land of Promise, our revered former President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. Thank you sir, for this gift and on behalf of the ever grateful people of Akwa Ibom State, we wish you continuous good health and God’s immeasurable blessings.
“Let me also thank all the past Governors of this State, from the Military era, led by our first military Governor, Brigadier General Tunde Ogbeha (rtd), Major General Godwin Abbe (rtd), Late Air Commodore (Otuekong) Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), Late Obong Akpan Isemin, Colonel Yakubu Bako (rtd), Late Navy Captain Joseph Adeusi, (rtd), Group Captain John Ebiye (rtd). to the father of modern Akwa Ibom State, (Arc.) Obong Victor Attah, who laid the foundation for the growth and development we are currently experiencing. To the Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Distinguished Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, for the fervor and hunger for the physical development of our state he exhibited in the course of his eight-year tenure.
“Particular mention must be made of my political father, the immediate past Governor of this State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel who saw in me what others may not have seen, and through the will of God and his faith in my capacity, competence, character, Christian values and your overwhelming and unassailable support at the polls, I am today, addressing you as the Governor of this state.
“Today, because of his passionate dedication to the advancement of our infrastructure, Akwa Ibom State has the best road network in the nation, and the best commercial airline in the nation, Ibom Air.
“It is because of the performance of our past leaders that I am daily motivated to continue from where they had stopped.
“Coming a little over 100 days since he was sworn in as the Governor of the state, Eno says he has both hit the ground running and God has been his guide in his mission to translate the vision into practical, measurable and impactful forms.
“Our state, 36 years later, is the only sub-national with a thriving commercial airline, Ibom Air, that has become the nation’s most preferred airline, thus cementing our position as both a tourism magnet and a destination for investors.
“Fellow Akwa Ibomites, you will agree with me, that in 36 years, we have made giant leaps in every sector of the human experience. We give God the glory for the leadership He has blessed us with, leaders who came with such a ferocious appetite to develop, lift and ensure sustainable development for our people.
“While you elected me for the first four years, with the hopes of gaining your trust for a continuous journey of our shared prosperity, as I stated in my message to mark the 100 Days, the ship of our State is anchored and moored on a solid shoreline, the energy is over- charged, the vision is clear and distinct, the hands on the Ship of State is firm and the gaze for what lies ahead is focused and unwavering.
“I remain deeply committed to ushering in a vibrant, inclusive, diversified and highly industrialized economy through the use of highly developed human and material resources. As such, the achievement of the 8 goals of my ‘Blueprint for Economic Consolidation and Expansion’ remains a daily priority.
“Besides, my 8 goals are in sync with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nation’s 2023 Agenda for Development. Therefore, achieving these goals will translate into achieving the SDGs in Akwa Ibom State.
“The ARISE Agenda, which is the flagship programme of my administration is still being used to deploy sector-wide strategies and actions within the purview of our 5-group aspiration. I am unapologetically committed to prioritizing Agricultural Revolution, Tourism Development, Environmental Management, Rural Development, Women and Youth Empowerment, Infrastructural Maintenance, Security, Education, Health Management, Economic, Industrial and Social Advancement,” the text read.
The governor re-echoed his administration’s focus on rural development, which according to him, aligns with the United Nations’ SDG number five, on improved standard of living, saying that it was because past leaders, followed the approach that mature democracies have adopted, which is to provide enduring and solid infrastructure especially road network and other hard infrastructure so the succeeding administrations can deploy resources to develop and improve the standard of living of the people in the hinterlands.
He explained that the key elements of the ARISE Agenda is to open up the rural areas, provide access roads, ignite the agricultural revolution and reduce the push and desire for people to migrate from rural to urban areas.
“Once we improve the quality of life of our rural dwellers, embark upon the One Local Government One Project (OLOP,) create neighborhood watchers to provide both employment to our youths in Local Government Areas and to maintain the peace and security we have been enjoying, improve primary healthcare service delivery, establish model primary schools, and link the over 2, 272 gazetted villages with electricity, we would be right on track with our rural development agenda.
“To activate this vision, we have established the State Rural Access Road Agency (RARA) an off-shoot of the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Projects (RAAMP) – a World Bank Development Project led by competent professionals. We are optimistic that soon, the entire nook and crannies of Akwa Ibom State will be one gigantic land of very hardworking, self-sufficient and happy people, rising in one accord to fulfill the dreams of our founding fathers and God’s plans for us all,” Eno explained.
Eno reiterated the fact that elections are over as well as political polarization, calling on the kindred spirit to be renewed and deepened, stressing the fact that it was Akwa Ibom first before politics.
“Politics therefore must not separate or sever the ties of our brotherhood and common heritage and aspirations, I pledge to you that I will be Governor for all Akwa Ibomites, irrespective of political persuasions or affiliations. Instead of war on critical issues of our development, unity and brotherhood.
“So far, as demonstrated during our hugely successful Ibom Dialogue, and other important events, we have worked across party lines to advance the development of our State, because politics must give way to governance.
“I was elected as the Governor of this state, and we have citizens who did not vote for me because they belong to other parties. I put my hands on the Bible and swore an oath to serve you all, and I will continue to do so, as long as I am on this seat. So naysayers please take note.
“I call on our people to sheath their political swords and let us work together to advance the growth of our State and our Nation.
“Let me end this broadcast by quoting from the Book of Jeremiah 29: 11, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. May these plans come to pass in the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ Amen.
“Happy 36th Anniversary to us all!”