CELEBRATING AKPABIO AT 52
Two words that always confuse me each time I try to use human intellect to explain are success and failure. There are two compulsory fates that must associate with every being embarking on earthly pilgrimage. I have heard some people say, success and failure arethe two options man must choose one!But are there really options?Or imposedoptions which sometimes do not require human input? This question has become necessary because I have never seen anyone from the onset of his life who chose to be a failure.
Also, if the good plans or intentions of men were to see the light of the day, failure would have been erased from human lexicon and every soul clothed with human body would have become successful. But the final analysis is this, at the end of every human endeavour, be it ephemeral or eternal, success or failure becomes the classifying word of our deeds. This is where I introduce my celebrant, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency, Chief (Dr.) Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON the (Iberedem Ibibio) as he celebrates his last birthday as the number one citizen of the Land of Promise.
Born on December 9, 1962in to the family of Obot Akpabio and Madam Lucy Obot Akpabio (Nee Inyang Etoh) of Ukana Ikot Ntuen in Essien Udim Local Government ofAkwa Ibom State, the young Godswill attendedMethodist Primary School Ukana, where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate in flying colour. From there, he moved to Federal Government College Port Harcourt. Thereafter, he proceeded to University of Calabar where he studied Law. After completing his legal studies at the Nigerian Law School Lagos as well as his compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), he had a brief stint as a teacherat Afaha Secondary School, Essien Udim in 1982 before veering in to full time legal practice where he joined Paul Usoro and Co., a law firm based in Lagos as an associate partner. In 1995, he became Director, Corporate Affairs/Legal Services at EMIS Telecoms. In 2002, he was appointed Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources in Akwa Ibom State. He was latter moved the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in the same capacity, before he was brought to head the Ministry of Lands and Housing as Commissioner in 2006, the last portfolio he held before he was elected Governor of the State in April, 2007 and was subsequently re-elected in 2011.
Furthermore, in 2013, he was elected the first Chairman of PDP Governors Forum, a position he hold till date.The election however shows that leadership thrust is within his family, because his grandfather, late Okuku Udo Akpabio was the first Warrant Chief in Ikot Ekpene Province as his cousin Senator Nsima Akpabio whom he served as his Personal Assistant was an elected Senator in the Second Republic.In the same vein, while Chief Akpabio, the Iberedem Ibibio was a student of Federal Government College Port Harcourt, he was appointed General Senior Prefect of the School. Similar fate repeated itself in University of Calabar where he was elected Speaker of the Student Union Government Parliament. As a member of Akwa Ibom State Executive Council, in 2005, he was declared Outstanding Commissioner of the year because of 'Uncommon Performance.'
Just as Journalism is the first draft of history, the deeds of Akpabio as Governor of Akwa Ibom State and the profounder of 'Uncommon Transformation maxim' a whole idea whose reach and depth has been felt across the wide swath of the state's landscape, changing attitudes and engendering a new spirit of can doism among its citizens. The pages that will be devoted to chronicling the achievements of Chief Akpabio by historians when the history of modern Akwa Ibom is finally written would be great. This is because, apart from the infrastructural development of the state, Chief Akpabio is one governor who hassucceeded in changing the stereotype and perception of AkwaIbomites.For example, before now, Akwa Ibom was seen as a state where people in need of maid go to get one and sometimes the inalienable rights of these young men and women are violated by their custodians as they are often denied access to education, the only means by which they can be equipped to face the challenges of life fairly and squarely.
However, when the uncommon transformer arrive the scene, he immediately realised that the only way to emancipate mankind from the shackles of mental slavery is by quality education. Hence, he declared free and compulsory education in the state, a development that prompted massive rehabilitation and reconstruction of about 2, 500 school blocks, provision of science and laboratory equipment as well as the construction of school hostels and supply of desks.
Similarly, understanding that shelter is one of the fundamental necessities of man, the administration of Chief Akpabio embarked on the construction of 10, 000 housing projects, and 310 prime units mini estateof 10 per Local Government as well as another 1000 units of housing estate in Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and Eket.
In the area of capital and infrastructuraldevelopment, the Akpabio led administration built a brand new Governors Lodge, an International Airport with 3.6 Kilometres Standard runways in Uyo, the construction of Nigeria's first ever electronic Library, the building of Tropicana Entertainment Centre, a resort project modelled after the Sun City of South Africa.
Also, the administration constructed for the first time in Africa, an underground drainage project using pipe jacking technology, the construction of Ibom Power Plant, a gas processing plant with 69 kilometres of gas pipeline as well as the Construction of Akwa Ibom International Stadium, a 30, 000 capacity stadium modelled after the Allianz Arena of Germany. The stadium has 36 emergency exits, seating terrace, all-natural grass, high-tech floodlight, security cameras, bullet proof VIP among other ultra-modern facilities. As usual, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, three African Presidents witnessed the commissioning of the project. The Presidents that graced the occasion are; our own President Good Luck EbeleJonathan, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana and President Alhassane Quattara of Cote d' Ivoire.
As governor whose vision is to see AkwaIbom State with an empowered populace and a private sector driven economy as a catalyst to Nigeria's Industrial Revolution, the Akpabio led administration introduced free healthcare programme for children, the elderly and expectant mothers in the state. The regime also embarked on rural electrification project, a development that linked about 1, 400 Communities to national grid, achieving about 85 percent of the state's electricity coverage. These were some of the projects executedby 'IberedemIbibio' which have broughthim different honour and recognitions in Nigeria and beyond. For example, he won the AIT/Ray Power Award of Excellence in Local Government Administration and Reforms in Nigeria. Man of the year Award recipient at the Niger Delta Leadership Award. He is also the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree in Human Resource Management. He is equally the Youth Ambassador of Nigeria, an honour given to him by the National Youth Council of Nigeria among others.
Based on the foregoing, there is no other time to celebrate the successes achieved by Chief Godswill Akpabio (Iberedem Ibibio) than now. It is on this note that I humbly say happy birthday to uncommon transformer.
Comrade Edwin Uhara is a Public Affairs Commentator based in Abuja.