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Chief Godswill Akpabio: Odyssey Of Role Model

By Essien Ndueso

Four friends met in a social gathering and decided to introduce themselves with biblical references. The first person said his name was David but that he was not a King. The second said he was Paul by name but nonetheless an Apostle, while a certain Daniel confessed that he was neither a clergy nor a Prophet. The fourth, a lady, not willing to be left out said in a low tone, “my name is Mary but I am not a virgin.”

It was on the second of February, 2014 that I received a call to serve in the media team of His Excellency, Chief Godswill Akpabio, CON, immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State. One thing a lot of people will not deny this man is that he never needed to know your father or godfather before he considers you in his scheme of things. In my own case, I had always been Governor Akpabio’s admirer and subsequently working under the immediate past Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr Aniekan Umanah between 2008 and 2012, I explored all available channels to tell the world and anyone who cared to listen, that Akwa Ibom State is blessed because it had a Chief Akpabio as her Governor.

During my days as the Student Union Director of Information and Public Relations in the University of Uyo, it was easy to meet Obong (Barr.) Godswill Akpabio as an energetic and purpose-driven young man who was passionate about developing the State. It was in considering all his efforts in encouraging and inspiring students and other youths in the country that in September 2005, the Students of Uniuyo voted massively that Chief Akpabio be accorded an Excellent Leadership Award, which we subsequently presented to him on January 5, 2006 in his office as then Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.

For the people who witnessed Chief Akpabio’s tortuous journey to the Hiltop Mansion, it was obvious that his God-fearing disposition, philanthropy and commitment to selfless service, coupled with his alliance with youths (tomorrow’s leaders), towered him miles ahead of other aspirants, including those with strong backing from the then rulers in the State, and those who claimed they came with authority from Abuja. All through his eight years of leadership as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, AKpabio did not exhibit anything different from what he had been renowned. He forged an alliance with the Church in the governance of the State, and also empowered the youth and the underprivileged, with the benefit of very strong support from his wife Mrs Ekaette Unoma Akpabio.

I do not intend to attempt details on the former Governor’s enduring legacies in the State, for those who are better positioned have echoed these to the four corners of the world. Akpabio’s projects and appointments gave him out as a highly detribalized leader, while the programmes he implemented tended to unite the state more than ever and went further to create a profile which made Akwa Ibom to become an envy or better put, a model among other states in the country.

Even the most ardent critic will agree that he has tried, except that he stepped on some toes; To such people, one can say that the multi-specialty hospital in Ekid Itam contains more than enough equipment to heal such toes. In any case are those so-called few toes more important than the lives and well-being of millions of Akwa Ibom people who have been afforded a new lease of life?

Looking back and seeing all the achievements he recorded, one cannot help but feel proud to be identified with such laudable success stories. At this point, having witnessed the successful transition and stepping aside of my hero and icon of transformation, I wish to thank His Excellency Chief Godswill Akpabio, for having played a strong role in my life and in the lives of several other young people in the State. We will forever remain grateful for the new face for Akwa Ibom, made possible because you dared to make it happen.

Most interestingly, Chief Akpabio gave in to the wishes of the people by accepting that the governorship of the State should be zoned to Eket Senatorial District, and in doing so, he maintained that only the right person with the best attributes emerges as his successor. History will maintain an epitaph on a man who sought to allow only the overall interest of the people to prevail in the matter of leadership of the state. Again, this is a chapter I proudly identify and celebrate.

Throughout the period I served as one of the media aides to the governor, I enjoyed an unlimited support from my colleagues and friends in the media, most especially the State Council Chairman, executive and members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. I know that no one is perfect and as such in the course of my activities, I may have offended some people, please forgive me. It is pertinent to note that I have great respect for all my media colleagues and I owe them a lot for supporting me. I may no longer be a government media advisor, but I remain a journalist and will continue to lend my support to the growth and development of the state through what I know how to do best.

Our state is blessed with a very experienced, seasoned and dynamic Governor whose emergence came through the instrumentality of the general support of all Akwa Ibom people. In saying congratulations to the people of the state for making it happen, it now lies in our hands to lend our unconditional support to His Excellency Mr Udom Emmanuel, because his success shall be our success. The future I can say convincingly is in our hands and together, our victory is assured.

Ndueso is former Personal Assistant to the Akwa Ibom State Governor on Media

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