AKPABIO AND HIS MANY ASSESSORS
Put another way, no man is an island and it takes the other man to complete the credible assessment of another man.
Hence, when Wikileaks, the American whistle-blower, drew attention to Akwa Ibom State , insisting that its governor is a man to watch - in terms of good governance deliverables - the nation woke to its expected function of monitoring. For some months now, keen attention has been focused on Governor Godswill Akpabio, the man behind the current story in the state. In an unimaginable way, the result has been an undiluted and un-induced verdicts. While some newspapers report him as 'positively angry', others, like The Nation newspapers owned by the opposition ACN say he is 'impressive' with his projects!
In fact, it was President Goodluck Jonathan who confirmed what many already knew, late last year. After criss-crossing the nooks and crannies of Akwa Ibom State to commission some projects, Jonathan publicly dismissed the various petitions which had inundated his office alleging mismanagement of funds and poor governance against Akpabio. He said:
'I had been in this state when I was in OMPADEC. I had also been here twice when I was the deputy governor and I want to tell you that from the projects I have seen and commissioned, your Governor (Akpabio) is not playing politics with projects.
'From what I have seen so far, it is evident that Akwa Ibom State Government is driven by a singular commitment to enhancing the welfare and wellbeing of the people with true infrastructural development and the provision of critical social amenities, human capacity development', adding: 'The pace and level of development definitely demonstrates that the Governor and his team are focused and committed to transforming Akwa Ibom State'.
Put differently, the performance of the Governor, using public funds entrusted in his care was nothing less than excellent! Another national figure, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, after going round the state, even canvassed a law that would allow performing governors like Akpabio to be rotated to other less fortunagte states - as a way of ensuring all round national development.
Indeed, there is hardly any visitor to Akwa Ibom either on private or public capacity that has not commended Akpabio for his undeniable transformation renaissance. Yet, this uncommon transformation seems unabated as the state is currently commissioning over 716 new projects executed through the Inter-ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee.
These projects which range from roads to electricity, water supply to primary health centres and schools are basically people- oriented and capable of curtailing rural urban migration.
Commenting on the infrastructural transformation in the state last year, Bukola Saraki, then the governor of Kwara State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors' Forum, NGF, remarked: 'I think I have had the opportunity to go to many states, I have not seen anything like this. I am very impressed. All I can say is for the Governor to keep it up…I congratulate the people of Akwa Ibom for believing in and co-operating with him'.
Corroborating Saraki's assertion was Kingsley Mamabolo, South Africa's High Commissioner to Nigeria who visited the state on May 23, 2010. According to him: 'It's a bit of surprise what I have seen. I think the infrastructural development is amazing. I've been to a number of states and I can say this is one of the best states that we have in Nigeria . I think it is just a demonstration of the potentials and that there's a lot that can be done if you have a committed leadership that is prepared to do work for the eradication of poverty of the people'.
Interestingly, Akpabio, in the face of vicious blackmail and character assassination, has combined deeper concentration, mental alertness and strength of character to achieve total success. In rewarding excellence in governance, therefore, the Niger Republic described Akpabio as rare. Represented by Moussa Alhadji Ibrahim, its ambassador to Nigeria, who presented the Humanitarian Services Award of Excellence to the Governor on February 7, 2009 said: 'Your leadership qualities have positive impact in realisation of your mission to build a peaceful, united and infrastructurally developed state - Akwa Ibom State…Your landmark achievements are also evident in every sector of the economy, most especially in the free education, health and the odious traffic in children. The construction of a novel and ultra modern digital library in your state is going to improve the education sector.
That the government of Niger Republic could bestow such an honour on Akpabio without solicitation, drowned negative thoughts and buttressed his meritorious ratings.
Truly, no one can wish away the Ibom Airport, the e-library, five cottage hospitals, the free and compulsory education, five dualised federal highways, free healthcare, pipe-jacking underground drainage system, 210 urban roads, over 3,716 inter-ministerial projects, etc.
While Akpabio's success story may be painful to a few who expect state resources to be shared into private pockets, many Nigerians appreciate Akpabio's exploits and successes.
Mr. PAUL EKWERE, a political scientist, wrote from Nsit Ibom, Akwa Ibom State.