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How Akpabio's Sun Shone On a Saturday Night

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The award was not the greatest he had been nominated for in his five memorable years as Governor and tusk bearer of the Akwa Ibom people, yet something deeper came pushing, and so I found myself among several others at the scenic environment of the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island on Saturday, February 25, 2012.

Indeed it was a gathering of who is who in the media and entertainment industry with an appreciative aura around the men who have staked their necks in setting the agenda for statehood, and engendering democracy gains in the country. Colourful and perhaps ostentatious, the lovers of exemplary leadership lit up the venue of the event, and increased the pleasant satisfaction of the nominees, recognized and designated for commendation during the event.

There were artistes like Kanayo, Aki and Paw Paw, Ini Edo, Emem Isong, Segun Arinze, Teju Babyface, just as there were musicians like Tuface Idibia, Yemi Sax, a special performance by legendary American musical group- Midnight Stars and Mc Pato who later adopted Chief Akpabio as his father.

Other prominent Nigerians who attended the event were the former governor of Cross River state, Mr Donald Duke, the former governor of Oyo State, Chief Segun Osoba, the former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor Nsima Ekere, the Secretary to Government of Akwa Ibom State Mr Umana Umana and the Speaker, Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, Mr Sam Ikon.

Although eleven nominees were slated for awards, one man clearly stood out as the man of the moment, and so when Chief Godswill Akpabio stepped into the Zinnia Hall of the Eko Hotel in company of his adoring and constantly supportive wife, Ekaette Unoma Akpabio, the whole atmosphere was electrified with excitement.

Not a soul wanted to be left out in identifying with this man whose blossoming hat tells a story of redefinition of the history of a people.

The unrivalled vigour came into the Hall with Chief Akpabio's arrival at about 6:50pm was replicating of the new lease of life introduced by his administration into Akwa Ibom State since his inauguration in 2007.

Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio's leadership acumen is like a skilled artist, who is always ready to give his best in helping people to expand their imagination and maximize their potentials.

Driven by this passion and popular acceptance, he became the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in May, 2007, and commenced a revolution in the state which has excited the imagination of the people, and has been aptly described as uncommon transformation.

 He has been widely honoured and celebrated within and outside the state because of his great investments in human and infrastructural development. Coming barely few days after being conferred with an award by the Central Bank of Nigeria as an outstanding governor, He has emerged as one of the most honored men in our country today. His visionary leadership style has motivated and shaped an entire generation of Akwa Ibom people and it has become a metaphor for administrative excellence.

During the last governorship elections in Akwa Ibom, a wicked and devilish scenario occasioned by a desperate attempt by the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN to snatch power from Gov Akpabio was witnessed.

Memories still linger of the wanton destruction of lives and properties as a game plan to instigate fear and insecurity by the ACN in a bid to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the election and thrust their candidate on the people. However that political calculus ended as a stillbirth and in the end God's will translated to mean the wish of the people, prevailed and the rest is history.

At the Eko Hotel and Suites, the highpoint of the evening came when a governor from the Action Congress of Nigeria could not spare his commendation for Chief Godswill Akpabio; for the noticeable changes taking place in Akwa Ibom State.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole described The Sun Man of the Year Award 2011, bestowed on his Akwa Ibom State counterpart, Chief Godswill Akpabio by the management of The Sun newspaper as an honour well deserved, believing I am speaking the minds of Akwa Ibom people, Adams posited.

According to Oshiomhole, The Sun Man of the Year 2011 that you are being honoured today is not a fluke. It is based on what you have been able to put in place in your state as their leader since you took over the rein of leadership.

I have been to Akwa Ibom State and I know what I saw. This award is a confirmation of your achievements in office and I can say without any apology that you deserve this.

The development agenda of the Akpabio administration has turned the State into an indelible testimony of uncommon transformation.

In Akwa Ibom State today, the Akpabio administration is aggressively pursuing its industrialization programme for the state. Already, government has put in place the policy framework.

Apart from the Ibom Industrial City that will have the deepest seaport with the largest coastline in Nigeria, another key component of the industrialization programme is the proposed establishment of at least one industry in each of the 31 local government areas in the state.

Meanwhile, work is going on in a dizzying pace at the site of the 20th Anniversary Specialist Hospital as well as the Tropicana Entertainment Centre - a one stop tourism centre complete with 250 room 5- star hotel, an international conference centre, a six hall Cineplex (already in use), shopping malls, and wet/dry park, just as work will soon kick off at the new Olympic-sized stadium in Uyo.

Already, an international airport with maintenance, repair and overhaul, MRO services is a beehive of activities for local and international flight services.

The Akpabio administration has also built over 250 new roads including federal roads and three concentric flyovers; constructed a brand new governor's lodge, West Africas first digital library, 3.7 kilometer underground drainage and five new general hospitals.

It has also completed 191 megawatts Ibom Power Plant project in addition to a comprehensive rural electrification of over 1500 communities amounting to 85% rural electricity coverage.

And the free healthcare policy for the aged, pregnant women and children under five and free and compulsory education policy for children up to senior secondary school level remain potent strategies the Sun Man of the year has used to dislodge backwardness in Akwa Ibom State.

When Chief Akpabio in company of his ever supportive wife mounted the rostrum, his humility and simplicity was enough to tell why he is massively loved by his people. He refused to take the glory despite all the glaring testimonies and described himself as the least of the awardees.

Attributing his success story to teamwork, Akpabio chose to dedicate his award to the thousands of children salvaged by his free, compulsory and qualitative education programme “ children who hitherto were castaways, cheap labourers, child prostitutes rotting in other climes but now in safe custody of the Governor's wife, and protected by the Child's Right Law 2008 of Akwa Ibom State.

Akpabio who has never hesitated to tell people why he aggressively pursues development with anger in Akwa Ibom State, said he opted for uncommon transformational leadership at the expense of poor leadership that has not brought about significant change in the country.

Stressing that there was hope for Nigeria, Chief Akpabio reiterated his resolve to make Akwa Ibom a model state in Nigeria. I am building a model State for the world to see, and maintained that despite the insecurity scare in parts of the country, the will of God for Nigeria is development and concluded by professing love among all so that development can thrive in the country.

One noticeable import in Akpabio's speech was the allusion to the security breech in Uyo and Ikot Ekpene during the last election.

The year 2011 was a very challenging year for me, as the opposition used propaganda and falsehood to smear my name, Akpabio said, adding that he owes his success story to the Akwa Ibom people.

A lot of people had thought that the State will be a flash point during the elections. But this was not to be as Chief Akpabio’s maturity and expertise in effectively restoring peace in the State gave rise to his Security Watch African award in far away Gambia 2011 , where Governor Godswill Akpabio was singled out and honoured with a Gold Star Award for ensuring a safety “ conscious state and regional government.

Some of these efforts could
be seen in the 350 security trucks, gunboats and other gadgets procured for security agents in the state; as well as the restructuring and re-equipping of the Joint Task Force code “ named Operation Thunder and Quick Response Squad, to battle insecurity to a standstill in Akwa Ibom.

Recently, the authorities of the Nigerian Defence Academy, conferred on him, the Doctorate Degree in Management Sciences, a very rare and unprecedented honour on a sitting civilian governor; a honour which compelled Akpabio at the Sun Newspapers Award night to say “because of me, the military are satisfied with civilian leadership and will never think of coming back (to

power) again.
Last November, the federal government conferred on Akpabio the national award of Commander of the Order of the Niger, to add to earlier honours including; fellow of the Hussaini Adamu Federal Polytechnic, Kazaure in Jigawa State and the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, and doctoral degrees (Honoris causa) by the University of Uyo, University of Calabar, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and University of Nigeria, Nsukka while several national newspaper and magazines have honoured the Governor with Excellence Awards as the Most Outstanding Governor in Nigeria.

A significant lesson from
Chief Akpabio's Sun Newspaper Award was best explained by the governor himself.

The press most especially the newspapers were established by nationalists as instruments to fight the colonial administrations. And even after the departure of colonialism, it was difficult for the print media to deviate from her foundational philosophy, especially with the notion that bad news makes good headlines.

Today, the exceptional
leadership posture of the Akpabio-administration has repositioned the concept of newspapers from being those who see nothing good in Nigerian leaders to those who celebrate and promote good governance. And at a time when other leaders are frequently asked what they are doing with the huge revenues accruing in their respective milieu, Akpabio has constantly been forced to respond to the question “where is he getting all the money to execute all these gigantic projects?