As the presidential race gets intense, many more aspirants are coming to the scene of contest. The conversation on zoning swinging with momentum to the south seems to be slowing down as political parties are reworking their winning formulae. However, the south still stands a better chance of the highest office in the land.
There is no doubt Nigeria needs a technocrat more than it needs a politician as its president. The arena seems to be filled with many politicians and few technocrats. But there is an even more elite class of prospective candidates than the technocratic-politicians and in the south a shining example among them is the executive governor of Akwa Ibom state, Udom Emmanuel.
Governor Udom Emmanuel, who is on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is a peak performer with many laurels to his name. Akwa Ibomites would most notably recall the governor doing what the federal government was unable to with Nigerian Airways, when he created a State carrier, Ibom Air, that has run successfully since June 2019. Starting out with six aircraft and expanding with an additional 10 more from Airbus later this year, the airline is on its way to becoming one of the biggest in Nigeria and in Africa.
The governor’s vision of Ibom Air has also created more jobs for the people of Akwa Ibom and has contributed to raising the GDP of the state to $13.19 billion, making it the second richest state in Nigeria after Lagos and slightly more than the oil rich Rivers state. It goes to show the governor’s time in the business world has come to bear on the economic development trajectory of the state.
As the typical election cycle of Nigeria often plays out, many of the so-called leaders have started to come out brandishing fictitious achievements and assassinating the character of more qualified opponents. But is this so for Governor Udom Emmanuel? The results speak for themselves.
For example in the area of security, Emmanuel took strides in ensuring adequate investment were made in Akwa Ibom state. A pivotal one is the donation of a fully-built and equipped Special Protection Unit base in Awa Iman and 15 patrol vehicles with state of the art communication and security gadgets to the police force. He also did commission 168 houses in the army barracks, Ibagwa in Abak and built a Nigerian Navy military school in Ikot Ntuen.
The skyline of Uyo has a historical land mark difference with a first of its kind 21-storey tower built by Governor Emmanuel. The smart complex is a beacon to attract high networth individuals and companies to further increase the economic activities of the state. This visionary endeavour shows the determination of the governor to not only dream with “the audacity of hope” idea but to make the dream a reality.
The 25km that separate Uyo and Ikot Epkene was dualised and reconstructed, twin bridges were built in Nto Edino/ Ekwereazu, a flyover was built in Ikot Oku Ikono and many community roads were resurfaced, constructed and rehabilitated.
One area that Nigerians have repeatedly complained about is the health sector. The abysmally poor state of our healthcare system has led to low medical tourism caused by those who were voted to be the custodians of our health and wellbeing. Governor Emmanuel didn’t follow the status-quo, rather he reconstructed the general hospitals in Ikono, Ikot Okoro in Oruk Anam, Ituk Mbang, Iquita Oron, Ikot Abasi, Awa Iman, Ikot Ekpene and remodeled and re-equipped Immanuel General & Psychiatric hospital, Eket. He built and commissioned a state-of-the-art 300-bed space isolation centre at Methodist General Hospital in Ituk Mbang at the peak of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. All the remodeled general hospitals are fully digitalised and smart in order to automate and boost healthcare delivery systems therein.
The industrialisation Akwa Ibom has seen in the last few years is remarkable. At least 20 industries with enduring economic benefits alongside other legacy projects in the state have sprung up. The economic policies have also attracted Foreign Direct Investments in industries that prior to his administration were non-existent.
As the build up to the party primaries gathers more momentum, the all-important question is will the PDP put its best foot forward by fielding a forward thinking candidate like Udom Emmanuel? The party would appeal better to the Nigerian populace when a performer like Emmanuel is the flag bearer because Nigerians need results and Emmanuel can give those results as president of Nigeria. The intellectual proficiency of his administration and his stellar work in Akwa Ibom state goes to show, a technocratic-politician like him is the winning choice.
– Adeniyi Tosin is a member of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s media and digital campaign team