No matter how powerful a storm is and how high the tidal waves rise, it can never drown a fish. I have come to believe that. I moreso believe, a skillful captain will weather a bad storm and steer his Ship to safety, but an incompetent captain will still fail with a clement weather. That is the lesson the current Economic recession has taught us all.
Check the governors of the various states of the federation, and see how they grope in the dark of Economic recession without answers. There is mounting salary arrears to be paid. Some have resorted to paying a percentage of salaries. Others are shutting down workforce and sacking civil servants. Akwa Ibom State is having a different scenario entirely. In the midst of the economic storm, the State rests at ease. The captain of the ship of state, His Excellency, Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel as Executive Governor of the state is the safe hands.
I have reasons for this conclusion.
See what some states are going through and what their Governors are upto with the recession biting harder.
Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina
In my view, presents a very bad example. He is reported to have bought 3000 ‘coffins’ worth N40,000 each and distributing them to mosques
around the state. This is done, despite the Katsina Government owing many months salaries and pensions. What is the vision in this action. This is a zero score for Katsina if they are preparing for a harvest of deaths and not to give people hope. Imagine if he invested that huge amount in the living.
Many states were technically declared bankrupt and applied for bailout funds from the federal Government. The states that applied for and received various sums from the aid.
The 22 states that received bailout fund include Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Cross River, Ekiti, Katsina, Gombe, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Ondo, Osun, Ogun, Plateau, Sokoto, Kwara, Bayelsa
Imo, Enugu, Oyo, Delta, Kebbi and Zamfara.
CBN spokesperson, Ibrahim Mu’azu, said the bailout, which was in line with the resolution by the National
Economic Council, NEC, was to enable the affected states to pay the backlog of workers’ salary
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State rejected the bailout package. Explaining why he refused to accept the bailout fund offered to states by the Federal Government, Governor Emmanuel disclosed that, he did so because, he did not want to
mortgage the future of the Akwa Ibom people, insisting that, he would not borrow money he does not need and by so doing, leave a huge debt burden for future governors to pay.
Funny enough, there was public outrage as states that received bailout
Funds diverted the monies, flouted the stringent conditions and still owe salaries and pensions, as we speak, some running into six and nine months.
The economic recession caused by falling oil price, dwindling naira and stifling economic policies, as a consequence, has triggered job losses in virtually every sub-sector of the economy. Banks have sacked workers. Manufacturers have downsized staff and in worst case scenarios have closed shop. Oli compainies including Exxon Mobil and Shell have sent workers home. Many States have suggested and even sacked workers as a way of staying afloat in this recession.
No Akwa Ibom civil servant fears losing his job. Governor Emmanuel is adopting other measures to achieve financial stability for the state.
He caused an audit that flushed out ghost workers and ghost pensioners using the biometric verification method. That exercise uncovered about 9,000 employees in the Akwa
Ibom State Civil Service fraudulently drawing of salaries from more than one pay point in the state, as Governor Emmanuel disclosed.
The Akwa Ibom Government also improved their tax collection net and machinery, while investing heavily in
healthcare and agriculture. This is in a bid to diversify the economy. The Agricultural programme which has seen a rice revival scheme and processing mill for Ini, a coconut plantation at Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obollo with a refinery to boot.
There is also investment in cassava mills, as well as a Hatchery at Mbiaya Uruan. Governor Emmanuel has equally stressed the plan of Government to increase cocoa production in the state to 80,000 acres of plantation and restore Akwa Ibom to its former glory as the fourth largest producer of cocoa in Nigeria.
The state’s investment in these fields of agriculture, as justified by Governor Emmanuel is because of their viable value chain as the price of cocoa and coconut oil remained higher than crude oil in the international market. All these policies are complementary to the quest to industrialize the state.
As Governor Emmanuel focuses on cutting costs, reducing the machinery of government and the size, many have criticized him. There is obviously no lavish and ostentatious carriage amongst Government officials and aides of the governor. This shows that the administration is being frugal with spending. In the words of the Governor, Money only goes where it is safe. The Government has made deliberate effort to live within her means.
Above all, Governor Udom Emmanuel is doing what other Governors dare not do, or, dread to do, in the face of the economic hardship. That is-creating jobs and opportunities, which is the precursor to creating wealth. How do I mean?
On April 6, 2016, Governor Emmanuel launched the Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme, AKEES under the watch of the Senior Special
Assistant to the Governor on Technical Matters and Due Process, Elder Ufot Ebong. The Governor said the scheme was to enable Akwa Ibom youths to explore other avenues for economic growth through aggressive Agricultural enterprise.
The Small and Medium Enterprises
Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) through her Representative Lucy Ekpenyong, has lauded the efforts of Akwa Ibom State Government to create sustainable job opportunities for its teeming youths through the Akwa Ibom Employment and Enterprise
Scheme (AKEES), which has created about 1766 Sustainable Jobs In One
Year. AKEES is quite similar to The Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria ( YouWiN!) Programme under the PDP administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan in concept. Rather than give youths money to spend on frivolity, youths are tested, trained, mentored, empowered, to get self-employed and to create wealth and become productive.
In addition to this, the Akwa Ibom State Government also facilitated the disbursement of the second phase
of a N1.74 billion microcredit loan to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) as part of deliberate efforts to stimulate economic growth and boost poverty reduction activities across the state.
In the first phase, N260 million was disbursed. The state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akan Okon revealed that, more than 4000 small business
operators drawn from the 31 local
government areas of the state have benefited from the scheme.
Okon said the disbursement was done through Micro Finance Banks (MFBs), adding that while the beneficiaries would pay the principal, the state government has undertaken to pay the interest accruing from the loan on behalf of the beneficiaries. Women have been upbeat with their trades ever since.
Governor Emmanuel has also done so much investing in Youths. He has made it clear, the Youths are the bedrock of his envisioned industrial revolution. The statistics are rife:
*329 youths from across the state were selected for training in photography and film production.
* 1,000 youths in Akwa Ibom State on Oracle Database Software Management System.”
*training of 2000 youths on poultry farming in the state.
*Sponsored 100 Youths to Israel for
Skill acquisition in Mechanized Agriculture/farming.
*sponsored 200 youths from the state for a one year training at the National Power Training Institute, Abuja, where they will acquire kills in power generation, distribution and maintenance.
It will be recalled, The Federal Government, licensed the Akwa Ibom Ibom Power Plant to generate additional 495 megawatts of electricity as requested by Governor Emmanuel. The amended licence issued to the Government of Akwa Ibom State, promoter of Ibom Power Plant, has now increased its generating capacity from 190 megawatts to 685 megawatts. No doubt, this will be the mainstay of economic boom and industrial revolution.
Only recently, a Government Press Release read, “In our determined effort to rapidly industrialize our State, and create employment opportunities as part of our poverty reduction policy, the Government of Akwa Ibom State announces vacancies to fill positions in the Metering Company located in Onna Local Government Area, which will soon go into operations.
While these positions are open to all
qualified candidates preference will be
given to candidates of Akwa Ibom State
extraction.” Aren’t we supposed to be in a recession?
In summary, for all the emphasis on training youths, Governor Emmanuel posits that, “I want to make sure that our youths acquire skills so that they can mostly be on their own. We want to facilitate this to help some of our
youths to also acquire skills.”
Less than a month after he assumed office, Governor Udom Emmanuel set
up an 11-member Technical Committee to boost and manage Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) for the State. Governor Emmanuel named Mr Gabriel Ukpeh, a Partner and Risk Quality Leader for Africa at Price Water House
Cooper, as Chairman of the committee.
The members are: Mr Offong Ambah, Dr Elijah Akpan, Mr Ini Urua, Mr Akan Udofia, Mr Andrew Jason, Mr Udeme Ufot and Mrs Offiong Ejindu.
Others are: Mr Larry Esin and the state
Commissioner for Investments, Commerce and Industry. The Secretary of the committee is Mr Victor Bob.
The governor charged the appointees to deploy their vast contacts and
interactions within international financial and investment circles to attract investments to the state.
Thereafter, he also inaugurated the 10-
member Technical Committee on the
actualisation of Ibom Deep Seaport with the charge to pilot the
process for the actualisation of Ibom Deep Seaport on or before December 31, 2018.
The committee has Mrs. Mfon Usoro, a former Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency as Chairman, while Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, Mr. Chidi Izuwah, Mr. Idongesit Udofa, Mr. Ekong
Umo-Otong, Rear Admiral Francis Akpan, Mr. Aniekan Ukpanah, Mr. Charles Udonwah, Mrs. Akon Eyakenyi and Mr. Etido Inyang are
Then, the Akwa Ibom Government is unrelenting in her pursuit of roads construction. The immediate past Commissioner for Works, Mr Ephraim Inyaneyen has crisscrossed the state, working hard to consolidate on the road network that the state is blessed with. Hundreds of kilometres of roads have been awarded, some completed and many under construction. I need add that, the abandoned multi-million naira 10th Anniversary Hospital now wears a new look. Governor Emmanuel who spotted wealth in the waste ordered the Ministry of Housing and Urban Renewal under the former Commissioner, Prince Enobong Uwah to convert the edifice to a secretarita Annex. That project was completed on record time and is a magnificent sight to behold.
Now Government is saving millions in rent for Ministries and Departments that were hitherto on rented property and the money can now be used to provide services.
These pro-active measures underscore the credentials and blueprint of the Akwa Ibom governor to forge ahead inspite of the gloomy indicators of the national economy which is on a downslide. I recommend this module to other governors from all parties especially, the all Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA and the All Progressives Congress, APC, which have governors running other states in the nation.
The end point is that, Governor Emmanuel’s background as a Finance expert and investment manager has
Ultimately proved to be the ace in statecraft. Akwa Ibom State is better off for it. They got the right man for the right season at the helm of affairs.