Putting Akwa Ibom on The Speed Lane
07 Oct 2008
Governor Godswill Akpabio hosts a summit to find ways of turning around the infrastructrual challenges in the state for speedy development
It was a moment to cherish. The hall was large and so was the crowd. The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio seized the moment to espouse his vision of Akwa Ibom State at the recently concluded Infrastructure Summit organised by the state government. The vision, as he sees it, is "to transform Akwa Ibom State into a prosperous, highly educated, technologically-driven, ethnically harmonious, caring, and pace-setting State in Nigeria."
This, he wants to do through a public private partnership (PPP) or a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangement. He said he had put in place a road map for actualising his vision and preventing "our infrastructural challenges from remaining as obstacles to poverty alleviation and sustainable development. The Governor said that the state government would guarantee investors security, easy access to land, tax relief, public power supply through Ibom Power Plant and the enabling laws to secure investments. He called on potential investors to come on board so as to benefit from the synergy inherent in partnership and collaboration.
Governor Akpabio announced that Statoil, Centrica and other oil and gas companies are, in collaboration with the state government, planning to establish a $12 billion Liquefied Natural Gas plant at Tom Shot Island in Mbo Local Government area of the state. The project, he said, would generate 25,000 jobs. The governor's speech was spiced with wise cracks which earned him a standing ovation.
The chairman of the summit and minister of National Planning, Senator Mohammed Sanusi Daggash, urged state governments to optimise their limited resources by using professionals to effectively identify infrastructural gaps and fill those gaps. He advised state governments to address the problem of human resources capabilities in order to drive and sustain their development vision and also provide investors with guarantees on their investments.
Other speakers included Mr. Barth Ebong, managing director of Union Bank; Prof Pat Utomi, Director of Lagos Business School; Mr. Paul Usoro, Senior Advocate of Nigeria; Dr. Wale Babalakin, a renowned lawyer; Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, an IT expert; Mr. Ben Bruce, managing director of Silverbird Television and several government officials including the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Umana O. Umana.
The Deputy Governor of the State, Engineer Patrick Ekpotu, who painstakingly participated in the conference for the two days announced that the state government had approved free secondary school education for all Akwa Ibom children. He urged the federal government to organise a conference of this nature as soon as possible and urged investors to seize the opportunity offered by the state government to invest in the state.
In the communiqué read by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, the summiteers had called for the establishment of an Economic Stabilisation Fund as an instrument for kick-starting public-private-partnership, for the pooling of all micro-credit schemes and the movement of legislation on infrastructure from the Exclusive List in the Constitution to the Concurrent List so as to stimulate partnership and increase economic growth.
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Economic Development, Lawrence Udosea, had in a press statement, talked about the development of key infrastructure such as the Independent Power Project (IPP) water supply, communication, transportation, housing and urban development. He said that in 2007 more than N85billion was expended on essential infrastructure such as roads, airport, science park, hotel, housing, water supply and electrification. He said the friendliness and peaceful nature of the Akwa Ibom people made the state investment friendly.
The conference which attracted potential investors from Africa, Asia, Europe and America as well as Akwa Ibomites from within the country and the diaspora, seemed like a gathering of the clan plus.
Published by Newswatch: Oct 7, 2008