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Memoirs Of Akwa Ibom Silver Jubilee Celebration
05 Nov 2012: Joe Iniodu

Twenty five years is a milestone. The calendar of special celebration assigns it the name SILVER JUBILEE and it is often marked with pomp and pageantry. And so it was for Akwa Ibom State on September 23, 2012 when it clocked 25 years of existence having been created on September 23, 1987.

The celebration of 25 years of Akwa Ibom State on September 23, 2012 was, indeed, significant and likely to stencil its memory on the annals of human history for a long time. The weather was clement signifying in the conjecturing of many our Creator’s approval of the day’s celebration. The many visitors that thronged the State for the epochal celebration had no reason to be anxious about any unfavorable weather condition that could have possibly marred the consummation of the full value of the event and the derivable worth of their participation. The state of the weather indeed signified the unity of God, man and nature in the pursuit of collective happiness.

Earlier that morning, the state Governor, His Excellency, Chief (Dr) Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, had admonished indigenes of the State not to trifle with the all important imperative of unity amongst all the ethnic configurations. He warned that only love for one another can assure rapid development in the State. He noted that his administration had used the last five years not only to build first class infrastructure but to ensure even development of the State. He cited the numerous achievements of his administration stating that it is poised to make the state not only a destination of choice but the envy of other states.

Later that day, an inter-denominational church service was held at Ibom Hall grounds to mark the occasion. The preacher who delivered the homily isolated a poignant theme “I am the Lord your God” as a refrain to emphasize the message. He charged the people to acknowledge God’s benevolence and do only those things that would please Him. The man of God noted that it is the continuous dedication of the State to God through monthly solemn assemblies that is the reason for its giant strides. He thanked Governor Akpabio for being a willing tool in God’s hands that has spawned such quantum leap in development necessitating the admirable coinage, Uncommon transformation, for which the administration is associated. He enjoined the people to continue to support the administration of Governor Akpabio noting that such support would encourage him to do more for the state.

The event dovetailed into a banquet at Ibom Meridien Hotel and Golf Resort held that night to round-off the auspicious celebration. The list of guest which had the State Governor, His Excellency, Dr. Godswill Akpabio, his wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Ekaette Unoma Akpabio, almost all the former governors and other prominent dignitaries was by all means intimidating. The venue of the banquet which itself is on a generous expanse of land had a capacity crowd that night. The car parks of the hotel and even the main and side roads were filled with human and vehicular traffic. It was obvious to any visitor that an event that had stirred and arrested the interest of Akwa Ibom people and even visitors was going on at the venue.

The programme of events at the banquet featured many exciting shows. Thanks to members of the protocol team which appeared to be at their level best in the use of their imagination. From our own cultural ambassadors, Ekemini cultural group to a dance troupe from Katsina, a state that was created the same day with Akwa Ibom, the night at Ibom Meridien and Golf Resort was inundated with displays that enraptured the audience. Perhaps some of the high points were the displays by Nollywood stars and that of a gentleman whom Governor Godswill Akpabio called the second Godswill. The man had mounted the state to mimic the Governor. To achieve this, he attempted to replicate him in carriage, dressing, speech mannerisms and even the speech itself. And he did a good job of it which elicited defeaning laughter from the audience including Governor Akpabio and his wife.

The event culminated in the cutting of the SILVER JUBILEE cake. The huge architectural piece with parts draped in the State colour was rolled to the stage on a trolley. Senator Udoma Udo Udoma who proposed the toast for the event said: “we are justified to stand here because we have fulfilled the dreams of our founding fathers”. He stated that the State has been truly transformed noting that “Governor Akpabio has shown the way, the way for all of us to unite”. The night also witnessed awards to Governor Akpabio by the construction giant, Julius Berger, Akwa Ibom indigenes in the Diaspora and Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.

Governor Akpbio in his speech paid tribute to God for making the day worthwhile. He thanked all the guest and participants to the Silver jubilee event noting that God had shown his grace upon the state through the day’s clement weather and hitch free celebration. Governor Akpabio said, “Today we have made a statement to all Nigerians that much can be achieved if we are united” stating that he is happy Akwa Ibom state is showing the way. He pledged to continue to steer the ship of the State in complete obedience to God’s will acknowledging that the will of God for the State included progress, development, good health, standard infrastructure etc.

It has become a routine in the State’s calendar to celebrate the creation of the state which finally came on September 23, 1987 after decades of agitation. The celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the State on September 25, 2012 was particularly unique as the State found a good cause to celebrate by reason of the quantum leap it has enjoyed these past five years in the hand of a midwife whose passion and commitment to development can best be described as unparalleled. No wonder he once said that he is approaching development with anger.

Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst

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