Why Gov Akpabio Is Succeeding
19 Apr 2009: Austin Mbeh
It was with immeasurable joy and very high expectations that the Akwa Ibom people received the government of Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio on Tuesday, May 29, 2007. As was expected given the pedigree of Chief Akpabio in private and public issues, and as a former commissioner who had served in three ministries in the last administration, he would carry out programmes that would touch on the lives of the people.
Two years into the life of his administration, Chief Akpabio has clearly demonstrated that the expectations of the people were not misplaced. He has reinforced the truism that politics and governance are not primarily about ideologies, but about the people, who are the ultimate repository of power.
It is worthy of note that Chief Akpabio arrived the Akwa Ibom political scene armed with requisite leadership experience and the zeal to serve.
He was first appointed the commissioner for petroleum and mineral resources,. Chief Akpabio recorded tremendous success in the ministry and earned the commendation of his then boss, Obong Victor Attah, who then appointed him the commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs.
It is also on record that his tenure as the commissioner in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs recorded the best in the life of the administration and endeared Chief Akpabio to the grassroot.
In his usual charismatic leadership style, Chief Akpabio used the period of his service to Akwa Ibom as commissioner in three different ministries to develop the vision of a new state. In his blueprint entitled, "My Vision for a Greater Akwa Ibom State," Chief Akpabio stated "my vision is the picture I have in my mind about the future of our great state." This picture is not an idealistic figment of the imagination.
"Rather, my vision can, in the words of E. F. Schumacher, the renowned German consultant and author on Rural Development in the Third World, be described as a viable future visible in the present.
"Arising from personal conviction, and my own intimate knowledge of the issues of governance and development of this state, I see Akwa Ibom State with an empowered populace and a private sector-driven economy, acting as a catalyst to Nigeria's industrial revolution" - so said Governor Akpabio at the inception of his administration.
In order to effectively implement his vision for Akwa Ibom as contained in his blueprint, Chief Akpabio drew up a work plan. Top on the list of his administration's development strategy is the issue of unity.
"I will like to stay here and see our people move in total unity without thinking about anything like ethnicity and tribalism." Other ingredients of the work plan include new economy, youth-empowerment, starting new projects, creation of new opportunities, food security, and completion of key projects initiated by the previous administration. Also contained in the Governor's work plan is the task of raising the quality of social services to international standard as well as the twin issue of peace and security.
After drawing up his administration's development blueprint, the image of a new Akwa Ibom growing from a small shadow into maturity within the first four years of Akpabio's tenure could be felt. The governor took another step forward to complement his development blueprint. He struck a delicate balance in the polity by creating and promoting equal access to all sections of Akwa Ibom in his government. He realizes that there was every need to completely expunge the concept of marginalization from the polity. This decision was noticed in the spread of political appointments and infrastructural developments across the three senatorial districts of Akwa Ibom State.
For the first time, the secretary to the state government was appointed outside the senatorial district of the incumbent governor. For the first time also, Oro nation, the third leg of the tripod has four of his indigenes in the state executive council. In a paid advertorial last year, Akpakip Oro Vanguard, a socio-political organization in Oro nation said that Oro had never had it so good since Akwa Ibom State was created in 1987. The coordinator of the group, Etekamba Ulo described the even spread of political appointments by Governor Akpabio to all sections of the state as a demonstration of purposeful leadership.
The vision of a 21st century leader who sees beyond the moment is being felt in the 329 wards of Akwa Ibom. The first year of Chief Akpabio was dedicated to addressing the problems of bad roads. In this connection, the state governor constructed about 150 roads with a total distance of over 450 kilometres. He also addressed the pathetic situation of Federal roads in the state and as a result of this, a total of 140 kilometres are now under construction, while some are being expanded into dual carriage status.
The state government also intervened in some Federal institutions like the University of Uyo (Town Campus and the Teaching Hospital Campus), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Uyo, by constructing their internal roads on behalf of the federal Government since these facilities are used in Akwa Ibom State. With the State Independent Power Plant, and the Ibom International Airport Projects near completion, Chief Godswill Akpabio moved on to put in place relevant infrastructure to complement the emerging industrial revolution in the state. Work is in progress at the flyover sites. This is to ease traffic in the state capital due to influx of investors, tourists, and growing business activities in the state.
To reposition the state with the 21st century urban status, city taxis and urban bus service transport scheme have been introduced.
In realization of the absolute need to diversify the economy and the derivable benefits from tourism in revamping the state economy, the tourism-loving Governor, Chief Akpabio, decided to embark on the rebranding process of the tourism sector through putting in place infrastructure aimed at making Akwa Ibom tourism destination. One of such was the establishment of the prestigious Tropicana Entertainment Galleria which would have a theme park, cinema, shopping mall and a five star hotel. The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar' Adua, had since laid the foundation stone of this project.
In the area of education, health, rural development and agriculture, Governor Akpabio's vision is highly visible. In the education sector, the free and compulsory policy has led to increase in school enrolment. Over 800 schools and health facilities have been commissioned under the Inter-ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee. Similarly, the governor who is determined to address various health problems of the people has awarded contracts for the construction of a specialist hospital and also commissioned a dialysis center at the Federal Medical Centre with 17 units of dialysis machines to enhance diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. Over 600 youths have also been engaged in the integrated farmers' scheme of the state government.
Expectedly, Akpabio's leadership style attracted tremendous support and goodwill from the people, institutions and groups. Last year, the governor was given a well-deserved pat on the back by our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party for his outstanding performance. The party after a detail assessment of the performance index of Chief Akpabio passed a vote of confidence on the governor.
"For all that the governor has done and in anticipation of more achievements, the Peoples Democratic Party hereby passes a vote of absolute confidence on our only digital governor."
One thing that is central in the support from the PDP to Governor Akpabio is the fact that the party at all levels in the state is intact. For one, no structure of the party is factionalized.
Similarly, the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly has remained peaceful and supportive of the executive arm. In the legislature, the air of cohesion prevails among members. The direct result of a harmonious working relationship between the executive and legislature has brought about stability which has also helped to engender steady development.
The House under the leadership of Obong Ignatius Edet, a two-term lawmaker last year passed a motion supporting the development strides of Governor Akpabio. On the other hand, the peaceful ambience and harmonious working relationship between the executive and legislature are being emulated by the 31 local government chairmen and their Councilors. Even before the current local government officials were elected in a peaceful local government pools last year, the quantum of the grassroots support to Governor Akpabio was unmasked by the people of the state through their acceptance of the consensus arrangement of the PDP.
Not even the intriguing dynamics of party politics could affect the level of acceptance of the products of the consensus arrangement, which was adopted by the PDP to douse tension and reduce the expenditure profile of aspirants. The people of Akwa Ibom further demonstrated their support to the leadership of Governor Akpabio during the Local Government polls and voted massively for the PDP where 30 out of 31 Local Government Chairmen were elected on the party's platform.
Apart from formal institutions of democracy, organized social groups in Akwa Ibom have also expressed their support to the current administration for recording a string of unprecedented achievements within two years.
Amazed by the development efforts of the governor, Ibibio Leaders Council, an assembly of past Ibibio leaders, led by Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, one time military administrator of Akwa Ibom, rose from its meeting recently, passing a vote of confidence on Chief Akpabio. The group said that it was satisfied with the development efforts of Governor Akpabio, thus its decisions to publicly commend the state chief executive.
Other socio-political groups such as Akwa Ibom Peoples Forum (AKPF), Akwa Ibom Democratic Voice (ADV), PDP Core Supporter Network (PCSN), Forum of Councillors, Forum of PDP Ward Chairmen etc have expressed their support to the governor.
Indeed, Governor Akpabio could not have achieved all that he has done so far without the support of diligent lieutenants. As a former lieutenant in the last administration, the governor knows the role the deputy governor, secretary to the state government, commissioners, special advisers, and personal aids play in the development process of a particular regime. This explains the recent public commendation of his lieutenant by Chief Akpabio at a reception held in his honour by Afe Annang, at Afaha Obong Abak.
In his address at the occasion, Chief Akpabio attributed his performance to his lieutenants, describing them as resourceful and dutiful.
He also surrounds himself with an army of brilliant young men and women in the state executive council, while another set of intelligent young people are working with him as special assistants or personal assistants. By this action, Governor Akpabio is building human capacity for the future generation.
Above all, the party's policy and the process instituted for leadership emergence, as rightfully observed by Chief Akpabio during the PDP starkeholders' meeting in the state last year is the most significant factor responsible for the governor's success story today.
The credit must first go to the PDP as a party which made the process of emergence of the party's flag-bearer to the governorship election possible. The credibility is buttressed by the involvement of the people and the endorsement by the party of the leadership the people preferred.
The People sweat are bound together in support that he had adequately prepared himself to serve the people of Akwa Ibom. And part of that preparation was the development of a 'vision for a greater Akwa Ibom'. This is a worthy example for intending political office seekers in 2011.