AKWA IBOM @ 32: A STATE DESTROYED BY HER LEADERS

By Franklyn ISONG

Exactly today, 32 years ago, September 23, 1987, Akwa Ibom State was created out from Cross River State.

Today, as the people of the state roll out their drums to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of its existence, while I congratulate us, on this epochal milestone achievement, I believe very strongly that the State would have performed far better than where it finds itself at 32 years were it that our leaders – the political class, who by the benevolence of divinity have been saddled with the rare privilege to govern the state and preside over the affairs of her citizens, at one time or the other, and at different capacities, had thought it necessary to put the interest of the State and her people above partisan political inclination.

1) I would wish that, there were no political parties in Akwa Ibom, and Akwa Ibom political class were united above partisanship.

2) I would wish that, the Ibom Science Park project had been completed and functional. The total cost of this project was N5.6 billion. Victot Attah’s government paid N5.3 billion upfront to the contractors, but the work done was estimated at N400 million. The project was initiated in March 2006 by the Attah’s government with a completion date of 2007. It became moribund and abandoned by successive administrations.

3) I would wish that, the Ibom Tropicana project had been fully completed and functional. Godswill Akpabio’s government initiated this project in 2008 with an initial construction cost of N33 billion. It was later reviewed upward to N120 billion. It became a white elephant project and abandoned by successive government.

4) I would wish that, the Ibom e-Library project had been fully completed and functional. “First of its kind in West Africa,” Akpabio’s government initiated it on September 25, 2007, fortunately, it was completed and even commissioned by then Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, in July 27, 2012. It became moribund and abandoned by successive government. Against its original intentions, it is now serving as venue for birthday parties, traditional marriages, wedding receptions and JAMB registration centre. This beautiful but moribund edifice cost N84 billion taxpayers’ monies.

5) I would wish that, the Four Point by Sheraton Hotel at Ikot Ekpene had been completed, and functional. Godswill Akpabio’s government initiated it in September 29, 2014, with a completion date of 2015. Several billions of taxpayers’ monies had been invested into it. It remains a subject of controversy between the past and present State administrations.

6) I would wish that, the Ibaka Deapsea Port project had been completed and functional. This project was initiated by the Victor Attah’s government in 2003, in spites consuming several billions of taxpayers’ monies, it had remained moribund and white elephant project serving as conduit pipe to loot the state’s resources.

7) I would wish that, Ibom Power Plant operated by Ibom Power Company had been fully functional to generate electricity power, distributing and marketing same to consumers within and outside Akwa Ibom. Attah’s government initiated and incorporated Ibom Power Company on January 15, 2001 with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria, when the federal government led by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo started a reform in the power sector. Several billions of taxpayers’ monies had been put into this project, yet there seems to be no commensurate power supply from it.

8) I would wish that, the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium had been fully completed and functional, other than being merely a football field. The 30, 000 seater football capacity complex was initiated by Akpabio’s government in 2012. It was completed “partially” in November 7, 2014. It cost the state about $96 million (dollars). It is moribund. Use for traditional/religious events and political campaign rallies, it has not been fully developed to attract other sporting events apart from football matches played once in a long while.

9) I would wish that, the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road had been fully completed and put to use by government.

10) I would wish that, the Calabar – Itu highway had been completed and put to use by the state government while, the federal government made refunds to the state, accordingly.

11) I would wish that, the Eket beautification project had been completed and put to use.

12) I would wish that, the IBB Road by Idongesit Nkanga secretariat was dualised, completed and put to use by government.

13) I would wish that, the Oruk Anam/Ikot Ebak/Mkpat Enin/Ikot Akpaden road was dualised, completed and put to use.

14) I would wish that, more jobs were created for unemployed Akwa Ibom citizens.

15) I would wish that, poverty alleviation programmes and social welfare schemes were put in place to ameliorate the sufferings of Akwa Ibom people.

16) I would wish that, the rights of minorities within the State were addressed by the government and the political class.

17) I would wish that, the Ibom Specialist Hospital initiated by the Akpabio’s administration and launched in 2015 which started operations with over 150 expatriates made up of Indians, had not become moribund. This project took several billions of taxpayers’ monies.

I can go on and on but, for want of space, I elect to stop here, today.

Oh! Akwa Ibom, my heart bleed for thy sake; “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”.

Happy 32nd Akwa Ibom Anniversary!

– Isong is a public affairs commentator and conscience of the society.

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