Gov. Emmanuel: Consolidating The Infrastructure Drive
December 16, 2016

Gov. Emmanuel: Consolidating The Infrastructure Drive

By Etebong Akpan

In a conscious effort to transform the state since the return of democracy to the country in 1999, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP government has deliberately set out to spread infrastructure to all parts of the state.

This conscious effort resulted in the setting up of a committee by the first PDP-led government of Obong Victor Attah to draw up an infrastructure road map for the state. The committee came out with recommendations that became the envy of other states. These recommendations were: the construction of an airport for the state, a seaport, a five-star hotel, an independent power plant, an Olympic-size stadium, a state university that will be the resource base for these infrastructure and standard roads network that will open up the state for access.

So far, there has seen a detailed implementation of these recommendations by successive administrations in the state, tough in some instances, with minor variations. Obong Attah started the implementation with the construction of the proposed five-star hotel with a golf course in Uruan Local Government Area, laid the foundation for the airport and initiated and the power plant inaugurated by then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Chief Godswill Akpabio completed work on the airport, got it operational and moved a step further by completing the link road to the airport tough the contract was awarded during the Obong Victor Attah administration. He started and completed the ultra modern Olympic stadium as well as the state university though with slight modifications. Gov. Udom Emmanuel, in line with the present economic reality in the country coupled with his campaign promises to turn the state into the desired industrial hub of the country and the sub region is consolidating on the achievements of his predecessors and expanding the infrastructural base of the state in order to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of the people.

This, he has undertaken in these vital areas: road infrastructure, sports development, agriculture and industrialisation. The governor kicked the ground running with the reactivation of the moribund Peacock Paints Industry at Ikot Ekan in Etinan Local Government Area. The factory of the state made choice paint, which used to be a household name in the country was allowed to rot away because of poor management but the reactivation signalled the beginning of a new phase of governance in the state as the government showed by this bold step, that it was ready to shift its stand on industrialization which, was initially believed to be the direct responsibility of the private sector alone.

The frenzy of the reactivation of the Peacock Paints Industry was yet to fizzle out when the governor recorded another initiative in his avowed determination to industrialize the state. He moved to Itu Local Government Area to perform the ground-breaking ceremony of two major industrial complexes; an automobile assembly plant and led meter manufacturing industry. Also in the line is a Metering Company in Onna Local Government Area, a fertilizer-blending factory in Abak and a Coconut Processing factory in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area.

This represents a bold step on the part of the government to drive the industrialization agenda to every part of the state according to needs and the availability of the required economic indices. This reality of adhering to the factors affecting the location of industries is what prompted the governor to shift the focus of the government in the agrobased industrialization of the state to Ini Local Government Area, which has the needed terrain for the cultivation of rice in commercial quantity.

The mechanised farm, when completed, will position the state on the rice map of the world. This is a plus to the determined effort of the state government to promote food sufficiency and earn foreign exchange through food exportation. The Committee on food sufficiency set up at the inception of the government has been up and doing in this aspect as it has, through the state Ministry of Agriculture acquired and cultivated large hectares of land across the state with improved cassava stems . These farms, apart from producing garri and other staple foods will also produce starch for the proposed Methanol Plant.

The Akwa Prime Hatchery and Poultry Limited in Mbiaya in Uruan Local Government Area is a clear example of a proactive style of leadership by the Emmanuel administration. This is a project that had suffered still births in the hands of previous administrations. When the governor said he was going to see to the realization of that project, many people did not believe it. It was taken as the usual government semantics on the project.

But Gov. Emmanuel proved the doubting Thomases wrong as he recently commissioned the project with fanfare. The project, which is a partnership between the Akwa Ibom state government and Prime Hatchery Limited, when operated at full capacity, will produce 520,000 chicks a week. This, is in addition to a Feed Mill and a Breeder Farm, which is a complementary industry to the hatchery.

In his determined effort to get Akwa Ibom people involved in the agro industrialization revolution, the state government organised a free training programme for over 200 poultry out growers in the state. A 1,000-day-old chicks start up pack was provided to each of the qualified participants.

This is a welcome development as it has helped to alleviate the scarcity of day-old-chicks in the state. Poultry farmers had to travel to the western part of the country to procure stock for their farms, but this new government initiative has reduced the scarcity of day-old-chicks in the state and enhanced farmers’ productivity.

It is worthy to note that the state Ministry of Agriculture has been running a hatchery in a different location for over a decade now, but it had only 3,000 day-old-chicks a week capacity at Use Offot, which was grossly inadequate for the needs of the farmers.

Apart from enhancing the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture to meet the needs of the farmers in the state, for which the expertise to run such a project already exists within the Ministry, government is exploring avenues to sign a public-private-partnership agreement with a private firm to run the farm. It is stating the obvious that the hatchery has created an employment opportunity for more workers.

The new complex has an administration unit, living quarters for all essential staff, water, and generator to ensure steady power supply to the facility and 80,000 fertile egg breeder farms, which will serve as a feed-stock to the hatchery. In a conscious effort to tap into the opportunities available through sports development, the state government initiated and completed mini sport centres across the three senatorial districts to complement the ultra modern Nest of Champions, which was constructed by the Godswill Akpabio administration.

The centres, which are located in Itam, Uyo; Onna in Eket and Ikot Ekpene in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial Districts are to serve as the breeding grounds for budding athletes in the state who are to be groomed into future stars for the country. This noble philosophy is what informed the decision of the state governor, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to direct all games masters, head teachers and principals to get set for the return of school sports to the sporting calendar. In a determined effort to justify the divine mandate freely given to him by the people, Gov. Emmanuel is set to sustain superior performance through infrastructure in governance.

There has been an excellent show of capacity to govern and the underlying passion to develop the state by consolidating on the performance of his predecessors through the building of quality road infrastructure. This will not only enhance the industrial take off of the state, but will also create access to the source of raw materials and evacuation of finished goods.

Mr Ephraim Inyang, until recently the state Commissioner for Works sums it up this way when he appeared on Superior Performance Radio Programme anchored by Aniekeme Finbarr, an aide to Gov. Emmanuel, ‘ we are deliberately opening up the state by building inter and intra local government roads to create access to industries and evacuation of products. You cannot execute a successful industrialization project without a good road network.”

The roads the government has so far constructed or intervened, cuts across the state. As earlier stated, this is not done to massage anybody’s ego, but strictly, according to the industrial road map of the state in order to create a sustainable industrial culture. Gov. Emmanuel, has therefore, devoted a large chunk of the state’s resources to strengthen road infrastructure for a smooth industrial take off of projects in his agenda.

Such roads are littered throughout the state, all leading to proposed industrial zones. They are the 5 km Mkpok- Ukat Road and the 3.5 km Awa Ikot Nkan Road with a 15m bridge, both in Onna. Work is also ongoing on the Mbiaso-Nto Edino-Ekwereazu Road in Obot Akara Local Government Area, which empties into Abia state for the evacuation of finished agricultural produce.

Work is also ongoing on the Ikot Usop- Ikot Edeghe – Ikot Ekpuk Road in Mkpat Enin with a 30m bridge that will serve the proposed Coconut Plantation and Refinery, while the Odoro Ikpe – Itu Mbonuso Road will not only open up Ini Local Government Area, but will also serve as the evacuation route for the proposed rice farm and rice processing industry in the area.

Still in Ikono/ Ini Federal Constituency, the governor has also constructed the road leading to the School of Arts and Science in Nung Ukim. There is also the construction of a dual carriageway from Uyo to Onna via Etinan and the Ikot Ebidang Road, which will serve the rice farming community. The Anua – Mbak –Issiet Beach Road in Uruan Local Government Area, which the governor recently flagged off its construction is another case of taking infrastructure to where it is needed most. The Beach Market in Adiadia, also in Uruan, is an income spinner to the people and government of the state.

The volume of trade on that route is bound to increase in leaps with the completion of the road as traders and other users of the market will be able to ferry their goods with ease in and out of the area. Another road under construction is the Idiaba- Nda Nsit – Ikot Abasi –Nung Udoe in Nsit Atai Local Government Area. It is another milestone in the road infrastructure development policy of the Gov. Emmanuel administration. It will serve as a quicker route for travellers from the Ibom International Airport to Eket and Ikot Abasi axis of the state, who now have to come to Uyo from the airport before going back to their bases. Oron Federal Constituency is grateful to the governor for his bold attempt to fix the road infrastructural

deficiency in the area through the provision of underground drainage along Effiat lane to arrest the devastating flood that was about submerging the area.

The government has also constructed Mainland Avenue, Awana Esin , Agric lane and the Post Office Road. According to the governor, Oron must be returned to its lost glory as the centre of seafoods in the country, meaning that the airport must be linked to the East-West road. As a mark of sincerity of purpose and commitment to the realization of the Ibaka Deep Seaport and Industrial City project, the governor has approved the construction of 36.7km super highway that will traverse communities in Ukpenkang, Ibeno –Esit Eket to Mbo Local Government Areas. The proposed highway will be a 12-lane road of six lanes on each side. Four of the lanes will be medial speed lanes with a toll gate, while the other two, on either side will serve as service and exit lanes into the surrounding communities. The project, which is a complement to the Deep Seaport and Industrial City is to be funded through a public-private partnership.

The proposed super highway has innumerable benefits. Apart from serving as the gateway for the movement of cargos from the port to the state and other parts of the country, it will also serve as an evacuation corridor for goods and services from the coastal industrial city to other parts of Africa, especially landlocked West African countries like Mali, Chad and Benin Republic.

The government is also spending fortunes to control flood in Uyo, the state capital. This is evidenced in the construction of an out drain phase 2 to handle water in Ewet Housing Estate, parts of Osong Ama and Edet Akpan Avenue back to the Ibom Tropicana. The government is also considering channelling the flood from IBB Avenue through Atan Offot to C Division before emptying into the Nung Oku drainage trough.

The state government is also consolidating on the urban renewal effort of the previous administration by initiating the Eket urban remodeling project . When completed, Eket will wear a new look like Uyo and Ikot Ekpene, which had the benefit of being remodelled by the immediate past administration in the state. The achievements of Gov. Emmanuel in less than two years is a clear indication of the policy trust of the administration to provide adequate infrastructure that will affect the life of the citizenry and attract investors to the state.