While campaigning for his 2015 election, the then Mr. Udom Emmanuel made a promise that is alien to Nigeria’s political climate till today. In this clime, especially at the state levels, no politician campaigns with a promise to build industries as he did, governorship aspirants usually promise to build stomachs, do bridges across the mountain, provide pipe-borne water, street lights, and other things that are elementary.
Alas, as promised, Governor Udom Emmanuel is fulfilling the industrialization promise and has gone a step further to redesign the economic outlook of Akwa Ibom State.
This write-up is inspired by yesterday’s commissioning or better put, the rescue of Ibom Tropicana Mall that has now been added to the list of employment opportunities created by Udom Emmanuel’s administration, just as we have; Ibom Air, the Jubilee Syringe factory, Metering Solutions Company, coconut plantation/refinery, and other enterprises that have sprung up in this state between 2015 and 2021, under Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Governor Udom Emmanuel is clearly redesigning the economy of Akwa Ibom State, simply put, he is doing to the state’s economy what Obong Victor Attah and Chief Godswill Akpabio did to her landscape, and the evidence of both is so glaring and the impact, undeniable.
Expectedly, Udom Emmanuel’s traducers will continue to wail about the absence of free cash on the street, and zero tolerance to the promotion of destitution, begging, and political jobbing in Akwa Ibom by this administration but such complaints won’t stop the salaries of thousands of youths, working in the industries built or attracted by the current administration.
Has anyone wondered why more commercial buildings, business enterprises, and even international franchises are springing up in Akwa Ibom State now than ever before, despite the gloomy economy globally?
For example, in August 2020, a franchise of Cold Stone opened their branch in Uyo, and there was celebration amongst fun seekers and those who would tap direct or indirect economic benefits from that establishment. Next, Chicken Republic also exposed their brand to the public and opened two branches, employed workers, and is now operational. Another big news late last year was that Ibom Tropicana Centre, the supposed one-stop world-class entertainment center that was hitherto left uncompleted and reduced to a mere cinema, had found favour in the sight of some investors who were working day and night to launch a world-class mall called Ibom Tropicana Mall in Akwa Ibom State, with its accompanying potpourri of outstanding brands. Just yesterday, Governor Udom Emmanuel formally opened Ibom Tropicana Mall. The former Ibom Tropicana Cinema has metamorphosed into a more rewarding enterprise that is employing hundreds of young people.
Arguably, more business enterprises have sprung up in Akwa Ibom State under Udom Emmanuel’s five-year governance than the sixteen years before he came on board.
All these goodies wouldn’t just fall on Akwa Ibom people at this time by a stroke of luck and no one should be tempted to think that it is easy to articulate these things. The Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Prince Ukpong Akpabio while eulogizing Governor Udom Emmanuel at the brief ceremony to launch Ibom Tropicana Mall rightly put it when he said, “…I cannot help but state clearly that if it was so easy for the vision of this project to be realized there is nobody who would not have wished to complete it and take the credit. But it wasn’t a cheap and easy task; it had to take a leader of your class and business mind to redesign this project for sustainable workability as visible today”.
The story of Ibom Air and the miraculous frequent increase in her fleet and routes are even better told by International tourists who are enjoying the baby-airline. Also, the Federal Government’s approval for the construction of Ibom Deep Seaport, oil/gas free trade zone for Akwa Ibom State, and other phenomenal achievements that only Udom Emmanuel can explain how he does it as an opposition Governor, speaks volume of the level of wizardry employed by this Governor to reset the economy of Akwa Ibom State.
His shrewdness also reflects in the fact that under his administration, government investments worth billions of dollars that were gasping for breath in economic ventilators, especially those initiated by the immediate past administration have now been rescued and are now operating profitably.
Another quick example is the Ibom Specialist Hospital that recently announced its successes in multiple cases of brain surgery, kidney transplant, and other medical exploits. Akwa Ibom people and indeed Nigerians are very familiar with the story of the near abandonment and scrapping of that edifice which was a mere building until this administration painstakingly worked out an operational plan, in addition to meeting very tough conditions given by world-class experts, experienced in managing such facility. That hospital is now a 24hour referral center, carrying out the medical exploits it was designed for, courtesy of Udom Emmanuel’s wizardry.
Ibom Tropicana Centre, Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort also got rescued from comatose, while the supposed Four Point by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene is on the queue waiting for salvation through Udom’s craft, otherwise, it may keep standing up there in the sky as a carcass of a non-useful twelve-story skyscraper that it is, only serving as beautiful background for photographs in Ikot Ekpene ancient town.
Indeed, through Udom Emmanuel’s wizardry in business development, contacts and managing the economy, Akwa Ibom people have been made prosperous through the influx of private investors, jobs are created, his dakkada message has made the people entrepreneurial, while the economic architecture of the state has been redesigned from a civil service state a commercial hub. I cannot say exactly how Udom does it, probably, he is marketing the state very well, and at the right fora. perhaps, peace and security which he does not toy with might be one of his most alluring bites to investors.
It may not sound pleasing to some people, but the truth remains that all these businesses are employing Akwa Ibom people, especially the youth. And in Nigeria of today, no government achievement is greater than security and jobs.
(Aniedi Ukoenang is a Journalist and PR Professional resident in Uyo. 08065566247)