By Edet Okpo
As the nation approaches another political season, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has emphasized the need for unity, peaceful Coexistence and tolerance among political actors and the entire Nigerians, rather than indulging in acts capable of heating up the polity and straining the existing cord of unity.
Governor Emmanuel stated this at the 2022 Wreath Laying and Armed Forces Remembrance Day, at the State Cenotaph in Uyo,Akwa Ibom State Capital.
The Governor urged Nigerians to embrace peace, explaining that behaviours that do not promote peace would be inimical to the unity and growth of the nation, and thereby debase the sacrifices of the fallen heroes who voluntarily paid the supreme price for the survival of the nation.
“As we get ready to elect our next set of leaders, let us be reminded that national interest should and must triumph over our personal or group interest and those things that may heat up the polity and strain the cords of our unity must be avoided.
“Let me use this opportunity to appeal to our people to eschew tendencies that helped provide the ferment for conflicts”.
Mr Emmanuel explained that, “the brave warriors we are honouring today, believed in something, an ideal or causes higher than their personal or collective interest, and that’s why they elected through volunteerism, not by conscription to sign up to fight for the preservation of our territorial integrity against foreign or domestic enemies”, he added.
Appealing for accomodation and appreciation of differences and the use of dialogue to resolve issues, Governor Emmanuel said: “We are a nation rich in diversity, and our diversity should represent our strength and not platforms to enlarge our fault lines or differences.
“God has given Nigeria all that is needed for success.
“We must learn to jaw-jaw instead of war-war,” he stressed.
The governor expressed appreciation over the collaborative efforts of the various armed forces to mitigate criminal activities in the state, saying it has contributed to the status of the state as the most peaceful in the country.
Governor Emmanuel affirmed that besides the building of 168 blocks of flats for the Officers and Men of the Nigerian Army Battalion located in Ibagwa as well as water reticulation to provide potable water for residents of the barracks, his government has redeemed the promise of One hundred million naira (N100,000,000.00) grant to the widows of the fallen heroes in the state.
According to him, “we are determined to intervene in other quality of life projects. This is, just a little effort on our part to show that we appreciate the sacrifices the Men and Officers of the Nigeria Armed Forces are making to keep us safe and secure”.
Interacting with newsmen shortly after the event, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Dr. Ini Adiakpan expressed gratitude to God for making the 2022 Armed Forces Remembrance Day colourful and successful and applauded Governor Udom Emmanuel for initiating and executing various programmes and projects aimed at enhancing the welfare of Nigerian Legion and the Widows of the fallen Heroes.
The Commissioner noted that pigeons are spiritual birds signifying peace,adding that the release of the birds by the Governor at the event signifies the release of peace into Akwa Ibom State.
“Gentlemen of the press, there was a symbolic scene you must have missed while the event was ongoing. The birds upon their release flew in unison towards the direction of His Excellency’s seat and settled on top of the wall of the Cenotaph to watch the proceedings.
The scene further indicated that the relative Peace enthroned by the leadership of Governor will be sustained. It shows that the man at the helm of affairs of the State is an apostle of Peace”.
The Commissioner called on the residents of the State to embrace the Peace Project of Governor Udom Emmanuel, describing Akwa Ibom as the most peaceful state in Nigeria.
Highpoints of the event included wreath laying by the governor, senior military and civilian personalities, gun salutes, parades, signing of condolence register in honour of the fallen heroes, as well as release of pigeons, signifying a call for peace.