BEING TEXT OF THE NEW YEAR STATEWIDE BROADCAST BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PASTOR UMO ENO, GOVERNOR OF AKWA IBOM STATE, ON MONDAY, JANUARY 1, 2024
O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercies endured forever.
MY DEAR AKWAIBOMITES
1. Let me start by giving God the glory and honour for making it possible for us to be alive, healthy and sound to see this New Year. My wife, Her Excellency, Pastor (Mrs)Patience Umo Eno and I, wish you a very Happy and prosperous New Year. We are hopeful and confident that it is going to be a year of Restoration, of Increase and of Expansion across the lengths and crannies of this State, so help us God!
2. On March 18, 2023, you bought into our vision of growth and development, as broadly laid out in our ARISE Agenda, and went ahead to reward us with a massive victory at the polls.
3. Today, seven months after our inauguration, I make bold to say that in spite of the hazy economic horizon, the fundamentals of our development are strong and resilient. Akwa Ibom State is Rising with the ARISE Agenda and the Golden Era we had promised is already here. Even though we still have many miles to go, what we have collectively achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow and beyond.
4. Seven months down the line, every critical pillar of this well-defined and well-thought out Economic Blueprint has been touched and activated for the growth and continuous development of our State.
5. In the area of Agriculture, we have started the steady but firm commitment to engendering agricultural revolution in our State. The Ibom Model Farm, a collaborative effort with the world renowned Songhai Farms of Porto Novo, Benin Republic, was flagged-off a little over two weeks ago, in Ikot Edibon, Nsit Ubium local government area. It promises to be the most integrated farm in this part of the Nation. It will not only guarantee food security but will also create jobs for thousands of people and stimulate tourism.
We have requested the Local Government Council Chairmen, to donate lands for the establishment of demonstration farms in each of the local government areas. We have revitalized the Dakkada Palm Oil Estate with new seedlings and have equally invested funds in Cocoa plantations in the state.
6. We are paying deep attention to developing and improving the quality of life of residents in both our urban and rural areas as well as the maintenance and expansion of infrastructure in the State. So far we have flagged-off and funded the construction of not less than 17 roads across the state. We have been intentional to ensure that these roads are selected across the three senatorial districts in the state. Some of these roads include:
• Construction of Ndiya Street, overlay of portions of Johnson Street, Water Works, Solar Light and Toilet Facilities at Akpan Andem Market, Uyo. This project was flagged-off and commissioned within the first 100 Days of our administration, in fulfillment of the campaign promises I made when I visited the market.
• Construction of 1.1km Access Road to Goretti Secondary School with 0.875km Discharge Drain in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area.
• Construction of 1.3km Underground Discharge Drain from Atiku Abubakar Avenue to Olusegun Obasanjo Way, Uyo, currently ongoing.
• and the ongoing construction of the Ukpong and Effiong Essang Streets in Oron Local Government Area.
7. We have also in the course of the last seven months, undertaken several ecological intervention projects such as:
• Construction of ravine control facilities at Etim Umanah Street, in Uyo
• Reclamation and construction of Udoinwang Road and the Construction of Erosion Control Facilities.
8. In fulfillment of our campaign promises to complete ongoing projects initiated by the immediate past administration, we have released over Ten Billion Naira to get contractors back to various sites across the state. Works are ongoing at these project sites such as the Victor Attah International Airport Road Expansion and others located all over the State.
9. In the Aviation sector, we have released about 6.5 billion Naira to support ongoing projects at the Victor Attah International Airport. We have also kept all our financial obligations with Airbus Corporation and about a month ago, we received the first of the ten Airbus A220-300 Series into the Ibom Air fleet. Ibom Air, which is the pride of our State, was one of the first places I visited shortly after my inauguration, where I had restated my desire to continue to support and expand the operations of that great project which is a testament to vision and creativity. We have invested heavily in the MRO and very soon, that will be fully commissioned.
10. In the Power sector, we have directed that an operational audit of Ibom Power Plant be done. Our aim is to reposition that critical plant to yield the expected dividends for our people. We believe strongly that with adequate power, our entrepreneurs in the state can do better and our economy will be better for it.
11. To maintain the peace and safeguard our status as one of the safest states in Nigeria, we have created a full-fledged Ministry of Internal Security and Waterways manned by a retired general of the Nigerian Army. Two weeks ago, we successfully launched the Ibom Community Watch programme with 550 watchers commissioned for Uyo Local Government Area. The objective of this programme is to raise a well trained team that will protect government assets across our communities and assist in the gathering of intelligence for our security agents. This initiative shall also create over five thousand jobs for our youths.
12. Still on security, on December 13, 2023, I signed into Law, the Akwa Ibom Security Trust Fund Bill earlier passed by the State House of Assembly to help us mobilize funds to improve on the security architecture of our state. Three days ago, we launched the Akwa Ibom State Waterways Security Assets whose central mission is to secure the waterways of the State and thus help protect governments critical assets, boost the state’s comparative advantage in the blue economy, support our fishermen through the provision of enhanced security among others. At the event, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, was on hand to help us launch the 14 State Patrol Gunboats we had bought and donated to ensure this operation
runs seamlessly. We also signed a contract with the Nigerian Naval Shipyard for the construction of a Passenger/Cruise ferry, with the view to turning our coastline towns into tourism hubs.
13. In the Education sector, we have started the construction of model primary schools, the first of which is to be commissioned at the Christ the King Primary School, on Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo. This is one of the projects selected under the One Project per Local Government Initiative which is one of our efforts at ensuring that we give government back to the people and allow the stakeholders to select and pick the projects they desire for their communities, so that they can own those projects. These projects once unanimously selected, will be executed within the next couple of months under the First Phase of this bold Initiative.
14. We have equally undertaken some critical interventions in the educational sector, some of which include:
1st Phase of Education Support fund for Physically Challenged persons in Akwa Ibom State studying in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions. So far, we have paid about 106 persons under this scheme at N250,000 per undergraduate and N300,000 per Postgraduate student.
• We have paid bursary to students of Akwa Ibom State origin studying in public tertiary institutions in Nigeria. So far, not less than 5000 students have received their bursary.
• the free and compulsory education policy in our state shall be continued and we have already paid examination fees for all Secondary School students. In addition to this, we have paid for the production of school uniforms, shoes, school bags and books for our pupils in primary schools.
15. In the Healthcare sector, we have taken bold steps to fulfill our campaign promise to revitalize the primary healthcare sector to complement the great works done by past administrations in the Secondary Healthcare sector. The first of the Primary Healthcare facility which was flagged-off a little over two months ago, at Ikot Nkwo, Ibesikpo Asutan, is now ready and will be commissioned soon. The facility comes with the most modern equipment with Maternity Section, Laboratory, Pharmacy, Library, ICT Room, Consulting Suites, Emergency Unit, Immunization Centre and other critical services. This facility is being replicated in Oboyo Ikot Ita, Nsit Ibom Local Government Area and Eyulor in Urue Offong-Oruko Local Government Area. We will also have similar facilities in all the 11 other Local Government Areas that have chosen Primary Healthcare Centers in the One Project per Local Government Scheme.
16. I have directed the Ministry of Health to get to work towards the establishment of Dialysis Centres in each of the ten Federal Constituencies in the State. This is aimed at mitigating the rise in kidney-related diseases in our State. We have, in fulfillment of our campaign promise, made plans to open a Medical Corridor between the Ibom Specialist Hospital and the Sheraton by Four Points in Ikot Ekpene. When completed, it rank among the best in the country. Contractors have also been mobilized to commence work towards the completion of the General Hospital in Ukanafun Local Government Area.
17. We are determined to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit in our people and this vision is being championed by the Ibom Leadership and Entrepreneurial Centre (Ibom-LED). So far, we have successfully hosted the maiden Edition of the Made in Akwa Ibom Trade Fair, where the 400 registered attendees were given a grant of five hundred thousand Naira each to progress their businesses. We have also set up and commissioned the Ibom-LED Tailoring & Shoe making Hub among other great things the Center is doing.
In line with our commitment to support our indigenous entrepreneurs, we have ensured that all contracts for the production of school uniforms and shoes for our pupils and uniform and boots for the men of the Ibom Community Watch are handled by our youths at the Shoe and Fabric Hub housed at the Ibom – LED Centre. I call on all of you to avail yourself of the programmes initiated by the Centre
18. So far, we have paid over 12 Billion Naira in gratuities to retired state and Local Government workers and Leave Grants in fulfillment of my campaign promise to tackle the issue head-on. We have equally spent over Five billion Naira to augment the Federal Government’s Palliatives to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal and ensure that the welfare of our people is enhanced. For us as a government, we will ensure that the welfare of our citizens is paramount.
19. The Tourism sector will continue to receive a major boost in our administration. We have constructed a 20-thousand seater amphitheatre which was used in the recently concluded Christmas Carol and would be used for other cultural, social and even religious events in the state. We will establish a theme park at the Unity park to provide leisure services for our children. We will also revamp our tourist sites such as the Lord Lugard’s Amalgamation House, The Bridge of No Return, and the Women War Museum, among others
We have concluded plans to build a Centre for the Elderly Citizens in our state. This centre will house a hospital, library, supermarkets and other facilities for the use of our Elders.
I believe that we should take care of our Elders while they still live and appreciate them for their huge contributions towards the development of our state.
20. We have also made plans to build an international Market in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area. We believe that this market will boost the economic activities in our state and will reduce production cost for most of our young entrepreneurs who often have to travel out to buy their raw materials. We are committed to ensuring that work commences on this project within the first half of this year.
21. My dear compatriots, what we have achieved in seven months gives us hope on what lies ahead in the New Year. We will continue to demystify the work of government and bring governance closer to the people. This we have already demonstrated in more ways than one. I have ensured that all the Wards in this state have a Personal Aide working and reporting directly to my Office. I have ensured that all the units have a Watcher of the Ibom Community Watch drawn from them and I have taken time to consult with our stakeholders in most of my initiatives so far. I shall continue to run an all-inclusive government, paying respect to all our past leaders.
22. I therefore, call on you to continue to pray for us, support us and bind our thoughts and actions with love and unity. We should strive to look out for the downtrodden and vulnerable and give them a reason to be hopeful. I have no doubt that our tomorrow will be better than today. We are determined to work to achieve that, and I know we can count on you to get this done.
Let me, before ending this address, thank the legislature and the judiciary for their overwhelming support in ensuring that we work harmoniously and deliver the dividends of democracy to our people. I call on you to continue in this collaborative efforts as we continue to partner with you to make Akwa Ibom the best place for our people to live in and do business.
23. Happy New Year once again and God bless Akwa Ibom State, God bless our dear President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, as he leads our Nation to a new dawn of development, God bless you all!