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An Elder’s Words of Wisdom for Leaders

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Jerry Gana, professor and former minister of information, advises Nigerian leaders to make the poor and the needy the centre of all their plans for development

The Conference Hall of  Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, was filled to capacity. It was the second annual lecture of the three-year-old Akpabio Centre for Leadership Development, ACLD, a non-governmental organisation, established to promote the legacies of the Godswill Akpabio administration via Akpabioism, a locally groomed political ideology.

Majority of those seated in the hall were youths aged between 18 and 27 years. They were said to be members of the centre and drawn from all the 31 local government areas of the state. They were to listen to Jerry Gana, a professor of Geography and former minister of Information and National Orientation, give a boost to the home-grown ideology in a lecture entitled: “Good Governance in Nigeria.”

Ita Enang, Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East district and three-term member of the House of Representatives, who was chairman of the occasion, kick-started the discussion by eulogising Akpabio. He said the promoters of Akpabioism were on the right track and their vision would keep the light the Akpabio administration brought to Akwa Ibom State through eternity if they pushed the ideology with sufficient commitment. “Akpabio is a man of vision and hard work who, from childhood refused to allow roadblocks to stop him. His childhood was that of hardship and lack. He lived in a thatched house. His father died when he was six years old.  He did not have someone to sponsor him in school.

“He did not have anyone to ask how he was faring in his school work and examinations. When God wants to raise someone, he may pass through hardship and trauma. Today, Akpabio is governor and a good one at that,” Enang told the gathering.

He also spoke about his own encounter with hardship and lack as a child. “I used to hawk ‘akara’ along the streets of Calabar. But God later raised me. I’ve been a lawyer for 37 years.  Until now I was a three-term member of the House of Representatives. You can be the next Akpabio,” he told the youths.

Ade Dosunmu, former director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, said “Akpabioism had become a political ideology of the 21st century borne out of the energetic pursuit of development projects in the state that has made its people proud. He said many, who had visited the state in recent times, including himself, were surprised at the spate of development it witnessed.

Dosunmu said one of the projects leaving lasting impression on him was the deep seaport being developed by Akpabio, noting that upon completion, over 40 percent of unemployed youths in the state would get employment.

The crowd cheered as Gana mounted the rostrum. Gana said Akpabio’s leadership of the state had made it a good example of a developing community in theory and practice. He said it was focused and effective, with many Nigerians coming out to identify with Akwa Ibom and its people.

Nsima Ekere, deputy governor of the state, who represented Akpabio at the occasion, said government was willing to partner with ACLD if it was found to be in the interest of the people. He commended them for their foresight and urged them to maintain the vision.

At the groups premier lecture in 2010, S. W. Petters, vice chancellor of Akwa Ibom State University, speaking on the theme, “Redefining Leadership’ said Akpabio’s achievements were the pivot of the ideology. He said the licensing and commencement of academic work in the university had shown the governor’s love towards transformation of the education sector of the state, noting that education remained the gateway to any successful economy in the 21st century.

Justus Sokefun, dean of the Law Faculty of National Open University, in another lecture, said education was one of the main indices of development, stressing, “to wipe out mediocrity, you first of all educate the people”.

Aniekan Umanah, commisioner for Information, said that Akpabioism dwells on the work of the administration since inception. “Akpabioism is all about dexterity, love and uncommon transformation which makes the difference”. These find expression in Akpabio’s road projects, free education scheme at the primary and secondary school level and free medical scheme.

Akpabioism is the brainchild of Bassey James, a Lagos-based pastor and businessman. He said a careful appraisal of Akpabio’s speeches and work gave birth to ACLD and the ideology.

He told Newswatch, God gave him the vision and inspiration to come up with Akpabioism. “This was when I came to Akwa Ibom State from Lagos, where I was living. I saw the numerous projects of the state government and the massive development in parts of the state. It made me to go into prayer. I asked God what could be done for a man that had put much happiness in the hearts of our people. God opened my eyes to this idea of Akpabioism. So it is God’s idea, not mine.”

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