AKWA IBOM @ 33: CELEBRATING FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE: UNITY, PEACE AND SECURITY

September 29, 2020
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Akwa Ibom people have lived as a nation with complementary variety of ethnic groups even before recorded history. The bond of brotherliness was so strong that during the colonial period the Ibibio Union asked for recognition by the British as a sovereign nation.

Indeed, Akwa Ibom founding fathers initiated communal sponsorship of Nigerians abroad to acquire the whiteman’s knowledge and formed the core political intelligentsia that started agitation for statehood.

Although, it took about forty years to actualize the dream of Akwa Abasi Ibom State, the people remained resilient, hopeful and never took up arms against the country to fast track their aspiration.

This inherent peace has been the backbone of our continuous coexistence.

Since State creation, thirty three years ago, every administration has made efforts to sustain the peace, unity and security of Akwa Ibom State through equitable distribution of resources and sharing of political power. The current administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel is however the best in this regard. He towers above others in ensuring inclusiveness irrespective of dialect or political leaning.

The governor believes God ordained him to lead the State at these challenging times and insists that Akwa Ibom can only grow in prosperity if there is peace and unity. He has stated at various fora that “we have everything to become great and prosperous. We are a wonderful and hospitable people, creative, daring, innovative and God-fearing, all that is needed is for us to rally round a leader who will galvanise these wonderful impulses and get us to see the possibilities that lay out there”.

His efforts at uniting the State is succinctly captured by Chris Umoette in his write-up “Udom: Driving unity in A’Ibom with Completion Agenda”, where he asserts that Governor Emmanuel is working on the theory that the State of his dream cannot become a reality without a strong foundation laid by peace and unity – a State whose indigenes would work with unanimity of purpose for the common good.

Governor Emmanuel is fulfilling the promise of statehood by seeking to return the people to the era of their forebears when the unity that prevailed did not recognize dialect or sub-ethnicity. “A state that was homogeneous in culture and contiguous in thoughts and language, the thread that linked this noble aspiration was the uplifting and inspiring belief that we are one people, united by the lone ingredient that has shaped all known societies: the need to live in a united, safe, secure and prosperous society where people are free to dream, dare and drive, where the circumstances of one’s birth or the axis of his or her geography will not limit the individual’s capacity to succeed”.

But, such unity today can only be borne out of tolerance and political inclusion. This is why Governor Emmanuel repeatedly and unequivocally speaks against imposition and supports zoning down to the minutest political unit. Already, he has shown an unprecedented strength and political will to pull down barriers, often raised by political parties, to unite the State and has not reneged on his promise of political inclusion at the inter-party level.

His position on the matter is that “elections are over, we are now in governance, and we encourage our brothers on the other side of the political divide to join us in developing the state”. To affirm this, he received the Chief Executive Officer of Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, Mr. Umana Okon Umana, who paid him a courtesy visit in the Government House, Uyo. Incidentally, this was his major rival during the 2015 governorship election.

Subsequently, he appointed a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and a serving member of the State caucus of the party, Chief Enefiok Ekefre, as his honourary Special Adviser on Mobilisation and appointed members of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, in Akwa Ibom state, into the 31 local government committees for the disbursement of COVID-19 palliative.

There have been substantial payouts to justify Governor Emmanuel’s decision to maintain cordial relationship with Akwa Ibom sons and daughters in other political parties. For example the smooth processing of airworthiness certification for aircrafts on Ibom Air fleet, rapid approval of the proposed Liberty Oil and Gas Free Zone in the State, to mention just a few.

Akwa Ibom State has enjoyed a long period of uniterrupted peace and security mainly due to the peaceful disposition of Governor Emmanuel. It was in view of this peaceful aura that the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj. Gen. Jamil Sarham described Akwa Ibom as most peaceful State among the 36 states with the lowest crime rate. The Army General did not hesitate to commend the Governor and the people of the state for the peaceful co-existence.

In further pursuit of sustainable peace and security in the State, on 16 March, 2020, Governor Emmanuel took a decisive action to ban secret cult, societies and groups promoting violent behaviours in Akwa Ibom State when he signed into law the Cultism and Other Violent Behaviour (Prohibition) Order, 2020 for the state. By this new law, 65 cult groups were proscribed.

Reiterating his administration’s commitment to maintaining the State’s record in safety, security and investor -friendliness, as well as ensuring a future for the Akwa Ibom youth, the Governor said the new law was expanded to cover components not covered in the previous law.

Similarly, the Governor has invested in State security architecture by donating patrol vehicles to security agencies in the State to enable their personnel carry out effective monitoring of the state. Going further, the administration has improved surveillance of the gateways into the State by erecting Hi-Tech CCTVs at strategic locations along its entry points. This has given relevant security agencies a 24/7 surveillance on who enters or exits the State. Beyond enabling the adminstration to control movement during the Covid-19 Nationwide lockdown, it has been very useful in curbing criminal activities in the State.

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