The Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel, on Friday declared his bid for a second term in office.
Mr Emmanuel, elected governor in 2015 under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), told a large crowd of supporters, who gathered at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium to witness his declaration, that he has done well and deserves the people’s vote for a second term.
His wife, Martha, stood beside him as he addressed the people for more than 37 minutes in the 30,000-capacity stadium.
The governor faces stiff opposition from the All Progressives Congress (APC) which controls the government at the centre.
More so, his political ambition looks threatened by the recent defection of a senator, Godswill Akpabio, from the PDP to the APC.
It was Mr Akpabio, a former governor of the state, who helped Mr Emmanuel to become governor in 2015, despite the opposition within the PDP.
Both politicians have parted ways and look set to battle each other in the forthcoming general elections.
Mr Emmanuel, while declaring his second term bid, mentioned peace and security in the state as one of the achievements of his administration.
He also mentioned ”pencil and toothpick-manufacturing company, metering company, coconut refinery, and other industries” which he said he has brought to the state.
The governor said his administration ”has done over 1,700 kilometres of roads in the state in less than three years, renovated over 349 schools, brought down the cost of garri, (a staple food in the state), at least by 50 per cent, and revived the healthcare system”.
He said given the resources available, he has performed more than any other first-term governor in Nigeria.
“Not only are we preparing our youth for the future, we are also preparing the future for our youth.
“The collective future of all of our youth, our women, and our elders is the centre of our policy,” the governor said, adding that he would surpass his performance, ”if voted back into office”.
Mr Emmanuel said any country that does not build its economy cannot build its politics. Politics, he said, must be anchored on the economy.
“Never in history has Akwa Ibom been this unified. Never in history has Akwa Ibom been this peaceful.
“I am overwhelmed. The number of people here (in the stadium) is enough for me not to say anything here today. You’ve written the story, you’ve shown it to the whole world that Akwa Ibom is PDP,” Mr Emmanuel said.
The governor attacked the legacies of his predecessor, Mr Akpabio.
He claimed that some of the projects in the state like the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road and the five-star hotel at Ikot Ekpene were left undone and abandoned by Mr Akpabio, before he (Mr Emmanuel) came into office to restart them.
“Let nobody deceive you, it is this administration that has taken that road (Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road) up to 23 kilometres.
“They talked about Four-Point by Sheraton. Today, I don’t want to answer them. But let me state, the facts must come out fast and the facts must point to the truth because the truth is constant.
“It is just now that we have incorporated a company to negotiate with Starwood for that name Four-Point by Sheraton. If anybody has ever done that, let him show me the agreement he signed.
“It is now that we are doing external works in that premises in order to turn it into a hotel. Is building a hotel? Can a building be a hotel?”
“I don’t want to join issues today, I just want to humbly submit myself. But the truth must be told that it is just now that I have paid $7.2 million to Starwood so that we can retain the name that was surreptitiously put on the building called Four-Point by Sheraton Hotel.
“Who is telling you a lie? Who is telling you a lie? Can they tell you that there were mechanical or electrical fittings in that building?”
Governor Emmanuel, in his address, criticised a remark said to have been reportedly made by Senator Akpabio that the APC would take over Akwa Ibom the way the German dictator, Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland in 1939.
“I heard human being boast that the Akwa Ibom politics in 2019 will be like the invasion of Poland by Hitler. Whoever is buying guns, trying to kill our children, meanwhile they have gone to hide their own children abroad, we say Holy Ghost….”
The crowd responded, “Fire!”
The governor continued, “Politeness is not weakness, so you need to go and warn them”.
“I submit myself for your consideration to continue with the good work you’ve supported me to do in the state,” he said. He added that ”no single person can determine who governs the state”.