The Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel, launched his campaign manifesto on Wednesday in Uyo before a crowd of supporters at the city’s township stadium.
The event which had in attendance the governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, was televised live on the Africa Independent Television (AIT). It was also streamed live on Facebook.
Mr Emmanuel, however, told the crowd that he could not read out the manifesto because of time constraint.
He said his campaign team would set out time in future to discuss details of the manifesto with the media and the public.
“Inside it (the manifesto) people will find love, unity, and progress of Akwa Ibom, you will see development and industrialization, you will see good education, you will see healthcare services, you will see good social contract,” Mr Emmanuel said to the crowd.
“Any good manifesto would give you things that are measurable,” he added.
“Today, if I tell you when we took over the government, pass rate at WAEC was less than 60 per cent. Now, the pass rate at WAEC is about 76 per cent. I can tell you when we took over, pass rate at JAMB was less than 60 per cent. In last year JAMB, the pass rate was 81 per cent.”
The governor gave himself a pat on the back, saying he has done well in his first term in office.
He said he was standing before the people of Akwa Ibom “to re-energize, to re-instate, to also reassure and re-affirm my faith, my belief in our completion agenda”.
Governor Emmanuel, a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is running for a second term in office.
His main opponent in the March 2 election is Nsima Ekere, a former deputy governor of the state, and the managing director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Mr Ekere is of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which is the ruling party at the national level.
Akwa Ibom was generally seen as a PDP stronghold, until the defection of Governor Emmanuel’s estranged benefactor and predecessor, Godswill Akpabio, from the PDP to the APC in August last year.
Mr Akpabio, the new face of opposition politics in the oil-rich state, is the senator representing Akwa Ibom North-West District.
He has vowed to stop Governor Emmanuel’s re-election bid.
The senator himself is also seeking re-election.
Both the governor and the senator have been taking jabs at each other, mostly at political rallies.
Governor Emmanuel at the launch of his manifesto said “There is a difference between projects and monuments,” apparently referring to some of the signature projects constructed by Mr Akapbio when he was governor for eight years. “I did not come to complete monuments. I came to complete projects – live touching projects.”
Mr Akpabio, his political allies, and supporters have accused the governor of refusing to complete multi-million dollar projects like the Four Point by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene and the Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, Uyo, initiated by the previous administration.
“The same people that promised you 31 industries, did they do one?” the governor added.
The governor had made the same argument about his predecessor’s projects being “monuments” when he was interviewed earlier in the morning by AIT.
“You can’t expect somebody like me who has managed resources all through my life to plunge the little resources that I have under recession into monuments,” the governor said when the interviewer told him that critics said he refused to complete some projects he inherited from his predecessor.
Onofiok Luke, the Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, was among the numerous politicians who canvassed for support for Governor Emmanuel at the Wednesday event.
“In 1999, they tried to disgrace the then governor, Obong Victor Attah. People who called themselves Abuja front, they fought him, they brought a candidate to challenge Obong Attah. We stood up and covered Obong Attah.
“In 2007, when Godswill Akpabio was governor, people said a lot of things against him, but we provided cover for him and ensured that he was re-elected for a second term.
“But when it is the turn of Governor Udom Emmanuel, Godswill Akpabio, whom we all protected and provided cover for, is now the person who wants to put the governor to shame.
“Akwa Ibom people, will you accept it?” Mr Luke asked the crowd.
“No,” the crowd chorused.
Mr Luke continued, “Look at that my official seat over there,” he said, pointed to where he sat close to Governor Emmanuel before he mounted the stage to speak.
“Let me ask, would it be okay for me to urinate on that seat?
“Some person would stand up from a seat, then turn round to urinate on the same seat.
“They want to remove Governor Emmanuel when he has not finished his tenure. Since God would never allow them to succeed, we all have to stand up and support the governor,” the speaker said.