The Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel, said the state has made meaningful progress since its creation 32 years.
Akwa Ibom, created out of the then Cross River state on September 23, 1987 by the Ibrahim Babangida-led military administration, has a vast deposit of oil and gas, and is one of Nigeria’s richest states because of its earnings from the country’s crude oil export.
Mr Emmanuel is the fourth civilian governor of the state which has over 6 million population.
“Today, from a State that was essentially a geographical boondock, where Uyo, the Capital City was essentially a glorified village filled with dusty streets, our profile has been so wholesomely raised to a point and place where we are seen today as Nigeria’s best-kept secret,” Mr Emmanuel said on Monday in a state-wide broadcast to mark the state anniversary.
“The dusty streets have given way to beautifully manicured boulevards and modern road network. The thatched houses that once dotted the landscape today, have given way to magnificent homes that can rival those found in the exotic zip-codes around the world.”
The governor, who said Akwa Ibom has achieved a lot to be proud of at 32, thanked his predecessors for their contributions towards the growth of the state.
“As we celebrate our 32nd Anniversary, let me once again emphatically state here that the fundamentals of our growth are rock-solid.
“The tailwind of our development is blowing enchantingly and assuredly behind our back, guiding the navigational aids of our collective flight to becoming truly the Land of Promise. To this, we give thanks to the only God whose mercies and blessings have never departed from this State and will never depart because we believe in God,” he said.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, over the weekend inaugurated a flour mill, plywood, and timber factory, as well as electric power sub-station, in Akwa Ibom as part of the activities to mark the state anniversary.
Governor Emmanuel, a former director with Zenith Bank, won re-election in February this year, despite the opposition of his predecessor, Godswill Akpabio, who had helped him to become governor against all the odds in 2015.
The election petition tribunal on Thursday upheld Mr Emmanuel’s re-election.
The governor in his state anniversary address appealed once again to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) to join hand with him to build the state.
“I urge my brothers and sisters who offered themselves for service at different layers to our people during the just concluded elections to close ranks and join me to develop our State, chart a new course and ensure that the Akwa Ibom story continues to be told in glittering terms.
“The poetry of our beautiful and blessed State must be written in enchanting verse and each of us should have a line to contribute to the crafting of the poetry.
“This is a pan –Akwa Ibom moment, and we must rise to the occasion and show that even though we had an intense electioneering campaign, where passions were inflamed and certain unwholesome rhetoric pushed; the Akwa Ibom spirit remains strong and alluring. Nothing should break the cords of our unity and brotherhood,” he said.
The governor vowed to continue to lead Akwa Ibom with the fear of God and “with the overarching interest of our people, their growth, peaceful co-existence and development as the guiding principles”.
The National Bureau of Statistics in the past few years has continued to rank Akwa Ibom among the states that are worst hit by unemployment and poverty, despite Mr Emmanuel administration’s effort to attract new industries to the state.