Excitement, Fanfare As Akwa Ibom Celebrates State’s Creation @35

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*Adamawa Governor, ex Senate President Saraki, former governors,  Yari, Lamido, Suswam,  Dankwambo, other dignitaries mark present 

 
By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The glee of echoes that greeted the announcement of the creation of Akwa Ibom State came alive with flow of ecstasy on Friday as the people of the state, residents and friends from all walks of life gathered together to celebrate greatness, breakthroughs, peace, togetherness and love that beckon hope afterwards. 
To God was ascribed the thanksgiving for His benevolence and love in making everything beautiful and mighty in their sight.
The event was the 35th anniversary celebration of the creation of the state, which was announced on September 23, 1987 along with Katsina State by then Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, General Ibrahim Babangida now retired.
Akwa Ibom was created out of the erstwhile Cross River State, where it  became an entity as a state, while Katsina was carved out of old Kaduna State.
At the Nest of Champions in Uyo, venue of the ceremony, the atmosphere was glee, and dressing code depicting Akwa Ibom colour (Orange) were adorned by the enthusiastic crowd of persons across all divides, who thronged in for the event. Of notice also were umbrella (orange colour designed), a symbol of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
Among other attractions were, cultural display and performance by some talented artists as well as march past by groups from the 31 local government areas constituting the state.
From the roll call of visitors among others, who graced the occasion, with unequivocal expressions of goodwill and commendations for the progress of the state included, Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintri; former governor of Kwara State and President of the 8th Senate, Mr. Bukola Saraki; former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulazi Abubakar Yari; former governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido; former governor of Benue State, Senator Gabriel Suswam; former governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo and  former military governors of the state 
From the state include, the  deputy governor, Obong Moses Ekpo, Lawmakers representing the State at National Assembly,Speaker of the Statue’s House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey and members, security chiefs, clergies, members of the state executive council, captains of industries and chairmen of local councils as well as traditional rulers.
Goodwill messages were delivered by guests and personalities who also poured glowing tributes on the people, leadership past and present as well as other forebears whose vision started the agitation for creation of Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers (COR) State many centuries back that later midwife Akwa Ibom State as a political entity.
Former Vice President of Nigeria and Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in his goodwill message, congratulated the government and people of the State on the anniversary of state creation and lauded the progress of the state under the impactful leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
The former Vice President acknowledged that in the past 35 years, Akwa Ibom has witnessed an unprecedented socio-economic growth in all sectors, saying that the developmental strides of Governor Emmanuel, through the people-oriented projects have set the pace for others to emulate.
Represented by the Governor of Sokoto State, and Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, Alhaji Abubakar congratulated Akwa Ibom people for marking 35 years of development and capacity building, calling on all to support the Governor to succeed.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar celeberates with Akwa Ibom State at 35 and he commends the Governor of Akwa Ibom State Udom Emmanuel for the good work that he has been doing in Akwa Ibom State. 
“We are seeing progress, we are seeing development in virtually all the spheres in life under your leadership in Akwa Ibom State, he said. 
Observing that Akwa Ibom has fared well under the leadership of the PDP,  the party’s Presidential hopeful urged the people of the state to remain steadfast in the support for the party and be hopeful that the PDP will take over at the center in 2023.
On the ongoing internal fued in the PDP, Alhaji Abubakar said, “yes, we must acknowledge that we are having internal family issues, but be rest assured …that we are not involved or engaged in the war of attrition. It is a political disagreement and very soon, all of that will be resolved and the PDP will continue to remain strong and strong, and grow untill we win the election, by the grace of God, come February 2023”.
In a message also, former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, congratulated the Governor Emmanuel and Akwa Ibom people on the 35th anniversary celebrations, describing the governor as a pacesetter whose performance leaves no one in doubt of his passion to develop the state.
The former and last military governor of the State, Group Capt. John Ebiye (rtd.) stated that Akwa Ibom State has been consistently progressing through successive administrations, particularly commending the crop of leaders the state has had in present democracy that began in 1999 and the improvements by the present administration under Mr. Udom Emmanuel, and expressed hope that the next administration will sustain the trend.
Chief Host of the event, and Governor of the State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, took the people through a thanksgiving session in acknowledgement of God’s help to the state over the thirty-five years of existence. 
He further extolled the successive heads of governments and leaders of the state from creation for their contributions in building a strong Akwa Ibom and taking the state through phases of growth.
Governor Emmanuel expressed hope that Akwa Ibom would be better off with the emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as President in the upcoming election.
“Akwa Ibom this time around shall not be forgotten, Akwa Ibom shall not be left behind, Akwa Ibom will be in the forefront of everything in Nigeria. We shall be in the forefront of development. 
“As we are contributing immensely to the resources of Nigeria, Akwa Ibom will also be at the forefront”.
Earlier in his state-wide broadcast on radio and television to the people of the state, tagged; OUR STATE IS MOVING FORWARD, BACKWARD NEVER!, Governor Emmanuel who recalled how Akwa Ibom was from the cradle to present status as a State in the Country, Nigeria, said that such steady developments and strides are worthy of celebration.
“It was a grand fulfillment of the dream our Founding Fathers had nourished and hoped for when they banded together and started the agitation for the creation of the Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers  (COR) State.  Today, 35 years since that momentous occasion, 35 years since God hearkened to our pleas and heard our supplication, the land rightly called the Land of Promise has lived up to its name.
“From a spartan and dusty provincial capital that Uyo and the entirety of the State then was in 1987, it has today become a sparkling destination of choice for Nigerians and others across the world. “From a collection of nondescript homes, dotted in between with thatched roofed houses, today, our State boasts of some of the most spectacular homes and estates in the Nation, and indeed Africa.  From pothole-filled roads that could be counted by the finger tips, today, the Uyo, the Capital, and the entire State boasts of some of the most elegant and world-class road network, linking us seamlessly in one gigantic movement of people, goods and services. “From a State where modern hospitals were non-existent, except a few facilities that were meant for provincial needs, today, every Federal Constituency boasts of a fully functional general hospital equipped with the most modern amenities that are comparable to similar facilities anywhere, across the globe.  From a State where the people had to travel long distances either to Calabar or Port Harcourt, to board flights to other parts of the nation for their businesses, leisure or family needs, today the State has, by far the best airline in the nation, the only sub national to ever own such, (The Award Winning Ibom Air.) “Today, 35 years later, from a State where her definition was seen as a  purely Civil Service-oriented entity, our narratives have changed and our circumstances and growth accelerated with over 25 functional industries, including the largest syringes manufacturing company in Africa and the only coconut crude oil refinery in the nation and indeed Africa, a flour mill that is fully automated among others. “Thirty five years later, the people who were formerly mainly seen as the hewers of wood and the gate keepers, the cooks and the house helps, heeded the clarion call to arise (dakkada) to the faith of their greatness, and today are major players in the boardroom of the Nigerian socio-political enterprise. No longer do they keep their heads down, no longer do they play second fiddle to anyone, rather they are doers and as aspirational as their counterparts elsewhere. “Today, our children are scoring and breaking academic records all over the world, thus proving that public education, when properly managed, can produce the best among us.  Today, our State is an oasis of peace and tranquility, with our youths taking ownership of their destinies and pledging to protect and maintain this peace we have come to enjoy. Certainly, it has been 35 years of God’s immeasurable blessings, grace and favour.   “To God alone be the glory! It has been 35 years of God’s Invisible Hands at work, directing our steps and ordering them according to His designs. We owe Him our eternal gratitude. Let me use this opportunity to thank our former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, (rtd) GCFR, for granting us this piece of Godly Real Estate and all the past leaders, for passionately dedicating their time, energies, talents and skills in shaping, distilling and projecting the ethos and values that have helped shape our growth, identity and development,” Governor Emmanuel stated. On the achievements his administration has recorded in over seven years leadership, he said that the legacy so far established would be one of deep impacts that next administration will consolidate on. 
“From aviation development, to infrastructure, to industrialization, to healthcare delivery, to education, to food sufficiency and agriculture, to improvements in power, to human and youth capacity development, to the promotion of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), and other key areas of the human development, stressing that these achievements become even more worthy of celebration, considering the harsh economic headwind that ushered his tenure in, in 2015.”
According him, his administration has since 2015 when it was first elected given mandate to lead, attracted 25 industries such as the Jubilee syringes in Onna, which today produces the best syringes for the healthcare needs across the country and some parts of Europe, Kings Flour Mill in Onna, Metering Solutions Company in Onna,St. Gabriel Virgin Coconut Refinery in Mkpat Enin and Lion Plywood Manufacturing Company. Creation of Industrial Clusters in Itam that produce such needed items as the first  tissue paper produced from bamboo fibre to plastics, to tooth picks and pencils among others. 
Also initiated and commissioned are 21 Storey Smart Building (Dakkada Tower) in Uyo, Ikot Oku Ikono Flyover in Uyo, 10-lane Ring Road 3 in Uyo, 132/33KVA, 2X60MVA Transmission Substation in Ekim, IBB Flood control project in Uyo, reconstruction of General Hospital in Ikot Ekpene and acquisitions of seven aircraft to fleet of Ibom Air while Ibom Deep Seaport, the 1.2 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant, the Oil and Gas Logistics centre remain on course for actualization by next government.
Similarly, Governor’s Emmanuel said that his administration has created thousands of jobs for the unemployed, provided avenues for distributors and of course the value-chain, saying the impact are being felt across the State, and the Nation at large. Making a clarion call to all to come together to build Akwa Ibom, as his tenure was winding down, Governor Emmanuel said,  “My dear Akwaibomites, our state is rising, our people live in peace free from kidnapping, people are flocking to our state in thousands, economic foundation that we have laid are bearing fruits, our infrastructure is world class, our educational system is achieving great results, our healthcare services are among the best in the  nation, Ibom Air is defining our status in Nigerian aviation industry and will extend soon to other parts of the world. The future is assured, we cannot gamble these achievements away. Our state is moving forward. “Let us all ARISE in unison to appreciate what God Almighty has used this Administration to achieve in the past nearly eight years. This is surely my last official address to you on our State’s Anniversary as your State Governor. By this time next year (God willing) the mantle of leadership would have been passed unto our God’s chosen Successor. “In all of these, our resolve, as a state as a people remain  “FORWARD EVER, BACKWARD NEVER”. Our determination to move Akwa Ibom State continually forward lies in our hands and I sincerely believe that “Together, we can”. Our correspondent however, observed that, the celebration continues with commissioning of 12 additional projects, including dualized and 2-lane roads, palm oil processing depot and 18,000-seater capacity Eket Stadium.

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