In today’s Nigeria, it is very rare for people who do not share similar political ideologies and goals to acknowledge the giant strides of the opposition. This is probably because politics in this part of the world is still seen as winners take it all. This could also have accounted for the slow pace of Nigeria’s development. Here, political parties rarely work with members of the opposition once they are in government. There is this suspicion among the political class. Unfortunately, such suspicion has only fueled retrogression and inhibited our development. Our politicians are yet to learn the important lesson that good governance should be expected after politics. Governance should target the good of all irrespective of the political divide. The fact that a ruling party wins in an election should not be the basis for excluding brilliant minds from any part of the country, locality or political group from offering their quota to the overall development of the country. What should be of paramount concern in such contributions should be the overall interest of the country as a whole and assurance that such contributions are in line with the goals and aspirations of the ruling party or party manifesto, so to say. Our goal should be even development and progress.
Having said this, it becomes instructive also when electorate who for one reason or the other, in the course of exercising their fundamental rights of voting for political officers, showed preference for one candidate above the other, and still come out to publicly acknowledge the good works of the people they didn’t vote for. This is also a rarity in Nigerian politics. The norm here which is by no means the acceptable standard is for people to criticize those they didn’t vote for. Somehow too, consciously or unconsciously, the people voted into power, also seem to be more interested in the affairs of the people that voted for them before considering that of those who didn’t vote them in.
The popular statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari readily comes to mind here. The president had shortly after becoming the President, declared that the interest of the people who gave him 95 per cent votes would be prioritised above the ones that gave him just five per cent votes.
Perhaps this is why the acknowledgment by the Ikot Ambon community in Ibesikpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State that the trademark of their state governor, Udom Emmanuel, is excellence is worthy of note. Even though angry with the government, these people could not hide their admiration for a governor who they believe, has worked relentlessly to deliver the dividends of democracy to his people. The community had in a peaceful protest, asked the governor to ensure that the quality of road projects in their areas, match the world class standard of work that their governor is known for. The people called on the government to extend its trademark of quality road construction to the Ikot Ambon-Nung Ette-Ikot Abasi Idem Road. These people testified to the good works of their governor and acknowledged diverse ongoing road constructions and rehabilitation works by the state government in Uyo, the state’s capital as well as in all major towns and communities across the state.
However, the people made it clear to the governor that the ongoing road projects in their area which links the Nung Ette and Ikot Abasi Idem villages falls short of the expected standards for which their governor is reputed for. For the people to openly testify to the giant strides of Governor Udom Emmanuel is a big deal in this part of the world. Such is a testimony to the administration’s hard work in bringing development to every part of the state.
Really, the Udom Emmanuel’s administration can rarely be faulted in some of his major cardinal projects. The administration has gone a long way in making its impact felt in all the local government areas in the state by embarking on even development of the state. When the governor got to office on May 29, 2015, he did not leave anyone in doubt as to his mission at the Government Office. He had presented a five-point agenda of wealth creation, job creation, poverty alleviation, political and economic inclusiveness as well as infrastructural consolidation and expansion.
The administration has since recorded some accomplishments across all sectors of the economy. With a budgetary allocation of N65.42bn in 2015 state appropriation and 91.8bn in 2016, infrastructural development and road construction, bridges and drainages have remained some of its priorities.
Dogged at accomplishing his objectives, the governor has ignored every form of distraction. Since his inauguration, he has constructed nearly 200 kilometres stretch of roads across the state, touching every community. For instance, even the Ikot Ambon community confirmed that the governor awarded a road contract to a construction firm between May and June last year. Indeed, as of mid last year, the Udom Emmanuel’s administration has constructed over 160km of roads, 12 bridges and other infrastructure across the state. The projects included the dualisation of 19.7kmUyo-Etinan Road; construction of 39.4km Etinan-NDON Eyo Road with bridges and spur; construction of 7.3 km Ebekpo-Ikot Ebidang road; construction of 3.5 km Ikot Udom Road with 15m span bridge in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area; construction of 5km Ikot Usop-Ikot Edegbe-Ikot Ekpuk Road with 30m span bridge in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area; construction of 5km Mkpok-Okat road in Onna local government area; dualisation of Eket-Ibeno road; dualisation of Oron-Uyo road ; construction of Information Drive and other internal roads in Uyo.
All these construction works are aside the urban renewal projects within Eket township, emergency interventions, flood control, completion of outfalls and urban roads in Oron. The administration also constructed a second Runway at the Akwa Ibom International airport. This is in addition to the construction of three collapsed bridges and internal roads in Obot Akara Local Government Area.
The governor has also gone beyond road construction to investing in human capital, particularly in the youths through different vocational trainings. The farmers are not left out. He established a Special Cocoa Maintenance Scheme (SCMS) to train farmers and youths on pruning/shading management, under- brushing, and tree care by fumigation, all in an effort to improve on farm yields.
It is heartwarming that this is happening at a time that many Nigerians have come to the realisation that the nation should invest more in its agricultural sector to improve its foreign earnings. The governor has re-introduced the second planting season in the state for enhanced food production and sufficiency.
Leaders should learn to always put people at the centre of governmental policies. Gone are those days when elected officials can do what they like. The electorate are getting smarter. They watch and they prepare the scorecard at the end of the day. Doing things that uplift the electorate’ lives remains the surest way of getting a good score card.