A YEAR END STATEMENT BY CHIEF ESHIET ESSIEN, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF IBOM CONSOLIDATION COLLECTIVE, ICC, SPONSORS OF THE www.unofficial-udomemmanuel.org WEBSITE
Compliments of the season to all our dear subscribers, contributors and members. This is the first time that I would be speaking directly to the stakeholders of our website since the formation of the group Ibom Consolidation Collective, ICC, in 2012 and the building of this site early 2014. Apart from a few text messages I personally sent to some eminent indigenes of Akwa Ibom State to apprise them of the formal launch of the site over a year ago, no other communication has been carried out by the Board of Trustees, BOT. My view had been that we needed to let the robustness of the site speak for itself. Going now towards the end of its second year of operation, there has arisen a need to speak. Firstly, to formally thank our numerous subscribers for staying with us. Secondly, to unmask for good the identities of the principal role players and BOT Members of the group, the reason as I’ve come to learn that in politics it’s do and let them know you did it. This aspect becomes even more important as it’s quite possible in the din and cacophony of political road shows and events to forget back room guys, other contributors with modest visibility and access.
THE MAKING OF ICC
The ICC originally before it went online and viral, was a select group of close associates and friends committed to the promotion of good governance in Akwa Ibom State. And the trigger basically oscillated around trying to find an answer to the question “what next after Chief Godswill Akpabio?”. The informal chats, discussions, debates and strategy sessions were going on in Lagos, Uyo and Abuja for about five years but it was not until the Governor was made the SSG did we decide to give the loose association the name Ibom Consolidation Collective, ICC. Prior to his appointment as SSG, many of us had other individuals that were being touted as possible governor of our state. Truth is that the entry of Mr Udom Emmanuel accelerated the convergence of views amongst members of the group as to the likely successor that would be in the long term interest of the state. It was not just a sentimental decision. We were confronted by an unusual credential. Very well educated, formally and informally. Has been a key member of teams in various blue chips that have managed for profit and done it successfully hence understands bottom line issues. Untainted, significant scandal – free wall street experience and pedigree in three key blue chips, including an authentic global consultancy behemoth PricewaterhouseCoopers. A beneficiary of well merited multiple and serial corporate board positions. Ibibio by tribe.
Strong Christian convictions and a Deacon in his local Church, Qua Iboe Church Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria in a deeply religious state like Akwa Ibom. The Grace of God, near Biblical style entry into the public service firmament in Akwa Ibom, almost Jonathanistic, had all the hallmarks of a divine will. A devout family man / settled and calm home-front, a beautiful, humble and supportive wife and good kids. Naturally a likeable personality. A quiet philanthropist, bridge builder, with extensive network of quality friends, within and outside the state of Akwa Ibom. Add the icing of being Akwa Ibom State Secretary of Government to the package to give a bit of the political road - holding that was not there at that point and we knew we had a winner on our hands.
I recall soon after calling to congratulate him on the appointment, I and Mr Sam Edoho, a BOT Member of ICC and who is also an appointee of this government went into a long discussion on the future of the state and we did not know when we both said almost in unison “It’s a great opportunity. He should run”. Sam did promise to call the Governor (SSG then) to broach our position with him as I had to drop off for a corrective surgery on my leg. Sam did make the call but at this moment, I am not at liberty to divulge what the Governor’s reaction was then. The following week Mr Felix Ekarika, my Vice Chairman on ICC’s Board of Trustees engaged me as usual on same subject matter and infact went further to plead that I make out time to put together a document that might help in enriching the conversation around the next level governance focus for the state with Mr Emmanuel’s appointment as SSG concluding also that he should be persuaded to run. I put together the document in Lagos while I was recuperating and also managed to personally make a presentation of its content to the board of ICC and the venerable Mr Udeme Ufot and Barr. Aniekan Ukpanah in their offices in April 2014 in Lagos who promised to share it with the SSG then in Uyo as I was not strong enough to travel. The ideas canvassed in the strategy document itself were what we eventually used in this website’s agenda setting pages for the formal launch of the website.
The main points in the document were basically the positions I have held since 2011 immediately after Chief Godswill Akpabio won a second term. I could recollect particularly saying two things early 2013 to the high performing Dr (Prince) Godwin Ntuk Udeh who was then the Special Adviser in the Bureau of Political and Legislative Affairs. Firstly, that “Consolidation For Sustainable Development” would be the key defining positioning statement that would stand a chance of resonating for whomever wants to replace Chief Akpabio in 2015. I gave him validation for the statement. Secondly, having made some commendable strides in infrastructural provision, that the next level governance challenges in our state would be Job creation via Industrialization and Inclusive Growth. I also had recommended that just as the Niger Delta Ministry was a child of the Niger Delta agitations there was a need for a change for instance in the nomenclaturing of ministries to accommodate a Ministry of Investment, Wealth and Job Creation in our state.
CREATION OF OUR FLAGSHIP PRODUCT www.unofficial-udomemmanuel.org
Having set up the group, the next thing was to create a flagship product of the group and brand it. And so was born the website with the rather quirky and almost disruptive name www.unofficial-udomemmanuel.org. The choice of a website as a flagship product was strategic, the first reason being that most of the lies and asinine comments made about the governor (past and present), government (past and present) and the PDP were and are still being carried out on the internet. The reason being that the internet as is presently set up is without much regulation, difficult to police and instigate litigation thereby providing a fertile ground for innocent people to be easily maligned by mischief makers. The matter was made even more difficult by what many observers have referred to as the tepid response of the PDP communication machinery across all levels of government (I’d rather use the word tentative and almost halfhearted approach) which fiddled away while its equity was being heavily eroded by the deliberately and largely propagandistic and sometimes barefaced lies communication strategy of the APC and its cohorts. The APC’s presence online was intimidating, as the story goes, hiring over 800 young internet savvy and social media “hyenas” whose main jobs were and are still to descend on and try to eat up anybody who may be trying to diminish the APC brand and its candidates online. And they added some dose of the Goebbelsian propaganda strategy by telling you five things out of which three are patently and transparently false. Relying on the fact that an average Nigerian has a near pathological disdain for research and fact finding, the APC got and are still getting away with murder mainly because people who should speak out prefer to sit on the fence. Same mistakes were made by the PDP offline, on the soap box and campaign grounds. Did the party (PDP) do an audit of the perception and public hate level across all senatorial zones of certain caucus members who were regular faces, front row personalities and key speakers at its rallies before putting up those persons to speak?. I guess not. Political communication is more likely to be effective if the source is believed to have objectivity or likeability. We’re talking about the proverbial love point since it is a known fact that people more readily forgive those they are in love with. The greater the influence of communication source over recipient, the greater the recipient’s effect in favour of source. It’s elementary communication theory. So trust is key, meaning that the most influential party caucus member may not be the most loved member by the public and masses. The party ought to develop a mechanism to tell those with significant trust deficits to sit down and put forward those who have a love affair with the masses for greater resonance and acceptance. It was done in this market before. I was an Advertising Account Manager on the MKO Abiola Hope 93 Campaign, considered by most Nigerians as the most deliberate and compelling political communication this market has witnessed, and I do recall that the brand document that we shared with Abiola and got his buy-in had an honest disclosure of his strengths and weaknesses eg his wide contacts across the length and breadth of Nigeria, his philanthropy etc on the positive side, he being a stammerer and being quick to anger, accusation in some quarters of being corrupt, his serial womanizing etc on the negative. We read out to him, loud and clear, all those things Nigerians did not like about him and came up with strategies to mitigate their negative impact on his electoral fortunes. Even though Abiola chose once to ignore and or forget our counsel not to allow himself to be provoked by the NRC team for one moment lost his cool when Chief Tom Ikimi was poking fun and making faces at him off camera and attempted an angry response on camera, but the point I am making is that he was told by our team to expect the distraction during the national debate. Even the SDP did an audit of most likely stalwarts to be allowed to take the stand. There was obvious rigour in the process they adopted.
So therefore with all the above in mind, as sympathisers of the PDP and the government in our state we believe that the “unofficial site”, as many of its subscribers and patrons prefer to call it, would continue to provide a credible counter platform and forum for the administration of Udom Emmanuel to tell its own story, rubbish the propaganda of the enemies of the government and give the people of Akwa Ibom an opportunity to have a fair assessment and appreciation of the efforts of their government.
Perhaps I should also seize the opportunity of this 2015 end of year statement to answer one of the most frequently asked questions by many of our stakeholders who have sought to know whether the site is a government funded project and to respond that this website is a 100 percent private initiative funded completely so far by some of its BOT Members. We have a retained IT Coordinator and Site Manager working with another set of 4 retained geeks and 4 consulting correspondents. The most I’ve gotten are some innocuous phone calls from Mr Ekerete Udo asking how we are doing and remarking, using his words, “wow you guys have quite a lot on that site…” to which I’ve often nodded and murmuring at the same time “yeee, we’re assisting in making your office look good, shouldn’t we be sharing your allowance with you !”. But quite sincerely, I must acknowledge the First Lady, Her Excellency Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel who personally spoke with me about two months ago on the phone praising the robustness of the site and in her own words “you people are doing a good job” which is really comforting for me, my board and members.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT OF UDOM EMMANUEL SO FAR
Just so that it would be quite obvious to our people that we made a right choice to have elected Mr Udom Emmanuel as the Governor of our dear state, (forget what those totally jaundiced judgments from the pit of hell are trying to make us believe) I do crave your indulgence to go through this very long list of strides of his government under just 6 months on the saddle.
CONSTRUCTION OF ROADS AND 6 BRIDGES AND INFRASTRUCTURE ACROSS THE STATE:
- Dualization of 19.7km Uyo-Etinan Road
- Construction of 39.4km Etinan-Ndon Eyo Road with 2No. Bridges and Spur
- Construction of 7.3km Ebekpo-Ikot Ebidang Road
- Construction of 3.5km Ikot Udom Road with 15m Span Bridge in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area
- Construction of 5km Ikot Usop-Ikot Edeghe-Ikot Ekpuk Road with 30m Span Bridge in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area
- Construction of 5km Mkpok-Okat Road in Onna Local Government Area
- Resumption of work at the Dualization of Eket-Ibeno Road
- Urban Renewal Projects within Eket Township
- Emergency intervention, flood control, completion of Outfalls and Urban Roads in Oron.
- Construction of second Runway at the Akwa Ibom International Airport
- Construction of three collapsed bridges and internal roads in Obot Akara LGA
- Dualisation of Oron-Uyo road
- Construction of 1.2km Underground Drainage in Uyo
- Improved electricity distribution and power supply. Restoration of regular electricity in areas like Okobo Local Government after many years of blackout
- Emergency Intervention on Gully Erosion at Enen Atai along Calabar – Itu Highway
INDUSTRIALISATION AND JOB CREATION
- Inauguration of a Technical Committee on Foreign Direct Investment
- Inauguration of a Technical Committee on Ibaka Deep seaport project - With the selection of international transaction advisers, contract signing and the handover of certificate of occupancy, the Ibom Deep Seaport is fast becoming a reality.
- Inauguration of a Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency
- Groundbreaking ceremony of an automobile assembly plant, Itu, the LED factory and fertilizer plant to others, industrialization is on its wings in Akwa Ibom State.
- Peacock Paints has come alive again
- Over 50 foreign investors have indicated interest in coming to setup shop in Akwa Ibom State. Several Partnership Agreements already signed like the Coconut Refinery partnership with South African firm among others.
- Electric Meter manufacturing Plant underway in Onna
- Clay Processing Plant underway in Onna
- Foreign Direct Investment on Road Show, and is attracting industrialists in over 30 countries
- Training of 1000 Youths on Oracle Certification and other skill acquisition programmes
- Establishment of Sports Academies in the 10 Federal Constituencies
- 1000 Youths for Oracle Certification Program
- Power Sector training for 200 youths
- Special Agricultural Training for 100 youths in Israel
- Approval for the training of 329 youths in photography and film production
- Akwa Ibom Governor has offered Scholarships to 186 Akwa Ibom Youths
- Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme-AKEES. “Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme-AKEES aimed at creating 10,000 jobs for the teeming youths in the state has been launched.
- Payment of 10 years arrears pensions and gratuities to primary school teachers and local government employees
- Construction of Dr. Ann Ward Gynecology Block at St Luke’s Hospital, Anua, Uyo
- Emergency Intervention on Gully Erosion at School of Nursing
- Rehabilitation of Children and Male Wards at St Luke’s Hospital
- Ibom Specialist Hospital has commenced operation with more than 50 medical experts from India and other parts of the world
- Residential accommodation complex for medical staff of the new Ibom Specialist Hospital commissioned.
DAKKADA philosophy launched.
Akwa Ibom 2015 Carol Festival
- More than forty Youths of Akwa Ibom State have benefited from the Family Empowerment And Youths Reorientation Programme (FEYReP) a pet project of the Governor’s wife Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel.
- FEYREP Initiative flagged-off
ANY AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT ?
Of course, as long as it’s a human operation there would still be room for improvement. For instance I would want to see the State’s Bureau of Cooperative Development assume greater impetus. My view is that in order create to state a wider pool of options in the laudable area of job creation, greater efforts should also be put in mainstreaming small scale enterprenureships in various fields such as agriculture, small scale manufacturing, “one man or woman enterprises that are structured for growth” and subsistence businesses leveraging the instrumentality of cooperative development.
My opinion is that the socio-economic transformation of the State would also be dependent on the way we address the issue of corporate productivity of the larger proportion of our people, particularly those living in the rural areas that account for over 70% of the population. To reach out to this segment, the most effective vehicle in my view would be the use of Cluster Co-operative Groups. Eg Co-operative Traders Clusters, Co-operative Artisan Clusters and Cooperative Farmers Clusters. This model will effect economic transformation beyond the use of emergency measures intended to alleviate poverty, create a middle class that will strive for economic independence and create sustainable development. Our ultimate aim should eventually be to turn the individual Co-operatives registered with our Bureau of Co-operative Development into private sector driven business investment Front – end eg Fishermen and Women Co-operatives, Farmers’ Co-operatives and Back - end cluster groups eg Restaurant Owners Co-operatives, Canning / Packaging Co-operatives for export and local suppliers. We can also implement creative programs like the business cluster development program “adopt a cluster programme”. The main objective of this program would be for us to encourage corporate bodies such as banks to adopt category - based Co-operative clusters developed by us eg Shrimps and Crayfish Cluster, Cassava Cluster, Raffia/Craft Cluster.
To achieve all these, a lot of work would need to be done by the Bureau. The whole issues of Co-operative niches for purpose of targeting incentives would have to be relooked. Effort needs to be ramped up in the recruitment and training of Co-operative Development Specialists (CDS) alongside Development of easy to understand Co-operative formation modules. A marketing framework that would ensure the Bureau’s activities get better subscription would also need to be developed.
The cooperators in particular and the state’s economy in general would reap the benefits in many ways. Improved bargaining power, Reduced costs, Easier to obtain products or services otherwise, Could provide platform for the expansion of new and existing market opportunities, Ensures competitiveness, Improved product or service quality, Increased income for all concerned.
Dear Akwa Ibomites, you can see from all the achievements earlier listed that His Excellency has done more than enough and that all things considered, Udom Emmanuel is the best candidate to have taken over from Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio . He is a steady hand at this critical point in the history of our state. He believes the right to a good education is not negotiable. He understands maintenance culture. He is squeaky clean and lives by example. He is God fearing. He is better placed to create jobs for our teeming youths because he has managed for profit, understands bottom line issues and investors would most likely listen to him. He and his wife have been and are still friends of the poor and underpriviledged and they deserve our encouragement and support for the sake of our future generations.
We can't thank you enough for standing by Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel and the PDP especially in Akwa Ibom State in 2015. Millions of supporters have invested time, money, and energy to take true ownership of this mandate and advance the values and beliefs that make us democrats.
So we really mean it when we say that we can't thank you enough: All the progress made in 2015, were made because folks like you have never shied away from a challenge, and you're never afraid of hard work.
There will be more challenges on the road ahead, and more work to be done to protect our progress and keep moving forward. We know you're ready to face it all head-on, Akwa Ibomites -- it's what folks like you have always done. You're never satisfied to sit idly by and just watch things happen. We've always known our supporters to be action takers, and you're no different. So right now, if you can, share the word over the social media so we can keep facing those challenges head-on and doing the hard work that truly makes a difference in our fellow Akwa Ibomites' lives.
The future of Akwa Ibom is up to us, Fellow Akwa Ibomite -- and we know it's in good hands, because we've seen the good that we can accomplish when we work together. We're so excited to see what we'll do next.
Finally, I’d like to thank my Board of Trustees and other key Operatives in the group as listed below for their support and steadfastness.
|MR FELIX EKARIKA||VICE CHAIRMAN BOT||ESSIEN UDIM|
|MR SAM EDOHO||BOT MEMBER||EKET|
|MR INEM PHILLIPS||BOT MEMBER||ORUK ANAM|
|DEACON SOLOMON AKPAN||BOT MEMBER||NSIT UBIUM|
|ELDER SAM BASSEY||ADVISER / BOT MEMBER||EKET|
|PRINCE OTU SOLOMON UDOM||BOT MEMBER||ABAK|
|MRS GLORY JACOB||WOMEN LEADER||MKPAT ENIN|
|MR DICKSON BEN||YOUTH LEADER||NSIT UBIUM|
|MISS BERKY INWANG||STUDENT LEADER||MBO|
|BARR. UDUAK JOHNSTONE||LEAD CORRESPONDENT||NSIT UBIUM|
|MR EJIKE C NWANKWO||IT / WEB COORDINATOR||NON AKWA IBOMITE|
Please do feel free to access the CVs of the BOT Members hereby published for the first time on this site to enable you put a face to them.
Happy New Year. Many thanks once again and God Bless You All, Amen.
CHIEF ESHIET BEN ESSIEN
CONVENER & CHAIRMAN, BOT