Opinion: Nsukka and Udom Emmanuel’s Grand Vision by Udeme Nana

Opinion: Nsukka and Udom Emmanuel’s Grand Vision by Udeme Nana

Editor's note: A public affairs commentator, Udeme Nana, writes on Governor Udom Emmanuel's recent outing in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where the Akwa Ibom state chief executive delivered the 2021 Founder’s Day Lecture.

Earlier this month, precisely on Thursday, 7th October, this writer joined the entourage of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom state to the University of Nigeria, where the governor delivered the 2021 Founder’s Day Lecture. The other great ‘Lion’ in the delegation was Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Russia, Chief Assam Assam who had also served Akwa Ibom state as the Attorney-General and commissioner for justice.

Udom Emmanuel
Nana writes on Governor Emmanuel's grand vision in Akwa Ibom state. Photo credit: Akwa Ibom state government
Source: Facebook

The Founder’s Day was to mark the spectacular contributions of the great statesman, the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe to the establishment of the University of Nigeria. The legendary University exists as a counterpoise against the current agitation by some Igbo youths to cut ties with a country for which the great Zik of Africa, their iconic son, who set it up, lived and died.

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One does not know why the governor of Akwa Ibom state was picked as this year’s visiting guest speaker on such an auspicious occasion. As one journeyed through the meandering road towards Nsukka and into the lush greens of that citadel of learning, one wondered if the Vice Chancellor and his team had known that the celebrated Zik of Africa was, in the 1920s, a mentee of the late Chief Nyong Essien, a respected Akwa Ibom titan, who was the pioneer chairman of the Eastern Nigeria Council of Chiefs and the Nsom of Uruan in the Ibibio heartland of Akwa Ibom state. There is a possibility that the governor was properly briefed because he was accompanied by his commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, Hon. Frank Archibong on the trip.

One imagined the organizers had remembered that the first head of government, then known as leader of government business, in the eastern region was another distinguished Akwa Ibom indigene and a leading intellectual of that era, the late Professor Eyo Ita from Ibeno. Yes, there are memories of Ibanga Udo Akpabio who had served as Secretary-General of the defunct Ibibio state Union and a minister in the eastern regional government who moved the motion for the establishment of the University.

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Even the symbol of the Institution, the Lion which stands in a menacing poise at the erstwhile main entrance into the University reflects the contribution of another AkwaIbomite as it was chiseled professionally by an Akwa Ibom sculptor, Dr. Uko Akpaide who, incidentally, taught my father when today’s old men were struggling boys in elementary school.

Akwa Ibom is also one of the catchment areas of the University, a circumstance which gives an advantage to applicants for admission into the school from the state. It would be nice, in addition, to have indigenes of the state enjoy such favourable consideration in employment opportunities. After all, Akwa Ibom was part of the oil–palm belt, the golden goose at that time, which exploitation generated resources to fund the building of the University. So much for some of the vital links between Akwa Ibom and the first indigenous university in Nigeria.

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Governor Udom Emmanuel seized the moment to present a case study on how he has changed the narrative of development through infrastructure and industrialisation in Akwa Ibom, ‘that was once a civil service state’.

According to the governor, who held the audience spellbound in his characteristic oratory:

“Shortly after I was sworn in, fully conscious of where we were going, I set up a technical committee on Foreign Direct Investment and charged them to go all out and sell our state, our areas of comparative advantage and ensure that through Industrialisation, we would expand the opportunities of growth for our people.”

The governor, having been properly robed in the requisite academic gown temporarily turned professorial and taught his captive students that:

“The key drivers of industrialisation were the quality of infrastructure on ground and of course, peace and security since investors will not go to a place that is unsafe and insecure.”

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Another sector in which the present government has changed the narrative is aviation through Ibom Air even though critics continue to ask questions about the ownership structure of the airline. Nevertheless, in the words of Mr. Udom Emmanuel:

“Ibom Air, has become a national sensation, flying the colours of Akwa Ibom within the Nigerian aviation space and dominating it, a mere two years after its maiden commercial flight.”

Indeed, Ibom Air, one of the flagship success stories of Governor Emmanuel operates from the only airport in Nigeria, arguably, with specifications where two airplanes can take off at the same time. It is important to underscore that the airline is just one aspect of the business operations plan of the airport. The airport in Uyo is a potentially Maintain, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) hub with prospects for job creation, more investments, and ancillary businesses. Ultimately, the entire environment around the airport would become a city with profitable services around it.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Legit.ng.

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