Akan Okon: The Prepared and Preferred in Akwa Ibom by Abasiandino John

Akan Okon: The Prepared and Preferred in Akwa Ibom by Abasiandino John

Editor's note: Public affairs commentator, Abasiandino John, writes on the recent declaration by Akan Okon, the immediate past commissioner for economic development and Ibom Deep Seaport, announcing that he will contest for the state's governorship primary election under the PDP ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Following his resignation from the State Executive Council on Monday, Mr. Akan Okon, the immediate past commissioner for economic development and Ibom Deep Seaport in Akwa Ibom confirmed that he will be contesting the governorship election billed for next year, putting to rest all the earlier speculations around his governorship ambition. In my opinion, Akan Okon's decision to join the race is a big plus to the Akwa Ibom state because it will scale up the quality of gubernatorial aspirants.

Akan Okon
Abasiandino John said Akan Okon is the most prepared and preferred aspirant in Akwa Ibom PDP. Photo credit: @MrAkanOkon
Source: UGC

Since his appointment as commissioner into the Akwa Ibom Executive Council in October 2013 by former Governor Godswill Akpabio, Akan Okon was continuously and strategically assigned to very critical ministries that were either primarily saddled with the planning and development of the state's economy or execution of very specific technical projects. For instance, realising the need to handover a state with a robust economy and the benefit of leveraging Akan Okon's rich experience in the financial sector, the then governor assigned Akan Okon to the ministry of economic development in 2013 where he served till April 2014, and was seconded to the ministry of finance in 2014 where he served till the end of the administration in 2015.

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Following the emergence of Mr Udom Emmanuel as governor in May 2015, there was need to build on the healthy economy inherited from the previous administration, and to achieve this, the responsibility of manning the state's ministry of finance fell on Akan Okon where he served till October 2016. Due to Mr Okon's flexibility and results-oriented disposition, Governor Udom Emmanuel saw the need to deploy these qualities in other critical sectors that were begging for attention. Consequently, Akan Okon was assigned to the ministry of housing and special duties where he served from December 2016 to September 2018.

In his effort to actualise one of his flagship projects, Ibom Air, and by extension, his vision for the state's aviation sector, Governor Emmanuel had to rely on someone who had the skills and knowledge to deliver the key projects. This led to Akan Okon's appointment as commissioner for special duties and aviation development in September 2018. The result of Governor Emmanuel's confidence in Akan Okon was the official launch of Ibom Air with two aircraft on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, and the construction of a commercial building at the Victor Attah International Airport. By May 2019 when Governor Emmanuel's first term ended, construction of the second runway at the Victor Attah International Airport had commenced.

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Governor Emmanuel had repeatedly emphasised that his administration was focusing the development of the state economy on three gateways - land, air, and water. With a significant success recorded on land through the construction of many economically viable roads and other infrastructures and the huge progress made with Ibom Air in the first term, following the governor's reelection in 2019, it was time for the government to shift its attention to water with Ibom Deep Seaport as priority. Again, the mandate of driving the government vision towards actualisation fell on Akan Okon with his appointment as the commissioner for economic development and Ibom Deep Seaport in July 2019.

Through Akan Okon's commitment and ingenuity, between July 2019 and March 2022, the state made very commendable progress towards the actualisation of the deep seaport. For instance, last year, Mr Okon led the state government delegation to the maritime sector and harbor development programme in South Korea, where the state made a presentation on Ibom Deep Seaport and Ibom Industrial City to the Management of Busan Port Authority (BPA). Briefing newsmen in Uyo shortly after his arrival from South Korea, Akan Okon disclosed that BPA, operators of the world’s second largest port in South Korea, had agreed to provide the technical support towards the construction of Ibom Deep Seaport, while the Korean Maritime and Ocean University agreed to partner the state government in manpower development.

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In my opinion, since the conception of Ibom Deep Seaport by the Victor Attah led administration, Akan Okon was the only government official who could talk about the project, the progress, challenges and prospects, with ease and to the understanding of Akwa Ibom people.

Beyond his vast knowledge in the economic development of the state, Akan Okon was instrumental to the actualisation of some trademark projects of the Udom Emmanuel led administration, such as the 21 story smart building (Dakkada Towers); power substations at the Victor Attah International Airport; internal road project at the Four Point by Sheraton Hotels, Ikot Ekpene, and developing of a 30 years plan for the development of Akwa Ibom state, among others. Akan Okon has worked tirelessly over the years to interpret Governor Udom Emmanuel's blueprint across many sectors and he is definitely the one person who would best sustain and even build on the success of the current administration.

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With all these credits, I agree with him that his years of serving as a commissioner in the State Executive Council were preparing him for greater service. As an aspirant for the office of governor in 2023, Akan Okon's vast hands-on experience makes him the most prepared and most preferred.

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