- PDP leading governorship aspirant in Akwa Ibom state, Akan Okon says his ambition is not a threat to his friendship with Governor Udom Emmanuel
- Governor Emmanuel had recently announced his preferred successor in the state sparking outrage among politicians
- Okon says although he was not chosen by the governor, it would not affect his friendship with the state chief executive
Uyo - The immediate past Akwa Ibom commissioner for economic development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Akwa Ibom, Akan Okon, said he still keeps a warm relationship with Governor Udom Emmanuel, despite the state chief executive's endorsement of someone else as his preferred successor.
Okon who is also a frontline Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant in the state, said the governor has been his friend for more than 40 years, stressing that he will not sacrifice his relationship because of politics.
“Governor Udom Emmanuel is my friend. This is my 40th year of friendship with the governor. Nothing will stand in the way of our relationship. Akwa Ibom people will continue to see us together.”
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Okon resigned from his appointment as a commissioner on Monday, March 14 to contest for the governorship position in the south-south state.
At a post-resignation press conference on Sunday, March 13, he said having been part of the Udom Emmanuel administration, he better understands the policy direction of the government and will ensure that there is no dislocation in the completion of all ongoing projects.
“His Excellency Governor Udom Emmanuel has done well. He has embarked on several projects that are legacy projects. And some of these projects cannot be completed in the lifespan of this administration.
“There's need for someone who has an understanding of the system, and who will be able to continue with these projects so as to ensure that they are completed to serve the purpose it was intended for the Akwa Ibom people.
“Governor Emmanuel's development of the state is based on three gateways, that's the land, the sea, and the air. And fortunately, I am the one who handled all the projects in these three areas.
“At 34, Akwa Ibom state cannot afford to be an experimental field where people come to learn leadership in public service.”
Okon joined the Akwa Ibom state government in 2013 and first served as commissioner in the ministry of economic development for six months. He was later moved to the ministry of finance where he served till the end of the administration of former Governor Godswill Akpabio in 2015.
He was reappointed commissioner for finance after Governor Emmanuel took over the mantle of leadership in May 2015, a position that saw him attaining the record of being the only person in the state to have served two governors as finance commissioner.
He also served as commissioner in the ministry of housing, urban renewal, and special duties; as well as that of aviation development, all of which he was noted for some key deliverables including the 21 storey smart building, Governor's Lodge in Lagos, Ibom Air, among others.
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Okon recently said that after serving as commissioner for years, he has gathered enough experience to lead the state.
He made the comment in an interview on Arise News recently, stressing that serving in the state government was a training programme that gave him the opportunity to closely learn from the state governors he worked with.
Responding to the question on Governor Emmanuel's preferred choice, Okon said that the governor has the right to have a preferred candidate but it does not take away the fact that whoever will emerge as the candidate will be decided at the party's primary.
How Akan Okon resigned from Governor Emmanuel's cabinet
Legit.ng had earlier reported that Okon and Pastor Sunny Ibuot, commissioner for labour and manpower development resigned on the same day, Monday, March 14.
Okon in his resignation letter explained that his decision was necessitated by the need to focus on his governorship aspiration.
He thanked the governor for the honour and great privilege to serve the state, adding that he would remain grateful to him and God almighty for giving him the opportunity to serve.