When it was created 30 years ago on September 23, 1987 by the ad- ministration of former military head of state, retired General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, Akwa Abasi Ibom also known as Akwa Ibom State was marooned in the backwaters of neglect. It was also knee-deep in underdevelopment. Uyo, the state capital remained literally humble and stripped of the trappings befitting a state capital. Describing it as a local government state was neither derogatory nor an exaggeration.
Streets were hardly well planned, and where they existed, the roads all over the new state were narrow and in very poor shape, making movement not only sluggish, but also chaotic. Take out oil giant Mobil (now ExxonMobil), which had been there in Eket, and there was scarcely any other business entity of note in the state then.
The size of the local economy was also undersized as many of the economically active indigenes were laidback. The situation demanded a very bold, courageous and relentless intervention.
That’s not the whole narrative. Dilapidated buildings and structures dotted the entire landscape. In terms of Infrastructural development in the state then was in a deplorable state. Social life in the state capital, Uyo was so bad then that newly wedded couples preferred either Calabar or Port Harcourt for their wedding receptions because befitting facilities were scarcely in existence in the state capital. Avid analysts of developments in the state described the situation over the years as a sad commentary.
This negative description has, however, gone with the winds. In their place, well-laid streets, mod- ern roads bridges and structures comparable with those found in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja now dot the entire landscape, especially in Uyo, suggesting that measurable progress has been made during the
past 30 years. The presence of five-star Le Meridien Hotel in Uyo and the FourPoint By Sheraton in Ikot Ekpene, among other prominent hotels men that tourism has received prior- ity attention. While the International airport has made the movement of people, goods and services friction-free, with the airport also comes the cargo wing. With it came the MRO the concept of which was to establish a maintenance point in the West African sub-regional aviation market. Before now, Nigeria had to go to Egypt or Ethiopia if they don’t go to Germany for aircraft maintenance.
The MRO has already been taken over by the Nigerian Airforce. This development oﬀers an opportunity for the establishment of an aviation school in the state. Clear evidence of physical, economic and social expansion, in addition to massive human capital development with the presence of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State University, Nigerian Maritime Academy, Oron, private universities, the state Polytechnic, College of Education, among other primary, secondary and tertiary institutions that are addressing the manpower needs of the state. Indus- tries such as…… This new picture of the state has also meant that Akwa Ibom has been transformed from its backwater economy in a state of desperation to a hub and destination for business, investment and tourism. Indeed, it has become a point of reference among its peers, and even ranks with some older states.
As the state celebrates, it flaunts a syringe factory which is already the biggest in Africa and plans to become the biggest in the world with plans to expand production capacity to one billion syringe per year, pencil factory, Toothpick Factory, Electric Metering plant, Resuscitated Peacock paint industry, among others, to announce its scores on industrialisation. Bold statements have also been made in such other areas of human endeavors as agriculture, rural development, health, youth empowerment and capacity development.
Collectively, the leaders of the state from it’s creation to the present day have recorded milestone achievements worthy of celebration.
Some Of the Achievements Of Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel
• Kidnapping and killings – Perhaps the most significant achievement of Governor Udom Emmanuel
in 2016 was the relative peace that Akwa Ibom State enjoyed, compared to the immediate past administration of Godswill Akpabio, which witnessed several cases of unresolved kidnap- pings and assassinations.
• Second Runway for Akwa Ibom Airport – Mr. Emmanuel’s administration in 2016 started the construction of a second runway at the Akwa Ibom International Airport. The runway is near completion.
• The State Secretariat annex – The Emmanuel administration overhauled the massive ‘10th Anniversary Hotel’ building along Udo Udoma Avenue, and turned it into the annex of the state secretariat, thereby creating oﬃce accommodation for hundreds of civil servants in the state.
• Akwa Ibom hatchery – The government commissioned the Akwa Ibom hatchery project, and in partnership with a private company launched an ambitious multi-million naira poultry scheme which is aimed at making the state a hub for poultry and allied businesses in Nigeria.
• Road construction and urban renewal – The government completed and commissioned some road projects in diﬀerent parts of the state. Among them are: 1.1 km Information Drive, oﬀ IBB Avenue, Uyo; 3.5 km Ikot Udom Road, Ibiono; the internal roads at the Cornelia Connelly College, Afaha Oku, Uyo; Dualisation of 1 km Awa-Ikot Nkan Road phase 1; and some select roads – Bassey Lane, Mainland Avenue, Efiat Street, Agric Lane, Awana Esin Road – in Oron Local Government Area. The government also commenced work on the renewal of Eket urban, Eket Local Government Area.
About Akwa Ibom
Akwa Ibom State was created on the 23rd of September 1987 by the then Military Administration of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. The creation of the State brought to fruition years of prolonged struggle by the people that occupied the mainland part of the former Cross River State.
For many, the creation of the State was a mark of justice, having been left out in earlier state creation exercises despite leading in the struggle for state creation in Nigeria, through the Ibibio Union, – a foremost Socio-Cultural organization that served as a unifying platform for the people of this part of Nigeria. In 1948, Ibibio Union, formed in 1928, transformed from a mere cultural association to a goal driven institution which promoted and championed the cause of state creation in Nigeria.
However, when in 1967 the 12 state structure was established following the creation of states by the General Yakubu Gowon administration, the Mainland part of Calabar Province in the then Eastern Nigeria was merely part of the then South Eastern State. In 1976, South Eastern State was renamed Cross River State. This change in name did not satisfy the people. Rather, it encouraged them to carry on with the struggle for a state of their own.
After the collapse of the 2nd Re- public in 1983, a memorandum demanding the creation of Akwa Ibom State was submitted to the General Buhari Administration by the Par- amount Rulers from the 10 Local Government areas that made up the mainland part of the then Cross River State, even though it did not yield the desired result.
Undaunted, the people waited for another opportunity. The opportunity came when, in 1986, the Administration of General Ibrahim Babangida.
Read the full story on our magazine