Conscious of the significance of state branding, the Akwa Ibom State government has massively embarked on repositioning the state among local and international community in an attempt to attract investment and tourism.
Aniekan Umanah, the state commissioner of information, told journalists in Lagos recently that the state government approached the branding process with determination to be different, saying “the intention of the state is to drive traffic and push Uyo (the state capital) as destination for tourism and business.”
Over the years, many states that understand the positive implications of branding has tried to create niches for themselves, as destination branding has assumed a popular way of marketing states to the international communities.
Umanah, who commended the state governor, Godswill Akpabio, for the concept of re-branding, further said “the state government has totally re-branded the state and those who know the state can tell the story of the uncommon transformation. There has been a physical and mental re-branding of the state and the people. Today, what used to be a pedestrian state has become a world-class destination in Nigeria. What used to be a passer-by state has become the cynosure of Nigeria and the global community, because every major development and everything that is serious in this country is looking towards Uyo.
“If you have been following us in television, you will monitor the transformation series. It’s not an easy thing to run a weekly television documentary, as you run 72 episodes, not repeating any on various sectors and projects. That will tell you there are so much to talk about. We are still progressing. Education has been totally re-branded with the free and compulsory education, a programme that has tripled school enrolment.”
According to the commissioner, education infrastructure has been totally revamped with more than 2,500 built and rehabilitated schools within a period of five years. School enrolment has increased in both primary and secondary schools to about 2 million. Infrastructure development is second to none, as the Akpabio administration has executed 1009 kilometres of roads of over 300 new roads and four new flyovers, already commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Julius Berger is building 30,000 international covered capacity stadium and this would be delivered by August 2014, and this will further drive traffic to the state. In terms of tourism, the state has developed what it called Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre to complement Ibom Le Meridien Golf Course.