Akwa Ibom is unarguably one of the states with topnotch physical infrastructure and its state capital, Uyo has consecutively won the cleanest city award for several years. Thanks to the star-studded achievements by the past administration, which Governor Umo Eno is also pursuing vigorously.
This high quality of its physical infrastructure can be seen in the road, bridges and flyovers strewn across the state.
From a modest beginning in 1987 when the state was created after being carved out from the then Cross River State, successive administrations in the state are known to have made tremendous investment in improving its road network and dual carriageways.
Not only roads, bridges and flyovers are seen dotting the landscape of the state, the availability of a world class stadium that has been adjudged the best in the country, it is also home to two five-star hotels that are attracting guests from far and wide and an 18-hole golf course located in the expansive Ibom Hotel is amazingly breathtaking.
So, it was not surprising when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) made the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo the state capital, the base for the Super Eagles home matches in the African Cup of Nations qualifier.
The stadium itself is a masterpiece of a sporting facility and has continued to be admired for its beauty and design. Its natural turf has been one of its lures for football administrators and fans.
Indeed, the recent AFCON qualifier between Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe presented yet a golden opportunity for the state to showcase its rich tourism potentials and it paid off handsomely as it left a lasting impression on first-time visitors and many others who are regular business travellers to the state.
As had been observed by tourism enthusiasts, coming to Akwa Ibom State has been made easier with the existence of a modern airport in the state which has made it very ease to take a one-hour flight from either Abuja or Lagos to get to the state capital. Akwa Ibom is noted for its lush green scenery and a bustling city life.
Given the elaborate plans by Governor Umo Eno to develop the tourism sector as seen in the upgrade of tourism sites, the completion of the Four Points by Sheraton in Ikot Ekpene, a few kilometres from Uyo, which was the hotel of choice for the Super Eagles was a masterstroke in deepening the tourism potential of the state.
Apart from the two five-star hotels in the state which accommodated the two teams, other hospitality facilities were fully booked by fans who travelled far and near to watch the Super Eagles, an assemblage of stars, trade tackles with their Sao Tome Principe counterparts at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium also known as the Nest of Champions.
Again, apart from the quality infrastructure, the state also boasts of a natural sand beach said to be the longest in the country at Ibeno, where Mobil Producing Nigeria has its operational base in the state.
The state also is naturally endowed with its natural beauty scenic hills in Itu and Ibeno Local Government Areas as well as various rivers of diverse colours. Its remarkable location in the heart of the Niger Delta and at the southern edge of the Atlantic Ocean makes it more inviting to its rich ecosystem, an emerging tourism hub.
Akwa Ibom has been able to leverage its quality infrastructure to boost the tourism sector as seen in being the choice to host the CAF qualifier game, it can only be a matter of time before it becomes the tourism capital of the country and will be tapping from the various economic benefits.