• Sunday, March 03, 2024
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BusinessDay

As Udom Emmanuel edges towards the finishing line

Excitement as Udom inaugurates roads, others in Akwa Ibom

By this time in 2015, Akwa Ibom people were bracing up for a new era of governance, and the anticipation was riddled with uncertainties.

The people did not know what to expect exactly from the incoming administration considering that it was succeeding an administration that was highly rated in overall performance.

Less than one month from now, Governor Udom Emmanuel will be exiting office having successfully served for two terms. From the perspective of a citizen, the last eight years have been a rollercoaster for Akwa Ibom people but history will be very kind to Mr. Emmanuel for leading the state in time of both national and global crises.

Rising from the season two of the Akwa Ibom government inter-ministerial briefing last Friday, I came to the conclusion that Governor Emmanuel’s effort towards the development of Akwa Ibom has been hugely undervalued.

For instance, during his presentation at the briefing, Okon Okon, the chairman of Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service (AKIRS), revealed how the government managed the growing of the state’s IGR on one hand, and on the other hand cushioned the effects of double-barreled national economic recessions and the global pandemic on the citizens.

“Tax waivers was granted during the Covid-19 era. It was due to the economic situation in the country at that time and government had to do it in order to ease operations of businesses in the state,” Okon disclosed.

“Akwa Ibom State today stands tall as one of the best in the country where there is ease of doing business without unnecessary interference.”

As revealed by the AKIRS chairman, the state lost about 5 percent of her IGR due to the pandemic and the government’s decision to grant waivers to businesses. Interestingly, this did not hinder the government from performing some critical responsibilities like payment of salaries, assisting the citizens with palliatives, etc.

According to Mr. Okon, the IGR of Akwa Ibom in 2013 and 2014, were paltry 15.4 billion and 15.7 billion respectively. Between 2015 when he was elected into office, and 2016, Governor Emmanuel, having spent time to understudy the system, took key steps towards improving the state’s IGR such as acquisition of the state revenue administration law and inauguration of the AKIRS Board.

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“In 2017, after inauguration of the Board, we recorded 16 billion naira. In 2018, it rose to 24.2 billion. In 2019, the revenue further rose to 38.2 billion. In 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic, we lost about 5% which resulted in 30.6 billion. In 2021, it rose to 31.4 billion, and and 34.8 billion in 2022,” he added.

How come that a presidential candidate used growing of IGR as former state governor as his major campaign point yet nobody is talking about what Governor Udom Emmanuel has done with the IGR of Akwa Ibom!

Another profound impression I had from the briefing is that if the decisions about power were solely within the confines of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s office, certainly every part of Akwa Ibom would be enjoying good power supply. Within the last seven years plus, Mr Emmanuel has prioritised the power sector from the beginning of his administration and invested heavily in the sector.

For instance, barely 18 months into office, the governor inaugurated a newly built 33/11KV, 2 x 15MVA injection sub-station in Uyo. The sub-station provided more than 18hours daily power supply to Shelter Afrique, Ewet Housing, Osongama, Nwaniba, Edet Akpan Avenue and other catchment areas.

“Widespread commendations trailed the improved electricity supply in these parts of Uyo, which the Akwa Ibom online community dubbed ‘Ikang Udom’ (Udom’s light),” writes BusinessDay.

Similarly, the governor built a 132/33KV, 2 x 60MVA transmission sub-station at Ekim in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area.

“The substation, which receives power from the stateowned Ibom Power Plant, has 33kv dedicated lines to Onna industrial hub, the location of Jubilee Syringe factory, King Flour Mills, Metering Solutions Manufacturing Services and the plywood industry,” adds BusinessDay.

“It also provides steady power supply to Akwa Ibom State University and five local government areas including Onna, Mkpat Enin, Ikot Abasi, Eastern Obolo and Orukanam.”

In addition, the governor, in collaboration with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), commissioned a 132/33KV, 1 x 60MVA transformer at Afaha Ube in Uyo. The 60MVA transformer increased the state’s available power for distribution from 96megawatts to 144megawatts.

It was impossible for Dr. John Etim, the commissioner for Power and Petroleum Development, to exhaust this list of Governor Emmanuel’s intervention in the power sector during his presentation at the inter-ministerial briefing.
However, Etim made a good attempt and I was particularly stunned when he revealed that Mbiabet, a community in Ini Local Government Area, which had never had electricity, now enjoys a 24hours power supply. This was Governor Udom Emmanuel’s sole aim with the “Power for All” initiative, and the successes the state government has recorded so far clearly indicates that baring all the bureaucratic bottlenecks in the country’s power sector, the state would have enjoyed quality power supply.

“Most of the Ministries will begin to enjoy 24 hours electricity supply. We are planning to go to the local governments to duplicate this system,” Dr. Etim further revealed.

“In no distant time, most parts of Akwa Ibom will begin to have 24 hours electricity supply.” Having come to know how the governor was doing in the power sector, the general question from the participants was, is there no way the state government can negotiate with the federal government and get the permission to for state to retain more of the power it generates in order to improve the power supply in the state?

Good enough, President Buhari has signed into law the constitutional amendment allowing states in the country to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity.

As much as I believe that the law is coming way too late especially for Akwa Ibom State that would have leveraged the Udom Emmanuel’s vision, it is a welcome development.

As I sat and listened to the various Commissioners and Chairmen of Boards interact with participants and respond to questions, I sincerely wished it was possible for every Akwa Ibomite to participate in the inter-ministerial briefing. It is my earnest desire that Akwa Ibom people have all these facts when judging Governor Udom Emmanuel as he edges towards the finishing line.

.Israel, an indigene of Akwa Ibom State, writes from Uyo