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I want to recover, reconcile, reposition Akwa Ibom for greatness – YPP guber candidate

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Ahead of the gubernatorial election slated for Saturday, March 11, 2023, Albert Bassey Akpan, governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Akwa Ibom, has said that he was in the race to win for the good of the people and the state.

Speaking with BusinessDay, Akpan said that although it would seem that the platform he chose to prosecute his ambition was not as popular as the two dominant political parties in the state; his adoption of the YPP has however, catapulted the party to become the highest rated party in the state in the last few months.

The two-term federal lawmaker said that “politics is coming to a point where money will be de-emphasised. In 2027, politics in Nigeria will change. Nigeria is coming to a point where money will play no role in the emergence of leaders.”

Dismissing the insinuation in certain quarters that his platform may limit his chances at the poll since it would seem that the party he adopted may not have the “structure” to enable his electoral victory, he said: “It is the people that make a party not a party that makes the people.”

Akpan has been a member of the Senate of the National Assembly since June 2015. Previously, he was Commissioner for Finance in Akwa Ibom State from 2007 to 2014. He was first elected to the Senate in March 2015, to represent Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District and he won re-election for a second time in the February 2019 senatorial elections.

In his revised manifesto titled: ‘Positive

Impact Agenda,’ the governorship candidate pegged his mission on 3Rs- “Recover Akwa Ibom; Reconcile Akwa Ibom Truly to God, and Reposition Akwa Ibom for Greatness.”

He explained that his vision statement was “To consolidate the gains so far achieved in Akwa Ibom State and make it a pacesetter among states in Nigeria as well as a global destination for investment and tourism.”

By the same token, he said: “Our Mission Statement is to harness the aspirations of our people in innovation, resilience, and tapping of abundant resources of the state, to create a land of opportunities, peace, unity, and sustainable prosperity.”

He told BusinessDay that to succeed as a public servant, one must possess important attributes which could seem as sine qua non. He said that he possessed the attributes of accessibility, experience and integrity.

“If you are not accessible as a public servant; if you fence yourself off from those you are serving, you are not likely to go far. That is a very key attribute. I am happy to tell you that I make myself accessible to my people. I am a grassroots man and that is one of those things that differentiate me from other contenders. I am a well-known person in the state and have helped past and present administrations in the state to deliver on their programmes at one point or the other.

“I have the experience to lead. My resume tells a lot about that. Even before I went to the Senate in 2017, I had served as commissioner for Finance. People can attest to my modest contributions to whatever that was achieved by the state government at that time. Before, I joined politics fully; I worked with former governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio. So, I did not just come from nowhere to aspire to govern Akwa Ibom State; the motivation is to deploy my wealth of experience for the good of my people in Akwa Ibom State,” he said.

On integrity, the gubernatorial hopeful said it was about the most important attribute that is needed, particularly in the 2023 race, not only in Akwa Ibom State but in all the states as well as the centre.

Read also: Can the G-5 swing Nigeria’s large undecided voters?

He noted that many Nigerians may have lost faith in some politicians as a result of the failure on the part of such politicians to live by their promises.

“I care very much about how people feel and I try so much to ensure that I do not take people for granted. If you lose your integrity as a public office holder, you have lost everything. Many people do not know how serious this is; but I know it and I try to ensure that I do not give people that opportunity to doubt my integrity. These are what we hold dear and the basis of our good relationship with our people. You can verify,” he said.

In his revised manifesto released to BusinessDay, wherein he stated the implementation strategies and timelines, the candidate said: “From 1999 to 2014, Akwa Ibom State was lucky to have an articulated Economic Road map. The policies, programmes, and general economic growth bore good and definite dividends in sectoral growth, human resource development, and other measurable indices of transformation, growth, and development.

“The sequence and direction resulted in appreciable growth in most Economic and Social service sectors of the State Economy. The period 2015 to 2022 saw some developmental gains either reversed or distorted in a manner that baffles trained Economists, Policy Makers, and Development Experts.

“Not only were the policies enunciated for development disjointed and incoherent, but they also suffered a severe deficit in implementation, needs assessment, and relevance to the needs of the people. Such massive alienations erupted into experimentations in project articulation, planning, and eventual implementation, with unacceptable profligacy, misplaced priorities, and waste of scarce resources.

“These resulted in the unenviable placement of the state as the second most poverty ravaged in the entire South-South of Nigeria. Quite a worrisome development. We will quickly reverse these trends in four years.

“In doing so, we shall attach significance to our 3Rs to Recover, Reposition and Reconcile Akwa Ibom so that the state can appreciably sustain productivity and growth. Also highlighted is an extract from the blueprint that shall act as our development compass and social contract with the people of Akwa Ibom State to rapidly turn the state from the land of promise to the land of fulfillment.”

According to him, the agenda aims at: “Deploying a bottom-to-top approach to developmental issues; introducing the concept of LENCOB (Leave No Community Behind) in matters of development; advancing grassroots development through Project OBA (Operation Basic Amenities) for all; leveraging areas of comparative advantage for industrial growth, and implementation of programmes using a novel model of the Direct Labour Implementation Committee (DLIC) that will ensure efficient use of funds and timely delivery of projects.”

He also noted that the agenda anchors on five strategic pillars: “Economic Prosperity and Infrastructural Renaissance;
Security, Environment, and Tourism; Agriculture and Rural Development; Education, Health, and Social Services; and Administrative Reforms and Completion of Projects.”

He explained that “These foci seamlessly align with the Economic and Development Agenda of our party, the YPP, whose cardinal concern is that of connecting back to the weak layer of the society by bringing the youths, women, and rural dwellers as well as artisans and urban poor into the active nest of economic prosperity. We intend to guide them to access finance, skills, qualitative education, and innovative technology.

“Akwa Ibom has abundant water and land resources, which require a government with foresight and knowledge to unlock and harness them for the benefit of our teeming population. We shall harvest a lot from our seashore, add value for exports, generate jobs, and create a harmonious society where hunger, deprivation, and poverty will no longer be used as tools for political emasculation and oppression, as witnessed.

“This Positive Impact agenda is a sacred pact with the people of Akwa Ibom State, which will come into effect on 29th May 2023. We invite everyone to key into this agenda, take ownership of the development plans, and work for the benefit of the state. God that sees the heart will enable us to transform these visions and much more to benefit our people. We welcome all Akwa Ibom people onboard.”

Profile

Born on October 28, 1972. Obtained Bachelor of Science in Economics and Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Uyo and the University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1997 and 2004 respectively. Rose to the position of Vice President in the Banking Industry in less than a decade. Appointed Commissioner for Finance, Akwa Ibom State in 2007 at the age of 35.

Grew the State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) base to a record N15.6 billion in 2013 as against N5billion in 2006

Facilitated over 6,000 life touching developmental projects in the health, education, and other critical sectors, while serving as the Chairman, Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee between 2007 and 2013

Indicated interest to run for the office of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2014 but conceded the position to the present Governor and co-facilitated his emergence in 2015

Elected to represent Akwa Ibom North-East (Uyo) Senatorial District in the 8th Senate (2015 to 2019) and reelected to the 9th Senate based on track record and antecedent

Facilitated reforms in the Oil & Gas Industry as Chairman Senate Committee on Gas Resources (2015 to 2019) and currently serving as the Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream Resources.

Spearheaded the review of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract, which earned the Federal Government an estimated $500m in 2020 and over $1bn in 2021.

Resolved the decade long rift between the Federal Government and Chevron Limited for the Escravos Gas To Liquid (EGTL) Project which saw the reversal of the contract sharing formula from 25percent (Nigeria) and 75percent (Chevron) to 60percent (Nigeria) and 40percent (Chevron) and raked in billions of Naira to the nation’s coffers.

Championed the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (2021).

Awarded scholarship for 481 indigent students in higher institutions of learning, of which 29 graduated with first class honours as of December 2021. Equally facilitated 15 postgraduate oversees scholarship, and several other empowerment programmes that have helped in raising the standard of living of his constituents.

Spearheaded the reinstatement of a Police Officer, Mr. Celestine Williams, who was wrongfully dismissed by the force for 21 years. He also facilitated the restoration of an Assistant Director in the Servicom Unit of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Antia Thompson, who was dismissed for exposing corruption.

Conferred Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), by President Muhammadu Buhari, for his numerous contributions towards growing the nation’s oil and gas industry, and the economy by extension.