My dear Akwaibomites,

My wife, Her Excellency, Dr. Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, and I join all Akwa Ibomites and residents of our State this Easter season to once again thank and worship God for the redemption of our sins, the manifestation of His Divine grace and the gift of eternal life through the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Two thousand years ago, the powers of the day had sentenced a sinless, innocent and itinerant preacher, who went about doing good for humanity, to death by crucifixion. Roman soldiers cruelly executed the death sentence. Though he had the power to deliver himself, God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, went through this humiliation for our sake. This ordeal was captured centuries earlier by prophet Isaiah, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

But because He had the power to lay down His life and resurrect, three days after, the grave and death could not hold him captive, He rose to die no more. Easter, therefore, is a symbol of hope, renewal, and sacrifice. It is a refreshing reminder that you can put truth in the grave, but you cannot keep it there forever. It is a season for the celebration of the purest kind of love and sacrifice. John 3:16 says “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

These inspiring lessons make Easter the most important event in the Christian faith. They provide us with vital lessons in sacrifice and love, and speak to us about the need to place the common good above common greed. We can, and should, use this season to heal ourselves of all selfish instincts, spirit of division and rabid ethnicism.

We should use this season to strengthen our shared commitment to our dear State, to our God and to our communities. Let us spare a moment in this blessed season of hope to pray for our State, our Nation and the World.

As an Administration, this is the sixth time we are sharing the joy of Easter together in the execution of the sacred trust you invested in us. We are also aware that, by His grace, we shall share the joy of two more Easter seasons together before the end of our mandate. As Easter affords us the time to reflect on events that took place two thousand years ago, it also affords us time to reflect on our journey so far as an Administration, particularly since this journey began on May 29th, 2015 with Jesus Christ as the Captain of our Ship.

We have relied on the leadership of Jesus Christ in our Administration and we attribute all our successes to Him. He has been the Head of all our meetings, all our plans and all our policies. By His grace we have achieved a lot and we are not slowing down because whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world.

This speech is not one for us to reel off our score-card, which, without sounding boastful, has been widely chronicled and distilled all over the nation, but rather, is one of eternal gratitude for the endless love and grace of God over our affairs as a people and a State.

In the recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage. A little over two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.

Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our Nation. We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval.

About three weeks ago, we were also blessed by the Invisible Hands of God to have signed a 1.4 billion dollar Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented State to a fast industrializing one. These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwaibomite irrespective of political affiliations.

Late last year, we launched an emergency on our education sector and as life gradually begins to return to normal, we pledge our commitment to ensuring that the leaders of tomorrow, our children, are given the necessary tools to be as competitive as their counterparts elsewhere.

Permit me to again reemphasize the need for our people to adhere to the protocols of the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. We have observed the somewhat lax attitude of our people towards the observation of these protocols. Some have even gone to the very ludicrous belief that Covid-19 is a virus that only affects the rich and wealthy people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Fellow Akwaibomites, Covid-19 knows no class, pedigree or social standing. It is a virus that affects people from all layers of the society. It is still a clear and present danger to our collective wellbeing and health and should be treated accordingly. I have said it before and I am repeating it here: We do not intend to lockdown our State as we did this time last year, but it behoves on us all to follow these simple and effective protocols of wearing face masks, social distancing, constant hand washing etc.

As you may have seen or followed on the media channels, we have started the process of administering the AstraZeneca vaccine on our people. Let me use this opportunity also to dispel the misleading and false notions about the vaccine. This vaccine is safe and the data so far released testify to this claim. Please make yourself available to take the vaccine whenever it gets to your locality.

Let me congratulate Ibom Air, for the recent award as the “Best Airline of the Year, 2020” and also, the 500 thousand passenger haul record it recently attained. It is a welcome development that in less than two years since it started commercial operations, Ibom Air has become a dominant player in Nigeria’s aviation industry. Very soon, we shall be adding two brand new Airbuses to its fleet. This spectacular achievement should be celebrated by all Akwaibomites. When we board Ibom Air, and we are greeted in our local dialect, those endearing and symbolically enchanting words are not coloured by politics, rather they reflect the pride we should all feel for pulling off this great achievement.

Also, last weekend, our State won “Nigeria’s Top Tourist State, 2020” at a well-attended tourism stakeholders’ event in Abuja. Fellow Akwaibomites, all these achievements couldn’t have been possible if we were not doing the right things for our people which correspondingly have also been celebrated by the larger Nigerian space. It is regrettable that some people still play politics with the development of our State and would go on the social media to de-market the State and her leadership. They should know that truth cannot be buried. Nigerians are watching and are seeing the great strides that are going on in our State, hence the accolades we are receiving everywhere. It is sad that while other Nigerians are celebrating our achievements, this tiny section of our people are busy spreading falsehood, malice and hate all motivated by politics.

All over the State, I am sure you have seen the level of road construction currently on-going. We are determined to open up this State and create a rich network of economically viable road network that will help drive our industrialization and other developmental plans.

Let me also remind our people that the essence of Easter would be lost except we let the resurrection of Christ illuminate the dark crevices of our souls and let His light shine through us in love and sacrifice to our neighbours. Jesus said John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I urge all Akwa Ibom people to adhere to this simple directive from the Commander of our Divine Mandate and our Saviour, the resurrected Jesus Christ. Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, ONNA and Nsit Ibom love one another. Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another. When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State (God’s own State.)

We wish all Akwa Ibomites and residents of Akwa Ibom State a blessed and happy Easter! God bless Akwa Ibom State. Akwa Ibom eddakaeda, ami mmedaka nda.

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