My dear Akwaibomites

My wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel and I congratulate you all on this auspicious and glorious occasion of the 32nd Anniversary of the creation of our dear State.

At 32, we can beat our chests and proclaim loud and clear that we have come of age!  We have experienced the usual motions of growth; rising and falling but as heirs and heiresses to the Land of Promise, we have kept hope alive.  Even though our collective essence, and the will to succeed may be challenging, but our desire to be a glorious State furnaced and shaped in faith and ready to appropriate the manifold blessings of the Almighty remains resolute and irrevocable.

The theme of our 32nd Anniversary “For I believe God” speaks loudly and deeply to who we are as a people; our core values, our foundational principles, the character and orientation of our people. We are one State where the people wear their Christian faith like badges of honour and are not ashamed to express such deep fidelity- a State that is named after God Almighty himself, and equally led by a Christ-Centric Leader.

As we celebrate our 32nd Anniversary, let me once again emphatically state here that the fundamentals of our growth are rock-solid. The tail wind of our development is blowing enchantingly and assuredly behind our back, guiding the navigational aids of our collective flight to becoming truly the Land of Promise. To this, we give thanks to the ONLY GOD whose mercies and blessings have never departed from this State and will never depart, because we believe in God.

Permit me as usual to, pay our eternal gratitude  and deep appreciation to all our past leaders who superintended over the affairs of this State  at various times and had lent themselves to the great and propelling desire to leave the State better than they met her.

Today, from a State that was essentially a geographical boondock, where Uyo, the Capital City was essentially a glorified village filled with dusty streets, our profile has been so wholesomely raised to a point and place where we are seen today as Nigeria’s Best Kept Secret.

The dusty streets have given way to beautifully manicured boulevards and modern road network. The thatched houses that once dotted the landscape today, have given way to magnificent homes that can rival those found in the exotic zip-codes around the world. We owe these past leaders who helped create a can-do- spirit in our people and lifted us psychologically from being seen fit only for domestic tasks, to being partakers of the Nigerian common patrimony, a debt of gratitude.

Let me again express my deepest appreciation to you my dear Akwa Ibom people for maintaining the peace during the last election cycle.  We went to the polls as brothers and sisters who may have desired the same thing through different channels, but as is the universal democratic principle, an immutable value if I may add, a winner must emerge and the loser must accept the will of the people so overwhelmingly expressed and affirmed.

On Thursday, September 19, 2019, the victory that God has given me through you at the March 9, 2019 polls was again unanimously upheld by the Election Petition Tribunal. I thank you from the depth of my heart for your show of support and solidarity after the announcement of the affirmation of my victory by the Tribunal. It was deeply heartening seeing thousands of you my dear people spontaneously marching along major streets of Uyo, thanking God for the victory. I will never take this support for granted and I pledge to you again, to do all I can to deepen this confidence you have shown me.

I urge my brothers and sisters who offered themselves for service at different layers to our people during the just concluded elections to close ranks and join me to develop our State, chart a new course and ensure that the Akwa Ibom story continues to be told in glittering terms.

The poetry of our beautiful and blessed State must be written in enchanting verse and each of us should have a line to contribute to the crafting of the poetry.  This is a pan –Akwa Ibom moment, and we must rise to the occasion and show that even though we had an intense electioneering campaign, where passions were inflamed and certain unwholesome rhetoric pushed; the Akwa Ibom spirit remains strong and alluring. Nothing should break the cords of our unity and brotherhood.

My fellow compatriots, a 32 year old man or woman is by every aspect of definition a grown and deeply mature person. At 32, he or she has formed a unique identity, he or she must be on a steady course of personal growth and development; he must have made mistakes and embarked on course correction processes; he or she must have encountered the all-but- certain crises of identity and the attendant reaffirmation of who he or she is. At 32, the individual is ready to conquer the world, secure in the knowledge that those debilitating drawbacks have been addressed and a way forward charted.

Permit me to use this broadcast to challenge us to ask ourselves the following questions: At 32, have we forged and sharpened our distinct identity? Are we ready to defend what defines us as a people in spite of our political affiliations? Are we ready to embark on course -corrections if certain crises of identity may have been detected? Are we united in our pursuit of our common values and desires? Are we ready to defend the Akwa Ibom spirit and hold it aloft as a symbol of our emotional and spiritual connectivity?

My dear compatriots, this broadcast is not the usual broadcast that is tinged with political bromides.  This broadcast rather is to engender a new conversation on who we are and why we must defend and protect the core elements that shape our collective identity.

As we mark our 32nd  year Anniversary, let us collectively shun all divisive tendencies and tell the world that, in the words of John F. Kennedy, the  35th the President of the United State we can  “ resolve to be masters not the victims of history, controlling our destiny without giving way to blind suspicions and emotions.”

On my own part, I will, as I have said severally, continue to be your Servant-Leader. I will continue to lead this State with the fear of God and with the over-arching interest of our people, their growth, peaceful co-existence and development as the guiding principles. I will continue to do all that I can to cement the bond of our unity, knowing full well that, a house that is divided against itself cannot stand.

Let me use this opportunity to appeal to certain elements in our society, especially those in the mass media, to understand the need for circumspection and objectivity in their reportage. Robust criticism is a needed ingredient in any democratic culture and I desire to be criticized constructively. But when such criticism is laden with animosity and deep-seated animus; when such is done not to add value to who we are, or our common values; when such is done to destroy the essential fabric of our unity and further enlarge the manufactured fault lines; when such criticism is done to further the narrow thoughts and interests of certain individuals who may not agree with what we are doing, I think something is fundamentally wrong with such layers of reportage.

Have we ever wondered why the South West for instance with its vibrant media and robust people-government engagements never de-markets the critical layers of their collective essence and identity? How many times have you read in the mass media where the leaders of the other geo-political zones are openly derided, castigated, blackmailed or their zones de-marketed? Does it mean they don’t disagree with their leaders or government policies?  They do, but they understand the fact that if they de-market their states or insult their leaders at random, they are essentially defining downwards the core and elemental values of their collective identity.

On this occasion of our 32nd Anniversary, let us begin to respect our common values and even when we disagree with our leaders or among ourselves, such should be done with civility and mutual respect, knowing that what binds us together is more enduring than the temporary impulse of partisan politics. The Akwa Ibom story should be pan-Akwa Ibom in shape and definition, devoid of the colours of partisanship or rancorous impulses.

When we are celebrated as we currently are, as the only State with a fully functional airline, it is not just a PDP achievement, it is an Akwa Ibom achievement. When the 18 industries that  we have successfully  attracted and established, help create jobs for our teeming youths and the attendant value chain, it is not just a PDP achievement, it is an enduring Akwa Ibom story.

The Flour Mills that was just commissioned by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo a few days ago is for all Akwa Ibom people. The Plywood and Timber Factory that was equally commissioned by the Vice President, will not only be defined as a PDP achievement, neither will the Furniture industry that will benefit from this factory be used mainly by PDP members – it will be an Akwa Ibom success story.

The over 1,700 kilometers of economically viable roads  constructed across the three senatorial districts including the much talked about Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road that is almost nearing completion are not made exclusively for use by PDP members,  rather it’s an Akwa Ibom success story.

The remodeled hospitals equipped with modern amenities from Etinan, Ikot Okoro, Iquita-Oron, Ituk Mbang, Emmanuel Hospital, Eket among others are not designed as PDP hospitals; rather they are Akwa Ibom success stories in healthcare delivery. The over 1,400 classroom blocks remodeled and the over 600 million Naira WAEC fees that we pay for students and the subventions that we pay annually to schools are not done through political affiliation, but rather, it is an Akwa Ibom success story devoid of political coloration.

From investments in agriculture, to power sector such as the Ekim Sub-Station that was also commissioned by the Vice President which will ensure the realization of our dream of Power-For-All by December, 2021, we are building solid infrastructure so that we can drive our industrialization agenda, create jobs and wealth for our people. This is not just a PDP achievement, it is an inspiring Akwa Ibom success story that we all should feel proud to identify with.

As we celebrate the 32nd years of our existence, l urge you my brothers and sisters to de-emphasize our political affiliations but boldly proclaim the Akwa Ibom story.  When we celebrate what is ours, when we don’t describe our leaders in unsanitized fashion, when we celebrate the Akwa Ibom identity, and what binds us as a people, our aspirations, our essence, our values and our identity, we are telling the world that the Akwa Ibom Spirit defies political labels.

This is what the developed world has also done.  The United States for instance, have culture wars, the Bible Belt, the Midwest, the Deep South or the East and West Coasts all have geographical differences, but these differences have never been magnified to affect their bonds of brotherhood.  When a Republicans disagree based on ideological differences with Democrats, they don’t castigate or pull down the fabric of the society because the Governor may be a Democrat or a Republican.  As we celebrate our 32nd anniversary, I urge you my dear compatriots to believe in the Akwa Ibom story, our unity, and our common bond. Let us hold these aloft as symbols of our emotional connectivity and pride.

We have been blessed by the Almighty God with such great natural endowments; we have everything we need to be self-sufficient. We must weave a narrative of love and togetherness. Nobody will respect your values when you don’t respect same; no one will respect what you stand for, when you desecrate same, nobody will tell the Akwa Ibom story when you drape the contours of the State with mud and filth. Akwa Ibom will be what our Founding Fathers envisioned and envisaged if we all rise together as brothers and sisters and defend our common values in the spirit of our Dakkada philosophy.

It was the late Herbert Hoover who said that “America is a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose”. Akwa Abasi Ibom state is a noble enterprise, and its purpose which is steeped in our faith and belief in God will continue to grow, soaring and ready to fulfill the far-reaching purpose of its Founding Fathers. That is what I have dedicated myself to doing continually and with my faith and belief in God, we will not fail.

Let us therefore, collectively resolve to join hands and move our dear State to where God Almighty had pre-destined her to be. Long live Akwa Abasi Ibom State, long live Nigeria! Happy 32nd Birthday to us!

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