My Dear Akwaibomites

1. Thirty five years ago today, as the sun made its Eastward journey and darkness appeared on the horizon, the news broke: With executive fiat, yet aided by the Invisible Hands of the Almighty God, the then Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) GCFR, announced to our eternal delight and joy the creation of a State appropriately named after God, (Akwa Ibom State) – a State shaped by the ennobling commonalities of language, culture, hopes and shared dreams .

2. It was a grand fulfilment of the dream our Founding Fathers had nourished and hoped for when they banded together and started the agitation for the creation of the Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers (COR) State. Today, 35 years since that momentous occasion, 35 years since God hearkened to our pleas and heard our supplication, the land rightly called the Land of Promise has lived up to its name. From a spartan and dusty provincial capital that Uyo and the entirety of the State then was in 1987, it has today become a sparkling destination of choice for Nigerians and others across the world.

3. From a collection of nondescript homes, dotted in between with thatched roofed houses, today, our State boasts of some of the most spectacular homes and estates in the Nation, and indeed Africa. From pothole-filled roads that could be counted by the finger tips, today, the Uyo, the Capital, and the entire State boasts of some of the most elegant and world-class road network, linking us seamlessly in one gigantic movement of people, goods and services.

4. From a State where modern hospitals were non-existent, except a few facilities that were meant for provincial needs, today, every Federal Constituency boasts of a fully functional general hospital equipped with the most modern amenities that are comparable to similar facilities anywhere, across the globe. From a State where the people had to travel long distances either to Calabar or Port Harcourt, to board flights to other parts of the nation for their businesses, leisure or family needs, today the State has, by far the best airline in the nation, the only sub national to ever own such, (The Award Winning Ibom Air.)

5. Today, 35 years later, from a State where her definition was seen as a purely Civil Service-oriented entity, our narratives have changed and our circumstances and growth accelerated with over 25 functional industries, including the largest syringes manufacturing company in Africa and the only coconut crude oil refinery in the nation and indeed Africa, a flour mill that is fully automated among others.

6. Thirty five years later, the people who were formerly mainly seen as the hewers of wood and the gate keepers, the cooks and the house helps, heeded the clarion call to arise (dakkada) to the faith of their greatness, and today are major players in the boardroom of the Nigerian socio-political enterprise. No longer do they keep their heads down, no longer do they play second fiddle to anyone, rather they are doers and as aspirational as their counterparts elsewhere.

7. Today, our children are scoring and breaking academic records all over the world, thus proving that public education, when properly managed, can produce the best among us. Today, our State is an oasis of peace and tranquility, with our youths taking ownership of their destinies and pledging to protect and maintain this peace we have come to enjoy. Certainly, it has been 35 years of God‟s immeasurable blessings, grace and favour.

8. To God alone be the glory! It has been 35 years of God‟s Invisible Hands at work, directing our steps and ordering them according to His designs. We owe Him our eternal gratitude. Let me use this opportunity to thank our former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, (rtd) GCFR, for granting us this piece of Godly Real Estate and all the past leaders, for passionately dedicating their time, energies, talents and skills in shaping, distilling and projecting the ethos and values that have helped shape our growth, identity and development.

9. Fellow Akwaibomites, for over seven years out of the 35 years of our creation, it has pleased God to use me as an instrument in the enlargement of our developmental coast; it has pleased God to keep me on the saddle as the Governor of this State, especially at a time such as this!

10. Today, I am proud to say with utmost confidence and sincerity that together, we have rewritten the Akwa Ibom story across sectors, across Senatorial Districts and across Federal Constituencies . The Akwa Ibom story has become a national story, the story of a leadership that, while attending to the needs of today, is equally looking beyond the immediate to focus on what is lasting and sustainable.

11. Let me pay special thanks and appreciation to you my dear fellow Akwaibomites, for your support, constructive engagements, the encouragement and your understating in the course of the last almost eight years that we have prayed together, worked together, toiled together, dreamed together, dared together and achieved great things for our State together. I salute you and I thank you deeply and passionately from the depth of my heart.

12. My fellow Akwaibomites, in the course of my campaigns both in 2015 and 2019 respectively, I made key campaign promises. Without sounding boastful, I would say that when the verdict shall be rendered, it would be: Legacy of Impact Promises made and Promises kept.

13. The legacy we have established and will leave in the hands of my Successor will be one of deep impact. There is no Akwaibomite of goodwill who would, in his or her true conscience, say we have not done well.

From aviation development, to infrastructure, to industrialization, to healthcare delivery, to education, to food sufficiency and agriculture, to improvements in power, to human and youth capacity development, to the promotion of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), and other key areas of the human development, I make bold to say we have stenciled our name in the golden books of the development of this State. This is an unvarnished truth and the facts bear us out. And these achievements become even more worthy of celebration, considering the harsh economic headwind that ushered us in, in 2015.

14. We came with the headwind of inflation behind our back, and the turbulence of recession occasioned by the drop in the oil price which is the mono- product that fuels our economy. Added to these set of challenges was the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down the world and deprived the world of major economic activities for more than a year.

15. In spite of this, because I believe God furnaced and prepared me for a time like this, we have taken our State on the golden wings of development. The fundamentals are strong, they remain rock- solid and resilient, and we are marching gingerly on the cusps of economic prosperity.

16. Before I continue, let me use this opportunity to speak to a tiny section of our critics and naysayers who have elected to demonize our achievements because we did not fritter away the commonwealth of our State on immediate gratifications or be propelled by the fannings of groupthink.

17. Societies are not built and improved by doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results and enduring value. Societies are built and improved by doing things that work and have the most corresponding effects on the overall development of the people- short and long term- sustainable growth.

18. Developed societies were not built through the impulses of immediate gratifications, those societies were built by leaders who saw beyond the immediate, leaders who did not dance to the rhythm or the rhythms of what may have been popular or what provided temporary bust of happiness and excitement, these leaders took hard and painful decisions knowing full well, that the future will vindicate their vision and drive.

19. From the Abraham Lincolns, to Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, to the Mandelas, these were leaders who took decisive actions, that may not have been overly celebrated when they took them, but today have turned the countries they once led to oases of prosperity, development, wealth and peace.

20. Those societies were built because the leaders galvanized the people around a set of values, and challenged them to be the best; these were leaders who looked at the societies they governed and said loud and clear: We can be better than where we were and the people responded to the clarion call. That‟s what we have done through the dakkada philosophy and the attitudinal and mind-shift today is bearing fruit. Akwa Ibom is rising and her people are rising too, the faith of their greatness.

21. When certain people out of pure political mischief, (because I don‟t understand why they should push such a narrative), say

the industries we have attracted to the State, the syringes manufacturing company, which is the largest and has been celebrated all over the nation and the African Continent, does not exist; when the flour mill we have established which is the most automated in the nation does not exist, when they question the rationale for the establishment of Ibom Air which they did, so vehemently when the idea was first mooted, then you have to wonder what it is that is pushing some of our people to indulge in such revisionist narratives.

22. When you have people who say we should share the allocations we receive among certain interests groups and not invest or to embark on capital projects such as power, education, aviation development or that the road network which all can see, are non-existent; that even the Ibom Air that brings them to Uyo and other parts of the country does not exist you begin to wonder why people should be playing politics with development. But posterity will judge us fairly, because we did the best we could for our people, we invested our resources in areas that will usher us into the true Land of Promise and prosperity. On this, I have no apologies or regrets towards these developments.

23. My dear Akwa Ibomites, my governance philosophy which we had expressly stated and promoted was based on the three critical tripods of development: Land, Air and Sea. It bears repeating that in spite of the turbulent economic headwind that greeted us on assumption of office in 2015 and 2016, we have kept our focus on these three areas. I came here to do the will of the people, and by the grace of God, we have done just that. Take the case of Aviation Development.

24. Today, because of my acute desire and understanding that for our state to live out the hopes and dreams of our Founding Fathers, we must change the narratives and trajectory of our growth from a purely civil- service oriented State to a fast industrializing entity and that, the key drivers remain good road network, ease of travels and maritime economy. These tripods are the catalysts for growth and we have kept our focus and drive in achieving great and enduring things in these areas.

25. Ibom Air was conceptualized and executed in spite of the opposition and knocks we received from a tiny section of our people, who demonized us, that such a project , amounted to a white elephant or vanity project. As I always say, when the passion is right, great things can happen.

26. Today, my dear Akwaibomites, our State has become a reference point in aviation development. Ibom Air with a fleet of 7 aircrafts, and ten more Airbuses expected to be added soon has become a runaway success and a source of pride to us as a people. Today, our colours dominate the Nigerian aviation space. Ibom Air has been adjudged the Best Performing Airline the Nation, according to a recent report on airline‟s Integrated Cancellation Ratio (ICR.)

27. We are embarking on a total aviation development, with the longest Taxiway in the nation, the first Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Africa, due for commissioning before the end of the year, and the most modern and intelligent International Terminal also due for commissioning soon.

28. We have created jobs for thousands of our people, trained our youths in various aspects of the aviation industry, enhanced

value- chain and in the process achieved one of the cardinal objectives of our campaign: Wealth and job creation. On aviation development, it has been promise made and promise kept. The impact of this legacy is being felt nationwide.

29. The cardinal plank of our campaign in 2015 was the urgent need to industrialize this state and remove the toga of a purely civil-service oriented state from our profile. A Technical Committee to attract Foreign Direct Investments to achieve this grand desire was instituted shortly after I was sworn in.

30. Today, we have changed the narratives as our state now boasts of over twenty five fully functional industries such as the largest syringes manufacturing company, the Jubilee syringes which today produces the best syringes for our healthcare needs across the country and some parts of Europe. We have created thousands of jobs for our people, provided avenues for distributors and of course the value- chain. Again, the impact of this legacy is being felt across the State, and the Nation at large.

31. We have attracted to our State, possibly the best Flour Mill in these parts of the world, (the Kings Flour Mill.) It is the most automated in our nation. You need to take a trip to that facility and see the volume of business that is going on there, the employment opportunities created for our youths and of course, if I may add, again the value-chain. Our people no longer travel long distances to purchase this essential product that our confectionary industries rely on. Our bakeries are humming, the makers of „small chops‟ and associated edibles are smiling their way to the bank. The impact of legacy is here also being felt State-wide and Nationwide.

32. The St. Gabriel Virgin Coconut Refinery is a testament to creativity and industry. Today, our State is celebrated for this ingenious utilization of an economic tree that has been with us for centuries-coconut . In a mono-economy based on oil, and when the industrialized world are eagerly searching for alternative sources to power their economies, the need to look beyond oil becomes imperative. This is a project we would, in the future thank this administration for the foresight. Employments opportunities are being created for thousands of our people while the distributors complete the value-chain. The impact of legacy again is being felt, and would even be felt more in the years to come.

33. From the Lion Plywood Manufacturing Company, to the Metering Solutions, to the Industrial Clusters in Itam that produce such needed items as the first tissue paper produced form bamboo fibre to plastics, to tooth picks and pencils among others, it has been promise made, promise kept. Jobs have been created and economic growth has been achieved for our people. Here, the impact of legacy is equally being felt.

34. The Ibom Deep Seaport, the 1.2 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant, the Oil and Gas Logistics centre remain on course for actualization since government is a continuum.

35. From my inaugural address in 2015 and subsequent speeches, I have maintained and often stated that developed societies such as the United States, rose from the post-Second World War, and elected a President in Dwight Eisenhower who saw the urgent and critical need to link America with a Continental network of roads, to help stimulate the economy and make for easier movement of goods and services. I told our people that I will, to the full extent of the funds available attempt to replicate same here, even as a sub national.

36. Fellow Akwaibomites, I stand here to report that on this, we have done exceedingly well. Akwa Ibom State today, I can boast and beat my chest has one of the most world- class network of economically viable roads constructed and commissioned by this administration.

37. From the Victor Attah International Airport, where you are welcomed into the State capital with an eight lane world-class highway currently under construction to the 10-Lane Third Ring Road (Idongesit Nkanga and Clement Isong Highway) which was commissioned yesterday by our former Vice President and the Candidate for the President of our great Party, the PDP, Atiku Abubakar (GCON), a spectacular work done by an indigenous contractor, Hensek Integrated Services Ltd, our infrastructural drive is a testament to our passion and drive for excellence.

38. The Third Ring Road, with fountain that compares to the spectacular fountains at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, helps cut traffic by half through the city centre. From Oron Road, to Nwaniba, to Nnung Udoe in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, the city can be accessed seamlessly. The value of lands in the adjoining communities has shot up appreciably and wealth is being created. Numerous businesses are springing up as well. The immeasurable impact of legacy is being felt in this regard too

39. The Uyo Ikot Ekpene Road, a world-class road, done by Julius Berger which we met at less than a kilometer, has been completed and commissioned. Today, the volume of businesses around that corridor has brought joy to the people, the ease of travelling to the Eastern part of the nation has been made manifest, thus bringing joy to traders and other people who desired a good road in that important economic corridor.

40. The 29-kilometer dualized Ndon Eyo-Etinan Road, will be commissioned on Monday, September, 26th, by our former President, General Olusegun Obasanjo, (rtd) GCFR, complete with the best cable bridge in these parts of the nation. Last year, our former president, Obasanjo also had helped commission the longest flyover bridge, in these parts of the nation, the Ikot Oku Ikono flyover.

41. All over the three senatorial districts, we have constructed numerous roads, most of which were commissioned in the course of our 35th Anniversary. Areas and communities that were hitherto cut off, in Ikot Ekpene, Oruk Anam, Eket and Uyo Senatorial districts, have been linked with world-class roads, thus helping stimulate the movement of goods and services.

42. I was touched and almost moved to tears recently when a pupil sent me a text thanking us for the road we built in Obot Akara, the Nto Edino-Ekwereazu Road, with two bridges which before we intervened was a death trap, with children sometimes drowning on their way to school, because of the broken bridge. Today, that road links people from Obot Akara to Ekwereazu in Abia State and goods and services are being exchanged. We are touching lives because this was what we promised. The legacy of impact is being felt here too, and we give God the glory.

43. We have tackled the issue of erosion menace in the state holistically. The IBB Outfall drains was commissioned three days ago, by H.E. Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Governor of Delta State and our Party, the PDP Vice Presidential Candidate for the 2023, Presidential elections. This huge project executed by this administration in collaboration with the World Bank has helped de-flood a major section of our state, that connects the state secretariat and the adjoining communities, thus improving the quality of life of the people.

44. Like the Nsikak Eduok flood control project that we had commissioned some years back, which has eased the flooding we used to experience on that major road, let me state here that what we have buried underground, the billions, would stand us out in future as a government that came to change the quality of lives of our people and invest in areas that bring lasting impact.

45. The glittering 21-Storey Dakkada Towers, signposts our desire to open our state to more investors by providing conducive and intelligent structure that meets the standard associated with modern office spaces.

The Dakkada Towers, the tallest in the Niger Delta Region today and the 7th tallest in the nation, has enhanced our skyline and currently attracted numerous companies, including those in the oil and gas industry to our State.

The Market Square located in the once abandoned Tropicana, which was a den for snakes and other reptiles, today, is one of the most visited facilities in this State. The shopping mall can compare with any such facility elsewhere. Families now take their children there for shopping, leisure and other social interactions. This project, it bears repeating was once abandoned.

46. In the area of agriculture and food sufficiency, I make bold to state that we have made our staple foods readily available for our people at an affordable rate. One of the key elements of Abraham Maslow‟s Hierarchy of Needs is food security. To add verve to this, the first set of tasks I performed upon being sworn in, was the inauguration of a Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food Sufficiency. A Directorate of Agro- Allied Investments was established and domiciled in the Office of the Governor to ensure that the vision was implemented to the letter.

47. Today, because we desired to have food security for our people, garri, rice, tomatoes and other produce long thought not suitable for our environment are being produced and made available for our people through the green house technology. The rice mill in Ini Local Government Area is producing The Ibom Agricon Rice, the numerous garri processing mills scattered all over the state have ensured we produce enough garri for our people. The age-long moribund Akwa Palm Plantations in Esit Eket are currently being revitalized and modernized for maximum yield.

48. We have since encouraged our farmers to return to cocoa farming and today, through our support, we have regained our status as a major Cocoa producing state in the nation. We have planted coconut plantations in Eastern Obolo, Mkpat Enin, Okobo, etc to provide the raw materials needed for our Virgin Coconut Crude Oil Refinery.

49. The Ibom Fadama Micro Finance Bank we established to give interest free loans to our farmers and to strengthen the spirit of agricultural enterprises has yielded commendable fruits. Our famers have expanded their businesses and a reflection of this, is seen from the abundance of our staple food items at affordable prices. Today, food security has been achieved, and this again, is promise made and promise kept.

50. In the Education and Human Capacity Development, we have, without sounding boastful, provided conducive environment for our children to study, and be prepared for the 21st Century world defined by ideas, skills and talents.

51. Through Direct Inter Ministerial Labour, in conjunction with SUBEB, we have constructed, remodeled over four thousand school blocks, provided science equipment, and other needs of our children. Education remains free up to secondary school level, and we are still paying over 700 million Naira WAEC fees for our indigent students so no one would be left behind educationally.

52. To further improve our standards, we have recruited over One Thousand highly trained teachers for the Secondary School and a further One Thousand will soon join the ranks of teachers in the primary school. The results are everywhere, as our children are scoring high marks in various academic competitions.

53. We have changed and rejigged our curriculum to reflect the realities of an ICT defined world and have introduced entrepreneurial and skills acquisition as a key component of our curriculum. We desire to produce graduates that would be employers of labour, those who would tap into their skills set and create opportunities for themselves as opposed to waiting for government or the private sector to provide them jobs.

54. Our state-owned University and Polytechnic respectively remain the pride of our State and the Nation. We have trained over three thousands of our youths in various skills, and our facility at Ikot Ada Idem, remains committed to the training of more youths who would be employed in the many industries that have sprung up and are yet to come.

55. We came into government with the firm promise to improve our primary, secondary and quaternary healthcare services. Today, it has been “Promise made, and Promise kept” in that sector.

We have built, remodeled and commissioned world -class General Hospitals in all the Ten Federal Constituencies, the most recent being the General Hospital, in Ikot Abasi which was commissioned few days ago. These facilities I must add, can compare with the best of such anywhere. The services are automated and medical records can easily be accessed. We have worked with our medical professionals, to ensure regular trainings to bring them up to speed with the realities of the current trends in medical science.

56. During the Covid -19 pandemic, we built, within 90 days, the 300- Bed Infectious Diseases Control Centre, equipped with two PCR laboratories and the largest medical oxygen plant in the nation. Through this hugely significant centre, we were able to manage and control the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus, thus sparing the lives of our people.

57. Our quaternary hospital, the Ibom Specialist Hospital today has seen major improvements in all angles, the Hospital‟s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), today stands as a testament to our vision in healthcare. In the power sector, we made bold promises to invest in this critical area, and I am proud to say that through interventions in the remodeling of new sub-stations, the provision of dedicated lines, we have been able to provide electricity for all as we had promised. This policy of “Power for All,” was for us, to ensure that the rural communities especially those that had never been linked with the national grid, would be linked.

58. Today, I am proud to announce that out of the 2, 274 gazzetted villages in the state, only less than five percent remains yet to be linked to the national grid, and we are working assiduously to effect this before we leave office next year. This, I believe may be the best of such record in the nation. Also today, Ibom Power Plant generates a minimum of 155Megawatts of electricity everyday.

In the urban centres, most areas now enjoy steady power supply of up to 18 hours a day, quite a huge achievement, you will agree with me. And with our effort to actualize the distribution through the Utility company, we are moving and gearing towards a minimum of 24hrs electricity supply everyday.

59. We have challenged our youths to rise to the faith of their greatness and I am gratified to see that today, our youths are engaged in various entrepreneurial undertakings, from agriculture, to creative arts, from Information, Communication Technology (ICT,) to fashion, from make-up businesses, to landscaping, across sectors, they are using the works of their hands, in the spirit of „dakkada‟ to create sustainable living for themselves.

60. This is a huge achievement and I want to use this opportunity to salute and commend them for their resourcefulness. We stand ready to continue to assist them. The Ministry of Economic Development is hereby directed to create a department we can further assist our youths to realize their potentials.

61. One of the first acts I undertook upon being sworn in was to visit the traders and to offer them interest -free loans, Today, because of that intervention, our traders have seen their businesses grow exponentially. Three weeks ago, I went back to the same Itam Market and announced another round of interest-free loans to the traders. We are doing this, because the SMES are the engine of growth of any economy.

62. Because of the peace and security we have here in our state, we remain the destination of choice for conferences, seminars across the nation. Today, our hotels have an almost 100 percent occupancy rates, our rich cuisine continue to attract people from all over the world. Our Christmas Village has become a huge national event. In 2020, the stakeholders in the tourism industry awarded us Nigeria‟s Top Tourist state.

63. In sports development, our Nest of Champions remain the destination of choice for all CAF and FIFA football matches.

64. A few days ahead, we are going to commission another architectural masterpiece, the 18 thousand -seater Eket International Stadium, which is a beauty to behold. We want to create facilities where our talented youths could be caught early and exposed to amenities that will help them hone their skills and then represent us at international competitions. our football team, the Akwa United have done well, and we will continue to support and encourage them to keep wining trophies.

65. Let me congratulate my dear wife and First Lady, Her Excellency, Dr. (Mrs.) Martha Udom Emmanuel on the 7th Anniversary of her Pet- Project FEYReP and her successful hosting of the Nigerian Governors‟ wives,

66. Through her pet project, she has touched lives, especially the widows, the poor, the handicapped, and have restored hopes to the hopeless, she has built homes for women across the state, especially the widows, undertook numerous medical outreaches across the state, taken up the issue of gender-based violence, the future of the girl child, numerous women empowerment.

67. Former First Lady of the United States, Senator Hilary Clinton was absolutely right when she said it takes a village to raise children. In this case, my dear Wife, through her support has shown that it takes all hands on deck to affect, impact lives and change destinies. We appreciate and commend the good works she has done.

68. My drear Akwaibomites, I love the theme of this year‟s celebrations Moving Forward! You will agree with me, that in spite of the harsh economic situation we have experienced for the most part since we came, we have rewritten the Akwa Ibom Story in gold. We have changed the narratives of our development and our state , our youths have arisen , our women have arisen, our elders have more hope that the state they saw at its creation is rising in leaps and bounds and that the future and the fundamentals of growth remain strong and resilient.

69. It was Benjamin Franklin one of the Founding Fathers of the United States who, when asked by a lady at the end of deliberations on the new Constitution on September 18th, 1787 if what they had agreed on was a Monarchy or a Republic. Benjamin Franklin without hesitation answered “A Republic if you can keep it.”

70. My dear Akwaibomites in the last seven years plus, we have ensured that you have peace in this state and that the security of life and property remain our first business of government. Our people are no longer being kidnapped, or are politically motivated assassinations the norm as it used to be, anti-social tendencies are almost nonexistence. Our youths have decided to protect the identity and soul of the state by maintaining the peace. From Uyo, to Mbo, from Ibeno to Ekpat Akwa, all over the state, you can move peacefully without the fear of being attacked, it was not always like this, you will all agree with me.

71. At this point, it is pertinent for me to express my profound gratitude to all our security agencies, their leaders and operatives and also all our Fathers in Faiths who, in the last seven years plus have cooperated and worked tirelessly and assiduously with me to ensure that we have a peaceful State called Akwa Ibom, that we all are proud of today. I sincerely salute their courage and determination to continuously, maintain this peace that we all enjoy today.

72. All across sectors as I have outlined, our state is on the trajectory of growth and development. The tone and tenor of governance is Christand people-centric. Thousands of people are flocking to our state monthly taking up residences and buying our real estate, tourism is on the upswing, and even though there is a lot still to be done, there is optimism in the air, there is hope in the air, there is safety and peace all around.

73. Now my dear Akwaibomites, as Benjamin Franklin replied the lady, given all we have done together, the peace, the new tone of governance, the developmental strides, are you willing to keep this tone and move our sate forward with it? Or do you want to reverse all these and return our state to the dark years of insecurity, of brigandage, of kidnapping, of intolerance of differing opinion; of leadership that equates self to God?

74. That is the choice you would have to make, the choice between continuity and regression, the choice between sleeping with your eyes closed and the choice of staying awake in fear for your lives and those of your children.

75. Leadership is not a product of entitlement, leadership is not a- do or die affair, leadership is not based on the notion „this is my turn‟ and if I don‟t get it, the house must burn. Leadership is not about promising to unleash violence on your brothers and sister or your parents, and encouraging people to go on the social media to threaten mayhem if you don‟t get your wish. Leadership is given by God because He alone knows the heart and what‟s good for the people.

76. As we get ready for the electioneering campaigns, I want to urge our resourceful youths to resist any attempt by any individual to use them as instruments to foment trouble, to cause harm to your brothers and sisters.

77. We have enjoyed peace in this state, we must resist the urge by certain individuals who, motivated by power want to turn this state into a cauldron of violence.

78. As I have always said, politics should not break the cords of our unity, politics should not be used as an instrument to divide us, politics should not cause division and enmity between brothers and sisters, politics should rather be played without bitterness, without casting aspersions on one‟s opponent‟s character, politics should respect some lines, lines of decency and respect for our common humanity.

79. Akwa Ibom people are not known for violence, we are known for our even temperedness, we are known for our civility, our sense of comportment, our Godly tendencies, our deep devotion to family . We must resist those who want to alter our identity for narrow political interest. Our state has ARISEN and it must, and will move forward. Let me end this speech by quoting from the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak “the mandate that I seek is about continuity and sustainability against disruption and stagnation, about moving forward versus regressing. We have to safeguard what we have already achieved, we cannot put at risk what we have; we cannot gamble away our future.”

80. My dear Awkibomites, our state is rising, our people live in peace free from kidnapping , people are flocking to our state in thousands, economic foundation that we have laid are bearing fruits, our infrastructure is world class, our educational system is achieving great results, our healthcare services are among the best in the nation, Ibom Air is defining our status in Nigerian aviation industry and will extend soon to other parts of the world. The future is assured, we cannot gamble these achievements away. Our state is moving forward.

81. Let us all ARISE in unison to appreciate what God Almighty has used this Administration to achieve in the past nearly eight years. This is surely my last official address to you on our State‟s Anniversary as your State Governor. By this time next year (God willing) the mantle of leadership would have been passed unto our God‟s chosen Successor.

82. In all of these, our resolve, as a state as a people remain “FORWARD EVER, BACKWARD NEVER”. Our determination to move Akwa Ibom State continually forward lies in our hands and I sincerely believe that “Together, we can”.

83. God bless Akwa Abasi Ibom State, God bless Nigeria and God bless us all!

84. Happy 35th Anniversary !

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