Let me start by wishing us all a Happy and prosperous New Year. We have come here today to thank God who kept us through the preceding year and to renew our faith with our covenant keeping God. We are gathered here today to rededicate our beloved State and handover this piece of God’s own Real Estate to the Supreme owner of the Estate.

We have come here to bow before His throne of Grace because we acknowledge that without Him we are nothing. We have come to ask for His forgiveness for whatever we did wrong last year and to pray that He would not take His Holy spirit from us, but would rather restore the joy of our salvation.

On behalf of the Government and the good people of Akwa Ibom State, I welcome you all to this very significant event which has always been the first official function we undertake at the beginning of every New Year.
It was not in error that our forebears christened this State, “Land of Promise.”  They were, by that singular act, expressing the faith that like the Biblical Promised Land, Akwa Ibom State was, and is still, God’s own project. They were confident that as the Lord was with the Israelites of old; standing by them through the mountain and the valley so also is He with us yesterday, today and forever.
If the Lord was not with us, our story and our journey would have taken a different trajectory. But today, the Akwa Ibom Story is a story of triumph, of victory over incredible odds, of the ascendance of a people who were once seen as belonging to the side-lines of the Nigerian enterprise but today are major players in the boardroom of the Nigerian Project. That is why we have come to return thanks to Him, and commit ourselves and our State once again into His Hands.
The theme of this today’s event, “I Will HELP THEE” tells our story better and clearer. The year 2017 was challenging in so many forms and dimensions; from recession to hyperinflation. But in all of these, our God went ahead of us and straightened the crooked paths and while there was a casting down elsewhere, we were visited by the invisible hands of the Almighty that lifted us up and held us aloft as prime example of God’s unfathomable favour.

This Administration was ushered in by global economic hardship that was even more biting in Nigeria than elsewhere. Naturally, many had expressed fears and doubts whether we would be able to meet our electoral promises. We did not just meet them; we exceeded what we promised. The Emmanuel that has been with us is still with us today and we shall not be afraid to tackle tough problems.
Where could we have drawn our strength from? The Scripture says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We drew our strength from the Lord. He says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee; I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”Evidently, our journey is shaped by our relationship with God. We have made Him our compass in this journey and that is the secret of the milestones we have achieved in every mile we have covered so far. Our creed is that there is nothing God cannot do for a people that put their trust in Him.
Akwa Ibom is a State at the footstool of God. It is such consciousness that makes us sustain our relationship with Him. Last year some people out of ignorance, who are neither Akwa Ibomites nor do they have any stake in our State questioned why we celebrate our God with passion and unbridled verve. They are like the pagan tribes who never knew how the Jews arrived at the other side of the Red Sea.  The pagan tribes did not travel the road from Egypt to the other side of the Red Sea. These people see us, but they do not know our story nor have they experienced our testimonies.
If only they knew that God has been our defence and our ever present hope; they would not question our abiding fidelity to our God. If only they knew that the reason we have achieved so much during these lean times is because God is our ever-present help in times of need, they will never question our commitment to our Christian values and faith.

The Lord has consistently kept His promise with Akwa Ibom State. He has been with us in a million ways. At a time others were lamenting the biting economic recession and could barely meet their obligations, investors were and are still turning Akwa Ibom State into a land of pilgrimage, expressing interest to do business with us, little wonder that the National Bureau of Statistics stated that we are the second State after Lagos to have attracted the largest volume of Foreign Direct Investments. Our industrialization policy which was at the centre of our campaign platform is on the ascendance.

We have successfully commissioned Africa’s largest syringe manufacturing company and this has created huge employment opportunities for our teeming youths and other ancillary economic activities.

Our workers receive their salaries as and when due; pensioners are getting their pensions and gratuities paid. Three weeks ago, the pensioners honoured me for paying their gratuities and being a compassionate Governor. This is happening at a time, most States can barely pay their workers salaries, not to talk of paying their pensions and gratuities. We owe this, to God who has continued to strengthen us.

The Metering solutions company which will help reduce the price we pay for electricity has also been commissioned. Our promise to revive moribund industries has been actualized with the resuscitation of the Peacock Paints industry in Etinan.
In the area of infrastructural consolidation and expansion, we are making a bold statement too.

We have completed and work is on-going in more than 1202 Kilometres of roads and many bridges across the three Senatorial Districts of the State. Massive internal road construction is currently going on in Osongama and Shelter Afrique Estates respectively. We are utilizing the resources available to us, for the development of our State.

We have improved our health care delivery by constructing and refurbishing major secondary health care facilities across the State as well as the importation of 25 containers of the state-of-the art health care equipment, including 2 sophisticated ambulance vehicles complete with intensive care facilities which are comparable to the very best in the world.

We have sustained our free and compulsory basic education in public schools in spite of the challenging economic times the nation is experiencing. Currently we spend over N600m annually on WAEC fees for indigenes. We have done this; because we don’t wish to leave any Akwa Ibom child behind on the success lane based on the economic circumstance of their parents.

Our people now enjoy an average of 18 hours of electricity supply in most parts of our State capital. This has been made possible through our investment in the power sector, building and commissioning of new power sub-stations. For this we give God the glory.

Through His grace, we have diversified our economy from over-dependence on oil to agriculture, industrialization and tourism. Akwa Ibom State is fast becoming the destination of choice for tourists.

Let me commend my wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel whose signature project, Family Empowerment and Youth Re-orientation Program (FEYReP), have built and donated houses to widows among other life-touching projects.

Let me use this opportunity to once again place on record that Akwa Ibom State is the only State in Nigeria to own, manage and maintain an airport independently. Construction work on the 2nd runway at the Akwa Ibom airport in Uyo is at advanced stage and we have upgraded our main runway to a category 2 runway to enhance accessibility. Similarly, to, prepare ourselves for our long desired relocation of Exxon Mobil to our dear State; we are constructing a 21 storey modern edifice on the site of the old Uyo market. This will provide ready-to-use state-of-the art office facilities for prospective occupants. We have done so much despite the tough economic climate, and we give God the glory for Emmanuel, our ever-present God who has always assures us not to be afraid, that He is with us.

As they say a golden fish has no hiding place even the Federal Government had to celebrate and take notice of our performance. In the MID TERM REPORT, published by the Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, 32 pages were devoted to the achievements of my administration. They celebrated our Administration for impacting and touching lives and told the world the Great things that God has done for our State and people. This is highly unusual to see a party in power at the federal level celebrate a Governor from the opposition party. God indeed, has been with us, and we shall never be afraid

I have always said that I inherited an Akwa Ibom with the foundation of a skyscraper. Therefore, I can and will never build a bungalow on such a formidable foundation. We are determined to construct a glittering edifice that will stand as a reminder that Government is a force for good and not a force for ill and that the Emmanuel that has been will us, will never depart from us, therefore, we are not afraid to do bold and audacious things for our people.

I am calling once again on our sons and daughters of our beloved State to come and join hands with us to build the State that our forebears had environed. We should not allow the fleeting passions of politics or any other ancient animosities create a wedge between us as brothers and sisters that we are. Politics will come and go but Akwa Ibom State spirit will continue to flourish and ascend.
Political parties will come and go but the people will remain. Administrations will change but Akwa Ibom will not Change. This year, we will hold primaries to nominate candidates into various offices, and the campaigns for the 2019 elections will be flagged-off. I urge our people not to see politics as blood sport, but rather celebrate the ennobling virtues that a call for public service commands. We should go to the political field knowing that in any political contest, a winner must emerge and the victor must be magnanimous in victory.

As we begin this bright new year that is brimming with beautiful prospects, let us hold on to the assurance of God’s promise that He will be with us. What He has promised, we trust that He will do. We can only do our part by being faithful to God and showing love to our fellow brothers and sisters. God is love, and we must follow suit as worthy and exemplary Christians.

Once again, I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year.

Thank you and God Bless.

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