My dear Akwaibomites

On Thursday, October 22, Akwa Ibom State, an ally in every developmental effort in our country, the cradle of peace and stability, the nest of hope for a better Nigeria, became a victim of a coordinated and premeditated attack by hoodlums and criminals. These vandals came in the guise of #EndSARS protesters and exploited same to put a stain on our State and commit atrocious crimes.

Let me therefore on behalf of the Government and people of Akwa Ibom State express my deepest sympathies to all the victims of the #EndSARS protests all over the country, especially our citizens in Akwa Ibom State who yesterday were brutalized by hoodlums pretending to be protesters.

The #EndSARS protests we know and sympathize with. But the vandals of yesterday we do not know. #EndSARS is an attempt to stop terror. These vandals came to spread terror. EndSARS wants to stop the brutalization of citizens. These vandals brutalized the good, working people of Akwa Ibom State. EndSARS is about stopping extortion and stealing. These vandals stole and looted. #EndSARS is about peace and constitutionality. These vandals committed arson and horrendous crimes.

EndSARS began two weeks ago in our nation when youths protested against the abuse of citizens’ fundamental rights by the Special Anti-robbery Squad popularly known as SARS and against other acts of police brutality. The right to protest peacefully is constitutionally-guaranteed and the protest attracted local and international attention and sympathy.

When the protest came to our shores, I personally addressed the protesters and assured them that their concerns will be addressed expeditiously. I thanked them for the peaceful manner they conducted themselves.
Consequent upon that encounter and to live up to my words, we convened an Emergency State Executive Council Meeting (EXCO) where, among other resolutions, a Judicial Panel of Investigation headed by the retired Justice Ifiok Ukana was set up.

Our State has enjoyed the peace during the protest nationwide, until yesterday, when certain unlawful elements masquerading as protesters took the laws into their hands and attacked citizens and destroyed some private and public property.

Permit me to state here that the most critical responsibility of any Government is to protect lives and property. It is as a matter of fact, the first order of Government business.

There is no responsible Government that will stand idly by and watch the wanton destruction of private and Government assets and property without taking the necessary steps to restore law and order. The declaration of a State-wide curfew yesterday from 9pm to 12noon today which has further been extended to 7am tomorrow was necessitated by the desire of Government to exercise its primary responsibility of protecting the citizens and their property.

Let me commend our youths for the patriotism and resilience they displayed in the protection and defence of our private and Government assets. You all deserve our eternal gratitude and appreciation. You have by such display of fidelity to your State, proved that you are partners in the collective growth and development of our dear State.

Our youths are peaceful, they love their State, the progress we have made so far with the resources available to us, and I know I can count on you to continue to defend our State and all that we stand for.

Government is committed to continually engage our youths in our developmental plans through job creation and other employment opportunities. In the next few weeks, we will commence our bold high level skilled training employment programme tagged “Ibom 3000 Project” which will train Akwa Ibom youths, 3000 per quarter and 3000 per Senatorial Districts in the following sectors: Oil and Gas, ICT, Agriculture and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises. The trainings will prepare our youths for over 1,000 jobs that will be created in the Oil and Gas Free Zone and other job opportunities in the ICT and e-commerce sector.

Also, My Entrepreneurship Goals Programme (MEGP-Batch 111) will start next week, which is another bold and decisive step taken by Government to provide needed education and skills in entrepreneurship so our youths may use the skills acquired to create job for themselves. We hope our youths will avail themselves of these great opportunities.

Finally, let me assure you that we will review the situation and further announcements will be made if the curfew will be extended.

God bless Akwa Abasi Ibom State, God bless our youths, elders, and God bless us all.

Akwa Ibom edakadedda, ami mmedakanda.

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