Fellow Akwaibomites,

My Wife, Her Excellency, Dr. (Mrs.) Martha Udom Emmanuel and I extend our warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year in advance to all Akwaibomites and other residents of our dear State!

We give God Almighty the glory for His love, guidance, protection, grace and blessings to us as individuals and to our dear State in the year that is about to come to an end. We definitely have a lot to thank Him for.

Christmas is the story of how a Baby who was born in the manger because his poor parents could not afford the fanciful inns, but whose Birth, has filled all the rooms in Heavens and on earth with joy, riches hope and salvation.

This humble beginning of the greatest mission of salvation, love, and healing makes every Christmas a season of hope for those who are down; a season of inspiration for those who are confused and a season of love for those who feel rejected.

If his Birth gave us hope, his life and luminous teachings have given generations of believers faith and direction and bathed the world with the comforting knowledge of God’s unconditional love, tender- mercies, amazing grace and loving-kindness.

Today, we join the world in giving thanks for the Birth of His only Son, the Centre point of human history.

As I said last week, at our Christmas Carols event, this is, also the last Christmas broadcast I will bring to you as the Governor. Next year, by the grace of the Almighty God, it would be our God’s own choice, our Incoming Governor, that will be reaching you on this podium.

Let me thank you my dear resourceful Akwa Ibom people for your kind prayers, your support, your constructive criticism, the love you have shown me in the last almost eight years, since you gave me the mandate to lead you, in 2015.

It has been a great honour and privilege to serve you as your Governor and I want to believe that when the history of our accomplishments shall be written, it will record our years as those of deep impact, of prudent application of resources available to create the most impact. It will record us as a government that battled two recessions, falling oil prices that almost wrecked the economy of our nation when we came in, and a pandemic of historic proportions that shut down the world for almost a year.

In all of these, to the glory of the One whose season of Birth is the reason we are celebrating today, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we were able to overcome those terrible headwinds and still, raise the banner of governance across sectors.

To the glory of the Almighty God, we still remain one of the safest States in the nation, where residents live in peace and harmony; where our people can travel from Uyo to Ikot Ekpene, from Ikot Ekpene to Ibeno, from Ibeno to Ini at any given hour.

Fellow Akwaibomites, you will recall that we came with a Christian heart and mind to lead you with love and tolerance, with humility and abiding faith in our capacity to rise to the faith of our greatness. We came to change the tone and tenor of our engagements and to show that power and all the paraphernalia that come with it, belong to God and not man. We came, not to blow our trumpet, but to let the works of our hands speak for us.

Today, I can raise my hands to the Heavens and say to the Almighty God, thank you for what you have done for us. Today, in aviation industry, Akwa Ibom State leads the nation with Ibom Air. Thousands of people now flock to our State to live, invest and thrive. Over a thousand jobs have been created for our people through Ibom Air and our coordinated aviation development- the Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul (MRO) the smartest international Terminal in the nation are testaments to vision and creativity.

Today, as generally acknowledged, Akwa Ibom State has about the most sophisticated and world- class road network of economic value. Our State can be seamlessly linked across the three senatorial districts, thus enhancing economic activities. Infrastructural renaissance was one of our cardinal campaign promises. On that, we have delivered for our people.

Our healthcare delivery system remains one of the most impactful in the nation, with over ten general hospitals remodeled or rebuilt and equipped with the most modern facilities. Today, from the ten Federal constituencies, our people can access a medical facility within thirty minutes. We had assured you in 2015, that we will work to ensure we have a healthy population. On that, we have achieved a deep impact.

We had promised to have our staple food items made easily available at a price one can afford. Our investments in agriculture and new approaches to producing our staple foods have borne huge fruits. Today, we have enough food to feed our teeming population.

We promised to ensure that our children will remain competitive in a dynamic world of ideas and opportunities through human capacity development. Our educational curriculum has been rejigged to accommodate these new realities. Our children are being taught both the conventional approach and entrepreneurial and skills acquisition approach, so as to mold them into employment generating- all -round graduates.

This is the way of the new world, and I am glad we are not lacking behind. In spite of the flawed statistics obviously produced for political purposes, our enrollment records have quadrupled in the last years. People from neighboring States have tapped into our free education up to secondary school level, which our people enjoy.

Let me commend and salute the great works my wife, Her Excellency, Dr.(Mrs.) Martha Udom Emmanuel’s signature Pet Project, Family Enhancement and Youth Re-Orientation Path Initiative (FEYReP) has done in uplifting and providing succor to the widows, the girl-child, women empowerment, sensitization campaigns on easily preventable diseases and other lifestyle issues, the place of women in governance, and the numerous homes or the Shelter for Hope Project she has constructed.

Let me also use this opportunity to salute and celebrate our resourceful youths for maintaining and safeguarding the peace we have enjoyed in this State. My fellow Akwaibomites, peace is the catalyst for growth and development. Without peace and security, a society is doomed. We must protect and treasure this peace with every fiber in our veins. We are going forward and NOT backwards!

This speech is not one for our scorecard. Our scorecard is nationally known and locally appreciated. And this scorecard, is the reason why there must be continuity so we don’t turn back the clock of development and growth of our State.

This season is one of love, of giving and of hope. As I said during our Carols night, let us show love to the infirmed and the less-privileged, let us give a shoulder to those who may be consumed by hopelessness, let us offer a hand to lift up those who may be at the lowest rungs of life’s ladder, let us give them a reason to be cheerful and hopeful. If you have been blessed, please reach out to your kindred in need and show love as the season of the Birth of our Saviour demonstrates.

I call on our political class and stakeholders to conduct themselves during this period of transition with utmost decency and circumspection. Leadership demands of us a certain display of wisdom and tact. Leaders, don’t burn down the homes they had built, leaders don’t ignite violence through the words of their mouth.

Leaders don’t engage in peddling falsehood and misinformation, neither do they deploy violence as a means of getting elected into political offices. Leaders do not attack and insult the very institution and the symbol they aspire to represent. Leaders should and must understand that the cords of our unity, of brotherhood and of our common patrimony remain enduring and rock-solid, and that political foes you know today may be allies tomorrow.

As we get ready to elect our new set of leaders, I urge our people to know that, that same God who granted us a State, 35 years ago, with dusty streets and thatched roofed houses sandwiched between a number of concrete structures, a State where the aspiration of some of our people was to go to Lagos and elsewhere and be domestic workers and gatekeepers, has done Supreme things in our lives. Our narratives have changed, and it can only get better!

Today, that once-dusty State has become the destination of choice for most Nigerians and others across the world; that State today, boasts of the best road network of any sub national in the nation, that State has the only commercially viable and most preferred airline in the country, the first of such, owned by a sub national, Ibom Air. That State has over 25 fully functional industries that have employed thousands of our people; that State today ranks amongst the best in the nation.

We must protect these achievements, leverage on them and continue the building blocks rather than destroy them. God loves us, God is with us, and God will never forsake us, because this is AkwaAbasi Ibom State, a State named after Him.

As I get ready to brace the tape, I do so, with a heart of gratitude to you my dear people, a grateful heart to the One who made all these possible through His only Begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, whose Birth, we are today celebrating.

Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy and prosperous New Year in advance! Akwa Ibom edakkaeda, ami mmeddakkanda!

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