My dear Akwaibomites,

2.​My wife, Her Excellency, Dr. (Mrs.) Martha Udom Emmanuel and I share the joy of Easter with all Akwa Ibomites and residents of our State.

3.​Easter is an important event in Christendom. It is the ultimate expression of sacrifice, which our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ made on the Cross over two thousand years ago, for the remission of our sins. By His resurrection three days later, death was defeated, salvation for mankind was restored and a season of rebirth was ushered. Today, we are proud and sanctified heirs and heiresses of that renewal.

4.​This Easter celebration is particularly significant for me. It signals the last time I will share the joy of Easter with you as your Governor and also a propitious moment for me to express my deepest gratitude to you, my dear people for all the prayers, support and encouragement I have received from you in the last almost eight years.

5.​This is not yet my Valedictory Speech, however, I can’t help but to express my deepest gratitude to you my dear Akwaibomites for entrusting me with the huge task of being your Governor, of working to extend and deepen the growth and development across the length and crannies of this State. It has been a hugely impactful experience, one that tested our capacity and preparedness to fulfill our campaign promises.

6.​But because we came prepared with a well-defined Blueprint anchored on the need to expand the frontiers of development through rapid industrialization, the provision of soft and hard infrastructure, and a new vista of growth predicated on our initial Five-Point Agenda, later expanded into the Eight-Point Completion Agenda, we have been able to rise (dakkada) to the call of the moment, and change the narratives and enlarge the chapters of the Book of our development.

7.​As I get ready to take a bow in the next month , I am eminently proud and assured that I will be leaving this State better than I met her, and in the capable, tested and steady hands of the Governor-Elect, Pastor Umo Eno, who, I believe will further carry the torch of peace, development, growth and unity of our dear people.

8.​Let me use this opportunity to again thank our people for the peaceful manner you trooped out during the last Gubernatorial and State House of Assembly elections and exercised your Constitutional franchise. From all accounts, including those of the Foreign Observers, the election was peaceful, free, credible and a profound and wholesome expression of the collective will and desire of you, my dear people. You voted for the continuation of all that we have started and achieved in the last almost eight years. You voted for the furtherance of peace, for growth, for development and for our unity.

9.​Let me thank our great party, the PDP, our Fathers in Faith, our stakeholders, the elder statesmen, our women, youths and other lawful residents of this State for believing in the need for continuity and good governance. Let me also salute other contestants for believing in the electoral process and the common good of our people.

10.​In my maiden Easter speech almost eight years ago, I had enjoined our people to “let the spirit of the season of Easter continue to shape and define our engagements with one another” that we should “continue to be hopeful, be optimistic and to know that the challenges of today will become opportunities tomorrow”. Today, almost eight years after, we have turned our challenges into opportunities for growth and the reawakening of our collective spirit of enterprise and creativity.

11.​As I stand here to reflect on the challenges we faced upon assumption of office on May 29th, 2015, and to see where we are today, I can only say that God has been awesomely wonderful and deeply gracious towards us as a State and as a people. To Him alone, be the glory, honour and adoration!

12.​We came in, facing a tailwind of economic difficulties with the price of oil at its lowest in decades thus, tackling recurrent expenditure proved challenging for most sub nationals; not to talk of embarking upon capital projects. The fundamentals of economic growth were to say the least, dire and shaky.

13.​In two years, after we came in, we battled two recessions, and just when we thought the economic coast was becoming clearer and more predictable, the Covid-19 pandemic roared its ugly head and shut down the world for more than a year, changing and altering possibly forever the way the world works and operates.

14.​In spite of all these challenges, we rose like meteors and, because we came with the innate ability and capacity to stare challenges in the face and take them head-on, we were able to overcome and today, the Akwa Ibom story has become a national story, a story of a sub national which, without the control of National policy, has achieved so much across sectors because of the quality of leadership we have been blessed with, and the passionate dedication to the pursuit of Legacy -of Impact projects, which today dot our landscape

15.​To the glory of God, as this season is one of rebirth and renewal, we have also seen the rebirth and renewal of the Akwa Ibom story from a land previously seen as a purely civil -service oriented State, to one that today, is a fast industrializing sub national, with progress made in several areas never imagined.

16.​Even though there are still more to do, which thankfully, my Successor will expand on, we can all beat our chest and proclaim loudly, without sounding boastful that the Akwa Ibom today, is better than the Akwa Ibom we met in 2015, and that is the way it should be! Progress must continue from one administration to the next.

17.​Today, because we dreamed big and saw huge pictures, Akwa Ibom has become the reference point in aviation development. Our orange colours define the Nigerian aviation industry with Ibom Air, which has won every conceivable awards in aviation in its less than four years of existence.

18.​With a fleet of seven aircrafts, including five Bombardier 900 Series and two Airbuses, with more expected in the next few months, what was thought impossible eight years ago, today has been made possible. Our State is the only sub national with a thriving commercial airline in Nigeria and possibly Africa, and this should gladden the hearts of every Akwaibomite. Our determination to become the aviation hub of the Gulf of Guinea, has seen us construct what is arguably the best and the smartest airport terminal in the nation and indeed Africa, which would be commissioned soon.

19.​We have gone ahead to complete the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO,) facility a true foreign exchange earner, which we expect to also, commission soon. We also hope to commission the longest taxiway in the nation shortly as well.

20.​The effect of Ibom Air, today has made our State the destination of choice for most Nigerians and others across the world. It has generated thousands of employment for our people, it has moved our State to the apex of tourism, and improved our ease of doing business index. It can only get better and it would, in the coming years. Akwa Ibom is rising and we should all be proud.

21.​We campaigned on the three drivers of growth and progress, namely: Land, Air and Sea. Undoubtedly, we have delivered highly commendable results in these areas.

22.​Our investments in hard infrastructure today has put our State in the front-burner of national discourse on how a sub national could utilize the lean resources available to impact lives and create enduring infrastructure. With faith in what God has blessed us with, and with prudent application of the resources available, we have constructed, expanded and opened up the State with world-class road network. From Uyo to Ikot Ekpene to Eket, our State can be accessed and linked seamlessly, via a network of world-class roads without any potholes. There is no senatorial district that we have not impacted with quality and economically viable roads.

23.​Without naming all the roads we have constructed in the last almost eight years, but who can forget the world-class 29 kilometre Uyo-Ikot Ekepene road that we met at less than three kilometers, but which we have completed and commissioned, and today, has reduced the commuting time from Uyo to Ikot Ekpene to less than thirty minutes, thus opening up the famed Raffia City for economic activities and better quality of life for the residents.

24.​The Idongesit Nkanga/Clement Isong 10-Lane super-highway also known as the 3-Ring Road, has showed the world what a determined and purpose-driven sub national can do, once the passion is right. This hugely economically viable road is the only of such roads in the nation, to be constructed by a sub national and is on the same scope and beauty as the Airport Road in Abuja, done by the Federal Government. This is even more exciting as it was constructed by our home-grown contractor-the Hensek Integrated Services.

25.​The spectacular Etinan-Ndon Eyo Road, has been constructed and commissioned, thus linking Uyo to East West Road that connects us to Rivers and Bayelsa States respectively and enhances the free movement of goods and services in those two contiguous States. Also. the Eket–Ibeno Road was commissioned within the first year of this administration, thus alleviating the horrors of commuters to the oil producing areas of Ibeno.

26.​The Ekewerazu-Nto Edino Road, which was a death trap for decades today connects us with Abia State, again enhancing a free flow of trade and services. Early this year, we commissioned the longest bridge in South south and the fourth longest in the nation, the1.15km Afi Uko Nteghe Bridge, linking the newly constructed Etebi- Enwang Road, in Mbo Local Government Area. We equally have commissioned the Eyo Atai Ekim Eyo-Abasi Road in Udung Uko, the first of such road in the life of that Local Government Area. In Oruk Anam, we also completed and commissioned the Ikot Ibritam Ibesit Okporo Road to Ikot Ikara in Ikot Abasi, thus opening up those communities for free-flow of goods and services to neighbouring Rivers and Bayelsa States respectively.

27.​In the two remaining months, we hope to commission the 6-lane Airport Road expansion, the 23 kilometre Eket-Etinan Road, with three bridges, the 29 kilometre Uyo-Etinan Road, the Anua-Mbak-Adiadia Ishiet Road, the Ikot Ekpo-Mkpaeto road which links Etim Ekpo with Ika Local Governments respectively among others.

28.​With several internal roads constructed in Oron, in Eket, in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district and in Uyo Metropolis, which are too numerous to mention here, the flood controls at Nsikak Eduok Avenue and IBB outfall drains, which has reduced to negligible proportions the perennial flood in those critical arteries, we have fulfilled one of the cardinal campaign promises which was to consolidate and expand our road infrastructure. As I get ready to hand over the baton to the Governor-elect, I do so, knowing fully well that Akwa Ibom State, has about the best road network in the nation. Akwa Ibom is indeed rising and we should be all proud of where we are heading.

29.​Government is a continuum, and with the passion, competence and capacity of my Successor, I am sure that the Ibom Deep Seaport whose approvals we have already secured, would be realized in due course.

30.​We campaigned on the need to attract foreign investments and rapidly industrialize our State and thus change the narratives of us, being a purely civil-service oriented State. Today, with Akwa Ibom as the lead producer of the much needed syringes, with our flour produced at our fully automated Kings Flour Mill, now the most desired in the South South, based on the flavour , with the metering solutions providing meters for proper and accurate reading of electricity bills, with coconut refinery, easily the most creative way to utilize the natural economic benefits of coconut, the industrial clusters in Itam that produces utility items like the bamboo-sourced tissue papers, plastics etc, the soon-to be commissioned automotive and motor oil producing plant in Itam, the 21-Storey Dakkada Tower, the tallest in the Niger Delta region and the seventh tallest in the Nation, providing office space for companies desiring to move to our State, the narratives of our State has been changed forever. These industries have provided thousands of jobs to our people and the associated value-chain. We have kept our promise on industrialization, and on this score, our State is rising and can only get better.

31.​We came with the bold pledge to improve agriculture and make our staple food items readily available and affordable. We followed through on this with the inauguration of a Technical Committee on Agriculture and Food sufficiency. Almost eight years later, we have achieved a lot in this regard. Today, our rice mill in Ini is producing rice for our local consumption. We also have numerous garri processing mills scattered all over the three senatorial districts, with the fertilizer blending factory in Abak enriching our agricultural produce. The IBOM FADAMA Micro Finance Bank has been offering soft loans to farmers. The Establishment of Agric Investment Directorate has helped in the expansion of mechanized farming and other agro-allied investments, Today, we have been able to produce enough food to feed our teeming population and at affordable price range, thus fulfilling one of the major requirements of the Social Contract. Ufan Ini Palm Kernel Mill located at Ikot Akpan Nkuk in Ukanafun Local Government which produces Palm Kernel oil is poised to change the economic narrative of Nigeria. Akwa Ibom is rising, and with Agricultural Revolution being a key element of the Governing Blueprint of the Governor-elect, it can only get better.

32.​Our investments in healthcare has borne great fruits in line with our campaign promise to make healthcare a major area of investment and attention. As we get ready to hand over the baton, we have constructed, remodeled and equipped with the best medical facilities available, general hospitals in the ten Federal constituencies and three others in Itu, (the Mary Slessor General Hospital,) in Etim Ekpo and the in Ibiono bringing the number to thirteen.

33.​Ibom Specialist Hospital, too, has been upgraded with functional Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and new management to drive its vision. Because we are proactive in our approach to governance, we were prepared for any medical emergencies such as the Small Pox and Chicken Pox. When Covid-19 came, we activated our emergency plans.

34.​Today, with a fully functional Infectious Disease Control Centre and the largest oxygen plant in the nation located in Ituk Mbang, we have been able to mitigate and manage effectively, the issues of airborne diseases. We have recruited numerous medical personnel and physicians and pay them good salaries to keep them committed to their jobs. Today, there is a general hospital available to patients within twenty to thirty minutes reach in any of the Federal constituencies – a great feat indeed! As we get ready to hand over the baton to my Successor, the healthcare delivery services we have put in place is among the best in the nation.

35.​Education is the engine of growth and prosperity of any given society. Through Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee, we have remodeled, and equipped over four thousand classroom blocks, and provided corresponding science equipment. With collaborations from the Nigerian Army and Navy respectively, we have converted the former Salvation Army Secondary School, Efa, in Etinan Local Government Area to Army Command Secondary School and the Navy Secondary School in Ikot Ntuen, Oruk Anam, Local Government Area. At our last State Executive Council (EXCO) meeting, we approved the taking over of fourteen community schools, bringing to 35 the number of such schools already taken over by my administration for better management and improved service delivery for our upcoming generation. Today, our WAEC Pass rate has improved from 60% to 80% – a 20% increase which is highly commendable.

36.​We have rejigged our educational curriculum and put emphasis on Information Technology, science and entrepreneurial learning. Over two thousand new teachers have been added to our school system and we remain committed to ensuring that public school system is managed well and remains the pathway to ensuring that no child is left behind in the pursuit of education and personal growth and envelopment. As we get ready to hand over the baton to my Successor, I am happy to announce to you that the future of our children as far as our educational system is concerned is rock-solid, and it can only get better.

37.​Rural and riverine development aimed at curbing rural-urban migration was a key element of our Eight-Point Agenda. Today, with over 90 percent of the gazetted villages linked to the national grid, with thousands of feeder roads constructed, hospitals and other secondary healthcare care facilities constructed and equipped, our rural areas have never had it so good. With this policy also a central element of my Successor’s Agenda, Akwa Ibom is on the cusp of further rural development.

38.​Our women and youths are becoming more entrepreneurial. With other impactful interventions by my dear wife, and First Lady through her Signature Pet Project, Family Enhancement and Youth Reorientation Path Initiative (FEYReP), our women have expanded their businesses, and our youths have agreed to dakkada to the faith of their greatness. No longer are they totally waiting for government to provide them employments; these days our youths are adding value, utilizing their hands and creative endeavours to create sustainable living for themselves.

39.​Akwa Ibom today, is the destination of choice for most Nigerians. Our hotel occupancy rate is almost 100 percent. With Ibom Air and the attendant ease of doing business, the peace we enjoy here, our rich cultural heritage, our cuisine and our famed hospitable disposition our State is emerging as a tourism hub. The Four Point by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene, which we opened a few months ago, has become a favorite place for tourists and you our dear people. It is good to hear the good stories coming from the hotel, how our people now spend family time with their children and spouses.

40.​In sports, we have won two national trophies, the Aiteeo Cup and the NPPL by Akwa United. Our well-managed Nest of Champions remains the choice for most international football engagements of our National Team, the Super Eagles, We also completed and commissioned the 18-thousand sitting capacity Eket International Stadium and work is on-going at the Uyo Stadium which we hope to commission soon. We had earlier this year, constructed and commissioned the Olympic-sized swimming pool, which was used during the Nigerian Police Games, hosted by us. We are determined to catch and nurture our young talents early.

41.​Let me salute our gallant security agencies for the robust cooperation we have enjoyed in the last almost eight years. You have, in deep collaboration with us turned our story around. Today, Akwa Ibom is generally seen and celebrated as one of the most peaceful States in the nation. You bought into our vision of making our State, livable, free of sundry security challenges, you bought into our zero-tolerance for cultism and other anti social vices. We salute your dedication and remain convinced you will extend the same level of cooperation to the Governor-elect. Akwa Ibom is rising and it can only get better.

42.​Let me end this speech by again calling for unity and love amongst our people. We may have disagreements on political front, we may have pursued growth and development through different political prisms, but we must resist the impulse of letting politics create unbridgeable schism and chasm of alienation amongst us as kindred.

43.​Our Founding Fathers who banded together and established Ibibio State College in Ikot Ekpene may not have agreed totally on their political leanings, but they knew that our kindred spirit can never be broken through the ephemeral or temporary impulses of political affiliations.

44.​I urge our political class to sheath their swords and join hands with the Governor-elect, Pastor Umo Eno to build an economically vibrant State where the yearnings and hopes for our collective growth and development would be attained for the good of us and the generations yet unborn.

45.​It has been my great honour and privilege to serve you as your Governor. As I am getting ready to hand over the baton, I do so, with the full conviction and deep faith that given the resources available, given the challenging economic tailwind that we faced, given the two recessions and a pandemic of historic proportions, God has been merciful, God has been kind and I am leaving this State better than I met her. Akwa Ibom is rising and as the line in our State Anthem so movingly states: Forward ever, backward never! It can only get better.

46.​Happy Easter to you all and God bless Akwa Ibom State, God bless Nigeria, God bless us all. Akwa Ibom edakkaeda, Ami mmedakkanda!

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