‘APC not option for Akwa Ibom people’

Ukpe-1Anietie Ukpe, Chief Press Secretary and Senior Special Assistant (Media) to Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, spoke to KENECHUKWU EZEONYEJIAKU in Lagos on issues the 2015 elections, the emergence of Mr. Udom Emmanuel as the PDP governorship candidate in the state and the developmental accomplishments of Governor Akpabio. 

AS governor Akpabio will be handing over power this year, do you think the PDP governorship candidate for the election in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, is capable enough to step into Akpabio’s large shoes?

 Certainly Governor Akpabio is leaving behind very large shoes and they will be hard to fill. But if anyone has what it takes to create a seamless transition and maintain the momentum of development, then that man is undeniably Mr Udom Emmanuel. He comes to the job with a strong set of skills acquired in the Banking Industry – an industry built on trust, integrity and competence. He is a quintessential banker and he was a shining light in the banking industry. He is a square peg in a square hole.

 Let’s talk about various legacies that will be left behind by Akpabio?

 Governor Akpabio has put the opposition parties in a fix. They find it more convenient to talk about what he has not done than to talk about what he has done. But no administration can do everything. They claim that there is hunger in the land. Okay, if there is hunger in the land how come with all the good roads in Uyo built by the Akpabio administration, we now have traffic jams. Uyo never used to have traffic jams before the advent of the Akpabio administration. Uyo never had the kind of high rise buildings sprouting up in Uyo and the state right now. He has done so much that the difference between his administration and other administrations in the state is like the difference between midday and midnight. Let’s simply say that at every stage in the life of an Akwa Ibom person he is feeling the impact of government. 

   As a baby in the womb you have free treatment because of the free medical care for pregnant woman. At birth you still have free medical treatment until the age of five. At age five or six, you start primary school and you are entitled to free and compulsory education till you finish secondary school. After secondary school you enroll in college, and you are paid bursary and depending on your course you may even obtain scholarship. After college you have several youth empowerment schemes and this administration has employed more Akwa Ibom people into the Public Service than any other administration. In terms of infrastructures, they are simply uncountable. 

 Within eight years of stewardship of Akpabio in Akwa Ibom state what is the area he has affected the lives of the people of the state most?

  It has to be with the free and compulsory education programme. This was like God turning again the captivity of His people – thousands of children of school age who were in servitude outside the state returned to go to school. School enrolment tripled. Street trading and hawking by children during school hours is prohibited in Akwa Ibom State. 

 With the emergence of APC, how prepared is Akwa Ibom PDP to win 2015 elections?

   APC is an alternative to disgruntled and desperate PDP politicians but not an option to the good people of Akwa Ibom State. The political tide has not changed. Whatever the name, whether APC or ACN, we have seen these “Egyptians” before. These “Egyptians” we see today we will not see them again after the elections. They will retire somewhere to leak their wounds in defeat. They were stronger in the media as ACN in the 2011 elections, but they were just a media creation without any weight in the State. We have heard and seen their story before. It is much huff without puff.

  Why is it that Akpabio’s administration has never witnessed a misunderstanding between house of assembly and the executive, what is the magic wand?

  The members of the House of Assembly represent the people. When the people of the state are happy with the Government and proud of what it is doing, you cannot expect the House of Assembly to go against the tide of public sentiments. That is the major reason. More so the House are partners with Governor Akpabio in his uncommon transformation of the state. In his 2015 budget address, Governor Akpabio summed up the sentiment between the administration and the House of Assembly thus, “it would be noted that this House was the factory we brought our ideas to for incubation and production. It was here we gave our ideas wings to fly. It was here that uncommon transformation soared to heights of acclaim. As you know it takes two wings to fly and the two wings in this case were the Executive wing and the Legislative wing.”

  Mr. Udom Emmanuel, the PDP governorship aspirant, appears to have some resistance from politicians, why is that so?

  All fair-minded people in Akwa Ibom State understand their selfish concern. In the former Cross River State, Dr. Clement Isong was brought to the state after his stint as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He contested for the office of Governor and won. He was the best governor we had in the then Cross River State. He built so many industries, institutions, developed infrastructures and touched so many lives. His tenure was the golden era of the then Cross River State. But he did not service those who saw themselves as pests of government. 

   The same groups of politicians are looking at Mr Udom Emmanuel as an incarnation of Dr. Clement Isong. They know he would definitely perform but they are worried that, like Governor Akpabio, he would not sacrifice the public good at the altar of their selfish ambition. They see themselves as the owners of Akwa Ibom State; as some kind of Board of Trustees of the state. They do not want any person who would not come and patronize them.

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