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Akwa Ibom At 35: Govt Commissions 113 Internal Roads, Spends N1.2bn On Indigenous Pilots, Engineers Training

Mr Udom Emmanuel
Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel

September 21, (THEWILL) – Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, has expressed satisfaction with his performance in the last seven years, despite the challenges of COVID-19 and the Nigerian economic situation, pointing out that after conquering the aviation sector, Akwa Ibom has also become a pacesetter in road infrastructure.

The governor, who expressed this on Tuesday, during a media pally with journalists in Uyo, said the first batch of trainees were already undertaking the training meant to provide needed technical personnel in Nigeria’s flagship Airline.

According to him, his administration, aside from urban roads, has witnessed the construction of more than 113 internal roads, while major towns in the state have been linked with dual carriage roads, making movement around the state easier and safer, even as the ease of doing business and evacuating agricultural products, especially from rural areas in the state has greatly interested.

“The kind of road infrastructures we are putting in place is such that incoming governments will not repeat what we have already done, so they can channel money and efforts into other areas.”

Governor Emmanuel discussed that the state government so far has spent over N1.2 billion to train the second batch of Engineers and Pilots from the state, with aircraft manufacturers, Airbus, in a renewed move to reposition and increase the capacity of the state owned Airline, Ibom Air.

He, however, expressed joy at the strides of the airline within a short time, saying that the MRO facility at the Victor Attah International Airport is at 95 percent completion and would be ready before the end of the year and would help in making the state the aviation hub of the region.

He said the inability of the airline to acquire more aircraft was due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, as most financial systems are linked to Russia, with the former Soviet Republic, however, facing business and political sanctions and restrictions from many countries of the world.

“The state government is spending billions of Naira to train and prepare the best hands of our indigenes for the growing opportunities in the aviation sector and particularly Ibom Air. We have already sent the first batch of Engineers and Pilots to Airbus and the second batch is preparing to go.

“We are spending billions to train these people and that’s why I don’t care to know which part of the state any of the trainees is from. Airbus also does not know the Local Government the trainees are from and if they find out that there are sentiments in the selection of the trainees, they may decide to pull out.

We are even praying that they will be able to scale through their tests”, Gov Emmanuel said.

The Governor, however, said his administration has commenced alternative moves to acquire more aircraft to boost the fleet of the airline in order to build on the gains already made by the airline in the country’s aviation sector.

He said the inability of the state government to make envisaged progress in the construction of the Ibom Deep Sea Port, was due to extraneous factors but announced that a Korean-based developer would soon become an anchor tenant to help advance the development of the seaport.

He noted that his administration has never played politics with the development of the state, the reason the state government has spent over $34 million in the construction of the 8.4km IBB Avenue flood control project, a facility that transversed across 18 communities in three Local Council Areas of the state and carrying more than half of the flood water generated in Uyo and environs.

On power, Emmanuel maintained that no state government has invested up to half of what Akwa Ibom has invested in the sector, pointing out that with the construction of five digital substations with a sixth on the pipeline, the state would achieve its power for all programme in the shortest possible time.

The Governor also expressed dissatisfaction with the inability of the PHEDC to distribute power effectively, saying the state consumes less than 70MGW, even as the state’s power plant has been producing 115MGW, adding that the state government has also obtained licence to increase its power generation to 640MGW of electricity.

“The good news, however, is that we have also obtained a distribution licence using a utility company so that we can distribute the power we generate effectively and achieve a 24-hour electricity supply to every part of the state in the shortest possible time”, he said.

On education, the Governor said that in addition to sustaining the free and compulsory education scheme, more than 5,000 education infrastructure has been provided in schools across the state in the last seven years, but regretted that local vandals have continued to frustrate the efforts of the state government in this direction.

He maintained that the state government would not encourage the 21-storey edifice built for International Oil Companies to be rented below its value and expressed confidence that with a PDP administration at the federal level, the reluctance of the IOCs to relocate to their area of operations would be a thing of the past.

Emmanuel called for support for the state PDP candidate, Mr Umoh Enoh, adding that his passion for youth empowerment and experience in business, and the corporate world, would augur well for the state in the coming years.

He described as unfair and immature, recent calls for the state government to pay compensation for property owners on the Odikpani-Itu highways, wondering why Akwa Ibom, producing more than 35% of the nation’s oil, would be considered unqualified to enjoy the full gains of the Petroleum Profit Tax, of which it has remained a major contributor.

The Governor called on indigenes of the state, to always rise to the challenge of protecting the interest of the state at all times, adding that the state deserves more from the Federal Government, considering its enormous contribution to the Nigerian economy.

“How do you expect a state to pay compensation to properties on a road being constructed by the Federal Government? Who did the valuation and is that the practice? The contract sum for that road could have been enough for me to take the road towards Aba.

“I am calling on our people not to allow themselves to be intimidated by anybody. Always have the interest of the state at heart at all times”, he said.

Governor Udom Emmanuel called on the media Community and the generality of the people of the state, to do all within their powers to ensure that he succeeds in his recent appointment as the chairman, Presidential Campaign Committee of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election.

Recall that Governor Emmanuel was recently appointed and inaugurated as the chairman of the presidential campaign council of the PDP, with the mandate to deliver the party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, as the president of Nigeria come 2023.