It is no longer news that the Forbes reckoned billionaire and indigene of Nsit Ibom, Akwa Ibom State – Obong Akanimo Asuquo Udofia, has emerged the party flagbearer of the All Progressive Congress (APC), after beating seven other aspirants in the Akwa Ibom Governorship primary election which held on Thursday, 26th May, 2022.
Despite the initial hiccup occasioned by the apparent meddlesomeness of the ‘almighty Igini’ and his cohorts, who perhaps acting on the instructions of their paymasters had attempted to re-route the electoral materials destined for the State Office of the APC, where the scheduled gubernatorial primary election was to hold, to yet another location that was pre-arranged for a parallel election; the exercise eventually held without any attendant hitch. It is true that Mr Igini ran out of luck as he failed woefully in his bid to rehash the 2019 political theatrics, which he quite unabashedly superintended and saw to it that the APC in Akwa Ibom did not chalk-up a single win in the elections.
To most Nigerians, it is common knowledge that the conduct of party primaries is strictly a party affair and the role of INEC in such elections, is merely an observatory. Therefore the sudden emergence of Mr Igini at the centre of play, demanding to take over and direct the course of action in respect of the scheduled APC primary elections, whereas he had failed to do so in the just concluded PDP primaries, leaves much to be desired. As a matter of fact, the incidence should not be glossed over, but thoroughly investigated by the appropriate authorities. It is even more worrisome to note that the Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) – Mr Mike Igini, went as far as granting a press interview, purporting the postponement of party primary elections that were duly scheduled by the party leadership, after his failed attempt to hijack the process. This seriously calls to question the manner of umpire Mr Igini is. Indeed, I have never seen a State REC as high-handed, flippant, reckless and irredeemably meddlesome as Mr Igini. To state the obvious, his latest onslaught against the APC in the State is not just a coincidence, it is part of the grand ploy to again, malign and dim the bright chances of the party at the next general elections. Nevertheless, we thank God that his antics did not succeed this time around. Needless to say that Igini’s loss has become the people’s win. Indeed, the ever anxious party delegates, who were patiently waiting at the Party Secretariat for the arrival of election personnel and materials eventually got the opportunity to vote and they did vote overwhelmingly for the people’s choice – Obong Akanimo Udofia. Akwa Ibom people must thank God that after a long night of anguish, lamentation, lost hopes and missed opportunities, a new dawn has birthed with Obong Akan Udofia, poised to lead the State from her present quagmire to the much anticipated destination of fulfilment.
Akan Udofia: The 5-Star Entrepreneur
To most Akwa Ibom people, the name, Akan Udofia, is synonymous with business and philanthropy. Since the demise of the renowned second republic Politician and successful businessman – Senator Victor Akan, there is no other Akwa Ibom Son or Daughter who has gained global reckoning in business, except Akan Udofia. Coincidentally, these two Icons share the same first name ‘Victor and Akan’, which means one and the same thing. The case of the late Senator was quite an interesting one, he was serendipitously christened a double Victor i.e Victor Akan. In 2014, Akan Udofia was listed on the Ventures Africa Rich List as one of the 23 Nigerian billionaire businessmen with a networth of about One Billion Dollars. With over 26 years of exploits as a company Chief Executive, Obong Akan Udofia comes in as a well-experienced hand to help reposition the State for a new beginning. He is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Desicon Group – a company founded in 1974, which he took over from his father, after the old man voluntarily retired in 1996. Since then, he has tirelessly, but quite impressively worked hard to grow the company’s service portfolio from the initial line of providing Electrical and Instrumentation Services to becoming an internationally reputed Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) giant in the Oil and Gas industry.
Akan Udofia has successfully initiated numerous projects and partnerships with several international companies in the Oil and Gas industry, which has given his company its present enviable global standing and rapidly expanding asset base. From an employee portfolio of less than 50 personnel, the company now boasts of more than 4,000 personnel working in their offices within and outside Nigeria. As a private businessman, Obong Akan Udofia has helped to employ so many Akwa Ibom indigenes and is ever ready and poised to do more for his people at every given opportunity. In his thank you message to party faithfuls after emerging the APC flag bearer, he quite heartily noted, “I would like to express my unreserved gratitude to the Almighty God for His grace and guidance, which has granted me victory and the opportunity to serve my people.” He went further to state, “As someone who has been blessed by God, my interest in the leadership of our State is clearly a function of my desire to give back to society through selfless and effective service.” From the foregoing, one can easily deduce the fact that Obong Akan Udofia is coming in with one primary agenda – to use the Office of Governor as a veritable means of reaching out to a greater number of Akwa Ibom people and committedly impact their lives through the people-oriented programmes and policies contained in his well-crafted manifesto.
Akan Udofia: The Philanthropist
In the area of Philanthropy, Obong Akan Udofia’s record of humanitarian services is second to none. Outside the yearly Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects that his company undertakes, he is the Lead Sponsor of Roots Medical Mission – a non-profit health care initiative, which sends out medical professionals on medical outreach to local communities in Nigeria. The Akwa Ibom Water Project is another noteworthy initiative of Obong Akan Udofia, aimed at providing clean and potable water to the people in rural communities. Outside the shores of Nigeria, Akan Udofia has made huge donations to the London Eastsiders Young Leaders Academy in support of the group and empowerment of Caribbeans and Africans living in London.
With this glowing profile of achievements, there is no gainsaying that Obong Akan Udofia has endeared himself to so many Akwa Ibom people and they would most gladly look forward to seeing him replicate the magic he did at Desicon in Akwa Ibom come 2023.
What The People Want
With Akan Udofia at the helms of affair, Akwa Ibom people will earnestly look forward to seeing:
· A Governor who will put the people first and not self first.
· A Governor who will bring people together and not divide them.
· A Governor who will not play politics with projects, but do well to prioritise and execute the same.
· A Governor who will prioritise the payment of retirement benefits and provide adequate care to the elderly and Senior Citizens.
· A Governor who will not only trump the idea of industrialisation, but evoke the mental acuity and political will to get it done.
To add to these, Akwa Ibom People sadly bemoan the sudden turn of event in the State, which constantly evokes good old memories of the past, Hence, they would most gladly delight in having a Governor who will bring back the old good days:
· When the State was one huge construction site for sundry projects and landmarks.
· An era when the payment of impress and statutory allowances to Civil Servants was a sine qua non and not a taboo.
· A period when Politicians and Civil Servants were duly remunerated and motivated to work tirelessly for the growth and development of the State.
· The good old days when Civil Servants used to enjoy the 13th month salary boon.
. A time when school heads earned subvention based on the number of pupils/students they were able to attract to their schools.
. A period when primary/secondary education was really free to all Nigerians residing in Akwa Ibom.
· An era when Law and Medical Students used to leverage on government assistance to advance their career pursuits.
I’m pretty sure, with Akan Udofia as Governor, the above fond memories of the past shall be relieved. To our ever articulate Nigerian students, the issue of bursary which has long been forgotten will be re-enacted. But this time around, the old analogue means of bursary payment shall be consigned to the dustbin of history and a new digital platform of payment shall be put in place. All students from NUC/NBTE recognised public institutions shall be paid their annual benefits without any form of hassle or stress.
The Twin Option
Akwa Ibom people, the twin option tossed before you now is the choice between light and darkness, truth and deceit, real and imaginary, known and unknown, certainty and uncertainty, fact and make-believe, progress and stagnation, prosperity and starvation. Yes, God has given us the opportunity to choose between an accomplished Chief Executive and a Hotelier cum Endtime Cleric, as the next pilot of the Akwa Ibom project. This is a golden chance for us to make the right choice by voting in the man with a clear vision of the ‘destination of fulfilment’ that the State is marching forward to.
Already the political climate has changed with the mere declaration of Obong Akan Udofia as the gubernatorial flagbearer of APC. By the time he begins to criss-cross the length and breadth of the State, bringing to you the message of hope and a new beginning for Akwa Ibom, no one will be left in doubt that he is the right man for the job.
From my independent interactions with friends and acquaintances across party lines, I have noted with pleasant surprise the preponderant views of a cross-section of Akwa Ibom people, which is that they are not going to vote this time around based on party affiliation, but rather based on WHO is seeking WHAT POSITION or OFFICE.
In the light of this, I, therefore, enjoin all Akwa Ibomites, men and women of goodwill and those who genuinely seek the growth and development of the State, to rise in support of this project whose time is right. It’s time to restart Akwa Ibom with Obong Akan Udofia on the saddle. Do not sit on the fence, be part of history in the making!
Comrade Jude Inyang-Etoh
2G+ Media Consult
Akwa Ibom State
*** By Jude Inyang-Etoh