2020: Akwa Ibom devotes lion’s share to capital projects

At his inauguration for a second term on May 29, 2019, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State unveiled what he described as a “Completion Agenda”. In advanced democracies, the popular thinking is that political leaders soon become lame ducks in their second term, since constitutional term limits prevent them from seeking another mandate and really they have nothing to prove.

Not so with Governor Emmanuel as he took off with renewed zeal. In his first four years, he had fashioned a comprehensive action plan backed with a well-thought-out industrial policy, the implementation of which soon began to attract national accolades and global interest.

The Completion Agenda is, therefore, a holistic approach to the implementation of the industrialisation drive, infrastructure- aviation development, agriculture, small and medium scale development as well as rural development. It will chart the course for enhancing internal generated revenue, the establishment of a petroleum refinery in the state, the actualisation of the Ibom Industrial City and the Ibom Deep Sea Port as long-term economic strategies that will generate integrated opportunities for development.

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In the second inaugural address, Governor Emmanuel put things in perspective: “In my 2019 Manifesto which we christened Completion Agenda, I emphasised eight major policy thrusts: Industrialisation, Aviation Development, Security, Infrastructure, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, Human Capacity Development, Agriculture, and Rural and Riverine Area Development. Most of these areas also formed the basis of our First Term policy direction.

“In our Completion Agenda, we will raise the bar of performance in all these areas and lift our state to such an enviable height that it will be the pride of the nation. We will aggressively industrialise this State and continue to attract foreign investors, ensuring that the environment is made friendly for investments. We hope to make Akwa Ibom the industrial hub of Nigeria. The Ibom Industrial City and the Ibom Deep-Sea Port will remain the signature projects in our Second Term industrialization plans.”

In a nutshell, the policy objectives of the 2020 Budget is to continue to promote trade, commerce and tourism; employ ICT, Science and Technology as a tool for employment generation and wealth creation; sustain the implementation of the Government Policy of Free and Compulsory Qualitative Education through the expansion of facilities to cope with increased school enrollment; continue work on the construction of Ibom Deep Seaport and expansion of the Ibom Industrial City to complement Government efforts in the creation of enduring structures for employment generation, wealth creation and increased IGR; complete the Cargo and Maintenance, Repairs and Overhauling (MRO) facility at the Victor Attah International Airport; pursue Public Private Partnership Investment Strategy in order to enhance our revolutionary efforts in Agriculture and Industry.

Speaking from his rich experience in the corporate world before venturing into politics, the governor expressed the belief that small and medium scale enterprises are the ultimate Driver’s of real growth in a developing economy like ours. Hence, the commitment of his administration to build infrastructure and create deliberate policies to foster and nurture such enterprises in the second term.

He put it this way: “In our Completion Agenda, we will focus on this crucial area and will partner with relevant organizations and agencies both in Nigeria and abroad to execute this policy. One of the key drivers of economy the world over is the provision of modern infrastructural facilities. We will pursue this policy with messianic zeal. In my First Term, we were able to construct over 1000 kilometres of road across the state and opened up the hinterlands for free -flow of goods and services.

“We will surpass this achievement with emphasis on commercially- viable roads. We will continue to invest heavily in the power sector, well aware of the importance of having steady electricity supply in our industrialization agenda. We hope to work towards having power for all in our Completion Agenda.”

To walk the talk, Governor Emmanuel has since swung into action with several new projects being commissioned. King’s Flour Mill which has production capacity of 500tons of wheat and 400 tons of flour a daily was commissioned by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on September 23 as part of events marking the 32nd anniversary of the state’s creation. The team handling the Kings Flour Mills is the biggest flour producers in Europe.

Also commissioned was a Plywood Industry and the completed first phase of the 2x60KVA transmission substation in Ekim, Mkpat Enin local government area. The power station executed in collaboration with the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, currently has a 60MVA power transformer and three out-going 33KV feeder bays is expected to supply 48mw of power to at least five local government areas of Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin, OrukAnam, Onna and Eastern Obolo.

Not surprising, the priorities of the 2020 budget presented by the executive to the legislative arm – notably public works, education and industrialization – reflect the aspiration of Governor Emmanuel’s “Completion Agenda”.

With an estimate of N597.80 billion, the budget draft is christened ‘Budget of Industrialisation for poverty alleviation phase 2’, and is predicated on the policy thrust to completely metamorphose Akwa Ibom State from a “Civil Service State” to a largely Private Sector driven State, depending less on statutory allocation as the main source of revenue. The budget makes room for effective and efficient financial analysis, guided by the International Public Sector Accounting Standard (IPSAS) – Accrual Template, a comprehensive package that classifies transactions into Revenue, Expenditure, Asset and Liabilities.

An analysis of the budget estimate show that capital expenditure took the lead with N369, 642b, representing about 61.8 % of the budget.

The governor explained the rationale behind this: “The 2020 budget aims to support areas that will deliver inclusive growth and massive employment opportunities such as the construction of the Ibom Deep Seaport, completion of Airport projects, purchase of more airplanes and competition of the 21-story Intelligent building among others.”

Sectoral allocations show that priority was given to projects and programmes under the education and economic sectors. The governor noted that “education is the bed rock of all developments. It is a pivot on which every human capital development revolves. This administration places a high premium on education and skills development and acquisition”.

On industrialisation, he said “In the next four years, my administration will intensify efforts and focus on providing a high performance in the industrialization goals we had started in my first term in office. We hope to make Akwa Ibom State an industrial hub in our country.”

On agriculture, the governor said: “In 2020, government intends to carry out the following agricultural programmes and  projects: Agro Meteorological Project, Commercial Cattle Development Project, Cocoyam/Avocado Pear Production, Bamboo Development Programme, integrated Farmers Scheme (IFS), Women Agro-Entrepreneurship Development Programme (WAEDEP), Cassava Development Programme, Animal Feed Safety and Certification Programme, Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP), Maize Development Programme, Rice Development Project, Agro-Chemical Supply and others”.

On tourism, he said his administration will complete the IbomTropicana and Entertainment Galleria left unfinished by his predecessor as well as embark on “expansion work at Ibom 5-Star Hotel and Golf Resort and completion of a multi-million Naira Ibom Tropicana Entertainment Centre, complete with Cineplex, galleria, malls, dry and wet parks, hotels and convention centre”. He added efforts were being made to get private investors to take up the running of the facility.

Indeed, it is hoped that the “Completion Agenda” will see Akwa Ibom in the next four years become the reference state in quality service delivery with regards to industrialization, agriculture, rural and riverine area development, small and medium scale enterprises as well as security.

Short of boasting, Governor Emmanuel stated: “Having turned the state to an investors’ haven in less than four years of my administration, there is, therefore, a strong need to improve infrastructure and facilities in our airport, and get the facility ready for the influx of investors that are trooping into and out of the state on a daily basis. Other plans captured in my completion agenda which I intend to actualise before the end of my administration in 2023 are: establishment of search and rescue center; establishment of flight training school; construction of Power Station to supply electricity to the airport. Clearly, I fully understand the task of leading our great state. By the grace of God and with your support I will improve upon our previous gains.”

Truly, all eyes are on Akwa Ibom for the next four years.

Engineer Philip Abang is based in Uyo, Akwa Ibom.

 

Nigerian Tribune

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