Road expansion continues

The Emmanuel adminstration is building a transport network to maintain existing roads and link up all the state’s economic centres

WHEN UDOM Emmanuel was elected to take over from Akpabio as state governor last year, he undertook a survey of basic public needs. One area that remained a pri­ority was that of roads, particularly con­necting routes from wards and local gov­ernments to Uyo, the state capital.

Based on the outcome of the survey, the policy thrust of his administration is to ensure that not only are existing roads well maintained but that communities that had been left out of the previous administration’s roads programme benefitted from a fresh construction drive.

According to Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, the State Commissioner for Works, “In order have industrialisation in the way this gov­ernment intends, it is important to ensure that linkages in terms of existing infrastruc­tures are consolidated.”

One of the first projects that was approved was a 3.5km road with a 15m bridge in Ikot Udom, Ibiono local government. This com­munity is in Uyo Senatorial District and had generally been left behind in develop­ment terms.

A contract for the 5km Ikot Uboh road in Mkpat Enin local government, plus a 30m bridge, was also awarded. Also, within the first 100 days of the new governor’s admin­istration, Eket metropolis, which was expe­riencing serious flooding, was brought into the spotlight with a comprehensive drainage contract.

Ini local government, that was almost completely cut off because of poor roads, is now being linked up with Abia state. Ini to Arochukwu road is another project whose profiling and draw works have been com­pleted.

The commissioner added: “One thing so remarkable about these projects is that they all started at a time most states in the country were suffering from paucity of funds.”

Inyang-Eyen believes the governor’s banking background is one of the reasons Akwa Ibom has managed to juggle its finances successfully.

“What the government is simply doing is that from Uyo, the state capital, there should be dual carriage way to all these places,” the State Commissioner for Works contin­ued:

“We are also trying to ensure that the entire state is linked up with dualised roads so that the industrialisation dream of the state government can be achieved. At the moment, if you move from Uyo to the places we want to focus on industrialisation, you will discover that there are no good roads there.

“The government has therefore decided that Uyo-Etinan; Etinan to Eket and ulti­mately to Ibeno are linked up. As we speak, construction giant, Julius Berger, is working on Uyo-Etinan road. Etinan-Eket is being worked on by CECC. We are, therefore, focusing on roads for economic reasons and not just roads for political considerations.”

Another grand project is the 1.5km road between Mkpok and Ukat in Onna local government. When completed, the road will lead to the beach in Ukat, reputed to have the finests sands in the state. “Reviving this road will help to revive the economic life of the people there,” commented Inyang- Eyen .

He added: “What we want to ensure is that the road network already created by the previous administration of Chief Godswill Akpabio is not only maintained but improved upon with further linkages We do not want roads to terminate in the middle of nowhere - we want to ensure that they link up and are properly maintained.”


Born to serve

Martha Emmanuel, wife of the governor and a church deaconess, has taken on the task of safeguarding girls and women. By Idongesit Ashameri

IN AKWA IBOM State, the adolescent preg­nancy rate is estimated at 17 per cent, which means that nearly one in every five girls aged 15-19 is either pregnant or has had a child. This alarming development, which mirrors a 2008 report of the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) that identified the country as one with highest adolescent pregnancy rate in Africa, has aroused great concern about the need to empower families and to restore values among young people.

To address the problem, the Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Programme (FEYReP), a project run by the First Lady of Akwa Ibom State, Martha Udom Emmanuel was inaugurated on September 21 last year.

The five pillars of the project were stream­lined to empower women to provide eco­nomic and emotional support to their fam­ilies, advocate for the prevention of teenage pregnancy and education of girls, create a platform for promoting moral values and economic excellence among the youths, and to support government efforts towards sus­tainable development.

To achieve this it became expedient to deliberately shift the paradigm beyond charity for its sake, and approach such inter­ventions as a social investment. With this in place, social returns on investment (SROI) in the form of reduced incidence of adoles­cent pregnancy, low youth-related violence, cultism and crime rates, reduced rates of drug and alcohol abuse, improved educa­tional achievements, reduced maternal, infant and child mortality and morbidity, improved health, educational and economic outcomes for the entire society, would be expected as reward.

The project seeks to stem the tide of teenage pregnancy and encourage the edu­cation of girls, empower women to impact positively on the society, combat gender- based violence, poverty, provide economic lifelines for vulnerable families (including those with disabilities) and support youth development through reorientation and eco­nomic empowerment.

Mrs Emmanuel said at the inauguration of the programme: “Some of these girls are victims of rape and other forms of gender- based violence.

According to the 2012 Gender in Nigeria Report, one in every three girls aged 15 to 24 experiences violence. We cannot go on to condone the stigma and culture of silence that allows such acts to go unabated and perpetrators to go unpun­ished.”

Now, coordinators of FEYReP can either sue in favour of victims of sexual and other forms of abuse against women or call for accelerated justice on pending issues on these.

To make the programme impactful to its target groups, the FEYReP team embarked on a tour of rural communities in the state. Afterwards Mrs Emmanuel reported: “As we went round our beautiful state, we met even children whose pride in their culture, language and heritage seems fast dwindling; disengaged youth, further rendered unem­ployable for lack of requisite skills, which is in sharp contrast with this administration’s irrevocable commitment to industrialisation, employment, wealth creation, cultural ren­aissance, moral transformation and spiritual rebirth.

“It is also heartbreaking to see hardworking women struggle to support their families with teenage girls ... saddled with unplanned pregnancies ... and attempting to raise chil­dren alone. These give rise to serious health conditions, social, psychological and eco­nomic challenges affecting the dignity of our families. As a mother, this inflames my passion and drives me to action,” Mrs Emmanuel added.

For optimum impact in tackling this menace, the First Lady has called for synergy between FEYReP and other relevant bodies and agencies. One of such groups is Conference of University of Uyo Women Association whose members have a role to play in reversing the damaging trend, she said. In her strong belief that they could make a clear difference, she challenged the leadership and members of the group to come up with enlightenment programmes on campus that will help educate students, especially girls, on the need to uphold their dignity and restore moral values in youths and families at large.

The management staff of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) were also tasked not to relent in their efforts at training unemployed youths and women in the state, as the task of developing, training and empowering the youths and women, according to Emmanuel, remains the col­lective responsibility of all.

Driven by her passion to reduce teenage pregnancies, Mrs Emmanuel’s FEYReP, as part of its inauguration, empowered more than 40 youths with a range of support, ranging from providing hairdressing equip­ment, and sewing machines to fashion designing skills training to boost their eco­nomic livelihood.

More than 200 multiple birth families across the state were also empowered, through the programme with cash and gift items during one of the programmes. The empowerment, according to Mrs Emmanuel, became necessary to assist the families cope with the demands of raising numerous chil­dren.

More than 300 elderly people across the state also received cash and gifts as part of the activities to mark the 2015 party with the elderly. Mrs Emmanuel said she decided to celebrate them because it was no mean feat to attain the age of 70 and above,

As part of the sensitisation campaign for teenage girls in secondary schools across the state against unwanted pregnancies and premarital sexual relationships, FEYReP, led by the coordinator Ime Ephraim Inyang, visited selected secondary schools in the state. The campaign tagged ‘Girls Uphold Your Dignity’, is designed to shift the par­adigm by advocating for complete abstinence from premarital sex, which according to Mrs Inyang, can lead to various health hazards such as visico vaginal fistula (VVF) and HIV/Aids.

This attitudinal re-orientation plan has not ignored those behind bars as the initiator of FEYReP has also visited and challenged inmates of the Ikot Ekpene Prisons not to give up on life irrespective of the situation they have found themselves in, even as God has not given up on them. She assured the inmates that life behind bars does not mean they can no longer be productive citizens ofNigeria.

For Governor Udom Emmanuel, FEYReP is a soothing balm to homes all over the state as it is geared towards touching the lives of youths of all ages and genders. He particularly called on the women to align with the programme as they are the pillars of society. He then expressed optimism that the programme would launch Akwa Ibom women into more productive and meaning­ful realms.

In line with the rehabilitation, reformation and reintegration policy of the Nigerian Prisons Service, the First Lady, through her pet project, FEYReP, also visited prisons across the state and promised to partner with relevant authorities to establish vocational training workshops for inmates of Ikot Abasi and Eket prisons.

In addition to the more than 5,000 people who recently benefitted from the free surgical care exercise courtesy of the FEYReP, Pro-Health International and Akwa Ibom state Association ofNigeria (AKISAN USA incorporated), the charity has also taken steps to restore dignity and pride to children and people living with disabilities. To build momentum on this, Mrs Emmanuel has called on people of the state to desist from discriminating against the disabled. She strongly believes these people have yet to be harnessed talents embedded within them, and should therefore be encouraged to attain their full potential.

“Imbibe the ‘I can do spirit’, shun self- pity and rise to their faith of greatness as captured in the Dakkada creed,” she urged. “There is ability in your disability. Do not see yourselves as being inferior, but rather look forward to the future with great hope."

Power to the people

Victor Udo, the Special Adviser on Power, looks the race to build the power infrastructure to drive the state’s industrialisation pro­gramme

NewsAfrica'. In what way has the present administration impacted the people in the area of power considering the industri­alisation dream of the administration?

Udo: I must say it’s a milestone in the way the present administration has handled the issue of power. When I resumed, I saw so many transformers bought by the previous regime but abandoned in Government House. They were actually purchased by the state government to be issued to the people. Let me say that apart from Lagos State, Rivers and perhaps the Federal Capital Territory, there is no other state in the country that still buys transformers for their people except Akwa Ibom. In every part of this state you visit, the state government is doing massive interventions in the area of installing transformers. Because people know about the state government intervention in this regard, all the requests on my table are purely for transformers. Not only is the state government giving out transformers, we are equally installing them. To that extent, we have asked communities not to task their members on contributing any­thing to procure any transformer. We have made it clear in the whole of this state that government is giving out free transformers.

The only problem government seems to be having with the com­munities where these transformers are installed is that they do not guard them properly and vandals often destroy the cables. In such situations, it takes the government a long time to replace them - but as for installing new transformers in various commu­nities, it is already the policy of the government. In all honesty, the Udom-led administration has made a giant stride in the area of power.

To what extent has this interven­tion impacted on the people?

Well, I don’t want to be the one to appear as if I am blowing my own trumpet but prior to the tenure of this present administration, everyone in Akwa Ibom knew the palpable state of power but from the feelers we get now and from what we have seen so far, there is improvement. At least, power is now avail­able for 18 hours per day, unlike before.

In concrete terms, what did you do to reach the peak you are presently?

Now, one of the things we did when we came on board was to persuade the Port Harcourt Distribution Company to change some panels along Oron road. Those things are as old as the state. You can imagine what it means for an old transmission system to be changed. That worked the magic. We are equally pleading with them to change the breakers at Idongsit Ikanga Secretariat. There is another sub-station there. The mother of all intervention, however, is the 2.15 AVA sub-station by four lanes.

The governor has directed the Commissioner for Lands to acquire the land in question for that project to take off. Although the host communities are foot- dragging because of the issue of compen­sation, talks are ongoing to ensure that the project comes up in not too distant future. Once that project is completed a number of places like Shelter Afrique, Ewet Housing Estate will be connected. In that case, Oron and other places will be relieved. By then, even the 18 hours a day people are talking about will be increased to probably 20.

As I speak, we have what it takes to supply the entire Akwa Ibom with power for 24 hours. The problem, however, is with the downstream, and that is beyond the control of state government. In the area of genera­tion, Ibom Power generates power every single day up to 100 to 150 MW. As a matter of fact, what we consume in this state is less than 80 MW.

The major policy thrust of this admin­istration is industrialisation, which cannot be possible without power. How do you intend to complement that?

Its an ongoing thing. Not too long ago, I was in the company of the governor with the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry and the managing director of Ibom Power where His Excellency received a licence to generate 685 MW of power. This was at the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) headquarter in Abuja. What this means is that Ibom Power can now generate, build and distribute power up to that quantum of megawatts. The only thing they need to do to begin the process is to get the Power Purchase Agreement. When this becomes a reality, the state alone cannot consume the whole of the power we generate. We will simply sell the remainder and that means a lot of income for the state government.

That is not all. During that visit to NERC, the governor told the chair of NERC that he would still return to the commission for what is called Embedded Power Licence. This is in consideration of the Ibaka Deep Sea Project from which so many companies and industries will be springing up. For that place alone, not less than 108 MW is expect­ed to be used by the industries that will be operating there. Again, this is called captive generation.

That is also another way the industrialisa­tion policy of the government is being com­plemented Akwa Ibom is the only state that has the licence to generate this quantity of power so far. Since that was made public, there have been series of calls by investors from outside the country for the purpose of collaborating. Honestly, it will be a major milestone when everything is ready.


We can be successful

Elizabeth Obot, a medical doctor and the Commissioner of Science and Technology, dis­cusses the drive to harness tech­nology for development

NewsAfrica: What is the policy thrust of the government on applying science and technology in the development of the state?

Obot: Indeed, industrialisation is one of the cardinal pillars of His Excellency, Governor Emmanuel Udom. Because of this, a number of industries will be estab­lished in this state. It is also on board that by the time these industries take off, there will be enough skilled work force in strategic places. That is why the governor is interested in training and retraining of youths.

What are the programmes in place to realise this objective of the government?

One of the first things the governor said when he took the mantle of leadership was that he would train 1,000 Akwa Ibom youths for Oracle Data Base and, in keeping with his promise, the training commenced. We invited the resource persons to the state to train them with all the facilities at their dis­posal. This training is in the area of ICT. There were about 215 youths trained ini­tially. After the training, we gave them cer­tificates and e-vouchers, which have 25 per cent discount. Because Oracle is a profes­sional course, if one does not write its asso­ciated exams, it’s as good as nothing; that is why we gave them the vouchers to enable them do the needful. We realised that even after the training, we did not impart them very well, so His Excellency decided that we should get them certified, which we did. To that extent, we have gone ahead and paid for their examination fees. In addition, we have given each of them a laptop to make their job easier.

This to me is no mean feat. We didn’t even stop there; we have gone ahead and paid for their revision courses so that at the end of the day, these youths have certificates in their hands and are able to work anywhere in the world. The whole idea is that they should be marketable globally and not necessarily just in Akwa Ibom.

Besides this, we just finished training some youths, in conjunction with the Nigerian Communications Commission. It was for one day. When it comes to training, the governor is passionate about it. The response from the beneficiaries was really overwhelming. We are also working on having a robust ICT firm. It’s something that has never happened in this part of the country before. It will be a private sector driven project. We have finished all the pre­liminary works including the MoU; we have also found the company that will drive the dreams into reality. Soon, we will have a fair in which we will showcase our young inventors and innovators in the fields of science and tech as well as engineering.

As a result of the project, anything that is worth marketing globally will be done in order to show the world that we have what it takes to be reckoned with. An e-centre is also being worked out to begin examinations in the state. This is an innovation we are start­ing in line with the need to ensure that Oracle training, which is not readily avail­able anywhere, is brought to Akwa Ibom State. There will also be all kinds of ICT training in that centre in order to keep with the technological pace of the moment. This will help us to fight against capital flight because instead of travelling out of the state for such training, it will now be done within and many other states will even send their people to be trained here. We have put a call to the Director-General of Digital Bridge Institute for further training of our youths and they are coming into Uyo for that purpose.

Already, we are putting the structures in place for the training. By the time we start all this, it will be clear that ICT has come to stay in the state.

What about other aspects of science and technology?

It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Science and Technology to establish a science park. By the time I came on board, I discovered that there was a science park that was not completed but nearing com­pletion. Therefore when I came, the con­tractor handling the project wrote to His Excellency to express their commitment and willingness to complete the project in 18 months. The governor therefore invited them for a meeting. As I speak, there is a plan to revalidate that contract so that it can be completed soon.

The only constraint is that there is paucity of funds hampering so many things. I can however assure you that we have it in mind to complete the project.

Is there a conscious effort being made to encourage students to take to science more than other areas?

In the first place, we don’t even have enough science teachers in the state. The few available are not willing to go to the hinterland and rural areas to teach. Because of this science teachers are like hot cakes in Akwa Ibom. As a result of this, we want to introduce e-leaming. We want to have a state-wide inter-connectivity infrastructure where the entire state will be connected with inter fibre optic nerve and micro-wave cables. Once we do this, the internet will no longer be a problem. If we say we will establish science centres here and there, where are the internet facilities to power them?

By the time we finish working on the infrastructure there will be a network-oper- ating centre for the internet service provider (ISP) all over the state. This will help our reading culture in all other areas beside science subjects. What this simply means is that even if there is any school that does not have a science teacher, such school can be connected to the centre. By that arrange­ment, the problem associated with the dearth of science teachers would have been taken care of. This is the thinking of the govern­ment. In any case, the Ministry of Education is taking care of that; ours is mere support. In 2016, we will rejuvenate our annual Science Week, which has been in near- comatose state this year because of paucity of funds. Already, text messages have gone out to teachers to prepare students towards it. It might also interest you to know that the e-library is now under our care. Since we took over, the place has taken a newer and better shape. 

Going for quality

Aniekan Akpan, Commissioner for Education, speaks on plans to develop the state’s human resource base

NewsAfrica-. Please tell us about the giant strides in education so far?

Akpan: Governor Udom Emmanuel, without mincing words, is passionate about education and he is committed to the free and compulsory education, which is one of the cardinal programmes of this adminis­tration. Right from inception, he has shown a lot of commitment. This is because the government knows that the drive towards industrialisation of the state is anchored on sound education. We can actually build the industries in partnership with foreign partners but His Excellency believes that Akwa Ibomites should be the main drivers whenever they take off.

To that extent, there must be solid foun­dation; that is why the Udom-led adminis­tration is providing the access through the free education campaign. This is why all the primary, secondary and technical schools are completely free. At inception, one of the things the government did was the release of N235m to the heads of state primary edu­cation and technical colleges to ensure that the basic materials needed for learning and training are purchased.

Arrangements were also made to ensure that statutory records are made available for the system. Since the introduction of free education, enrolment has greatly increased to far beyond what it used to be.

The previous administration introduced the free education system. In concrete term, what have you added since coming to power?

His Excellency is passionate about ICT and so he has directed that all schools be ICT compliant. In that direction, the state government signed a memorandum of understanding with an agency of the Nigeria Communication Commission. So far, 43 schools, both primary and secondary, have benefited. About 100 computers were also provided for these schools. That is the core new dimension that we are going.

The ICT world in Akwa Ibom cannot afford to be left behind. If you recall when the governor was launching Dakada spirit, he emphasised this seriously during his broadcast. This is also a testimony to his campaign promise of adding value to what he met on ground.

Let me also state that just recently, each of the schools indicated above were given Nlm in order to have internet access. This involves both public and private schools. The concept of the free education also involves children from other states but who are resident in Akwa Ibom. Honestly, it is a total package.

How much emphasis is the administra­tion laying on vocational education in order to accommodate artisans and skilled workers?

Previously, we had six technical colleges in the state but recently the state government added another one because of the need for technical education. A lot of foreigners have so far indicated interest because apart from the teaching of the subjects, a number of innovations in the area of curriculum are being introduced so that those trained can be self-sufficient and even help to retrain others in the years ahead.

Like I said earlier, a number of groups are already indicating interest especially from Israel, Germany and India and they have visited the state. One innovation noticeable in all these technical colleges is that com­puters have been made available to them to enhance learning.

What is the administration doing to ensure that teachers take the vision to the next level?

The welfare of teachers in this dispensation is paramount. One thing that distinguishes teachers in this state from other states is that no one is being owed any salary. In the present dispensation in the country, that feat is a rarity. Teachers are no longer the wretched of the earth or as the saying goes - they will not only get their reward in heaven but here on earth. Honestly, under this administration, the dignity of teachers is being restored. Apart from direct training by the government, we are in partnership with other agencies like Mobil where 400 teachers in primary schools have been trained with another 400 in the secondary sector. The government has just approved the direct training of teachers through the Office of the Special Assistant to the Government on Vocational Training. We need quality teachers in the industry and so the government is really committed to that.

You have spoken glowingly about the intervention of the state government in primary, secondary and technical schools, what about the tertiary institutions?

We are also there as the state government manages four tertiary institutions. These are all stable. The state university, for instance, has had its first graduation ceremony and a team from the NUC will soon be there to put the finishing touches to courses in engi­neering, management sciences and others.

There were issues when we came on board but we have been able to stabilise them. The monthly grant of the state university, for instance, has been increased from N200m to N250m. The instability in the College of Education regarding the age of retirement has also been settled by the government. Now, the retirement age for them is 65 instead of what it was before.

After four years in saddle, how do you want to see education in Akwa Ibom?

Like I said earlier, we are laying the foun­dation. Gradually, we have introduced e- leaming. By the grace of God, we will in the next four years see primary, secondary and other levels of education taking a giant leap forward, taking advantage of the e- leaming system.

Not too long ago, I was in India to attend the graduation ceremony of 30 Akwa Ibomites trained by the state government in ICT. Many of them will be accommodated into the state workforce to boost ICT edu­cation. You can imagine what that means in the next four years.

In the next four years, we may not have any reason to complain about it being too far away thanks to our e-library, which has been reactivated. That is the Akwa Ibom of the future.

Leveraging our advantages

The drive to industrialise the state is explained by Emmanuel Enoidem, Commissioner for Investment, Commerce and Industries

NewsAfrica: This government has set a target of industrialising the state by changing its economic landscape. What do you want to achieve through this?

Enoiden: When we talk about industrial­isation, we mean what the government can do both as a government and as an individ­ual. This can be in the fonn of foreign direct investment or through local investors. These are the things we are consolidating on to give us the capacity to meet our targets. Basically, the present administration in Akwa Ibom is set to take the state into the industrial development realm to empower the people and give them an enabling envi­ronment for other investors to come.

Because of this, we have severally embarked on fact-finding missions to countries like the US, Singapore, Turkey, Israel, Britain, Germany and many others just to understudy what is happening there and replicate it in Akwa Ibom. Honestly, in our attempt at marketing the same on a global scale, the response has been tremendous.

When you say some industries have been rejuvenated, what do you mean in concrete terms and what are these com­panies?

We have launched a vehicle assembly plant where we can assemble buses, ambulances and even security cars. We have also done something on LED which is in the area of

electrical appliances for low energy saving bulbs. We have also done something on a factory that will produce fertiliser. We have got the endorsement for the expansion of the Shoprite Mall through which hundreds and thousands can be engaged. Not too long ago, we got the Africa Independent Television, AIT, to setup its state-ofthe-art studio here in Akwa Ibom. The ground­breaking ceremony for rolling out electric meters is ongoing in the state. Don’t forget too that there is an ongoing effort to bring up coconut factory because of the prevalence of the product here. This industry will be in the form of oil and refining of coconut produce.

We want to harness all the resources this state has, beginning from palm oil, which is in abundance here. The state government recently signed a MoU with a South African firm in that regard on a consultancy basis because the firm is noted for its exploits in coconut refinery. This contract, which was signed in November 2015, has developed to the level of clearing a 20,000-acre of land as its proposed site. Thousands of people will be employed when all of these fully come on stream.

The government is desperately wooing investors. What then are you doing to make the business environment as attrac­tive as possible?

The global economic recession is not pecu­liar to Akwa Ibom but to all other states in Nigeria and outside Nigeria. However we need to do certain things to ensure that we provide a friendly business environment for them to work in. One area where we feel

that the enabling environment should be created is power generation. In all the states of Nigeria, it is only Akwa Ibom that delib­erately goes out to ensure that power gen­eration and distribution are improved. We have the largest licence to produce the biggest power in Akwa Ibom as we speak. Even before this time, we were the largest producer of power in the country. Now that we have the licence to produce more, we are doing it to encourage industrialisation in the state. Expectedly, in the next one year, Akwa Ibom will enjoy an uninterrupted power supply especially where we have industrial parks.

Where do you intend to have these industrial parks?

At least, we want to have one in each of the senatorial zones but the overall industrial hub is the Ibom Industrial City, which will be an international gateway into the state. It will be an integral part of Ibom Deep Sea Port. I just got the papers for the ITAM Industrial park. We also want to set up another one in Ikot Ekpene and then get the one in Ikot Abasi to work.

That of Ikot Abasi will be the major indus­trial park because of several peculiarities the place holds for the state. Plans are on to expand Ibom Airport in line with the indus­trial need of the state.

At least, we want to have one in each of the senatorial zones but the overall industrial hub is the Ibom Industrial City, which will be an international gateway into the state. It will be an integral part of Ibom Deep Sea Port. I just got the papers for the ITAM Industrial park. We also want to set up another one in Ikot Ekpene and then get the one in Ikot Abasi to work.

That of Ikot Abasi will be the major indus­trial park because of several peculiarities the place holds for the state. Plans are on to expand Ibom Airport in line with the indus­trial need of the state.

Government is also leveraging on the Ibom Deep Sea Port to develop it into a trans­shipment port, which is second to none in the country.

Remember, it is the closest to the coast so we will have a serious advantage over even the one in Lekki, Lagos. Beside all this, we have a pleasing natural environment in Akwa Ibom, an advantage that is not found anywhere in Nigeria. With a friendly set of people and a network of hotels like Ibom Resort with the best golf course and a pleas­ing ambience not known anywhere, it is a great advantage. There are several tourist attractions that we will not take for granted. These are our advantages and we will lever­age on them as our unique selling point.

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