IN AN INTERVIEW WITH NEWSMEN ON THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MR. UDOM EMMANUEL AS THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF AKWA IBOM STATE, SENATOR EFFIONG BOB, PRO-CHANCELLOR AND CHAIRMAN OF COUNCIL, UNIVERSITY OF BENIN, SCORED THE ADMINISTRATION HIGHLY.
Ques:Mr. Udom Emmanuel will clock one year in office as Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State come May 29, 2016, what is your fair assessment of his administration so far?
Senator Bob:In my opinion, every administration has a set goal and how it intends to achieve such a goal. Sometimes, however, as it sets to realize its objectives there may arise some challenges. It is how it navigates through those challenges that marks it out as a successful or unsuccessful administration.
You may recall that the Attah administration fought and won the battle for more revenue for the State. That administration may not have come into office with the aim of fighting for more revenue but the reality on ground demanded that if the set goals of that administration must be met, more revenue was needed. The opening at the time was to ask for increased derivation revenue, which was erroneously referred to as resource control. That battle was won, one way or the other, paving the way for more revenue to accrue to the State.
The Akpabio administration focused on infrastructural transformation of the State. This was largely possible because of the revenue that accrued to the State at the time. That administration succeeded, in my opinion, due to the success of the battle for derivation fought by the administration before it.
The Udom Emmanuel administration came into office with the promise to industrialize the State latching onto the infrastructural transformation of the previous administration. It set about this as soon as it came into office. The Automobile Truck Manufacturing Company proposed for Itu, the reactivated Peacock Paints Factory in Etinan and many more are steps taken in that direction. Only recently they was a groundbreaking ceremony at Ibeno for an International Petroleum Jetty by the private investor, ELMAG Group. This will open room for investors to invest in the petroleum sector within the State.
However, the falling prices of crude oil have brought about dwindling revenues in the State. This may affect the pace of industrialization of the State but will not derail it. Perhaps, the dwindling oil revenue is a blessing in disguise. It has compelled the state, the federal government and other states to look inward and try to diversify their economies.
You would have observed that most States have not been able to pay salaries of workers. Luckily, that is not the fortune of Akwa Ibom State as the Udom Emmanuel administration has successfully paid salaries up to date. In a State that is largely civil service and therefore government dependent, this is a significant achievement.
The administration is also going ahead with the opening up of rural communities, training of the youth to acquire relevant skills, provision of micro-credit facilities to women and much more. This is a great achievement in one year. Note that industrialization of a State is not a one-year affair. However, great strides have been made to reach the set goal. I therefore score his performance for the past one-year high. You may have to note that if he has accomplished so much in just one year, chances are that by the end of his first term, the State would have witnessed significant growth.
Ques:The Peoples Democratic Party recently through its Ward, Chapter, State and Zonal Congresses demonstrated an unprecedented form of internal democracy where the people and stakeholders were given the opportunity to elect their leaders at those levels. What does this portend for the future of the Party?
Senator Bob:The congresses of PDP witnessed an unprecedented departure from what obtained in the past. This is a major step towards regaining the confidence of the people. The days of few individuals handpicking those that will lead the party or hold party offices have been confined to the trash can of history. This is a great rebirth for the party and this may be in recognition of the adverse effect that such an act had on the electoral fortunes of the party in the recent past.
Anybody, group or organization that does not re-examine itself may continue to meet misfortunes. The PDP as an organization has re-examined itself and has decided to move in a different direction. However, there are some challenges at the national level, but as a family, the matter will be sorted out very soon. I strongly believe that in the not too distant future, the party will regain its lost glory.
Ques Is there any hope of the party bouncing back to reclaim its lost glory at the centre vis a vis reclaiming the presidency from the APC at the shortest possible time?
Senator Bob:In a democracy such as ours, the people decide. The beauty in a multi-party democracy is that the people have a choice. Once they try one political party and find out that they are not comfortable with the policies and programmes of that political party, the onus is on the people to change it at the next election. The PDP through its current self-appraisal is positioning itself so that the people could see it as the alternative. From the look of things that would come sooner than anybody would imagine.
Ques:Does the Peoples Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom State stand a chance of consolidating its stronghold in the State against every other opposition in 2019? What are your reasons?
Senator Bob:As I said earlier, to remain in power is performance driven. Once a political party performs well and the people have confidence in it, it will always remain in power. Added to this is the fact that people of Akwa Ibom State have known no other political party than the PDP.
Over the years, the PDP government in the State has opened roads, brought about free and compulsory education, free medical healthcare for children and the aged, provided potable water supply, provided electricity and generally changed the living standard of the people positively, so they have no reason to change the party in the State.
With the industrialization drive of the Udom Emmanuel administration, the state will be taken to higher heights. The state is therefore better off in the hands of the PDP.
Ques:Nsit Ubium Local Government Area under your political leadership, recently organized a grand reception for the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State. What informed your decision to honour the Governor and the wife? The first Local Government Area to do so.
Senator Bob:Nsit Ubium Local Government Area has blazed the trail in almost everything good. The idea of zoning political offices started in Nsit Ubium. Therefore, every good thing of necessity comes out of Nsit Ubium. Perhaps, it was in recognition of this that the Governor Udom Emmanuel political campaign started in Nsit Ubium. Therefore, if honouring the governor and his dear wife is a good thing, then it has to start with Nsit Ubium.
This aside, the governor has begun his administration well and the people of Nsit Ubium believe that if you encourage somebody that is doing well, he/she will continue to do well. I accompanied the Governor to project sites in commemoration of his one year in office. We went from Oron to Eket/Ibeno, Ikot Abasi/Mkpat Enin, Obot Akara/Oruk Anam and Uyo/Uruan, what I saw amazed me. From the improved road network in Oron to the coconut plantation and proposed refinery in Ikot Abasi/Mkpat Enin axis to roads in Obot Akara/Oruk Anam all in one year is commendable.
It is hoped that other Local Government Areas will follow suit. However, even if they do not, Nsit Ubium people have done what they believe is right.
Ques:Recently, you described yourself as the “Stationary Stores” of Akwa Ibom and Nigerian politics. What informed this?
Senator Bob:I used the word stationary as opposed to roving. So “Stationary Stores” there is a metaphor for my consistency/ steadfastness. I have been a member of PDP and I have decided not to jump party even when things are difficult and times are hard. Others move from one political party to another for selfish considerations. I am not cut out in that mould.
There is a saying that one should not bite the finger that feeds him. My rise to prominence in the Nigerian political scene has been on the platform of the PDP. Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Akwa Ibom State, two-term Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and two-term member of the ECOWAS Parliament; all have been through the instrumentality of the PDP.
I therefore have no reason to leave the party. Note that anybody that has been somebody in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria as a whole today climbed on the ladder of the PDP. It is sad that today, most of them have bitten the finger that fed them. They could be referred to as the political rovers but I am the “Stationary Stores”.
Ques:We have observed that you are always time conscious, respect constituted authority and avoid falling foul of the law; is this as a result of your training as a lawyer?
Senator Bob:One’s attitudes to all these are formed from the home. I was born into a family where time was of essence and respect of parents and elder siblings was imperative. The study of law has only helped to amplify these attributes. If you had not been time conscious from birth, did not respect your elder siblings, chances are that you will not be time conscious in business and other endeavours, will not respect constituted authority and will often fall foul of the law.