Akwa Ibom State has been lucky to have a leader who fits the description of a visionary properly defined. Governor Godswill Akpabio (now Senator representing Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District in the Senate) proved to be the meteor which appeared when least expected. For the period that he was governor, he shone brightly, lighting up the state with developmental strides that has made Akwa Ibom a cynosure of states in the Nigerian nation-state.
On being sworn into office on 29 May 2007, Governor Akpabio left no one in doubt that he knew exactly what to do with the mandate the people overwhelmingly gave him. Thus, part of his inaugural speech informed the people that he was here to “steer the Akwa Ibom ship to a destination where our indigenes burst forth from the shackles of tribalism, subservience, pettiness, blackmail, character assassination, inferiority complex, poverty, to a fulfilled, peaceful, virile and united Akwa Ibom State.” Eight years down the road, the Governor delivered on this promise.
HHe left in cheers the same way he came in and our people will remember Governor Akpabio’s Enduring Legacies for his sterling outing as governor.
This website is a celebration of the power of vision and expression of will, as well as the doggedness, sense of purpose and single-mindedness of a visionary. You will not fail to notice, in the pictures in this portal, sheer excellence in democratic governance, which has given birth to a new Akwa Ibom State. In it also, you will read the blessings of homes that many hitherto homeless widows of Akwa Ibom now boast of and other acts of love, courtesy of the wife of the governor, Unoma Ekaette Akpabio. True to the mission statement of her NGO, Family Life Enhancement Initiative (FLEI), Mrs. Akpabio has raised bridges over waters of deprivation for widows, orphans and the less privileged, to cross from their demeaning stations in life, to higher and plainer grounds of opportunities and hope.
For Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON, the journey to political stardom began in 2002, when he was appointed Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, by his predecessor, Obong Victor Attah.
Chief Akpabio’s diligent service in that Ministry, apparently informed his redeployment to the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs , and later that of Lands and Housing, where he also demonstrated high sense of commitment to duty.
His sterling leadership qualities endeared him to many – youths and elders alike -who saw him as a bridge of unity among the people, regardless of social status, ethnic or political leaning. It was not surprising therefore, that his amiable personality, multi-tasking capabilities and sense of patriotism opened a new door to higher responsibilities in the service of the people, who saw in him, great leadership potentials.
In response to the clarion call of the people, Chief Akpabio in 2006 declared his intention to contest the governorship seat of Akwa Ibom State, under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party. However, this would not just be on a platter of gold for him. He had to pass through tough times, before clinching the PDP ticket. Chief Akpabio, alongside 57 other aspirants, was subjected to rigorous screening by the panel of the party in Port Harcourt before contesting the governorship primary.
Among the political heavyweights that contested the primaries with Chief Akpabio were Chief Don Etiebet, Engr. Chris Ekpenyong, Dr. Ime Umanah, Dr. Udoma Bob Ekarika, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, Obong Bassey Inuaeyen, Mr. Benjamin Okoko; Senator Itak Ekarika, Arch. Ezekiel Nyaetok, Mr. Inibehe Okorie, Mr. Nsima Ekere, Arch. Okon Inwang and Group Captain Sam Enwang.
At the end of the day, Chief Akpabio emerged victorious with 2,027 votes, followed by Dr. Udoma Bob Ekarika, who got 1,590 votes; Mr. Larry Esin, 927; Dr. Ime Umanah 918; while Mr. Nsima Ekere, polled 864 votes.
On Saturday, 3rd February, 2007, the PDP national leadership reaffi rmed Akpabio as the standard bearer of the party, and presented him with the party’s flag, at the zonal rally of the party which took place in Port Harcourt, River State. This development laid to rest rumours of uncertainties about the true gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in Akwa Ibom State. The flag presentation elicited jubilations among party faithful, supporters, political and interest groups in Akwa Ibom, as they rolled out drums and danced in celebration of Chief Akpabio’s candidacy.
With this, the coast was clear for Chief Akpabio to contest the governorship election confidently as the PDP candidate. To help actualize his vision, he took his campaign rallies to the nooks and crannies of the State.
In each of the three senatorial districts and 31 local government areas of the State, Chief Akpabio was received by large crowds of supporters, political stakeholders, elders, women and youths, representing different shades of opinions in society. The Christian Association of Nigeria, the Nigeria Labour Congress, Akwa Ibom Women in Politics, Ifim Ibom Ibibio; Afe Annang; Oro Think Tank; Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, and others endorsed Akpabio as their sole candidate in the election.
The others included the Chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Ambassador Sam Edem; former Governor, Obong Akpan Isemin; one-time Governor of Old Cross River State, Chief Don. Etiebet and Arch. Ubokutom Nyah.
The campaign rallies were veritable platforms for the PDP standard bearer to have one-on-one interactions with the people, especially those residing in the grassroots, and to announce his plans for them, if given the mandate. Top on his agenda were quality education, effective health care service, human and capital development, as well as job creation and infrastructure renaissance.
For the people of Akwa Ibom State, the yearning and craving for uncommon political leadership became a reality when Chief Akpabio was overwhelmingly elected as the third Executive Governor on Saturday, April 14, 2007.
Expectedly, following the declaration of Chief Akpabio as Governor, there was jubilation and joy across the length and breadth of the State. Thus began the golden era of the Godswill Akpabio years in Akwa Ibom State, which has raised the bar of good governance in Nigeria and beyond.
His Inaugural Speech in 2007
It is with utmost gratitude to God and immeasurable joy that I stand before you today as your Executive Governor. On behalf of my wife, your first lady; my entire family, my deputy and his dear wife, I thank you, my people, for voting en masse for PDP in the general elections of April 2007. I salute your maturity, courage and peaceful disposition during and after the elections. I salute you for reposing your confidence in me right from the primaries of December 14, 2006 and bringing it to a climax on April 14, 2007. I assure you that your decision shall never be in vain. Today, we celebrate our self-worth as a people and our ability to strengthen democratic ideals by voting according to our conscience. We have taken the right step in our march towards a glorious future.
Fellow citizens, this is a new era signifying a renewal and symbolising an end as well as a beginning. Above all, we are witnessing, not just the beginning of another chapter of history, but beholding the actualisation of God’s will in Akwa Ibom State. My beloved people of Akwa Ibom State, our mandate is a torch which shall illuminate the path of development, empowerment, education, social justice and infrastructural renaissance. As the 35th American President, J. F. Kennedy asserted, “the glow from that fire will truly light the world.”
In our election, you buried tribalism and ethnic sentiments. You spoke with one voice from the sea shore of Mbo to the fertile soil of Ini Local Government Areas. Our detractors thought that we would continue to remain an “atomistic society perpetually at war with itself.” But you proved them wrong. Never again shall critics insult us with such condescending acronyms. In the said elections, Akwa Ibom witnessed unprecedented unanimity in political decision-making. From the youths, the elders, the traditional fathers to our sons and daughters in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, you spoke with one voice, “LET GOD”S WILL BE DONE”. Let me assure you that God’s will is truly done in Akwa Ibom State and the benefits shall be good governance and economic prosperity.
Please permit me to use this medium to sincerely thank our out-going president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR (the father of modern Nigeria) for promoting democracy in Africa. It was Mr. President who handed over power to a democratically elected civilian administration in 1979. By providence, he has also midwifed the first successful civilian-to-civilian democratic transition in Nigeria. Akwa Ibom shall always remember him for standing by the people’s mandate and appointing our amiable son, Obong Ufot Ekaette, Secretary to Government of the Federation, a position he has successfully held for eight years.
To my predecessor Arc (Obong) Victor Attah, Akwa Ibom applauds you for laying a solid foundation for future development, complete all the on-going projects and initiate new ones for the benefits of our people. Let me thank the PDP upon which platform I and my deputy were elected. We are committed to implementing the party programmes and manifesto in line with the needs of our people. We shall put in place an administration that will foster unity, love, engender prosperity and harmonious co-existence. We shall work in harmony to promote the socio-economic well-being of the Niger Delta. We shall be totally loyal and supportive of our incoming President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, a man of integrity. We thank him for promoting a son of the South-South to the enviable position of Vice President of Nigeria. Governor Goodluck Jonathan will make us proud as a loyal and humble Vice President of Nigeria.
Fellow citizens of Akwa Ibom State, we shall work to reposition our people as the 4th largest tribe in Nigeria. We can only succeed in doing this if we minimize infighting within the leadership which gave birth to the so-called “Abuja Front”, Lagos Front, Home Fronts, etc. We must allow old things to pass away and sustain ONLY AKWA IBOM FRONT in dealing with one another. Needless to remind us that those fronts robbed the State of millions of naira and weakened our ability to bargain at the national level for more dividends of democracy. NEVER AGAIN shall we allow such factionalisation with its attendant negative effects. In this wise, I extend a hand of fellowship to all candidates who contested the last governorship election with us. Please join us in the challenging task of creating wealth and improving the lot of our people.
In conclusion, let me reaffirm my mission statement and place on record our determination to “steer the Akwa Ibom ship from where His Excellency, Arc (Obong) Victor Attah, anchors, to its final destination that our indigenes burst forth from the shackles of tribalism, subservience, pettiness, blackmail, character-assassination, inferiority complex, poverty, to a fulfilled, peaceful, virile and united Akwa Ibom State
(Former Governor of Akwa Ibom, 2007-2015, Senate Minority Leader 2015-)