Ndifreke P. Akpan (Govt House)
Governor Udom Emmanuel says the peace currently enjoyed in Akwa Ibom did not come by accident, but by zero tolerance adopted by his administration against all forms of criminality.
The Governor said because his people are not wired to war tendencies, the state will not experience a war and crises situation during the general elections.
Speaking at Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort during a symposium to mark the 80th birthday of former Governor Victor Attah, Mr Emmanuel charged the political class to understand that political ambitions should not lead to the shedding of blood of the people of the state.
“We must keep the peace, we must not stoke the fire of violence in our state. I stand here to declare that our people reject war and embrace peace.
“If Warsaw saw war, Akwa Ibom will see and enjoy peace. If Warsaw saw destruction, Akwa Ibom shall continue to see development. If Warsaw saw war which led to its destruction and decayed infrastructure, Akwa Ibom people will enjoy good roads, more industries, employment opportunities, free and compulsory education, and fantastic health care delivery.”
Governor Emmanuel described Obong Attah as an embodiment of peace, development and of substance, who is repulsed by the drums of war being sounded by certain elements in the peaceful state.
He eulogised the celebrator as a leader who laid a solid foundation for the growth and development of the state.
He acknowledged the theme of the symposium, “Leadership for Sustainable Democratic Culture in Africa”, applauding Attah for his eight years impactful tenure that still resonates with the people.
“Today, the enduring projects you initiated are there for everyone to see, the vision you shaped is being taken to other levels of development”, he said, adding that he considers himself privileged to sit on a seat a man like Attah once sat.”
Speaking at the occasion, Obong Attah said he was happy at the honour accorded him by the state, considering that there was a time in the state that it would not have been possible since his successor had declared him an enemy of the state.
“I will say that honestly I count myself very very lucky to have a Governor like Deacon Udom Emmanuel and I will explain why I said so.”
“There were times when this would have not been possible, there are times when this would have been prohibited.”
The former Governor who spoke on the need for leaders to avoid authoritarianism maintained that, “I had tried to provide principles and guidance towards leadership rather than claiming to be an Authoritarian leader because if that’s what I had been, Maybe those who worked with me will not be here today.”
While trying to make references to the relationship that existed between him and his successor, Obong Attah regretted the scenario where people were compelled to inherit supposed enemies of people in authorities.
“How did we get ourselves into that kind of a sorry state that because somebody had left office, those he left behind cannot visit him because the next person had declared him an enemy or has decided to make himself an enemy of the person who left.
“I can tell you, some of those messages I have reserved in my phone, people who send text messages to me say, Sir, I would have loved to come and visit you but you know what will happen to me if I do.”
“Please may that come to an end. If that can come to an end, maybe we will begin to have some semblance of democracy and one that can be sustained”, Attah added.
Speaking also, the speaker of the State House of Assembly, Barr. Onofiok Luke Harped on the need for a well thought out leadership development plan for the country.
Barr Luke also frowned at the use of state apparatus to intimidate and hound people for holding divergent political views, say there should be equal opportunities for people to have their say.
He said the problem with Nigeria is that the country creates strong men rather than strong institutions, and suggested that the institutions should be strong so that they can guide and shape the occupiers of such institutions.
The event which was chaired by Femi Falana (SAN) also featured a lecture on the theme: “Leadership for Sustainable Development Culture in Africa” by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah as the Lead Speaker, while other discussants included the Vice Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Prof. Enefiok Essien, veteran Journalist, Ray Ekpu, Among others.