The governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has revealed that his vision for the state despite the Covid-19 pandemic is that before his tenure elapses, he will work tirelessly utilizing whatever resources at his disposal to ensure that the citizens of the state enjoy robust economic growth and development.
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Governor Emmanuel made this known during another interactive program with citizens of the state via electronic and social media platforms called ‘Governor Udom Speaks’, Saturday evening.
According to him, his administration is diversifying the state economy to shield it from complete reliance on revenue from sale of crude oil, improve the average earning of citizens and make it one of the best economies in the continent.
“It will get to a time in Africa that all you have is all you need to survive. How are we sure [crude] oil will continue to remain relevant in many years to come. That is why you see us doing so many other things. Today we are diversifying the economy aggressively”.
Recall that the state has invested in aviation, small and medium scale manufacturing, food production, agriculture and agro related value chain as well as oil and gas.
In response to a question on the future of Akwa Ibom aviation industry, Governor Emmanuel disclosed that with it’s latest fleet of brand new aircrafts fitted with sophisticated air filter system, the state carrier – Ibom Air, is an airline to beat in the domestic wing of the nation’s aviation industry. He added that a plan is underway to explore opportunities in the Sub-saharan region and beyond.
On the ongoing permanent terminal building of the Victor Attah international airport, he said “the day we did roadshow in Dubai to showcase our aviation industry and in particular our terminal building, two international airlines immediately indicated interest.
“By the time we get to 80% completion of the terminal building, we will be having airlines coming in there. The Terminal building is an intelligence structure, 100 percent ICT compliant and one to beat in Sub-Saharan region”.
He also revealed that the state is in discussion with an investor to equip and put to use the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul, MRO section of the airport, saying the MRO is not a politically motivated project but a profit- oriented investment.
The state chief executive reiterated his administration’s commitment to agriculture, noting that “the best solution to the crash in economy is investing in agro-based and agro-alied businesses. Agro-based businesses are the lowest hanging fruits that any economy can fall back on”.
It is for this reason, according to the governor, that his administration has invested so much on agric loans, distribution of improved seeds and other agro related incentives to farmers.
“In five years as a governor, if 80 percent of the food I eat comes from my state then there is reason to thank God.
“Before the end of this year I’m going to commission the coconut crude oil refinery. You can hardly see the price of this produce on Bloomberg or any business channel because the demand is so high. You can’t even see it in the market because as you’re producing there are offtakers waiting.”
While answering a question from an Akwa Ibom citizen based in Saudi Arabia via Facebook, the governor called on Akwa Ibom Diasporan community to invest in the state economy.
He said that he was shocked to learn that major distributors of products manufactured in the state, including the best quality Kings flour, are non-indigenes and called on citizens to embrace business opportunities created by his administration for the betterment of the state economy.
On the 21 storey intelligent building that will accommodate international oil companies, IOCs in state capital, he maintained that it is a legacy of which future generations will be proud of.
“When the chairman of ExxonMobil visited the place, then it wasn’t even at the present level of completion, he said it is one of the best intelligent buildings he has seen and right there committed to taking some office spaces there”.
He stated that government has provided incentive to major oil and gas companies operating in the state to take accomodations on the building. He also called on federal government to seize opportunity presented by the administration to locate its oil and gas regulatory agencies in the state.