BEING THE INAUGURAL SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PASTOR UMO ENO, GOVERNOR, AKWA IBOM STATE, NEST OF CHAMPIONS, UYO, MAY 29TH, 2023.
My dear Akwa Ibomites,
I stand here as a product of God’s awesome grace, a testament of His enduring love, and as an instrument of blessings in His steady and dependable Hands. I therefore, dedicate this day to the Almighty God, to you my dear people, who, in spite of the welter of falsehoods, of manufactured lies, vile and morally objectionable propaganda woven about me and my capacity to serve you as your Governor, you chose truth over lies and decided to A.R.I.S.E. with our vision.
Let me thank my Political Father and my worthy Predecessor, H.E., Mr. Udom Emmanuel, who supported me against all odds, to make this day a reality. To our immediate past First Lady, Dr( Mrs) Martha Udom Emmanuel, and our Campaigner- Chief, thank you for your extraordinary support. To my Political Father, I know you will always avail yourself to us, any time we knock on your door for your wise counsel. I know you will not throw away the baby you helped give birth to. God bless you immensely.
Let me also thank all the past leaders of our State from the Military era, Brigadier-General Tunde Ogbeha( rtd) Major General, Godwin Abbe( rtd) Late Air Commodore ( Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga ( rtd) , Late Obong Akpan Isemin, Colonel Yakubu Bako( rtd) late Navy Captain Joseph Adeusi ( rtd) Group Captain Jonn Ebiye( rtd) Obong( Arc) Victor Attah, Distinguished Senator ( Barrister Godswill Obot Akpabio ( CON) and of course my Political Fathet, Mr. Udom Emmanuel ( CON). Thank you for your great service to our dear State.
Please permit me at this point to put on my clergyman’s hat, and quote from St. Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 1 verses 46-50 using the King James version “And Mary said “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour, for He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.”
Standing here this afternoon, my fellow Akwaibomites, and fully conscious of this inspirational moment, I cannot help but get a little emotional. I am in awe of the grace that has located me, I am in awe of the blessings of the Lord in my life. If someone had told me years ago, that I would stand here, as the newly sworn-in Governor of this blessed Piece of Godly Real Estate, a State that is appropriately named after God himself, I would have told him to see a physician for doses of malaria or hallucinating drugs, not because I didn’t trust what God can do; not because I was not aspirational, but because the circumstance of existence then, was to say the least, bleak and uncertain.
My story is well known to you, but please permit me to repeat some elements, so you will be further inspired by it. I was born in the police barracks and had lost my Father at a very young age and the burden to raise my siblings and I, fell on my late Mother, a true Amazon, who went on to instill in us, the virtues and values of hard work, faith in the unchangeable designs of God Almighty, honesty of purpose and faith in the goodness of the human condition.
Life in the police barracks back then was drab and dreary and all around us, were things that were designed to bring out the worst instincts in us. I was the one most people thought would not amount to anything. No one gave me a fighting chance to succeed. But because God’s plans would always confound the wise, I summoned hope and overcame. I could have fallen through the cracks of life, and be swallowed by the gaping hole that we daily encounter; I could have surrendered to some negative tendencies associated with peer-pressure, but I summoned hope and kept my head above the murky waters of despondency.
This moment therefore, represents the ultimate vindication of those lofty and uplifting words as contained in Psalm 125 KJV that “They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever.” If the child of a lowly maidservant like me could overcome and thrive in the private sector, running a conglomerate of concerns spread across the hospitality and service industry, employing over two thousand workers. and now, the Governor of this great State, you too, can and you will!
Let me at this time, thank my dear Wife and our First Lady, Pastor( Mrs. ) Patience Umo Eno, my wonderful Children and their spouses, my siblings. Thank you for standing by me and urging me to march on when my spirits needed those critical doses of filial prayers and support and for constantly assuring me that what God has started in praise cannot end in shame, To my Deputy Governor, H.E. Distinguished Senator Akon Eyaknenyi, thank you for partnering with me to usher in this Golden Ear for our dear State.
To the leadership of our great Party, the PDP, especially the Chairman, Elder Aniekan Akpan, and the entire State Working Committee, thank you for standing by me, To the Campaign Council, especially my D.G. H.E. Ambassador Assam Assam,. thank you for the long hours you put in.
To our Fathers in Faith and the entire evangelical community in the State, you prayed and interceded on ,my behalf. To God be the glory, honor and adoration. His name has been lifted and gloried.
To all the groups, especially the Maintain Peace Movement, the Female Youths, etc ; thank you for the great work you all did,
To the Akwaibomites in the Diaspora, thank you for your support. I am eternally grateful to our Traditional Fathers, and our Elder statesmen, especially our former Governor, (Obong )Arc) Victor Attah.,
My dear Akwa Ibom people, as I accept this onerous task to open another chapter of the glittering and continuous story of our growth, development, peace and unity of our dear State and our people, I want you to be inspired by my story.
To those of you who may be struggling to put food on the table, if I overcame, you too can! To those who may have given up on life because of the circumstances you currently find yourself, if I overcame, believe me, you too can!
To the youths of Akwa Ibom State, my story is your story. There is nothing you cannot achieve if you put your heart and mind in it. There is no mountain steep or slippery enough that you cannot climb and get to the apex if, to quote the inspirational words of my Political Father and my worthy Predecessor, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel “the passion is right.”
Today, Hilda Bassey, the Guinness World Record holder in the longest cooking hours by an individual has epitomized the Dakkada Spirit, Enoh Ebong, the Director, United Sates Trade and Development Agency, who is part of President Biden’s delegation to the inauguration of President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) is of Akwa Ibom ancestry. Ime Udoka, the former Head Coach of the Boston Celtics and now, Houston Rockets, has made us all proud. My administration will work hard to produce more of these great and inspirational Akwaibomites. We will create the enabling environment for our youths to thrive, since every one cannot be given political appointments.
My fellow Akwaibomites, in the last eight years, our State has witnessed monumental developmental strides across all sectors, earning the national acclaim as “Nigeria’s Best Kept Secret.” We owe my Predecessor and Political Father our debt of gratitude. From aviation development, where today we are the only sub national with a thriving airline in the nation, the Ibom Air, to the smartest Airport Terminal building, the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) the longest Taxiway in the nation, with Category 2 Certification, our story has been one where, as providentially stated in Job 22: 29 “when men are cast down, then thou shall say there is lifting up,”
Today, because my worthy Predecessor knew that the provision of world -class infrastructure, especially economically viable road network that connects the State seamlessly will ensure rapid economic development, we, are blessed and ready to utilize this all- important driver of growth, prosperity and development to connect the dots and A.R.I.S.E. further with our growth and development.
From investments in agriculture, healthcare delivery services, education, where our WAEC pass rate now stands at over 80 percent from 60 percent it was a few years back, to changing our narratives of our State from a once purely Civil- Service oriented State to one that today has attracted Foreign Direct Investments with over twenty industries that have provided employment opportunities, to human capacity development, rural and riverine development, sports, tourism, peace and security, my Predecessor has made this State, ready for economic explosion. We would connect the dots and have our people A.R.I.S.E with us for greater glory and growth.
My worthy Predecessor, H.E. Udom Emmanuel had commenced the digitalization of the Civil Service. We will complete the process of E-governance. We will priotize the welfare of our civil servants and encourage a spirit of entrepreneurship in line with our dakkada spirit.
I was heartened and excited when our revered former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR) at the commissioning of the Eket-Etinan Road three weeks ago, while applauding my worthy Predecessor and Political Father, H.E. Mr. Udom Emmanuel for his foresight in providing world -class economically viable road network advised that we utilize the roads and advance our development though agriculture.
My dear Akwaibomites, it may interest you to know that the first letter in our A.R.I.S.E. Agenda is Agriculture. We will invest heavily in this critical sector, and cause a revolution to occur. Agriculture is the new black gold and we will get our people involved. Food security and investments in agro-allied sector will be an abiding article of faith. We will deploy our comparative advantage in blue economy, and ensure that our fishermen get proper financial value for their work.
We will continue the great works started by my worthy Predecessor, to improve the quality of life for those in the rural areas and thus help stem rural-to urban migration, We will continue to construct roads, link the remaining communities that have not yet been connected to the national grid, and ensure that they have electricity, clean water and primary healthcare facilities to complement the great strides recorded by my worthy Predecessor in secondary healthcare facilities.
We will maintain and advance the world- class infrastructure our State has come to be known for nationally and complete those that were started by my Predecessor, which time did not permit him to finish and commission.
Our State is nationally known as one of the most peaceful States in the nation. We will work hard to ensure that this critical element of the Social Contract is maintained, so our people can continue to live in peace. Security of lives and property is the first order of business for government and we will follow this strictly.
We will work hard to ensure that we build our people, by expanding opportunities for growth in business, leisure and tourism. We will continue to attract foreign investors by creating a business-friendly environment for investors to come live, invest and enjoy the Happy Hour that comes with hard work
We will A.R.I.S.E together, to ensure that our public schools are equipped and staffed by teachers who are passionate and dedicated. Our children must be taught the new ways of the world, which revolves around ICT and entrepreneurial skills,
We will continue to invest in healthcare delivery services, power, tourism, human capacity development, youth and women empowerments. We have been blessed with world-class infrastructure, now is the time to accelerate our economic growth and the development of our people. I ask you to A.R.I.S.E,. with us and lets usher in the Golden Era for our dear State and our people.
Elections are over, and our kindred spirit must be renewed and deepened, We are all Akwaibomites first before politics. Politics therefore must not separate or sever the ties of our brotherhood and common heritage and aspirations, I pledge to you that I will be Governor for all Akwaibomites, irrespective of political persuasions or affiliations. I call on our people to come together, and let’s build s State where the pain of one Akwaibomite is the pain of all, and where the success of one Akwaibomite is the success for all. We have been too polarized by politics, This should not be. As I said in my Victory Speech, we will set up a bi-partisan reconciliation committee soon, so we can jaw-jaw instead of war-war on critical issues of our development, unity and brotherhood.
In conclusion therefore, and as I stand before all of you and God Almighty to formally adorn this cap of leadership as the Governor of this great State, I will like to reiterate that I cannot achieve or actualize this vision alone. This is a collective responsibility, and I am very sure all of you patriotic citizens of Akwa Ibom State, will join hands with me to further push the developmental strides as handed down by my worthy Predecessor.
To this, and more successes, which we collectively envisage, as we kick-start this next phase of our growth and development, we fervently and jointly believe in That Same God to see us through to the Promised Land.
A.R.I.S.E Akwa Ibom, work hard in unity and in brotherhood, and let us collectively usher in the Happy Hour. So let the Happy Hour of the Golden Era begin.
God bless Akwa Ibom State, God bless our dear people, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.