Exactly 100 Days ago, I stood before you to unveil my vision for the continuous growth and development of our people and our dear State through our Governance and Economic Blueprint, the ARISE Agenda.
I had, in my inaugural address, while thanking you for the massive support you gave me at the polls which resulted in such unassailable margins of victory we got, pledged to concentrate our developmental plans in the rural areas, while still expanding and consolidating our urban renewal and other focal areas.
Today, my fellow Akwaibomites, 100 Days later, I can say that we have hit the ground running and God has been our an ever-present Guide as we work to translate our vision into practical, measurable and impactful forms.
While you elected me for the first four years, with the hopes of gaining your trust for a continuous journey of our shared prosperity, the celebration of 100 Days in Office, has become a tradition that is marked all over the democratic world. And so here we are, 100 Days later, I can say that the ship of our State is anchored and moored on a solid shoreline, the energy is over- charged, the vision is clear and the hands on the Ship of State is firm and the gaze for what lies ahead is focused and unwavering.
The ARISE Blueprint, which is our governance instrument has five critical focal points: Agricultural Revolution, Rural Development, Infrastructural Maintenance, Security Management and Education Advancement among other focal sectors.
As we mark our 100 Days in Office, we are working at a frenetic pace to translate in practical terms some of the key elements of the ARISE Agenda, and we are just starting.
We have established an Agency with the sole responsibility to drive our rural development, improve the quality of life of our rural dwellers, stimulate economic activities and stem
rural-to urban migration, the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project (RAAMP).
So far, we have flagged-off critical roads in all the three senatorial districts and the first we had flagged off, a little over two months ago, the internal roads in Urua Akpan Andem, is being commissioned later today, delivered on schedule, by our very own HENSEK Integrated Services.
To ignite our agricultural revolution in line with our ARISE Agenda, we have acquired over 50 thousand hectares of land in all the 31 local government areas , to ensure food security and to get our people involved in agro-allied enterprises.
As a practical demonstration of this resolve, we recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the world renowned Songhai Farms to start a model farm in our State, We have already sent hundreds of our people for training so they could form the nucleus of the skilled workers to drive this exercise.
We have steadily paid gratuities to local government, primary school teachers and state workers. 3 billion Naira has so far been released for this exercise. We have commenced an initial five-month payment of Leave Grants in the Main Service. This exercise started last month, and the first phase will end in December. You will agree with me, that, this has been bold steps taken to address this issue.
We are constructing model primary schools and primary healthcare facilities across the three senatorial districts and work is ongoing at a fast pace at the location of the first of these model primary schools, the Christ the King School, (CKS) on Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo.
Education remains free and compulsory at primary and secondary school levels and as part of the palliatives we are rolling out, based on the initial 2 billion Naira we received from the Federal Government, in form of loan and rice, we intend to support parents with school uniforms, shoes and the payment of bursary to students in tertiary instructions after proper verifications. Our commitment to the payment of WAEC fees, is irrevocable and we have already done so, since we came in.
Distribution of additional bags of rice to each of the 2,272 gazetted villages; cash transfers to 53,000 workers in the State for three months, levy-free Fridays for transporters and traders for three months; all these have raised our contributions to the palliatives scheme to over 5 billion Naira.
Our Ibom Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development Centre (ILED) will soon be up and running aimed at equipping our people with the right entrepreneurial and leadership skills, thus preparing them to compete with their peers elsewhere.
To ensure that we continue to enjoy the peace we are known for, we have created a full-fledged new ministry-the Ministry of Internal security, headed by a retired general of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Koko Essien. Our security architecture is robust and remains committed to working collaboratively to ensure our safety. We thank the Security agencies immensely for this deep sense of collaborations.
In the course of my campaign, I had pledged to demystify governance and make myself available to the common people, since it is from that segment of the society that God raised me through the instrumentality of my political father to be who I am today.
Against conventional wisdom, I have stopped by at various road side shops as I traverse the length and crannies of this State, and have patronized road side vendors, empowered them with seed funds to expand their trade. I will continue to do so, because if I could overcome adversities to fulfill God’s plans in my life, others too, can!
We are determined to ensure that our comparative advantage in blue economy is utilized to improve the quality of lives of our fishermen as well as our tourism sector, which is a critical sector in our ARISE Agenda.
In my inaugural address, concerned about the political polarization in our dear State, I had stated that “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. Instead of war-war on critical issues of our development, unity and brotherhood.”
So far, as demonstrated during our hugely successful Ibom Dialogue, and other important events, we have worked across party lines to advance the development of our State, since politics must give way to governance.
Let me end this speech by quoting from the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 29: 11 “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
As we mark our first 100 Days in office, I promise to work twice as hard to give you a good future and hope with corresponding growth and development. So help me God!
Happy 100 Days in Office! Let us all ARISE! God bless us all!