By Evelyn Ibanga
Across the globe, there exist three major gateways to and out of any nation. Politically and administratively, leaders’ knowledge with indices and tags of success in governance are usually assessed by the level of progress achieved in raising standards of living, using the three gateways.
To put records straight, three gateways of nations, countries and states are land (by road), seaways (by water) and airways (through the air routes). As a strategic state in Nigeria, Akwa Ibom is well blessed with the three gateways. We have the land, the various waterways and of course, the spirited blue sky.
Most states also have these gates. So it is not the case of availability but the logic of harnessing the divine gifts of land, sea and air to cause transformation in the daily socio economic activities of residents and investors.
Talk about life transformation, the leadership of Akwa Ibom State, with Governor Udom Emmanuel, cannot be found wanting at cross-roads or without visions. Thus, as the governor takes the Completion Agenda of his administration towards its crescendo, he is conscious that there is need to juggle two balls of time and quality, without missing any.
It is important to state that Governor Emmanuel’s vision on one of the three gateways to the state, using land in building roads, highways, bridges, culverts and flyover bridges, has grandly become realities leaving many gazing in awe.
Truly, no one can deny the aggressive infrastructural renaissance going on in Akwa Ibom since this administration kick-started with Governor Emmanuel on the saddle. Yes, it has been a jolly ride across communities of the state on “nylon” and synthetic quality asphalted roads and highways.
Surprisingly, these completed and ongoing roads and highways projects, which are of mega status, are executed even at the hit of financial constraints caused by the waves of the corona virus pandemic which, undoubtedly, featured stumbling blocks of recession that tampered protocols and humbled many of the popular countries with stable economy.
Ordinarily, those stumbling blocks would have served as nice excuses to take a back seat but as a focused, determined and purposeful leader, Emmanuel held on tightly, surmounting the hurdles at every point and has courageously been attaining mind-blowing feats to the admiration of everyone, including the international community.
In recent times, Governor Emmanuel has seized every opportunity to assure the people that his administration will not leave any project he embarked on, uncompleted or in unusable condition. We can certainly take these assurances “to the bank,” based on unbeatable records so far earned by his government.
Meanwhile, it is noteworthy to mention that the state Ministry of Works and Fire Service is at the forefront in interpreting the governor’s vision on infrastructure renaissance and the man at the helm of affairs in the Ministry, Professor Eno Ibanga, has proved his mettle.
Ibanga, who assumed office a little over a year ago, has left no stone unturned, in ensuring that the governor’s Completion Agenda is successfully achieved.
The Professor of Solid State Physics hit the ground running and within few months in office, successfully delivered quality road projects for inauguration from place to place.
Not resting on his oars, the commissioner, understanding the essence of time to the Completion Agenda, as well as the governor’s affinity with quality, has been embarking on massive inspection of road projects across the state.
The zeal at which he carries out this task is evident in the speed and attention to all details, on the part of contractors handling various projects in the state. The results have been amazing beyond your guess and several roads which looked abandoned due to incessant rainfall during the last rainy season, are wearing new looks.
Nevertheless, one may wonder about the magic he has employed at making sure contractors are working round the clock in their various project sites. From deep diligence, strict commitment to effective understanding, these are factors competing as his watchwords.
The Works and Fire Service helmsman, is not only committed to his supervision work but establishes cordiality and sense of cooperation with the contractors by guaranteeing quick release of funds to them.
The timely processing of documentations for funding of road constructions has turned the wand of motivation for local contractors and expatriates to work with no complaints.
It is important to also note that, Ibanga does not only visit these sites merely to look at what is done but takes time to watch with his team of Engineers from his Ministry and takes interest in asking questions before making necessary approvals for each stage of work. There is nothing to doubt that the Works Ministry has never circumvented in making sure the projects are done according to specifications.
Moreover, he interacts with the site engineers about government expectations on the projects, stressing on the need to work in sync with his Ministry and also set time frame for each stage of work, while urging them to maximize the dry season to get the projects ready for inauguration.
Recall that Governor Emmanuel has special affinity with high quality and durable projects. It was this understanding that prompted Professor Ibanga to ensure that the Geotechnical, Materials and Quality Control Directorate in his Ministry, carry out soil testing at every project site, to determine the quality of materials suitable for construction at each site and only gives approval for such to be used.
One admirable thing about Professor Ibanga is that he works with a supportive team from his Ministry, including the Civil Engineering Directorate headed by a seasoned professional, Engr Akaninyene Henry, who also accompanies him on those inspections to ascertain whether appropriate materials and specifications are employed according to approvals from the Ministry.
Therefore, it is common to see the commissioner commending some contractors on the quality of their jobs and also expressing disappointment at others, handing down strict instructions with directives to project supervisors who ensure compliance for quality.
Additionally, he would direct that appropriate equipment must be used for certain tasks on site, advising on strict compliance to work plan and emphasize on increased work pace.
Recently, Professor Ibanga’s inspection tour took him to different local government areas across the state and his zeal and passion for the job could be seen as he visited about eight (8) project sites in one day.
Some of the projects he inspected include the construction of 13.6km Ikot Obio Offong – Nnung Ukana – (spur 1 to Ikot Obio Ofongo) Abaukpe – (spur 11 to Afaha Ikot Owop) – Oboetuk- Enen Nsit – Afaha Offiong Road in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area; Dualization of 19.8km Uyo – Etinan Road; Dualization of 29.0km Etinan – Ndon Eyo Road with 2No. bridges and the Dualization of 23.4km Etinan – Eket Road.
Others are: Construction /Remodelling of Selected Roads and Strategic Roundabouts/Junctions in Eket Metropolis (phase 1 & 11); Dualization of 19.5km Eket – Ibeno Road with 4No. Bridges; Construction of 9.081km Internal Roads and Spurs in Awa, Onna Local Government Area as well as the Construction of 9.76km Ancillary Roads with 60m Span Bridge in Nsit Ubium Local Government Area.
All these are pointers that Governor Emmanuel is fulfilling his promise of leaving the state better than he met it and everyone can clearly see that in terms of infrastructure, he is not only building roads but connecting communities with economically viable and durable roads, thus bringing the hinterland to the city centre.