By Osondu Ahirika
This will be my third and final intervention in chronicling the major highlights of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s sterling performance in the last seven years in office. I wager that this is by no means exhaustive as there are many more achievements not recorded or captured in these series. However, I consider it a fair attempt to list some very noteworthy milestones in the sun of this administration, which is about going down.
In September 2015, then state commissioner for housing and urban renewal, Prince Enobong Uwah, disclosed that his ministry will by December that year convert the dilapidated structures of the defunct 10th Anniversary Hotel to a modern secretariat. The facility located at Udo Udoma Avenue close to the Ibom Tropicana had become a derelict eyesore and a den for criminals who cohabited the massive expanse of land and structures with reptiles.
Governor Udom Emmanuel had given the marching order to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Renewal that the property be renovated and converted to a modern secretariat complex to house some government ministries, departments and agencies that were then situated in rented apartments across the state.That renovation vision was in tandem with the state governor’s policy of ensuring that dwindling funds are not used for frivolous and avoidable projects. It was more challenging remodelling that complex than building a new one. Today, the Dakkada Secretariat stands as an elegant testament of vision and substance of turning waste to wealth. Here’s how an enthusiast described the facilities:
-The complex comprises 4 floors with a penthouse
-3 no. functional lifts,
-Over 200 offices all ensuite,
-4 studios including a cartography room and laboratory.
-3 conference rooms.
-Complete fire alarm system.
-20,000-litre water tank,
-Parking space for over 150 vehicles,
-A generator house,
-2 gate houses.
-A staff clinic with good landscaping.
-Revenue generating facilities including a restaurant (VIP seating included) , a complete set of scaffold for renting and an open space available for outdoor events.
-Mechanical and electrical workshops for repairs of vehicles open to the public.
Today, the Ministry of Works, Ministry of Labour and Manpower Development, Office of the Surveyor General, Bureau of Technical Matters, and several others operate from there. I commend Governor Udom Emmanuel for this as I reflect on it in this piece.
Moreover, Akwa Ibom State has come a long way in its march towards developing a model world-class aviation industry in Nigeria. From the day the first aeroplane touched down on Akwa Ibom soil on September 30, 2009, it has been a steady cruise for this Land of Promise.
That day, when Arik’s B737-800 aircraft landed on the runway of the airport, it marked the beginning of what has become a pacesetter in the aviation industry. Thanks to Governor Udom Emmanuel. On assuming office as governor of Akwa Ibom State on May 29, 2015, the governor never gave a hint he had the aviation industry in view. He might have simply written his vision down and kept it within him. It was a surprise package when eventually Ibom Air was launched by Governor Emmanuel on February 21, 2019.
It was an audacious move that left the good people of Akwa Ibom State and indeed Nigerians stunned. Currently, the fleet of Ibom Air has taken delivery of two Airbus 220 and currently the number of aircraft has increased to seven. Governor Emmanuel assured that it will be 10 by the time he leaves office in 2023. Ibom Air has not only doubled down on its domestic routes expanding destinations locally, but has commenced international flights while establishing steady dominance in the subregion.
Here are some landmark achievements made by the strategic builder, Governor Udom Emmanuel, in the aviation sector, standing out Akwa Ibom State as a pride of Nigeria:
-Maintaining and operating the only state-owned regional airline in Nigeria – Ibomair
increasing the number of aircraft in the fleet of Ibomair and operating in five cities in Nigeria.
• Completing moves to fly Ibomair to the Gambia and other West African countries.
• Award of best airline of the year 2020 to Ibomair by ATQnews/African Travel Market (Akwaaba)
• Runs Ibomair as the first commercially operated state airline in Nigeria with the newest and freshest aircraft
• Ibomair planes are smart with less number of passenger-capacity cabins, making it easy to break even in each flight schedule.
• Uniqueness of Ibomair as it presents take-off instructions in the mother tongue – Ibibio language.
• Runs Ibomair at its commercial flight base, Victor AttahInternational Airport, VAIA, on a 3- schedule daily flight.
• Ibomair is redefining the Aviation Industry in Nigeria with its top notch service delivery and compliance with international best practices in operation.
• The aircraft in Ibomair fleet are anti Covid-19, as they are fitted with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.
• Ibomair has already created more than 500 jobs for the teaming youths of Akwa Ibom State and indeed Nigeria at large.
• Upgrade of Victor Attah International Airport, VAIA, main runway to category 2 (CAT 2 Certification).
Others are Construction of 2nd Airport runway (taxi-way) ongoing
• Construction of new Commercial Terminal Building at VAIA International Airport and installation of full runway lighting.
• Ongoing construction work on the Maintenance, Repairs and Overhauling, MRO, Hanger at VAIA.
• Plans in top gear for the establishment of a Search and Rescue Center in Akwa Ibom State.
• Heightening modalities for the establishment of Flight Training School in the state.
• Construction of Power Injector sub-station to supply electricity to the airport.
Yet again, the completion report on the Dakkada Tower (21 storey smart building) coming with all the attractions and safety mechanisms expected of a smart building anywhere in the world is another worthwhile achievement of Governor Emmanuel.
A dream come true, the Dakkada Tower, as it is called, is a development in the sustainable infrastructural drive of the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration. The project which kicked off on 17th January, 2018 with a two year work term, has since been completed.
The mega project which was handled by a Turkish construction company, VKS, is an amazing architectural design on land, the first of its kind in Nigeria.
As high as 108.8 meters, the 21-storey five-star business accommodation occupies a construction area of 18, 639.50 meters square on a massive site area of 48,200.00 meters square, making room for a 500 capacity car park. The complex will run with 24 hours power supply and contains all necessary facilities and equipment of a smart building including: 4 elevators, 2 emergency exit, fire protection sensors and aviation wing. The ground floor is designed to accommodate banks and canteens while the mechanical floor controls sewage and takes care of waste disposal.
From the second to the 20th floor, seamless office accommodations are provided to end-users, while the 21st floor is a terrace where guests, tourists and investors can stand to have a glimpse of the beautiful landscape of the capital city.
It is worthy of mention that the smart building has an access control with such components like, the card reader, biometric control keypads, central stand-alone server workstation, electric lock hardware cabling for doors, boom barrier for cars, automated cards, automated turnstiles, fire protected doors and time attendance readers.
For the fire system, the tower boasts of fire electric pumps, diesel pump backup, Fire extinguisher hose real, technical rooms E30 cabling for S90 fire, protection sprinkler system, intelligent smoke detectors and fire alarm panel connected to the CCTV room. The state-of-the-art communication gadgets of the intelligence building are in place with all accessories of a public address system including: speaker, combine audio+media via sms for evacuation, control station, UPS and amplifiers.
Other unique features of the super imposing edifice are the led LIGHTING, Touchscreen control KNX occupancy and motion sensors, Digitally addressed lighting interface(DALI), network switch for outdoor lighting motion sensor, Solar fitted nano type facade panel to power facade light at night as well as Perimeter fence light.
Quite expected of a five star business environment, the 21-storey smart building makes room for video conferencing, thus putting in place necessary cameras and efficiently managed workstation, with a chiller system of chilled water sensor, infrared toilet system, automated facade sprinklers and cleaner and automated rain gauge.
With Humidity and temperature sensors in all the floors, the smart office complex stamps out itself as truly an intelligence building with no comparison in the south-south region of Nigeria.
The DAKKADA Tower is indeed a bold testament where vision and legacy intersects to give premium to Governor Udom Emmanuel’s commitment to repositioning Akwa Ibom State as an emerging force and major player in the industrial revolution Nigeria is yearning for.