Charles Udoh is the commissioner for Information and Strategy, Akwa Ibom State. In this interview, he talks about Governor Udom Emmanuel’s performance and achievements so far, the 2019 election in the state and the expectations of the people.
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What has your administration achieved so far?
We started on the platform of trying to set 5-points agenda. We talk about job creation, wealth creation, poverty alleviation, infrastructure – consolidation and expansion and economic and political inclusion. To actualise these five points agenda, we needed to anchor it on a tripod. On one-part leg of that, is industrialisation, the second leg is tourism, while the third leg is agriculture and food sufficiency. The whole idea was that for the larger part of our 30 years, we have been in a state galvanized by the civil service orientation. A state where the economic trust is being propelled by the public sector. We all know that the economic trust of a state is driven by the private sector, so we decided to deemphasize the civil service orientation and begin to diversify the economy. We thought that the tripod of industrialization, tourism and agriculture could take us there.
So, for you to have an industrialised society, tourism and agriculture to succeed, infrastructure must play a major road and that is why we can proudly say that we have constructed a cumulative of over 1,70 kilometers of road, completed over 40 bridges. We are building economic roads, roads leading to economic nerve centers of the state. We have seen what is happening in Apapa in Lagos, we have a process of setting up a deep seaport, we have learnt from the chaotic situation in Apapa. So we are doing forward planning, that’s why we are building economic roads and roads that will last beyond this government.
But your political opponents are saying that your administration lacks focus on infrastructural development?
You see, it is a guy who is not well schooled in economic planning that would say that. Now, what do you mean by focusing? Opposition is expecting that we
build a wild elephant projects like the last government did. We have a stadium that was built in the last administration, it costs us an arm and a leg to maintain with zero income to the state.
Zero income? But Akwa Ibom is on top when it comes to revenue allocation?
I am saying that we have a fantastic stadium that costs us an arm and a leg to maintain and it is not generating any income. That means it doesn’t make economic sense. Nigeria has a stadium in Abuja that we can’t maintain the pitch, it’s a forest. The one in Lagos is a beer parlor and that tells you the huge amount involved in maintaining a stadium. Yes, our stadium is beautiful but it costs us a lot to maintain, we could have ploughed the money into something else.
What are your fears about 2019?
No fears. Our scorecard speaks for us. Only God knows who will be the governor, we trust in God. The opposition has been perpetrating all kinds of things to generate violence. The entire campaign team of the governor was summoned by the IG Special Squad whereas few weeks before, a police station in Oron was burnt down, nobody was arrested and IG did not send Special Squad because of billboard. What happened to the billboard? You got approval to build a billboard here and you go to build it there, and then change the height in the heart of a market, endangering the entire people in the market. Building such a superstructure in the heart of a market is a disaster waiting to happen and government says no, suddenly the IG sends Special Squad. They are trying to do what happened in Ekiti and Osun states here but we have no fears.