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Thursday, May 7, 2020


Udom Emmanuel

Few months back, I was in a place where economists were making analysis on the Nation's economy. The bone of contention of their analysis was Lagos State which over time has been able to diversify its economy, and to considerably reduce its dependence on Federal allocations.

After Lagos State, next they talked about was Rivers State and as well, Akwa Ibom State which both share a higher proportion of the Nation's oil revenue. For me at that moment, it was indeed a nice feeling having beheld the State being tabled in good fate in the assemblage of men.

Without mincing words, Akwa Ibom State whose industrialization drive began barely five years ago has recorded unprecedented feat and everyone would wish there were better economic foundation structured for her in time past.

Governor Udom Emmanuel upon his assumption of office in 2015 had came up with his set plans to change the status of the State from a civil service State to an industrial hub. The Health sector and security of the State were not left out. All of these were encapsulated in his 5-points agenda.

With the availability of lean resources, the governor has kept to his promise of touching all the areas of the State. Almost all the secondary healthcare facilities have been completely revamped with befitting structures and up-to-date medical equipment. Brand new ambulances were made available in each of these hospitals, and medical practitioners were sent on compulsory trainings in a bid to make them better equipped for the task.

The Ibom Specialist Hospital which was left uncompleted by the past administration was later upgraded and equipped to befit its much rumored world class standard. This on its own has contributed immensely to the boom of the State economy.

The revamped of the State Health sector did not only help in the revitalization of the economy, but it made it possible for residents in the rural communities to easily access good medical facilities when the need arises. This was a preparation for a time like this.

No one had dreamt that there would come a time where the world would be captivated  the way it is with this corona virus pandemic.  The pandemic has gravely ruined the economy of many Nations because of the unexpected and total shutdown of operations of all institutions. The UK, USA, Germany, France, etc are not left out. As I speak, it is slowly hitting Nigeria, and the hope for our economy to still strive effectively is shattered. I won't hesitate to consent the postulation that the corona virus pandemic is a World War III in disguise.

Because no one had prepared for this, there's a high rate of competition amongst infected patients across the world. Some places suffer the stress of running around to draw out modalities toward curbing the spread of the virus. Many places because of minuscule or zero availability of sound medical facilities, number of deaths are being recorded on daily basis, and there's no hope of curtailing this in the next available weeks. But  the case is a reverse in Akwa Ibom State.

Even before the outbreak of the disease in Nigeria, the governor had already ensured that all hospitals in the State are well equipped with  up-to-date medical equipment irrespective of how big or small any of the hospitals is. So by the time the virus came into the State, it met a potent resistance medical force that could subdue its ability.

Even at this, the governor is still unsatisfied. This, he has moved to constructing new Isolation centers in Ituk Mbang and Eket respectively.

The corona virus pandemic is not going to exist forever. Sooner or later it'll be subdued globally, but the negative effect it has posed on the economy and how to return everything to normalcy are what people should be concerned. Was there any plan made before now?

I may not be able to speak for any other place, I'll only have to say what I know. This, I will center my discuss on Akwa Ibom State which I know the governor had already prepared the State for a season like this.

For four years, the State governor was aggressively giving out grants for traders, farmers all in a bid to encourage SME's in the State.

A time came that it made it mandatory for political appointees in the State to own a farm or risk being sacked. To further boost the agricultural sector, Committees were setup to revive the long deteriorated Akwapalm factory, provide some necessities for effective agricultural activities. This is the provision of subsidized fertilizers, oil palm and cocoa seedlings, and so on.

This made available the 3,240 hectares of Cassava Plantation in about 15 Local Government Areas of the State. A project supervised by FADAMA. Registered 49,318 registered rice farmers across the State which at the end, the production of garri and rice which are the most essential foodstuff in the State was made possible.

With the Rice Processing Mills, Cassava Processing Mills, Oil Palm Processing Mills, Maize Shelling/Drying Mills, as well as the Vegetable Green House which was commissioned by His Excellency, the Vice President, food production and availability wouldn't be a problem in Akwa Ibom State throughout this trying times.

Though the pandemic would severely affect the State Monthly allocation from FAC. With the operations of the Kings Flour Mill, the above listed factories and other 15 factories in the State, nothing would get out of hand for the State government. The economy will still functions and the welfare of the people will be catered for.

Gov. Udom Emmanuel with all these is the man who sees tomorrow. He saw this coming and hence, moved to preparing the State before time.

Umani Uwemedimo writes from Uyo

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