A mammoth crowd. Excited faces. The clouds thickened. The rain trickled. The crowd, unperturbed. The event was the inauguration of the 25km dualized Uyo – Ikot Ekpene Road in Akwa Ibom State.
The road project, with side drains, digital street lights and two major roundabouts was supervised by the State Ministry of Works and Fire Service to ensure strict adherence to specifications and it traverses communities in 7 Local Government Areas of Uyo, Ibiono, Abak, Itu, Ikono, Essien Udim and Ikot Ekpene.
It is worthy to note that the road project was initiated by the immediate past administration led by Dr. Godswill Akpabio. The present administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel took up the project at 20% completion level and the rest became history, as Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan arrived the state to formally open the road for use.
Addressing the crowd shortly before performing the inauguration ceremonies, the Senate President expressed joy at the satisfaction on faces of the people despite the rain, noting that it was an indication of Governor Emmanuel’s purposeful leadership in the state.
“I can say that in the last one or two months, I have not been excited as I have been today. This is because I have seen very happy people, I have seen a leader who has provided unique leadership”, the Senate President stated.
He extolled Governor Emmanuel for embarking on life touching projects in the state even with lean resources, acknowledging that such gesture was borne out of love for the people.
Dr. Lawan noted that although the Uyo – Ikot Ekpene Road is a federal road, Governor Emmanuel did not hesitate in expending state fund meant for other development purposes, in completing the road and promised to facilitate reimbursement through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.
He stated that the Governor’s actions are in tanderm with federal government’s desire for partnership towards development and encouraged other state Governors to emulate the initiative.
“What the federal government needs in the sub-nationals is partnership, cooperation and development. What you have done is to hold the hand of the federal government and say, ‘I am ready for development, not only in my state but the entire country’, so for me, you deserve more than a refund”.
Describing Governor Emmanuel as a symbol of unity the Senator said, “You are a pan-Nigerian, a leader who believes in the unity of Nigeria. Every word you utter, has always been patriotic, reasonable and purposeful. You believe that people in this country, regardless of their ethnic, religious or socio-political dispositions, must unite to move Nigeria forward”.
Earlier, Governor Emmanuel who emphasized that roads remained strategic to the Completion Agenda of his Administration, appealed to the federal government for reimbursement of funds utilized in fixing federal roads, to enable the state reinvest on other impactful projects in the state.
The Governor expressed joy at the completion and inauguration of the road, remarking that despite inaugurating numerous economically viable infrastructure during his tenure, he particularly derived great pleasure on the inauguration of the Uyo – Ikot Ekpene road.
He appreciated communities where the stretch of road traverses, for their cooperation and not disrupting the construction process till completion, promising to deliver more life-touching projects to the people.
Governor Emmanuel also made a case to the federal government for the fixing of the dilapidated road linking Abia State with Akwa Ibom, maintaining that the gesture would boost economic activities in the two states.
Presenting an overview of the project, the Commissioner for Works and Fire Service, Prof. Eno Ibanga, stated that the hitherto single carriage way, was constructed with strict compliance to specifications and quality by Julius Berger Construction Plc.
Prof. Ibanga said that the state government pays great attention to quality, hinting that each lane of the road spans 8 metres wide and assured of durability and safety.
While describing the Governor as a promise keeper, he expressed gratitude to him for completing the road as promised and applauded him for keeping the Completion Agenda on track.
In their separate goodwill messages, the Senator representing Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, Senator Chris Ekpenyong, member representing Ikot Ekpene, Obot Akara and Essien Udim, in the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Nsikak Ekong as well as the Chairman, Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area, Hon. Unyime Etim, extolled the Governor for giving them a road that does not only ease movement but also give a facelift to the raffia city.
High points of the event were the cutting of tape and unveiling of plaque by the Senate President, in company of Governor Emmanuel, his wife, Dr. Martha, the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo and other political bigwigs and stakeholders in the state.