By Edet Honesty Effiong
“Road infrastructure is understood to include all physical assets within the road reserve, including not only the road itself but all associated furniture (signage etc), and all earthworks, drainage, structures (culverts, bridges, buildings etc)”.
Road infrastructure means the space on land used for the transportation or movement of goods and passengers from one point or place to another. Thus, road infrastructure plays a very pivotal role in the socio -economic development of any community or state, by providing mobility for the efficient movements of people and goods, as well as providing accessibility to a wide range of commercial and social activities. Needless to say that road infrastructure is an indispensable tool for social integration both at the state, regional and national levels.
In realization of the fact that roads remain the backbone of the transport network, which in itself serves as a framework upon which socio-economic development is anchored, the Akwa Ibom State Government, under the leadership of Godswill Obot Akpabio, in 2008 embarked on massive provision/construction of roads across the state.
This followed the report of a study that was commissioned by the State Ministry of Employment and Transportation in mid-2008 to develop a master plan for transportation infrastructure with emphasis on road network.
The emphasis on road network was informed by the realization that roads remain the backbone of the transportation architecture. The administration of Governor Godswill Akpabio knew quite rightly that for Akwa Ibom State, which was essentially a pedestrian community then, to be able to compete with other more developed regions in Nigeria, then nothing short of road infrastructure revolution would do; to engender rapid industrialization, woo investors into the state, with the enormous presence of oil and gas.
Within a few years of the Akpabio administration, Akwa Ibom State had been transformed from a pedestrian society into a cosmopolitan State, courtesy of the massive modern road infrastructure and the concomitant urbanization of most of the countryside.
The then State Governor, His Excellency, Godswill Obot Akpabio, subsequently earned the sobriquet “Uncommon Transformer”. Akwa Ibom State suddenly became a tourist attraction and thus paved the way for unprecedented direct foreign investments.
By the time the Akpabio administration wound up in 2015, it was clear that the state’s development trajectory was on the upward swing, paving the way for the successor government to leverage on the already available infrastructure to take the state to the present unassailable height vis a vis socio-economic advancement amongst the comity of States in Nigeria.
Akwa Ibom State has unarguably become a reference point in every development index, with road infrastructure as the framework.
It is no longer surprising that anyone who last visited Akwa Ibom State about ten or seven years earlier from any part of Nigeria, would today seek or require the assistance of a tour guide to find his way to and around Uyo or Ikot Ekpene, and other towns, except Oron!
The only area or region where the massive road infrastructure development is denied is Oro Nation. The only road that was designed for the whole of Oro Nation by the Akpabio government (Etebi-Enwang road) was abandoned at about 35 percent completion, yet it was among the very first road projects that contracts were signed in 2007 during the first tenure of that administration.
There is no other area where the age -long marginalization of the Oro Ethnic Nationality by successive administration in Akwa Ibom State, remains more glaring than in the area of road infrastructure. If this important item is understood to be the strongest catalyst to the rapid socio-economic development of a community or region, then one can feel the pains of Oro by the satanic exclusion of the people in the scheme of things by past administrations in the State, especially the Godswill Akpabio’s years.
Akwa Ibom State, is today the biggest earner of federally allocated revenue by reason of her being the highest producer of oil and gas in Nigeria; yet the area that bears more than 70 percent of the black gold is systematically schemed out from accruable dividends.
However, it is better said, better late than never. We thank God Almighty for the coming of “a Daniel to judgement” in the person of His Excellency, Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, who saw the need to be a governor for all Akwa Ibom people through his sincere intervention, at least, in this singular game-changer of a project in Oron land. The Etebi-Enwang Road, with the flagship project (Ukonteghe – Afi-Uda Bridge) is today a reality.
Considering the strategic location of Mbo in the Nation’s security calculus, the gate-way to the Gulf of Guinea from the South Eastern tip, the completion of this road and bridge project and its eventual commissioning can be seen as the best thing that has ever happened in this part of Nigeria. The larger economy of the state and Nigeria in general will sincerely witness a great gain.
Thank you, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State.
To be continued.
Edet Honesty Effiong (Former President, Uda Community, Lagos) writes from – Ikeja, Lagos.