Profile of Senator Godswill Akpabio
GODSWILL OBOT AKPABIO: AN EXAMPLARY LIFE OF SERVICE
His Excellency Senator (Dr.) Godswill Akpabio, CON is the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
In 2015, he made history by becoming the Minority Leader of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria even though he was just elected into the Nigerian Senate for his first term. Through his leadership, he provided some stability to Nigeria’s nascent democracy.
However, in the overall national interest, Senator Akpabio on August 8, 2018 resigned his position as Senate Minority Leader following an imminent movement from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC.) With this singular act, he has been hailed as a nationalist as the party, through his leadership gained a strong foothold in Akwa Ibom State and the entire South-South, Nigeria.
From early childhood, providence honed the leadership acumen of Akpabio, with an innate passion for helping people expand, their imagination and maximize their potentials. This passion did not only deepen in him a strong sense of justice and a great passion for excellence, it led him to positions of leadership in the different stages of his life. Like a diligent coach, destiny prepared him painstakingly for impact and influence.
Driven by the same passion and popular acceptance, he became the Governor of Akwa Ibom State in May 2007, and commenced a revolution in the state, which excited the imagination of the people, and had been aptly described as “uncommon transformation.” He has been widely honored and celebrated within and outside the state because of his great investments in human and infrastructural development. He has emerged as one of the most honored men in our country today, and a treasure in Akwa Ibom State. His visionary leadership style has motivated and shaped an entire generation of Akwa Ibom people and it has become a metaphor for excellence.
The son of Chief Obot Akpabio and Madam Lucy Obot Akpabio (nee Inyangetor) of Ukana Ikot Ntuen in Essien Udim Local Government Area, Chief Godswill Akpabio was born on December 9, 1962. He lost his father early in life and was raised by his mother, who inculcated in him the values of hard work, discipline and honesty. He was educated at Methodist Primary School, Ukana, Essien Udim LGA, Akwa Ibom State; the prestigious Federal Government College, Port Harcourt, Rivers State; and the University of Calabar, Cross River State, where he obtained a Degree in Law. He was called to the Nigerian bar in 1988.
A Mirror on a Life of Service
At Federal Government College, his leadership style shone like a star and he was appointed the General Senior Prefect. In the University of Calabar, his charisma endeared him to the students and he was elected the Speaker of the Students’ Parliament.
He had a brief stint as a teacher and as an associate partner with Paul Usoro and Co., a leading law firm in the Country. In 2002, Chief Akpabio rose to the position of the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of EMIS Telecoms Limited, a pioneer fixed wireless telecommunications company in Lagos. In this position, he helped in shaping the future of the burgeoning telecoms industry. He had earlier served as the National Publicity Secretary of the Association of Telecommunication Companies in Nigeria, (ATCOM) while a director of EMIS.
The Call to Service
In 2002, he was appointed the Honourable Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources. Between 2002 and 2006, he served as a Commissioner in three key ministries (Petroleum and Natural Resources, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Lands and Housing) because of the indelible imprints of competence and efficiency associated with his stewardship.
His admirable attributes, charisma and virtues led to a mass, statewide agitation for him to seek higher office. His Governorship bid in 2007 was anchored on the unselfish premise, “let God’s will be done.” With this mass support, he defeated 57 aspirants in the hotly-contested primary election to emerge the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in 2006. On April 24, 2007 he was elected Governor. And in 2011 he was re-elected Governor, after running a campaign anchored on the same slogan “Let God’s will be done again.” In 2015, he was elected a Senator and subsequently, the Minority Leader of the 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Milestones of Governance
Indeed, through his leadership while serving as Governor, God’s will was done in all facets of life in Akwa Ibom State. God’s will had been done in the free and compulsory education programme initiated by the Akpabio administration from primary to senior secondary school. This had curbed the house help syndrome, which the State was hitherto known for. It had also helped in combating kidnapping and vices by providing proper direction for children in the state. This programme codified into law had tripled school enrolment in the state; and over 4,560 classroom blocks had been built or rehabilitated in 1,183 schools to support the programme.
The development agenda of the Akpabio administration had turned the State into an indelible testimony of uncommon transformation. Some highlights of the unquantifiable giant strides of the Akpabio administration as Governor included the following:
- Free and compulsory education; as mentioned and explained earlier. Completion of Ibom International Airport, which he met at site-clearing level and had since completed the first phase of the airport with 3.6 km runway. The airport comes with Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility which is under construction. Domestic and international flight operations had since commenced at the airport. So far the airport has become the fastest growing in the history of aviation in Nigeria.
- When he assumed office as Governor, he declared that death never makes a distinction between Federal roads and State roads and therefore he was going to repair all roads to stop Nigerians from unnecessary deaths on them. Many of these roads are dual carriageways with streetlights. Over 300 new roads, totaling over 1,000 km (including about 200 km of Federal roads) have been constructed. Also constructed are four concentric flyovers in Uyo.
- Construction of a brand new state-of-the-arts Governor’s Lodge.
- Construction of West Africa’s first digital library – the Ibom E-Library. A state-of-the-arts facility with capacity for multifarious internet utilization and over 60 million e-books
- Initiation and implementation of free healthcare programme for children (five years and under), expectant mothers and the elderly.
- The initiation and completion of the 3.7 km underground drainage project using pipe-jacking drainage technology in flood prone areas in Uyo, Itu and Abak. The first of its kind in Africa.
- Construction of five new general hospitals and a specialist hospital of international standard, which the Honourable Minister of Health recently said with the Hospital, no federal civil servant would be allowed to travel abroad to seek Medicare because the equipment at the Ibom Specialist Hospital were world class.
- Completion of Ibom Power Plant project. Started by the preceding administration, it was at 65 percent level of completion when Governor Akpabio assumed office. It currently generates 191 megawatts of electricity.
- Construction of a gas processing plant, Ibom Gas Plant, with 69 km of pipeline to supply gas to the Ibom Power Plant.
- Comprehensive rural electrification scheme, which has linked an additional 1,700 communities to the national grid, by embarking on 800 electricity projects. His administration had achieved over 85 percent electricity coverage, from the 35 percent level he met at assumption of office in 2007.
- The rural electrification projects and school buildings are done under the Inter-ministerial Direct Labour model. In addition to its success in these areas the Inter-ministerial Direct Labour Agency had provided 300 water projects for 958 communities. The model had been a major source of empowerment for the people, who these jobs are given to and this had accelerated human capital development. All in all over 9,000 projects had been completed through this scheme.
- Construction of a world-class business and entertainment resort – the Tropicana Entertainment Centre. This one-stop entertainment facility comes with a five-star, 250-room hotel housed in 16-storey edifice; an ultra-modern shopping mall; an international Convention Centre with a seating capacity for 5,000 people; games parks (wet and dry); a cineplex (already completed and open to the public); a monorail and a lot more.
- In the area of agriculture he released over N2 billion to 8,000 women under the Women Agro Entrepreneurship Development Programme (WAEDEP) at the rate of N250,000 each. His successes in this and in the training and empowerment of thousands of youths under the Integrated Farmers Scheme, in which young school leavers were given money to start farming after a three month period of training earned him the Central Bank of Nigeria Award as the Best Governor Infrastructure (2012).
- Improved security with the provision of patrol vehicles, armoured personal carriers and gunboats to boost security operations in the state. He had launched two security outfits namely, “Operation Thunder” and Quick “Response Squad.” These had checked the activities of kidnappers and led to a drastic decrease in crime in the state.
- Improved worker’s welfare packages with the payment of a thirteenth month bonus salary every December, fondly called “Akpabiomber” by workers in the state. It is worthy to add here that he was the first Governor in the country to accept to pay workers the N18,000 minimum wage. The least paid worker in the state took home over N21,000 monthly. For all he had done for labour, the labour nation-wide had proclaimed him the most labour-friendly Governor in the country.
- He opened up the country more to international trade with the development of the Ibaka Deep Sea Port. The Ibaka Deap Sea Port, has one of the deepest ocean depths in the country. It is designed to be one of the components of Ibom Industrial City, a business resort which will house refineries, petrochemical plant, dockyard, housing estates and oil and gas support services. The Federal Government bought into this mammoth project at partnership level and the required licenses had been issued for its take-off.
- The administration of this dynamic leader also constructed 10,000 housing units spread over the three Senatorial Districts.
- The Le’ Meridien Hotel, which was uncompleted at the time he took office and had just about fifteen rooms had been completed and over 150 rooms added to it. It has become one of the choice conference centres in Nigeria and has the best golf course in Africa, according to the World’s leading golf magazine, “Golf Weekly.”
- He also started a micro-credit scheme in which money was given to the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Muslim Community to use as vehicles for the disbursement of loans to their members to start small scale businesses and expand their existing ventures. This had been hailed by the Christian and Muslim leaders in the state.
- The urban transformation of the Akpabio administration in Akwa Ibom State must rank as one of the most massive in history. Uyo, the capital, boasts of four concentric flyovers, at its entrance with fountains and gardens, at the entrance into the city. Urban roads had been done in all the major cities in the state and Uyo, the capital wore a new look as fountains have become a regular feature of many of its junctions.
These giant strides have received honors and accolades from far and near. Some of these honors are listed here:
- The Congressional Certificate of Recognition of the United States Congress (2011). The award indicates that the US Congress has taken note of the achievements of the recipient and is appreciative of his efforts.
- Africa Lifetime Achievement Prize awarded by Millennium Excellence Foundation in Kenya.
- The Gold Humanitarian Services Award of the Republic of Niger`2008 conferred on him by Niger’s Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Alhaji Moussa Ibrahim.
- Exam Ethic Marshall 2009: Exam Ethic International, Ghana.
- Best Governor, Infrastructure Development 2009: BEN TV, London.
- Honorary Citizen of of the City of Georgia in United States
- Commander of the Order of the Niger.
- Best Governor Infrastructure and Empowerment Award of the Central Bank of Nigeria (2012).
- Most Prolific Governor by the National Councillors’ Forum.
- Doctor of Management Science, Honoris Causa, Nigeria Defence Academy (2011);
- Doctor of Business Administration, Honoris Causa, Abia State University, Uturu, Abia State (2013);
- Doctor of Law, Honoris Causa, University of Nigeria, Nsukka(2010);
- Doctor of Law, Honoris Causa, University of Calabar, Calabar (2009);
- Doctor of Law, Honoris Causa, University of Uyo, Uyo(2009).
- Doctor of Public Administration (Honoris Causa), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (2009);
- Doctor of Managment Science (Honoris Causa) Federal University of Technology, Owerri (2011);
- Doctor of Human Resource Management (Honoris Causa) Wesley `University of Science and Technology, Ondo;
- Honorary Fellow of Nigeria Society of Engineers (2010)(Only fourteen non-engineers have so far been so honoured in Nigeria);
- Fellow, Kazaure Polytechnic, Kazaure (2008);
- Fellow of the Yaba College of Technology, Yaba (2011);
- Fellow of the College of Education, Bichi, and a host of others;
- Most Education Friendly Governor in Nigeria (2008) by the National Parents Teachers Association;
- Best Booster Governor Award for Promoting Science, Technology and Mathematics by the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria;
- Goodwill Ambassador of the Nigerian Medical Association.
- Man of the Year 2011, Sun Newspapers.
- Best Governor in Nigeria and Outstanding Human Brand 2010: Billboard World.
- Man of the Year 2010: National Daily Newspaper.
- Governor of the Year 2010: Nigerian Tribune.
- Award of Excellence for Outstanding Performance 2010: Nigeria Union of Journalists.
- Nigeria’s Emerging Tiger 2009: Thisday Newspapers.
- Man of the Year 2009: Daily Independent Newspapers.
- Man of the Year 2009: National Daily Newspaper.
- 2008 Most Outstanding Governor in Nigeria (South South): National Daily Newspaper.
- Governor of the Year (South South): City People Magazine.
- Best Governor Infrastructure 2009: Encomium Magazine.
- Best Governor (South South): Encomium Magazine.
- Excellency Award as Best Governor South South 2009: Global Excellence Magazine.
- Authority Newspaper – Outstanding Senator of 2016.
Nehemiah Award of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). He is the recipient of over 30 chieftaincy titles. These include the Uko Akwa Ibom (awarded to him by the Akwa Ibom State Council of Chiefs), Utuenikang Ibibio, Iberedem Ibibio, Nta Nta Offiong Annang, Atta of Eket and the Nta Nta Oro, to mention just a few.
A Christian of the Catholic Faith, he is happily married to the beautiful and amiable Mrs Ekaette Unoma Godswill Akpabio and the marriage is blessed with four beautiful daughters and a son. He and his wife share a great passion for the underprivileged and for service to the community.
His Excellency, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio’s sojourn through life appears to have been pre-ordained and conditioned for leadership and impact. His life is like an emerging radiance and we have only caught a glimpse of his potential.