Governor Udom Emmanuel has taken steps to ensure the strategic economic growth of the state even beyond his tenure in government via a long term economic development plan.
The plan, which will be the first of its kind, will guide the short, medium and long term planning of economy of the oil-rich state.
According to the Honourable Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deepseaport, Mr Akan Okon, whose ministry has been mandated to produce the document, “Akwa Ibom state has reached a level where it is expedient to consider a long term plan.
Okon, who spoke with select media executive in Uyo recently, stated that “there is no country or society that succeeds if there is no plan. A long term development plan for the state will entail agreeing on where the state wants to be, for example, in the next 30 years, taking into consideration the various activities in various sectors”.
He pointed out that the completion agenda of His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel, will serve as the foundation of the plan, adding “if you have a plan, you can have development in a very seamless and structured manner and the society stands to gain from it.
“It is important to know where you are going to and what you need to take you to where you want to be. So, as a state, since its creation we’ve not had a long term plan, what we’ve been working on has always been annual budgets and the rest of them. We believe that it is time for Akwa Ibom state to begin to plan ahead.
Okon further revealed that the entire economy will be looked into with special focus on key economic areas.
“We are looking at the whole gamut of our economy. If you look at, for example, industrialization, it will entail you coming up with policies that will ensure the optimum utilization of the scarce resources that we have and the end in mind would be to generate employment, increase the quality and quantity of roads that is available in our environment. At the end of the day, employment opportunities are created for our people.
“If you take the issue of infrastructure development, you consider the provision of an efficient and effective infrastructure system for ease of movement and for ease of doing business. These are the things you need to find out in details what and what the state will need in the coming years. As I said, if you have a 30-year development plan, you must have a 5-year review of the plan, so you can formulate new interventions.
“Then you take, for example, social development and security, it involves planning for the social wellbeing of the people, housing, provision of potable water, promotion of gender equality, empowerment of women, improved access to credit and a peaceful environment.
“I can tell you that by the time it is drilled out the various sectors including the agricultural sector, transport sector, educational sector and all the sectors of the state economy will be looked at in details as per where we want to be at a particular point in time and then the things we need to do to take us to that destination. We also have human capacity development, poverty eradication, and sustainable environment as some of the pillars.”
The commissioner however disclosed that for the plan will needs to be backed by legislation to ensure successive administrations adopt and operate it. “There will be a need for legislation.
There will be a need for the legislation because most societies that have developed had leaders whose tenure exceeded 10 years and above. For example, if you consider the former leader of Singapore, Li Kyuan Yu, he was able to build their economy because he was there for some time.
With our constitutional limitation, we’ll need legislation to ensure the plan is adhered to. However, it is my belief that any government that is responsible, when it comes in to see that we need the development of the state, that we need to improve the standard of living of the people will follow the plan. That is when we will know that you are not coming for the perks of the office but for service.
“When you are coming for service, you will ensure that you leave the place better than you met it. I believe there is a need for legislation to ensure that successive administrations adopt the plan because at the end of the day it is for the good of society”.