Iniobong Ekponta, Uyo
After three weeks wait, the anxiety of the Akwa Ibom people over the clear picture of Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel’s cabinet has finally been put to rest with the inauguration of the 22-member State Executive Council (SEC) on Monday, July 6, 2015. A slight departure of the former Governor Godswill Akpabio’s cabinet of 25 members comprising 21 Commissioners and four Special Advisers, the new cabinet has 20 Commissioners and two Special Advisers, perhaps to cut wastages and reduce the cost of governance. Under the new arrangement, the Bureau of Technical matters as well as Agriculture and Food Sufficiency hitherto headed by Special Advisers have been scraped and subsumed into related Ministries.
The new cabinet members, a blend of the old forces of the immediate past administration and a couple of new blood to oil the system, have been given the target to work in tandem with both State and non State actors towards effective implementation of the policies and programmes of government Inaugurating the cabinet at the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Uyo, the State capital, the Governor admonished them to shun sentiments and bring their ingenuity to bear in the running of government with a view to spreading the dividends of democracy to the people. For instance, the State has been under the crippling effects of unemployment, with large percentage of the about 4 million population living below poverty line.
Therefore, the new cabinet has the big task of working with the Governor to change the hitherto civil service status of the 27-year-old State to an industrialized economy. Towards this end, the Governor has been tinkering with the socio-economic turn around of the monolithic economy driven by oil wealth to create jobs and wealth through the private sector initiatives. Aside acceleration of Small Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSEs) and promotion of entrepreneurial drive to stimulate the economy, the Governor has taken a leap further to engineer mega economic hub for the State using the Ibom Industrial City project as the departure point. Also, Agriculture would become a major development scheme in the current government, as Emmanuel has since inaugurated technical steering Committees to ensure the implementation of the agricultural policies of government and the Deep Seaport project at Ibaka in Mbo Local Government Area.
The government has plans to revamp some collapsing industries including the Peacock Paint at Etinan Local Government Area, and it gathered government would soon commission some investors to take inventory of the problem areas that crippled the plant with a view to resuscitating it for employment generation. Therefore, the new Executive members, according to the Governor, were named into the cabinet on merit so as to help in directing the ship of Akwa Ibom State to its preferred destination.
The Commissioners who took their oath of office were Barrister Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko, Justice; Mr. Akan Okon, Finance; Dr. Matthew Nathan Ekaette, Agriculture; Mr. Ephraim Akparawa Inyang, Works; Prince Godwin Ntukude, Transport; Rt. Hon. (Elder) Aniekan Simon Akpan, Education; Dr. Dominic Ukpong, Health; Rt. Hon. Uwem Ita Etuk, Lands; Mr. Enobong Emmanuel Uwah, Housing and Urban Renewal; Dr. Iniobong Ene Essien, Environment; Mr. Aniekan John Umanah, Information; Rt. Hon. Victor Etim Antai, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Barrister Emmanuel Moses Enoidem, Commerce and Industry; Rt. Hon. (Barrister) Ekong Sampson, Rural Development; Dr. Emmanuel Ating Onwioduokit, Economic Development; Dr. (Mrs.) Elizabeth Donald Obot, Science and Technology; Otuekong Emmanuel Udo Ibiok, Culture and Tourism; Dr. Glory Emmanuel Edet, Women Affairs; Sir Monday Ebong Uko, Sports and Engr. Etido Inyang, Special Duties. The Special Advisers who also took their oath of office were Mr. Enyinna Ekpenyong, Special Adviser on Labour and Productivity and Rt. Hon. Anietie Sunday Etuk, Special Adviser on Political and Legislative Affairs.
Appointments of Dr. Elijah Akpan as the Chairman of Akwa Ibom Corporation (AKICORP); Dr. (Mrs.) Marjorie George Abasiodiong (JP) as the Senior Special Assistant, Skills Development Center Projects and the immediate past Chief Press Secretary, Pastor Anietie Ukpe as the Director General of the State owned Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC) radio and television, were also approved by the Governor.