We’re Justifying Our Mandate By Delivering Basic Dev In Ibiono Ibom – Rt. Hon. EkomAbasi Akpan

We’ve Keyed Into Governor Emmanuel’s Food Sufficiency, Development Agenda – EkomAbasi Akpan



Rt. Hon. EkomAbasi Sunday Akpan is the executive chairman of Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. He was a successful business man until the desire for service to his people led him into politics in 2007. Akpan served two terms as councillor in Ward 7 of his council area before his people, through the instrumentality of God, voted him to the exalted position of chairman of the council. The rest is history as he is gradually turning around the fortunes of Ibiono Ibom people and the big council area. Akpan, in this interview with Crystal Express, speaks on his efforts to deliver on his mandate, the unique relationship between Governor Emmanuel and ALGON, among other salient issues.

Can we meet you?

I am Rt. Hon. EkomAbasi Sunday Akpan, a native of Afia Mbiambong, one of the remote villages in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area. I attended Community Secondary School, Ono in Ibiono Ibom, after which I proceeded to University of Uyo where I studied political science education and proceeded to the Open University for a post-graduate diploma. I started out as a trader in Uyo Main Market then travelling to Lagos, Aba and Onitsha for my goods until the zeal for public service came and I aspired for the councillorship position in my Ward 7 in Ibiono Ibom and by God’s grace I won other 18 cleared candidates for the position. That was from 2008-2011. In 2012 I recontested for councillorship position and won to serve till 2015. In 2017, I came for the chairmanship position. I did my campaigns like other aspirants, did my best, made promises to the people and handed everything to God who made it possible. I won the election after a very strenuous campaign across the entire Ibiono Ibom. I defeated other 19 cleared candidates. Incidentally, I was the least in everything when compared to other candidates in terms of connections, finances, academic qualifications even though I was a graduate and also age-wise. I was the least but God has His own way different from that of men and gave me victory at the polls and I became the executive chairman of Ibiono Ibom today.

You said you made promises to the people while looking for votes. How far have you delivered on the promises you made?

I made some promises and as someone who believes in God, I vowed that if He saw me through, my people will enjoy the dividends of democracy. One of the promises I made was to ensure proper grading of local roads to make them motorable. Ibiono Ibom is very large with 225 gazetted villages. You know that councils don’t have capacity to asphalt road due to their purse but I made sure that the roads are graded. There is more security now at the local government secretariat with the construction of a perimeter fence and gatehouse, and equally, erosion menace control in the council premises. We have nothing to worry about again during the rainy season.

I have totally overhauled the secretariat and upgraded the collapsed lighting systems, toilet facilities, refurbished the borehole and got a new 50KVA generating set for the council. Ibiono Ibom has poor internally generated revenue and the only big market we have is Ikpa Market. We need a daily market to generate more revenue, and to put a market in proper shape for revenue generation, you have to put up some facilities there. So we have fenced round Ikpa Market and constructed about 70 lock-up stores and 37 open shades with seven gates which work is still in progress. Work is also ongoing at Aqua Market with construction of open shades. We were charged by our beloved governor, a man who loves farming, to go into farming. We cultivated rice in Ibiono Ibom and by God’s grace, we cultivated over 2,500 hectares of land in Ikot Essien and Ikot Esidem villages in Ibiono Ibom. If you go there now, people are in the farm working and just last month we showcased our rice produce at the secretariat and commissioned it for sale to the public and people bought them.

One unique thing is that our rice is of very high quality and much better than the ones we purchase from other parts of our country. So we have keyed into the food sufficiency drive of our Governor Udom Emmanuel. In the education sector, my administration has been doing online training for JAMB students yearly for two years now, and the one for this year just ended last Friday. It was designed to prepare the students for JAMB examinations and at the end of the exercise; we do purchase forms for those who could not afford them. We also expose our children through that training to computer usage and about 11 beneficiaries of last year’s training got admission into institutions of higher learning. Therefore, we are happy that we are making impact on the educational lives of our children.

How are you relating with the councillors and have you enjoyed their support?

You cannot work in isolation. As an executive member, you must be on the same pace with the legislature to make progress, peace and attract development. A tree cannot form a forest. Don’t forget that I was once a councillor and I understood the operations of the legislature. So I do everything possible to ensure co-operation, harmony and unity between the executive and the legislature. To also encourage the performance of the legislature to function better, we have provided a very good vehicle for the leader of the legislature. We also bought same vehicle for the vice chairman and equally for the secretary of the council. Therefore, there is harmony in the council. Without the approval of the legislature, I wouldn’t have embarked on the development projects I listed above. I needed their nods to implement what we have in our budget. There is harmony and co-operation between the executive and the legislative in my council.

Ibiono Ibom has many top politicians. How are you co-operating with the political class to ensure smooth running of the area?

You cannot even become the chairman of the council without the support of the political elders. They are the ones who vote and encourage others to vote you into office. So you must include them where necessary and seek their advice and opinion in some important issues affecting the area. We are also getting counseling from them. Thus we sometimes schedule meetings with the political elders and stakeholders in which opinions and advice are shared and Ibiono Ibom Council Area is better off for that. There is strong bond, love, unity and harmony between my administration and political leaders and Elders in Ibiono Ibom.

How is ALGON which you are a member relating to Governor Udom Emmanuel? Are your people satisfied with the way the governor handles the affairs that relate to local government areas?

Yes, we are very satisfied with his style of governance and relationship with ALGON as a body. Governor Emmanuel is not just a good man but a God-fearing man. He works with godly principles and believes so much in God factor. ALGON has also keyed into his principles of governance and enjoys father and children relationship with him. There is harmony between the governor and ALGON. He loves us, speaks well of us and treats us with respect like a father.

Four years plus after his assumption of office, which area of Governor Emmanuel’s strides elicits joy in your heart?

I am very much satisfied with the industrialization drive of the governor. So far, we have about 18 industries and still counting. We have the syringe, plywood, metering, flour mill, paints and so many other functioning industries now in Akwa Ibom State. The governor is still relentlessly working for more industries to come to the state. In terms of road construction, we have had network of good roads with dual carriage ways and bridges and even new flyovers. It is amazing and unique we have all this in 4 years plus. In the area of security, the state is peaceful, calm and serene. Even public officers no longer move around with security men. The state is well secure as the era of molestation, kidnapping and violent crimes are gone, people are now free to go to anywhere at any time unhindered. Akwa Ibom people are enjoying the best of their lives and times courtesy of the good leadership of the governor. We are satisfied with his style of governance. He is a good man.

How has your administration touched the lives of women in your council area?

The women of Ibiono Ibom are very active and politically conscious. They appreciate our modest efforts to develop the council area. We are also supportive of those who are into farming. Last planting season, I donated over 100 bundles of high yielding cassava stems to the farmers to help them improve their produce. I have encouraged farmers with grants to ensure that they concentrate and ensure sufficient food production for the people. Our women are also deeply involved in politics and we cannot do without them. While we enjoy their support and prayers, it is also my resolve to continue to do more for them.

Notwithstanding dire times, are there projects you have in mind to do for the people of Ibiono Ibom if you have adequate funds?

I earlier talked about two markets undergoing reconstruction. There are still others like Ikot Mbang Market at Ikot Mbang. It is my intention to change the face of that market if I have funds. There is another market at Idoro which I hope to change its face given the availability of funds. Markets are primarily our source of revenue. Apart from markets, we have many infrastructural challenges in my area which we need funds to fix. Sadly some villages in Ibiono Ibom are still in darkness and we need to electrify them. It is one of the promises I made while campaigning for this office and by God’s special grace, I hope to fulfil them before I finish my first term in office. We pray for funds to tackle the many problems in the council area, especially the promises we made to the people during the electioneering.

Earlier, you spoke about your relationship with stakeholders. You have a senator and House of Assembly member in your domain. How do you collaborate with them to attract projects to the area?

Yes, we have distinguished Senator Bassey Albert (Enin Ibiono Ibom) who is my boss, leader, role model and mentor. We are working together. I mentioned Urua Afua where the senator has constructed about 40 open shades, awaiting commissioning. It has been achieved because of the synergy between us. In the local government council, the abandoned hall there was completely overhauled by the senator. The senator has supported my administration and also encouraged me so much to deliver on my promises to the people. Obong Godwin Ekpo, my predecessor, is also working with me, he made some promises to the people of Ibiono Ibom and I believe strongly that he will deliver them within the shortest time possible.

Going by the markets you have listed so far, how is your internally generated revenue (IGR)?

IGR in Ibiono Ibom is not buoyant at all as expected by the people. In the whole of Ibiono Ibom, we generate only about N300,000 as internally generated revenue monthly, which is very minimal. That is why we are working very hard to improve facilities in these markets to make them function optimally since they are our primary source of revenue. There are no banks, companies or higher institutions in Ibiono Ibom. We only have few fuel stations, and those small markets which we must encourage to grow to tap resources from them. So in a nutshell, we are not encouraged so far. What we have as internally generated revenue is far from our target.

RELATED: Ibiono Ibom is Working – Chairman


During the unveiling of Ibiono Ibom rice, you said 100 bags were available for sale. What is your future target in the area of rice production?

We are driving at producing at least about 5000 bags of rice at a time. The 100 bags we unveiled were not the only ones produced. We still have more and if you wish to buy, simply drive down to Ikot Essien in Ibiono Ibom where the factory is located. Some people are still in doubt if Ibiono Ibom is actually producing rice but the truth remains that the rice was cultivated, harvested, processed and packaged in Ibiono Ibom. We are working harder to make sure that we greatly contribute towards food sufficiency in Akwa Ibom State. We need government’s support through loan or grants. Rice farming is different from other farming and needs enough funds. We are sincerely appealing to the state government to extend loans to the rice farmers in Ibiono Ibom. People of Use Ikot Amama are also into rice cultivation in commercial quantity but cannot do so again owing to lack of funds. Soft loans to the farmers will help boost agriculture in our area. The council will also support them. We are not asking for the funds to be given direct to the council but to the real farmers in Ibiono Ibom.

How peaceful is Ibiono Ibom in terms of absence of communal clashes usually associated with border local government areas?

You know there is no community without skirmishes or little crises. Human relationship is also plagued with conflicts from time to time. So we have issues sometimes with our neighbours from Arochukwu in Abia State and Ikpanya Clan in Ibiono Ibom for which I also ensure adequate security for our people. Last year the police in Arochukwu invited us and my vice led others to a peace meeting there. And this year, Ibiono Ibom Police Division invited them and they came for peace talk in Ibiono Ibom. We have made efforts to ensure there is peace and harmony between the people of Arochukwu and Ikpanya community in Ibiono Ibom. Again, the people of Ikot Esifa in Ibiono Ibom are having problems with their neighbours in Ini Local Government Area in which I have resolved it with the cooperation of the chairman of Ini Local Government who is a very peace-loving fellow and the area is now calm and peaceful. However, Ibiono Ibom as a whole is very peaceful. Morever, our villages have their vigilante groups who operate from 10pm every night to check and nip any crime in the bud. Since they are mainly home youths, the intrusion of any strange fellow is easily detected. I can tell you that for some months now, my Divisional Police Officer (DPO) has not called me at night to inform me of any arrests except minor family or friends altercations in the local government area. Generally Ibiono Ibom is very peaceful.

How is your relationship with the traditional rulers in your area?

The traditional institution is doing very well. I have a very cordial relationship with the paramount ruler and other chiefs. I normally have regular meetings with them. You cannot have peace in the villages without working with the village heads. We work in synergy and very closely. We also share ideas and methods to overcome challenges during our meetings. They have been very helpful in ensuring peace and security in Ibiono Ibom.

You have served for two years plus as chairman. With another election coming by December, do you intend to go for a second term?

As I said earlier, I believe in God. Power belongs to God and He gives it to whom He chooses or who pleases Him. God doesn’t negotiate with anybody if He wants to lift somebody. By God’s special grace, I will run for second term because it is my constitutional right to contest.

Are you running as your right or the desire to further develop the council?

Outside my constitutional right to contest, I have my people’s progress and development at heart and I also enjoy their goodwill. I have a comprehensive developmental agenda which I must strive to complete. However, before I kick- start that journey again, I will consult my father and mentor- Governor Emmanuel- for his consent and blessings.

There are speculations that the governor has a pact with council chairmen to support his would-be candidate for 2023 if they want a second term. How true is this?

That is sheer rumour. The governor is a very straightforward person, a man with integrity and who wouldn’t soil his reputation. The last meeting we had, I remember him saying when asked that God has not revealed his successor yet to him and had promised to let us know if he has such revelation. We have never signed any such pact with him to get a second term ticket in support of any candidate of his choice. It is a big lie and rumour from the pit of hell.

There are speculations that you are involved in serious dispute with your counciliors over budget. How true is it?

It is not entirely true because it is being championed by three out of 11 councillors who are not ready to work with people or listen to the leaders of Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area. One of them wrote a petition to the State Assembly which I don’t see as a serious issue.

What is the Assembly’s response to the letter?

The House of Assembly is filled with intelligent young men. They invited us, asked me questions which I answered and handed over a comprehensive report of my activities in the local government to them and they were satisfied with it. They promised to come for fact finding which they did a few days ago through the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Public Petitions. I took them round the projects I executed.

If you are asked to score yourself on performance, what will you give yourself?

I will not do so. It is the people who gave me their mandate to serve them that can rate me. Mine is to show gratitude to God and thank them for the opportunity given to me to serve in this capacity. I also pray for God’s guidance to do more for them and ensure the spread of democracy dividends across my entire area. To whom much which is given, much is expected. I will leave the issue of scoring to the Ibiono Ibom people who will rate my performance perhaps after my second term in office.

Why do council chairmen opt to live in Uyo, the state capital, rather than their council headquarters? Do you also live in Uyo?

I could only talk about myself as I don’t know where others reside. I am leaving not far from the council headquarters. My people in Ibiono Ibom trek to my house which is off Idoro Road and just less than 10 minutes drive to the council headquarters. More so, I frequent the council secretariat which is my office. My home is sited where my people access me with even bicycles and motorcycles.

Ibiono Ibom is very large in land mass and population. Will you want to see it divided into more council areas to further give development to the people?

Yes, not just into two local government areas. Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area alone is larger than the entire Oro nation which has five local council areas. We need more than two local government areas out of Ibiono Ibom. The problems in my local government are enormous. If I tell you the challenges I face daily through demands from my people which are their rights because I am holding their mandate. However, while calling me for assistance is not a crime, it is also impossible to assist everybody at the same time with the meagre resources we have. So a good Ibiono Ibom man should be praying for more local government areas to be created out of the present one. It is one of the cardinal things we are praying for. We have Ibiono Ibom one and Ibiono Ibom two. Idoro Community in Ibiono Ibom is part of Ward 8 of the council area, the area is bigger than entire Udung Uko Local Government Area. Part of Ono community is in the Ward 8 and that shows how large Ibiono Ibom is. We are praying for more local government areas out of the present one to reduce our burden.


What message do you have for Ibiono Ibom people both in Nigeria and the diaspora?


The message I have for my people is to continue supporting our performing gender-friendly Governor Emmanuel to do more for our state and Ibiono Ibom. He is doing well and also redeeming the promises he made to us. Ikot Adaidem Technical College is now wearing a new face, among others. I call on the people of Ibiono Ibom to be united and love themselves. They should also appreciate our modest efforts in the council in which I have been recognized by several bodies and many awards given to me in that regard.

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