By Abasifreke Effiong
The immediate past Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Akan Okon, said he still keeps a warm relationship with the governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, despite the governor’s endorsement of someone else as his preferred successor.
Mr. Okon, who is also contesting for the governorship of Akwa Ibom state, said the Governor has been his friend for more than 40 years, he said he will not sacrifice his relationship with the Governor because of politics.
“Governor Udom Emmanuel is my friend. This is my 40th year of friendship with the Governor. Nothing will stand in the way of our relationship. Akwa Ibom people will continue to see us together.”
Mr. Okon resigned his appointment as Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport on Monday 14th March, to contest for the governorship of the State.
At a post-resignation press conference on Sunday, Mr. Okon said having been part of the Udom Emmanuel administration, he better understands the policy direction of the government and will ensure that there is no dislocation in completion of all ongoing projects.
“His Excellency Governor Udom Emmanuel has done well. He has embarked on several projects that are legacy projects. And some of these projects cannot be completed in the lifespan of this administration.
“There’s need for someone who has an understanding of the system, and who will be able to continue with these projects so as to ensure that they are completed to serve the purpose it was intended for the Akwa Ibom people.
“Governor Emmanuel’s development of the state is based on three gateways, that’s the land, the sea and the air. And fortunately, I am the one who handled all the projects in these three areas.
“At 34, Akwa Ibom State cannot afford to be an experimental field where people come to learn leadership in public service.
“We need someone who has been around, and who understands the various sectors of the economy and the challenges that are facing our people so that from day one; he will hit the ground running in embarking on those programmes and policies that will lead to an improvement to the standard of living of our people.
“Therefore, I am better equipped to be able to continue with what His Excellency has done so that Akwa Ibom State can be what we all want it to be”, he said.
The governorship aspirant said the state has a lot of intelligent and very enterprising young men and women who are looking for opportunities to serve their fatherland, adding that he has what it takes to create such an environment.
“For our young men and women who have business ideas, we will get in place business incubation centres that will focus on training of these young people in respect of their ideas and we will develop and support them in all ramifications.
“As the economic development commissioner, I obtained approval for a 30–year development plan for our state because we cannot continue to base our development on annual budget.
“What is obtainable in other climes is that they have long term plans and with this long term plan, they use a medium term expenditure framework to implement it.
“With that in focus, there is a direction. And successive administrations, when they pursue all these policies, I can assure you that within a very short period of time, we will be a state that every other person will look up to and emulate what we are doing”, he said.
Mr Akan Okon joined the Akwa Ibom State Government in 2013 and first served as commissioner in the ministry of economic development for six months. He was later moved to the ministry of finance where he served till the end of the administration of former Governor Godswill Akpabio in 2015.
He was reappointed commissioner for finance after Governor Emmanuel took over the mantle of leadership in May, 2015, a position that saw him attaining the record of being the only person in the state to have served two governors as finance commissioner.
Mr Okon also served as commissioner in the ministry of housing, urban renewal, and special duties; as well as that of special duties and aviation development, all of which he was noted for some key deliverables including the 21 storey smart building, Governor’s Lodge in Lagos, Ibom Air, and the federal government’s approval for the development of Ibom deep seaport, among others.