The Government of Akwa Ibom State on Monday insisted that the state was one of the most peaceful places in Nigeria.
The state, reacting to a recent travel alert by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (United Kingdom), which mentioned it as one of the flashpoints of insecurity in the country, insisted that “Akwa Ibom State is peaceful, safe and secure and remains an inviting location for foreign investors, and other Nigerians who daily troop to the State to enjoy our famed cuisines and the hospitality of our people.”
In a statement titled “Re: Recent Publication Of Travel Alert: The Case Of Akwa Ibom State: The Unvarnished Truth” by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, he said: “We believe Akwa Ibom State was erroneously given a mention in the report based on the agitation for equitable distribution of God’s given resources by the youth of our Niger-Delta zone, which fortunately today, through several laudable government intervention programmes, has been significantly reduced. One of the largest American Oil and Gas companies, Exxonmobil operates peacefully in our State. The Niger Delta region today, is exceptionally peaceful which has seen other major International Oil Companies (IOC’s) operating in the region, and achieving their OPEC production quotas.”
He noted that the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, had maintained a zero-tolerance policy on criminal acts or tendencies. According to him, the signing into law of the Anti-Cultism Bill and granting of Amnesty to former cultists in Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo Local Government Areas respectively, by the governor were pointers to his government’s determination to ensure security of lives and property.
Below is the full text of the statement:
RE: RECENT PUBLICATION OF TRAVEL ALERT:
THE CASE OF AKWA IBOM STATE: THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH
We have read the recent publication by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the Government of the United Kingdom on Travel Alert for British Nationals concerning their visit to some part of Nigeria considered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as representing flashpoints of violence and insecurity.
While the release of Travel Alerts by Foreign Embassies or High Commissions is a routine act carried out by Foreign Governments as part of their sacred responsibility of securing the lives of their citizens, and of course, the protection of their overall national interest, we wish to point out a few unassailable facts as it concerns Akwa Ibom State, a peaceful, safe and secure State located in the oil producing geo-political zone of Niger-Delta which the report had fleetingly mentioned.
Even though reading from the detailed report, the mention of Akwa Ibom State was at best tangential, we however, wish to state that Akwa Ibom State remains one of the most peaceful, safe and secure States in Nigeria. This is an incontrovertible and unvarnished fact as attested to, by prominent and critical stakeholders in our nation’s security architecture and top business and traditional rulers.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Jamil Sarham during a courtesy call on the State Governor, His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel in October last year, had commended the peaceful nature of the State and said Akwa Ibom State was the most peaceful and violence-free of all the areas under his command. A similar sentiment was also expressed by Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman, the Commander of the Joint Task Force in the Niger-Delta region. The US Ambassador, W. Stuart Symington had visited Akwa Ibom State on two occasions within the last one and a half years. No Ambassador would visit a State that is considered unsafe.
During the recently concluded Presidential/National Assembly, Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections, in spite of the threat and boasts of the people on the opposite side of the political divide to unleash violence, the elections were adjudged peaceful, credible and free, a fact attested to by both Local and Foreign Observers. The Commissioner of Police in charge of the elections in Akwa Ibom State, Ibrahim Kaoje in his report of the elections to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of the Department of Operations stated that the elections in the State were conducted under the freest, credible and most peaceful atmosphere.
The Emir of Kano, His Highness, Muhammadu Sanusi 11 during a courtesy visit to the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, also commended the peace and security citizens enjoy in the State, which has led the State to attract the second highest in-flow of Foreign Direct Investments coming only behind Lagos State. We have also been receiving droves of investors from all parts of the world into the State for the purposes of investing in our peaceful, safe and secure environment. This would not have been possible if the State is not safe, peaceful and secure.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has maintained a zero-tolerance policy on any form of criminal acts or tendencies. Last year, he signed into law, the ANTI-CULTISM BILL and granted Amnesty to former cultists in Ukanafun and Etim Ekpo Local Government Areas respectively which today has further engendered the peace, security and development the State has enjoyed in the past four years. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first ever Anti-Cultism law in Nigeria.
We believe Akwa Ibom State was erroneously given a mention in the report based on the agitation for equitable distribution of God’s given resources by the youth of our Niger-Delta zone, which fortunately today, through several laudable government intervention programmes, has been significantly reduced. One of the largest American Oil and Gas companies, Exxonmobil operates peacefully in our State. The Niger Delta region today, is exceptionally peaceful which has seen other major International Oil Companies (IOC’s) operating in the region, and achieving their OPEC production quotas.
Finally, we wish to state emphatically and unequivocally that Akwa Ibom State is peaceful, safe and secure and remains an inviting location for foreign investors, and other Nigerians who daily troop to the State to enjoy our famed cuisines and the hospitality of our people.
Given the ease of traveling occasioned by the recent commencement of commercial flight operations by IBOM AIR, the only State owned and operated Airline in Nigeria and indeed, Africa, Akwa Ibom is to use the former American President, the late Ronald Regan’s famous line “a City (State) on the Hill” inviting, beguiling and ready for the world.
“We want to make Akwa Ibom State hot for criminals and as the saying goes, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen” Governor Udom Emmanuel had recently stated at a security event, and indeed, the criminals have heeded the advice, leading the State to enjoy its enviable reputation as one of the safest, secure and peaceful States in the country. This is an incontrovertible truth.
Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem
Secretary to the State Government