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2023: Deconstructing the Next Governor of Akwa Ibom State



By Michael Effiong

We are just five months into the year but the fever of the 2023 elections is already enveloping and gripping every part of our polity. There is no doubt that there are mixed feelings among our citizenry regarding the performance of our federal and state governments, one thing is sure however, like spilt milk, it will be impossible to get our past back but we have the chance to determine the look, feel and shape of our future by our action or inaction in the next couple of months.

Just like in a few other states, 2023 will be a defining moment in Akwa Ibom State because once again, there will be a transfer of power after an 8-year reign of an incumbent. Expect drama, hire wire politicking and more.

As expected, a few gladiators have indicated interest in occupying the Hilltop Mansion but what exactly should Akwa Ibom people be looking for in the man who will occupy such a high office?.

Before I am crucified by gender activists, I have used the word “man” here because as at the time of writing this, no woman has thrown her hat into the ring.

Being one of Nigeria’s oil-rich states, Akwa Ibom State is well positioned for greatness, but a lot of creative thinking and sacrifice is required to take it from where it is presently to where it should be.

The present Udom Emmanuel government has laid a strong foundation in infrastructure and investments, some of which may take years to bear fruits that is reason the people need a steady hand to steer the ship at this time.

It is my considered opinion that the next governor of Akwa Ibom should not be a dyed-in-the-wool politician. The state should not be left in the hands of the ex-this, ex-that class, those whose only claim to fame is holding public office for donkey years with little or nothing to show for it.

This is not the time to compensate anyone, it is not time to think of men who only discuss today, but a time to choose a visionary leader, the kind of leader that loves his people and is passionate about their welfare.

It is time to get the kind of kind of leader that we can trace his trajectory, not one with questionable wealth who throws handouts left, right and centre or one who is just desperate for power just for the sake of bearing the toga “Governor”.

The next governor of the Land of Promise must act as a corporate titan/CEO, someone with the ability to manage men and resources.

He should be someone who has shown the capacity, character and competence to run a successful business. Someone who understands the dynamics of profit and loss, someone who has built an enterprise from zero to its zenith.

Someone with a track record of performance, like it is said, you cannot give what you don’t have or as they say on the streets “if e didn’t dey, e didn’t dey”.

Why is it necessary for the next Governor to be private-sector driven? Everyone knows that the greatest problem in the world today is paucity of funds available to nations and by extension states.

A state governor who only knows how to spend and does not know how to create wealth is not a good fit in today’s world that has been hit by recession.

Apart from funds, anyone who has run a business before, will know what it is to be innovative and would have developed the penchant for adapting to new realities.

Again, anyone who has ran a business will know the pains and needs of SMEs-who are the major drivers of any economy.

What the state needs is the kind of leader highlighted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President & Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, one who is able to crystalize his vision, define its objectives, navigate its development and supervise its implementation.

He should have clearly defined ideas for agriculture, tourism and hospitality, rural development, health care and education. He should have a plan for the elderly and women.

The best man for the job should be one who envisions an Akwa Ibom beyond oil. He should be the man who has been outlining his ideas, and not the one who has been grandstanding on the soap box.

I am not a fan of abandoned projects. It is therefore good that there should be some form of continuity in vision. After all, it is a common saying that government is a continuum.

Nothing exemplifies the truism of continuity than the birth of Ibom Air. Governor Udom Emmanuel did not build the Victor Attah International Airport. What he did was to improve on it and then expand the use of the facility by creating an airline.

Each time I board the airline, I cannot help but commend governor Emmanuel and the team that dreamt and executed this project. Apart from its excellent corporate culture and efficiency, this is one government investment that is a job-creating machine.

The other day, I was having an argument with a friend who said the airline was a misadventure.

I knew immediately that this was sour grapes and I took time to highlight what such an enterprise means for the state.

Apart from creating easy access for investors and tourists, today, it flies to six destinations.

Now check this out. At all its destinations, it will have ticketing officers, people at the check-in counters, ground staff from cargo handlers, cleaners to engineers, it will have a full compliment of crew for shifts, it will serve refreshments which means that producers of bottled water, beverages and bites will have an outlet for their products. Imagine this kind of multiplier effect from just one business. That certainly is no misplaced priority?

Another area that Mr. Emmanuel should receive kudos is his decision to have a data base for all farmers. I am told that at the touch of a button, you can find out specific details and number of maize, poultry, cassava farmers e.t.c in the state.

That is not all, he midwifed the Akwa Ibom Geographical Information System (AkwaGIS), which will enable the state manage her land in an organized and digitalized manner.

We all know that data is king, without the right data, proper planning becomes like groping in the dark. In deed, these two projects show the forward-thinking nature of the present governor and it is therefore necessary for someone who shares this kind of vision to continue in 2023.

Furthermore, His Eminence, Dr. Sunday Mbang, an Akwa Ibom indigene, had once said that the next governor of Akwa Ibom should not be a cultist or someone who is associated with violence, I totally agree with him. He must be a man of proven integrity with impeccable character. Not one who has an EFCC case hanging over his neck or one who has been running in and out of court rooms over past misdeeds.

In addition, the next governor must dare to thread where others dread. He should be the kind of man who is not afraid to have his hands dirty.

He should be dogged, tenacious, courageous and resilient yet humble and amiable. He should be open-minded and be able to to bring the best and the brightest stars together for the common good of the state. I therefore, call on the people of Akwa Ibom to take this points to heart as they head to the primaries and eventually to the polls to choose their next Chief Executive.

Effiong, a journalist writes from Lagos

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Whiz Kid, Abdul-salam, Seeks Assistance to Prosecute M.Sc Studies in Scotland




By Eric Elezuo

Teslim Abdul-salam, a 24-year-old Nigerian, from Oyo State, has sent a save our soul message to well meaning Nigerians to come to his aid in his quest to become a Global Energy Leader and establish a Youth-led Sustainable Energy Company in Africa.

Abdul-salam made this disclosure during an exclusive chat with The Boss. He noted that he intends to extend his high flying academic sojourn with an opportunity to obtain an M.Sc degree in Energy Economics and Finance at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, the admission he had already secured.

On why he thinks he is qualified for assistance from well meaning Nigerians to pursue the Masters honours, Abdul-salam said:

“My name is Teslim Abdul-salam, a 24-year-old Petroleum Engineering graduate from the First Technical University, Ibadan, Nigeria. I graduated with a Second Class Upper and have furthered my education with masterclasses in Leadership for Young Engineers from Guardian of the Nation International (GOTNI), Abuja, and in Business Management from the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

“Additionally, I hold diplomas in French Studies and Entrepreneurship Studies from the First Technical University, Ibadan.

“Throughout my academic and professional journey, I have achieved notable accomplishments. I received the Tech-Upreneur (Entrepreneur) Ambassador award in 2020, led a team that qualified for the Hult Prize Regional Entrepreneurship Competition in Cairo in 2020, and was among the Top 100 out of 17,000 applicants in the International Breweries Foundation (IBF) Kickstart Entrepreneurship Contest in 2019.

“I possess strong skills in public speaking, data analysis, business writing, and digital marketing. Currently, I run a digital freelance business in Nigeria.

“My long-term vision is to become a Global Energy Leader and to establish a Youth-led Sustainable Energy Company in Africa. I am a passionate advocate for climate action, focusing on making clean energy accessible and affordable for underserved communities in Africa.”

His avalanche of distinguished achievements notwithstanding, Abdul-salam is unable to move closer to his dreams of becoming a better person, and contributing his quota to the making of a better Nigeria with the MSc in Energy Economics and Finance, and therefore, seek financial assistance or sponsorship.

“I have been offered conditional admission to the MSc in Energy Economics and Finance programme at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. However, I am unable to meet the financial requirements for the programme.

“I am reaching out to request assistance in obtaining a scholarship or financial support to cover the tuition and living expenses for my postgraduate programme. This opportunity is crucial for me to achieve my goal of becoming a Global Energy Leader and contributing significantly to sustainable energy solutions in Africa. Any support or guidance you can provide would be immensely appreciated,” he said.

With the importance this administration has attached to education, it will not be out of place if the likes of Abdul-salam are assisted to achieve noble objectives in science, management, finance among a host of other academic disciplines that can turn the fortunes of the nation, and reduce youth restiveness in the country.

Abdul-salam needs your assistance. Please, help!

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FG Endorses Groundbreaking Clean Cookstoves Project, Partners GreenPlinth Africa




In a landmark move towards sustainable development and environmental conservation, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Council on Climate Change has officially endorsed a revolutionary initiative aimed at addressing global climate crisis, environmental challenges and improving livelihoods across the nation.

Under the auspices of GREENPLINTH AFRICA LIMITED, in collaboration with strategic partners, an ambitious Article 6.4 project has been launched to distribute 80 million clean cookstoves free of charge to households throughout Nigeria.

This initiative, the largest single clean cooking systems project in the world, marks a significant step forward in combatting the adverse health and environmental impacts associated with traditional cooking methods, such as indoor air pollution and deforestation.

The provision of clean cookstoves is set to transform the lives of millions of Nigerians, particularly women and children, who are disproportionately affected by the harmful effects of traditional cooking practices. The adoption of clean and efficient cookstoves by households will lead to improved indoor air quality, reduce respiratory illnesses, and largely contribute to mitigating climate change through lower carbon emissions.

In a statement by Dr. Olawale Akinwumi, president and CEO of GREENPLINTH AFRICA LIMITED, the Director General of the National Council on Climate Change, Dr. Salisu Dahiru recently issued a formal Letter of Endorsement (LoE) for the Improved And Efficient Cooking Energy Solution For Nigeria – a Programmatic Article 6.4 Project.

Dr. Dahiru, who is also the Designated National Authority (DNA) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Focal Point in Nigeria averred that the project would result in greenhouse gas emission reduction and more importantly lead to sustainable forest development and job creation in Nigeria.

According to him, besides reduction in domestic emissions, the project will decrease upper respiratory infections, thereby leading to improved health conditions; and equally enhance the nation in achieving sustainable development and the goals of Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Speaking on the importance of the project, Dr. Victor Fodeke, vice president and GMD of Greenplinth Africa Limited stated that the initiative will particularly benefits vulnerable communities, women, and children, who bear the brunt of health issues linked to traditional cooking practices. “Nigerians will experience tangible benefits while collectively contributing to global efforts in combating climate change”, he said.

Dr. Fodeke, a former Technical Adviser on Climate Change to the African Union (AU), declared that in addition to the deployment of clean cookstoves, the project includes an ambitious afforestation campaign, with plans to plant a staggering 4 billion economic trees across the nation. This initiative not only aims to combat deforestation but also to promote sustainable land management practices, enhance biodiversity, and create economic opportunities for communities across Nigeria – stimulating economic growth by creating new avenues for employment and income generation.

“The Article 6.4 Clean Cookstoves Project will be a foreign exchange earner for the Nigerian economy. This is first time anywhere in the world that efficient clean cookstoves project of this magnitude is being launched to be fully funded for every household, and 100% financed by Carbon Credits.

“Our PANDA Cookstove is also the first clean cookstove in the world to be launched with the co-benefit of Innovative Tree Planting and Nurturing to eliminate or reduce Poverty, Hunger, and Diseases,” he concluded.

The Federal Government’s endorsement of this groundbreaking Article 6.4 initiative underscores its commitment to fostering sustainable development, environmental stewardship, and the well-being of its citizens.

The Improved and Efficient Cooking Energy Solution for Nigeria is a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Global Climate Action Portal (GCAP) registered Initiative.

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Court Denies Binance Executive Tigran Gambaryan Bail




Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Friday, refused to grant bail to an executive of Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan.

Justice Nwite held that Gambaryan is likely to jump bail if granted to him.

The company and its executive were arraigned on a five-count charge bordering on money laundering before Emeka Nwite, judge of a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Moving an application, Counsel to the Defendant, Mark Mordi, argued that the court had the power to grant bail to the defendant and impose conditions to ensure his presence in court.

The prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, however opposed the bail application, stating that the defendant is a flight risk.

He stated that the defendant attempted to obtain a new passport, which he claimed was stolen, and this is a suspicious act given the proximity to his colleague’s escape from custody.

He added that the court cannot risk granting Gambaryan bail, especially as he is not attached to any community in Nigeria.

“The fact that the passport of the defendant is with the complainant does not guarantee that he will remain in Nigeria because the defendant is not only an American citizen but also an Armenian citizen by birth.

He urged the court to refuse the application and instead remand him in EFCC custody to ensure his safety and prevent potential flight risk.

Delivering ruling, the judge said several factors including the nature of offence and its severity must be considered when trying to decide whether or not bail should be granted to the defendant applicant.

Justice Nwite agreed with the depositions made by prosecution and was of the view that the applicant will jump bail if bail is granted to him.

He subsequently ordered that the trial be given an accelerated hearing.

After the ruling, the EFCC called its first witness, a staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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