by Akparawa Bokime Asuquo
From when Mr Akan Okon graduated with a Second Class Upper Division in Business Administration from the University of Lagos, in 1987, before obtaining a Masters Degree (MBA) in Banking and Finance from the University of Calabar, in 1991, one could sense that there is something particular about the Mbiatok Itam born Banker cum politician.
Make no mistakes; if any truth can be said about the current administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel, it is the fact that the Governor has steadily ensured a wave of unprecedented achievements, spanning across the aviation sector, economic development, housing, agriculture, healthcare, etc.
Another truth that can be said, if we must be sincere with our minds and consciences, is the fact that these lofty strides of Governor Udom Emmanuel, aside God, have been driven to reality through the forthrightness, dedication, effectiveness and sincerity of members of Governor Emmanuel’s team, particularly Mr Akan Okon who holds sway as Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport.
Undoubtedly Mr Akan Okon belongs to a rare class of people who belong to what Douglas McGregor tagged ‘Theory Y’. McGregor in his Human and Motivation Theory noted that in a typical workplace, there are employees who belong to ‘Theory X’ and others, ‘Theory Y.’
An employee in ‘Theory X’, has little to no ambition, shies away from work or responsibilities, and is individual-goal oriented. Generally, those in ‘Theory X’ believe their employees are less intelligent than the managers are, lazier than the managers are, or work solely for a sustainable income.
Contrastively, those in ‘Theory Y’, act on the belief that people in the workforce are internally motivated, enjoy their labour in the company, and work to better their employers, without a direct “reward” in return. ‘Theory Y’ employees, like Mr Akan Okon, are considered to be one of the most valuable assets to the company, and truly drive the internal workings of the corporation. They believe in effective service delivery and constantly work for the general good of others.
Mr Akan Okon is not only good at what he does, but he also is pragmatic, focused, and result-oriented chief servant of Governor Emmanuel who has remained resolute in his commitment to the drive of the current administration, no wonder he has been excellently and exceptionally delivered in all his assignments since his entrant into government.
An accomplished banker, Mr Akan Okon has served a high profile positions in time-tested financial organizations such as Area Executive Standard Trust Bank [now UBA]; Head, Treasury and Financial Institution Department in First African Trust Bank Limited; Head, Investment Banking in First. His journeys to the Ministries of Economic Development, Finance, Housing and Special Duties, Special Duties and Aviation Development and now, Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport have always been fruitful and worthwhile.
Fast forward to his stay in the Ministry of Special Duties and Aviation Development as Commissioner. One of the most criticised, ridiculed projects in the current administration of Governor Emmanuel had been the Ibom Air. To say the least, many never believed that the Ibom Air project could or would come to fruition but thanks to the Governor who entrusted the whole project into the able hands of Mr Akan Okon.
Today, Ibom Air does not only stand as the only state-owned but the best, safest and most reliable Airline which has redefined the aviation sector and brought a whole new experience to air transportation in Nigeria. The airline today, has further improved the economic status of Akwa Ibom State, enhanced industrialisation, business travels and further placed the state on a global map. The story of Ibom Air would never be complete without Mr Akan Okon’s name boldly written on it.
The 21 Storey Intelligent Building is another stride that has Mr Akan Okon name boldly written on it. Mr Akan Okon, as then Commissioner for Special Duties and Aviation Development, particularly supervised the construction of the 21 Storey Building codenamed ‘Dakkada Towers’ from the site clearing level. The building is part of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s burning desire to attract huge volumes of Foreign Direct Investments, FDI, to Akwa Ibom and catapult the state into an investment hub of Nigeria.
With the Tower as high as 108.8 meters, the 21 storeys Five Star business accommodation occupies a construction area of 18, 639.50 meters square on a massive site area of 48,200.00 meters square, making room for a 500 capacity car park and is set to host any known corporate organization or world-class company in the Nigeria Oil and Gas industry. It is expected to be a major catalyst of an economic renaissance.
Coming with all the attractions and safety mechanism expected of a smart building anywhere in the world, the 21 storey building is a dream come true in the sustainable infrastructural drive of the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration. The project which kicked off on 17th January 2018 with a two-year work term is at the finishing stage and would be ready for testing soon.
The Ibom Deep Sea Port (IDSP) project is perhaps, one of the initiatives so dear to Governor Udom Emmanuel. The project involves the development of a Greenfield Deepsea Port and accompanying Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in Akwa Ibom State. The proposed Port and FTZ are part of the proposed Ibom Industrial City initiative that will be established on a 14,400-hectare site donated by the State Government at no value.
While it is important to commend previous administrations for conceiving the project, it should also be noted that efforts by those administrations at kick-starting the Seaport weren’t successful, but in less than two years on the saddle as Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Mr Akan Okon has commendably interfered with the Ministry of Transport, the Nigerian Ports Authority, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Bureau for Public Procurement and other relevant government agencies and today, the Federal government has approved the commencement of the Seaport.
When completed, the IDSP project is intended to become a major national and regional economic gateway that will provide additional container handling capacity for the country. In addition to containers, the IDSP is expected to handle petroleum products (export and import), crude oil and natural gas (export), vehicles (import) and bulk trade in natural resources (import and export). It is planned to be the deepest port in the West African sub-region that would bring lots of benefits to Akwa Ibom State, as it would not only boost economic growth but also create more employment opportunities in the state.
As commendations continue to trail the approval of IDSP by the federal government, it is worthy to note that Mr Akan Okon belongs to a rare class of politicians who have diligently blended individual success with service delivery. He stands tall as an asset, a result-oriented servant, irrepressible patriot, a disciplinarian, a good father and an interpreter of the lofty visions of Governor Udom Emmanuel.