Photos: Akpabio Calls for Unity As Nigeria’s First Lady Visits Akwa Ibom State 

It was an overwhelming crowd that stormed Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, venue of one of the planned celebrations for The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio’s 61st birthday.

For the amiable Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency, Governor Umo Eno, it was also an auspicious time to host Nigeria’s First Lady Mrs Oluremi Tinubu in Uyo, the state capital, Uyo.

The celebrations on all fronts was well deserving, Akpabio having served the state as a two term governor, and who many believed performed well while in Government House.

Below is Akpabio’s memorable speech.

We gather here today not merely to mark another year in my life’s journey, but to honor the incredible privilege and responsibility bestowed upon me, by my colleagues, as the President of the Senate of our great country. We have come to celebrate our shared journey as a people in this great nation called Nigeria. And I’m overwhelmed by gratitude for all of you who are here, for your unwavering support, your deep affection, and for the trust you’ve placed in me.

As I stand here, dumbfounded by the flood of emotion, celebrating not just another year of my life, but a lifetime of trials and triumphs, I’m reminded of how I got me here. From losing my father in the cradle, when I was just six months old, to this exceptional landmark, the backdrop to my journey is filled with people of rare caliber – my beloved wife, Eka Esit Mbom Ekaete Unoma Akpabio, whose relentless love and unwavering support have been the bedrock on which our shared life has been built. She has been a great beacon of love, compassion and unwavering support in the vast landscape of our world. My late mother, whose resilience in the face of the life-altering challenge of widowhood ceded no moral ground, and remained my guiding star, teaching me perseverance, and instilling in me the importance of integrity. My siblings and family, constant companions, whose unwavering steadfastness has provided me the strength to weather countless storms. Together we have faced adversity and celebrated triumphs.

To my friends, particularly the Distinguished Senators and the Honorable Members of the House of Representatives, I thank you for your camaraderie, and for being a constant source of joy, motivation and inspiration. Your support has enriched my life in more ways than words can express. Thank you for reposing in me such a great confidence and investing in me the leadership of the Tenth Assembly. The Tenth Assembly is an amazing assemblage of patriotic Nigerians.

And to all of you gathered here, including my constituents, thank you for entrusting in me the enormous responsibility of representing your interests. I am truly humbled by your unwavering faith in me. Each day, I aspire to be the voice of the voiceless, the guardian of your dreams and an advocate of a better future. To the golfers who came from all over the country to celebrate me I offer my thanks. To those who played football in my honor, I offer my thanks. To all the tennis players who came from all the states in the South South to play a tournament in my honor. I offer you my thanks. Seldom in the history of man has one man carried the burden of such enormous public trust and support.

As the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, God enabled us to change the Akwa Ibom landscape and the Akwa Ibom narrative. We built this stadium, one of the best in the world, and today it remains a treasure in the global sports industry. We initiated free and compulsory education from primary school to secondary school. We paid the medical bills for all pregnant women and paid medical bills for all new born babies till the age of six. We tarred roads and built flyovers. We built the Victor Attah International Airport which we met at site-clearing level. We built the Akwa Ibom State University. We built the Tropicana Entertainment Centre, the Ibom E-Library, the Ibom Specialist Hospital, the Sheraton by Four Points, the Ibom Gas Plant… the list goes on. All these projects are still thriving. We painted the state full of projects. Not at all sure what to make of my efforts, my befuddled and beloved people began to call what they were witnessing, “Uncommon Transformation.” I dare to say that you cannot travel up to five kilometers in any direction in this state without encountering one or two of our projects. And I declare to our country today, that the God of Uncommon Transformation in Akwa Ibom State, is set to be the God of Uncommon Transformation in our beloved nation using our president as an instrument.

Yet, today isn’t as much about looking back as it is about looking forward. We’ve had our share of achievements, sure – but the work isn’t done. We’re not done.

Therefore, as the President of the Senate, I stand not as an individual, but as a representative of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all Nigerians. I pledge to continue to serve with humility, integrity, and an unyielding commitment to justice. I vow to uphold the principles that this nation was built upon and to be a catalyst for positive change. We are committed to upholding the values of transparency and dialogue and we, in the National Assembly, will strive to create an environment in this country where every voice is heard and every opinion is valued.

Friends and compatriots, In the face of adversity and challenge, I dare to envision a greater Nigeria. A Nigeria where prosperity is not just a word, but a reality for all; where education is available and affordable; where basic necessities aren’t luxuries, but are guaranteed to all citizens. I believe that our country shall rise again. I believe we will go back to those days when it was the norm, not the exception, to buy new cars. I believe that the days are at hand when our children in public institutions will finish four-year courses in four years. Things can and will get better.

But more than that, I believe that dialogue, cooperation and understanding are the pillars upon which we can build a brighter and more inclusive future. Let us come together and beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks. Let us turn party lines into intersecting lines and let them intersect with our common humanity, our patriotism and our sense of justice.

To get there, though, we must unite. The work ahead isn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. We have before us the opportunity to transform ourselves, our communities, and to transform Nigeria. We owe it to all those who have dreamed of a better Nigeria, and we owe it to the generations yet to come.

And to our President, His Excellency Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his team, who are courageously steering our nation toward better days, we lend our undying support and prayers. The pains we are feeling now are the pains of childbirth and soon the joy of delivery shall swallow up the pains and joy will come in the morning. We must not be like the muck raker in the book Pilgrim’s Progress who never took his eyes off the floor to see the wonders of God above.

So, on this auspicious occasion, as we fill our hearts with gratitude, let us also fill our minds with resolve. Even at this very hour, let this grand reception be a testament to our unity, and let’s commit ourselves to not just envisioning, but also building our shared prosperous future. This is the greatest birthday gift you could give to me, and the best reception I could ever hope for.

Let us journey together, in unity and purpose, towards a Nigeria that lives up to its greatest aspirations – a Nigeria that matches the hopes and dreams of each and every Nigerian.

Let me specially thank the following persons for honoring us on this occasion. I thank Mr President, His Excellency Senator Bola Tinubu, the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, the Right Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Tajudeen Abbas; the Deputy Senate President, Senator Barau Jibrin…. All Distinguished Senators, Honorable Members of the House of Representatives, Honorable Ministers…. I want to particularly appreciate the Governor of our dear state, His Excellency Pastor Umo Bassey Eno who knows that when the dust of politics settle, the seeds of patriotism and unity should germinate… We appreciate your patriotic spirit.

Once again I thank you all for being a part of this momentous celebration. I thank all those involved in the organization of this great occasion. I thank all my beloved Akwa Ibom people. I thank constituents, the good people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District. I thank all Nigerians gathered here. And may we embark on this journey of rebuilding our nation, hand in hand, with the unwavering belief that together, we can create a brighter future for generations to come.

To everyone present, and to all those who made this event possible, and to all Nigerians, I say: let’s walk this journey of rebirth and resurgence together. With grit and grace, we shall surely build a brighter, better future.

Thank you for your kind attention.

God bless you all.

God bless Nigeria.


* Additional photos by: @jacksonsleeķfilms

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