Senate President Godswill Akpabio has recalled his efforts at repositioning Akwa Ibom State when he was the governor.
He spoke on Friday at a retreat for the National Assembly leadership in Ikot-Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State.
“I closed the doors of prisons, and I now opened the doors of schools, then I now opened the door of hospitality, that is why you are now comfortable,” he told the lawmakers.
The two-term governor stressed that governance should be about transformation, revealing that the retreat’s venue was formerly a prison yard.
“Where we are, I must say, was a prison, this location was a prison. Sometime in 1853, a prison was constructed here. When I grew up, what I saw – I saw the walls of prison, and I saw elders constantly coming out with prison uniforms as a child.
“We were meant to have that mentality that when you grow old to become an adult, you will end up in prison. That was what the colonial masters left for us here. In my time, I said, I must do two things. Number one, I must stop the houseboy/housegirl syndrome that tended to be the lot of this state, and number two, I must stop the prison mentality,” he said.
Akpabio said as a governor, he built a correctional centre, gave students in the state the tools they needed, and provided adequate educational facilities.
“So, I declared free and compulsory education for all Nigerian children who found their way into this state. Today, many of them are graduates; I had to add over 6,000 classrooms, and I had to add a new polytechnic and a new university.
“I brought down the walls of the prisons here that had existed for 108 years, and then I built a brand new prison, and then I decided to turn the old prison into what you are seeing now,” the former governor noted.