On November 7, 2014, the continent woke up to the reality of a new dawn, with the opening of the Godswill Akpabio international stadium in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state Capital.
The brain behind this laudable project is the current Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
As Executive governor of Akwa Ibom state between 2007 and 2015, Akpabio surrendered himself with some of the best administrative technocrats, and dug into his reservoir to build a state, that is today the envy of other states and a point of reference anytime excellence and beauty is on the front burner.
A state that glitters with neatness, a people that are very accommodating a land that is very productive, secured and charming is today, a home for all.
These adjectives best capture the achievements of Senator Godswill Akpabia who in eight years, succeeded in putting Akwa Ibom state on the world map by building world acclaimed structures that combined to unveil the promises in the land of promise.
In 2007, the promise keeper himself, made several promises and at the expiration of his 8years tenure in 2015, he has fulfilled these promises. No wonder, till this day and beyond, the people of Akwa Ibom state still see Senator Godswill Akpabio as the shinning light of the state and the best governor of all time.
Just one year before he dropped the baton of leadership to his successor, he commissioned the 30,000 capacity, Godswill Akpabio stadium, built in the heart of Uyo by German construction company, Julius Berger.
At completion, Akpabio and the contractors, that is, Julius Berger, gave an estimate of 96 million United State dollars, which is equivalent to 16billion naira, as the total cost of putting this World class edifice together.
A plot of 36 hectares was selected along south-western highway bypass of Uyo and planning began in German office of ASS Architekten. In 2009 they’ve drawn a plan of building one major grandstand with necessary sporting and hospitality infrastructure (notably with a bullet-proof VIP and VVIP lounge) and remaining sections in the shape of C.
With two tiers on the entire perimeter, the stadium holds 30,000 people on individual seats, offering complete cover from rain – very common in the coastal region of Akwa Ibom. There is room for temporary expansion by a couple thousand and foundations in place are able to support up to 60,000 capacity in the future.
Initial concept envisaged covering the entire concrete structure with profiled metal panels, creating forest-alike impression. In 2010 the idea changed to a more simple and uniform one. The stands were to be covered by highly perforated lightweight frame, loosely connected to local art patterns. But that vision was also changed.
Eventually the entire stadium was covered with almost opaque white acrylic glass. Divided into hundreds of triangular panels, the material gives an elegant effect with diamond-shaped expanses. These apertures add dynamism to the structure and also assure proper ventilation of the concourses. Interestingly, all of the façade materials were imported from Austria, requiring three months to deliver.
Eight years after stepping down as governor of Akwa Ibom state, the Godswill Akpabio stadium in Uyo has continued to stand tall among the best football edifice in the world.
At any time when the Confederation of African football CAF and the World Football governing body FIFA, finds Nigeria wanting especially as regards hosting international football matches, there is always a saving grace and that has been the Godwill Akpabio stadium in Uyo.
A stadium renowned for it’s good playing turf, wonderful terrace, beautiful training pitches and state of the art facilities, is today the official home ground of the Nigeria National football team and the home ground of some Nigeria teams on continental assignments.
The inaugural edition of the African football league began this year and CAF has again chosen the Godwill Akpabio stadium as home ground of Nigeria’s sole representative, Enyimba of Aba.
Anytime and anywhere this stadium is being discussed, many take time to applaud the individual who singlehandedly conceived the idea, initiated the project and took time to complete it before the expiration of his tenure as executive governor of Akwa Ibom state.
It didn’t end there, chief Godswill Akpabio also agreed a ten year maintenance contract with Julius Berger that is renewable every ten years.
Under this agreement, Julius Berger must make sure that the playing pitch and all the facilities at the Godswill Akpabio stadium undergoes full maintenance every ten years.
Born on the 9 of December 1962, the current Senate President has distinguished himself in every position he finds himself.
Akpabio was appointed Minister for Niger Delta Affairs in August 2019 by then-President Muhammadu Buhari after a successful screening by the Nigerian Senate and in May 2022, he picked up the N100m Presidential Nomination Form of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to run in the party’s presidential primary election.
At the APC National Convention on June 8, 2022, he withdrew from the 2023 Presidential Contest to support the eventual winner, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Today, Senator Akpabio has risen to the enviable position of Nigeria’s Senate President and is daily working on ways at rebranding the Nigeria senate and setting his own legacies. Looking at his rich antecedents and successes, it is only wise for all to sit back and watch him work his magic.