New Telegraph

Umo Eno: The best option for a peaceful and prosperous A’Ibom

 

Richard Peters

 

 

Akwa Ibom, a state with a name that describes the magnificence of the Almighty is outstandingly blessed by God in terms of natural resources, people with unparalleled intelligence and eloquence, distinctive athletes and professionals from all walks of life.

Economically, Akwa Ibom State is based around the production of crude oil and natural gas as highest oil-producing state in the country. Key  industries added by Governor Udom Emmanuel which has upgraded the economic base of the state include The St. Gabriel Coconut Refinery, The Syringe industry, The metering company, The King’s flour mill, and many more. Even the Ibom Air has without any iota of doubt  elevated the economy and reputation of the state to the envy of the other States. Akwa Ibom has taken its pride of place and will continue to be a cynosure of excellent leadership and performance.

On return to democracy in 1999, the elder statesman and architect, Obong Victor Attah  won the election and with his vast architectural anointing designed the modern day Akwa Ibom to the admiration of the people. Today, Akwa Ibom is indeed an architectural masterpiece modelled by other states of the federation. It is out of place to argue that Obong Attah is the father of modern Akwa Ibom as he “singlehandedly”, though with the support of some responsible  stakeholders agitated for the onshore-offshore oil dichotomy, which at the end of the battle that cost Obong Attah so much, harvested so much money to the state.

It was already 2007, and Sen. Godswill Akpabio took over, with so much money at his disposal and reigned for 8 years, with some projects credited to him. The party then pitched her tent with Mr Udom Emmanuel, a fine gentleman with many years of experience in the banking sector and distinctive expert in boardroom politics, and he won convincingly in 2015, and repeated much more outstanding feat in 2019. Interestingly, just a year after, the world was seized albeit unexpectedly with the dreaded Corona virus pandemic which suffocated the global economy and shut the economic gates of many nations including Nigeria, not to talk about the global recession in early 2015. In the midst of these, Gov. Emmanuel, a well-grounded economist and financial manager prudently captained the ship of the state to a safer shore. Industries were still built, projects were still commissioned, salaries paid in full and at when due, while other states were already on their knees with backlog of salaries unattended to, not to mention initiating new projects, while battling with banditry and robbery attacks.

Seven years plus down the line, Gov. Udom Emmanuel has stamped the name Akwa Ibom permanently on the global Economic Map with his sound business prognostication, and passion for execution. In fact, Gov. Emmanuel is the man that knows the future. Time will fail if attempt is made to capture his emancipated touches in agriculture, aviation, industry, sport, education, health, human capacity development, security, and more.

There is relative peace in Akwa Ibom state today as a result of the peaceful disposition of the governor. In time past, people were incarcerated for speaking their minds, and others kidnapped or assassinated for attempting to aspire to any office. But now, people are not attacked for holding divergent views, they are free to aspire and their family members are intact. It is due to the intentional leadership of Gov. Udom Emmanuel.

Gov. Emmanuel’s government is very intentional in allowing governments’ institutions to run without undue interference. Unlike other times when a governor would decide who becomes the village head, who becomes the youth president or women leader, the various institutions in the state are running independently, so to say, because the system is allowed to perform its functions without so much selfishly orchestrated external forces. That is why almost all the Local Government Areas in Akwa Ibom state have received the government touch of development. And after all these and more, a search began for a successor who will sustain the achievement of the present administration. It would have been a tedious and energy sapping search, but was made simple because God was sought for direction.

Prayers were offered to God, stakeholders went on their knees for divine direction. This is exactly what happened during the days of the early church when a replacement was sought to fill some vacant positions. Stakeholders in the state, including past leaders, traditional rulers, religious leaders, Political scientists, women and youths inclusive, beamed their searchlight in the direction of Umo Eno as the spirit gave direction and saw in Umo Eno an excellent spirit.

They saw in Umo Eno a vessel that  has the interest of the people at heart. They saw in Umo Eno a man who does not belong to any cult group. They saw in Umo Eno a man who is for all Akwa Ibom sons and daughters. Then the stakeholders settled for Umo Eno.

In the words of a multiple award winning broadcaster and aide to Gov. Emmanuel, Mr Michael Bush, “The real stakeholders and more got together and naked politics played out. Honourable Commissioner, Lands and Water Resources, Pastor Umo Eno, was subsequently unveiled as Gov. Udom Emmanuel’s preferred successor.” That was it.

Pastor Umo Eno is a reflection of the people’s desire and interest, and not an imposed candidate of the governor as claimed in some quarters. His emergence did not foreclose others from aspiring. It never shut the political door against other aspirants. In fact, more politicians opted into the governorship race, perhaps as some wrongly perceived Umo Eno to be a cheap product that will be difficult to market. But today, the narrative has changed, because he is a highly sought-after political commodity that has threatened the survival of other competing brands in the political market.

Just after his unveiling by political stakeholders and more, he jumped into electioneering activities as a political scientist, and consultations were aggressively launched across board. Political stakeholders in all the 31 LGAs of the state were visited, women and youths groups and party chapters were consulted as well, while other opponents were watching and at the same time laughing him to scorn. But like a man passionate to serve, he was not distracted. The louder the laughter and mockery, the more intense the fire. Before you know it, Umo Eno was on the lips of all and sundry, a force that everyone, ally and enemy want to connect with.

One thing that is very unique about Pst. Umo Eno is his ability to remain focused on the goals before him, despite the avalanche and hurricane of insults, abuses, name-calling, as well as the tsunamis of attacks and blackmail against him. He is so quiet, unmoved and very unassuming. These are rare qualities that only few leaders can boast of, and Akwa Ibom people cannot afford to miss them, by being sentimental in their choice of who becomes the governor by 2023.

Pst. Umo Eno came as a prepared leader, having been able to manage his group of companies, especially his five- roomed hotel to a conglomerate and the flock God gave him to grow from a few members to thousands today. He has a multiplying grace to manage resources and increase same.

He has served in both private and public sectors. He was made Akwa Ibom Tourism Board chairman in the days of Obong Attah as governor. Gov. Udom appointed him Executive Director of Akwa Ibom Agriculture Investment, and later moved him after his excellent performance into the state executive council as Honourable Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, and he has performed creditably well in all.

Like the Holy Book echoes, he who is faithful in a little, will be faithful in much. The resources of the state will be in safe hands because Umo is not a waster, but an investor. All the wealthiest men in the world as captured by The Forbes magazine are all investors, and that is why Umo Eno is the best option for the state now that the world is lamenting of economic realities starring it in the face.

No doubts, Pst. Umo Eno will work to ensure that the peace currently enjoyed in Akwa Ibom is sustained.

What we need in Akwa Ibom is peace, not war; godly fellowship not cultism; peaceful coexistence, not ritual killings/kidnapping; freedom to decide, not godfatherism; not nepotism, but a return to the era of meritocracy, and Umo Eno is the necessary option.

Peters writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State

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