July 5, 2022
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Nigeria: Udom Emmanuel – Staying the Course, Preserving Legacies – AllAfrica.com

  • October 30, 2021
  • 11 min read
Nigeria: Udom Emmanuel – Staying the Course, Preserving Legacies – AllAfrica.com

Eno-Abasi Asuquo Sunday applauds the achievements of Governor Udom Emmanuel, while urging him to ensure the preservation of his legacies by carefully choosing a worthy successor.
Since metamorphosing from top banker to ace politician, where he first served as Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, incumbent governor of Akwa Ibom State, has swiftly moved up the rungs. His current job as the state’s helmsman lends credence to this.
But with barely 20 months to the expiration of his odyssey at the Hilltop Mansion in Uyo, posterity will judge him harshly if he makes the mistake of handing the reins to an unworthy successor, who will liquidate, or cause to atrophy, what he has succeeded to attract to the state, or the investments that he has put in place.
Undoubtedly, succession plays a vital role in the life of organisations, be they profit-making or the not-for-profit ones. Multi-million dollar businesses are daily crumbled by unworthy leaders, the same way that kingdoms are blighted when unworthy heirs take the reins. These scenarios above, succinctly confirms the popular saying that an organisation that fails to take its succession plan seriously is inadvertently planning for an untimely demise.
Emmanuel’s choice by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as its governorship candidate for the 2015 election, to say the least, was a result of good thinking. His qualities met the definition of a square peg in a square hole, just as his roller-coaster spin in the corporate world, as well as his personal and professional accomplishments had equally prepared him for top jobs that require the management of scarce resources.
Upon mounting the saddle, the 55-year-old spearheaded a campaign to change the ambience and business skyline of the state. An initial five-point agenda later improved into an eight-point agenda meant to rapidly industrialise the state, and change its purely civil service mien to an industrialising one, with a robust manufacturing base.
The over 20 industries with enduring economic benefits, in addition to other legacy projects attracted to the state by his administration thus far testify to the fact that the agenda is gradually being realised. Interestingly, these businesses have been attracted to the state at a time when Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) have been difficult to attract, even by the country.
Besides the state being on course to fully become a fountain of peace and sustainable development, under Emmanuel’s watch, investments in agriculture are to bearing fruits, and the refurbishing, re-modelling and equipping of general hospitals in all 10 federal constituencies, as well as the Ibom Specialist Hospital also confirms the government’s interest in the wellbeing of the governed.
While new school blocks with science laboratories have been commissioned across the three senatorial districts, through the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee, as a way of keeping pace with 21st Century knowledge acquisition, a lot still needs to be done to bring the sector up to speed with contemporary realities.
Hundreds of kilometres of roads have also been constructed across the state to facilitate seamless inter and intra-state movements, and the swift movement of goods and services.
With an airline that is not only the new darling in the country’s aviation space, but also an income generator (with its total of five aircraft – CRJ 900 series), the completion of ongoing works at the MRO project, and the runway and international terminal of the Victor Attah International Airport, will strategically put the state in the right position to attract commensurate returns from the sector. So also will the recently commissioned 21-Storey “Dakkada Tower” (one of the most sturdy and intelligent buildings in the country), contribute to boosting the state’s increasing profile as a fast industrialising state.
As the governor vows to achieve more with the little time that he has left, many are calling for his scalp for pouring a whopping N10billion into the construction of an international worship centre, especially as the constitution forbids the adoption of a state religion. Indeed, his traducers insist that the amount would have been better spent on the erection of cottage industries in an unemployment infested state, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which rated it the host of the third largest number of job seekers.
His government’s failure to prosecute Bishop Akan Weeks, and all involved in the unfortunate church collapse, which killed several people over two years ago, and in which the governor himself escaped death, still questions his moral quotient.
The state’s current debt profile of over N230b, which makes it the fourth most indebted state in the country, as of December 31, 2020 (courtesy of NBS) is another issue that many consider a paradox, just as many insist that committing N1.2b to building a new Governor’s Lodge in Lagos State, especially with the unemployment yoke that the state bears, defies logic.
Also among issues that attract opprobrium to the governor, is the unending fracas that have rocked the Akwa Ibom State University over pay, and the N2.5b, which the state allegedly spends annually on “routine maintenance” of the state-owned aircraft, which services the governor etc.
Be that as it may, by the time curtain falls on his gubernatorial expedition, Emmanuel would have spent 10 years in active politics. And if the tempo of what he has attracted, or initiated in the state is sustained, he would have succeeded in improving different facets of the state, especially its business life more than any governor in its history.
Therefore, leaving the state in the hands of an unworthy successor will spell doom for Emmanuel’s legacy, and have far-reaching consequences on her socio-economic wellbeing. Concerned by this, many have voiced their worries severally just as the governor has not hesitated in assuring the worried citizenry that he would never leave them in the care of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In other words, a non-thorough bred technocrat.
The sixth anniversary of his administration provided him an opportunity to address the issue frontally, and reassure Akwa Ibomites that the greater interest of the state would be taken into cognizance in picking his successor, even as he waits on God to reveal to him the anointed one.
Having realised the enormous job that the search for a worthy successor is, Emmanuel’s job appear to be cut by half.
In unleashing a litany of posers, in an attempt to depict the preferred quality of his would-be/ preferred successor, Emmanuel asked: “Do you want a successor who will come with anger towards all we have done, as opposed to continuing with the great works we have started? Do you want a leader whose approach to testing his popularity would be to drive in a long convoy to “Ibom Plaza” and throw money at the hapless people, watching them scramble for the money and the people would say that’s “Ano owo mkpo”! Is that the kind of a successor that you want? Is that the kind of empowerment our people deserve? Someone who will bring out the worst in our youths rather than challenge them to seize the future and unleash their potentials? Do you want a successor who will relegate God to the background and assume an all-knowing power? Or do you desire a successor with a known e-mail address that the International business community recognises? Do you want a leader who will fritter away our commonwealth in search of cheap popularity, or one who would utilise the resources and continue investing in projects with enduring value?… “
Having come to terms with all these, it is important to move from rhetoric to the actual search for a successor, who will preserve his legacy/ sterling qualities, and possess a verifiable track record of service, as well as an immaculate past and present. Settling for a stooge that would cover his tracks, or doing the (ab)normal preservation of interest that politicians do should be the last thing on his mind.
Emmanuel’s successor must necessarily be one that has a strong personality, empathy, and not easily distracted from set goals and objectives. He must also be confident, should have integrity, be a good communicator, one that prioritises human development, encourages strategic thinking and innovation, as well as one that that believes in genuinely empowering the people.
Barely eight years ago, when he was politically naive and could fall for strange gambits of well-heeled political actors, he would have been pardoned for a wrong choice of a successor. But with barely 20 months before the curtain falls on his administration, such a mistake he must ill-afford, especially as career politicians in the state marshal ploy after ploy to make one of theirs the heir-apparent.
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Before venturing into politics, Emmanuel had over 17 years of financial services experience under his belt, which perhaps explains his thrifty deployment of resources. Consequently, some still trust in his ability to recruit the right guy for the job. The clinical manner, which he marshalled the political decimation of his predecessor, Godswill Obot Akpabio, who vowed to deliver the state to the All Progressives Congress (APC) also gave him out as a giant slayer.
As a politician, Emmanuel is susceptible to getting both his goodwill and good conscience contaminated by members of the political class, if he is not alert to their cunning and sometimes, dubious strategems. This realisation equally puts the PDP in a tight corner, as it must perish all non-altruistic thoughts and contribute its quota to the emergence of a worthy new state helmsman.
In conclusion, the next Akwa Ibom governor must not be stricto sensu, the typical politician that is sequestered in his cocoon, primarily paying lip service to good governance, and predominantly interested in sharing dividends to party faithful and political jobbers that abound.
It is, indeed, time for Emmanuel to educate his supporters on the spec of a successor that he intends to bequeath to the state. Indeed, professional groups and sundry technocrats from the state should take more than a passing interest in who lands the top job.
In contemporary Nigerian politics, it is almost impossible for the best candidate to emerge, but an Emmanuel-led Akwa Ibom State must move away from this inglorious past and do things differently, especially now that some of the state’s finest are in the burgeoning field of contenders.
QUOTE
Barely eight years ago, when he was politically naive and could fall for strange gambits of well-heeled political actors, he would have been pardoned for a wrong choice of a successor. But with barely 20 months before the curtain falls on his administration, such a mistake he must ill-afford, especially as career politicians in the state marshal ploy after ploy to make one of theirs the heir-apparent
Eno-Abasi Sunday is a Lagos-based media executive
Read the original article on This Day.
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