Linus Effiong insists that the choice of Pastor Umo Eno as the favoured governorship candidate of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State is an informed choice
Governance is defined as a system by which a state or an organization operates, or is controlled and the mechanism by which it, and its people, are held to account. Since its creation about 35 years ago, Akwa Ibom state has passed through the leadership of 10 Administrators with different styles of governance aimed at developing the state. Suffice it to say that each of these administrations came out with policies and programmes which successive administrations built on. When the incumbent Governor Udom Emmanuel was elected into office in 2015, he left no one in doubt about his intention to govern the state with integrity, prudence and the fear of God.
One of the early projects he initiated was the ‘’ Dakkada’’ philosophy, which is all about standing up for the cause the people of the state represent. The mantra is a clarion call to all Akwa Ibomites to realize their potential, and wake up to the fact that everything can be achieved through unity, love, hard work, dedication and honesty. Governor Udom Emmanuel did not mince words in telling the people that the initiative was not about any political party, himself or his predecessors. It is heart-warming to see that the Udom administration has lived up to this mantra by embarking on various development programmes under what can rightly be described as his completion agenda. Right from outset, Governor Udom Emmanuel had his eyes on attracting investments to the state. The state industrial revolution programme he introduced has led to the establishment of many industries that have generated employment opportunities for the teeming population of youths in the state. Never in the history of Akwa Ibom state, has one administration been able to attract so many industries within such a short time.
Akwa Ibom state now boasts of a syringe manufacturing factory, said to be the largest in Africa, a meter manufacturing company and a fertilizer plant. Another significant investment in the state is the flour mill in Onna, which has the capacity to produce 500- tons of flour per day. In all, there are more than 10 large and small scale industries, including a fertilizer blending plant in Abak, an international market in Eket and a coconut refinery in Mkpat- Enin. Already, arrangements have reached an advanced stage for the reactivation of the moribund Akwa Oil Palm Plantation which has the capacity of making Nigeria a leading Oil Palm exporting country. This is in addition to the existence of other oil palm processing mills, palm kernel processing plants, integrated farms, a starch manufacturing facility, a rice mill and other agro-allied factories in different parts of the state. The Udom administration has also made some progress on the 4.2billion- dollar Ibom Deep Seaport Project which will be of great economic benefits, not only to the state government, but also the federal government. It is worthy to note that most of these projects are Foreign Direct Investments, which amounted to 18.361 billion dollars in the 1st quarter of 2017.
Economic experts attribute the high inflow of investments in the state to the ingenuity and focus of Governor Udom Emmanuel and the provision of infrastructure like good roads, independent power plant, a 5-star hotel and an airport by previous administrations. The provision of an airport was an added impetus for the UDOM administration to launch the Ibom Air project, which has made tremendous impact in the Nation’s aviation industry. Today, Ibom Air has almost become a National Carrier with excellent services to the flying public. The recent debut of Ibom Microfinance Limited is a critical complement to the seamless and ongoing Akwa Ibom socio-economic rebirth. To achieve all these, Governor Udom Emmanuel created an ad-hoc committee on Foreign Direct Investment and separated it from politics and civil service bureaucracy. The result of this noble action is what is seen on the ground now which led to the National Bureau for Statistics declaring Akwa Ibom state as the second investment-friendly state in Nigeria in 2017, after Lagos state. It must however be pointed out that all these would not have been possible, if the state was still engulfed in crisis and violence as was the case in the previous administration.
No state or country achieves meaningful development in a situation where cultists and criminally minded people walk freely on the streets and unleash mayhem on innocent citizens. The restoration of peace in the state is one major achievement for which the Udom administration deserves tremendous commendation. Governor Udom Emmanuel has succeeded in rescuing the state from the grips of cultists and kidnappers and returned it to God. The spate of kidnappings and murders that were the order of the day has drastically reduced. Nevertheless, with less than two years to the expiration of Udom Emmanuel two- term tenure, there are many projects that are either at their early implementation stage or nearing completion. This has raised concerns on continuity at the end of the tenure of the incumbent Governor.
At this juncture, the issue of the choice of the next person that will conduct the affairs of the state after Governor Udom Emmanuel becomes very crucial, as this can make or mar the progress so far recorded. As always the case in politics, there are divergent opinions on this issue. Many aspirants within the dominant party in the state, the PDP, and the opposition parties have indicated their interest to occupy the Government House in Uyo come 2023. In the PDP, Governor Udom Emmanuel, after wide consultations with most of the stakeholders in the Akwa Ibom Project, has endorsed the current Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, Pastor Umo Eno as his preferred aspirant to succeed him. Pastor Umo Eno is a familiar name in both the private and public sectors.
As an entrepreneur in wealth creation and innovative managerial acumen, he was the Gurvnor/ Chief Executive Officer of Royalty Group, a company he founded in 1997 with business interest in hospitality, manufacturing and in the Oil/ Gas sector, providing employment for over 500 direct people across the country. He began his career in 1982 when he joined the banking industry, working with Union Bank, and ventured into private business with Bertola Machine Tools between 1985 and 1990. He later joined Norman Holdings Limited from 1990 to 1997 where he left as Group General Manager, Commercial Services to establish Royalty Hotels and Recreations Limited in 1997, where he serves as Gurvnor and Chief Executive Officer until his resignation to serve in the current state executive council. He has a Masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Uyo and is currently pursuing a Ph.D Programme in the same university. Pastor Umo Eno has held many appointments, including Chairman, Akwa Ibom state Hotels and Tourism Board from 2004-2007.
An alumnus of Pan-African University’s Lagos Business School and a recipient of the National Productivity Award, the PDP Governorship aspirant is also a recipient of a Fellow of Nigerian Catering & Hotel Institute. As the 2 Star Paul Haris Fellow of Rotary Club of Eket District 9140, Pastor Umo Eno has received several awards for his unending public spirited lifestyle. A clergyman, politician, businessman, founder of Royalty Group and Commissioner, Pastor Umo Eno is endowed in pedigree, humility and reform mindedness to administer a richly endowed state as Akwa Ibom. Akwa Ibom state is in dire need of a design thinker, God fearing and a bipartisan development driver as a Governor who will not turn back the hand of the clock. A man who will be able to distinguish between politics and governance, a man who can stand his word side by side with the spirit of the constitution and the oath of office, a man who can consolidate on the progress so far made since the creation of the state.
These are the qualities Governor Udom Emmanuel himself an adept in human asset management must have seen in Pastor Umo Eno, having served in his cabinet as the Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, before endorsing him as his preferred successor. The good thing about the endorsement of Pastor Umo Eno is that he was NOT just hand-picked by the Governor, but was done with the consent of most of stakeholders in the state. It is now left for other aspirants within the party and the people of Akwa Ibom State in general, to place the interest of the state above all personal interests, in choosing who will be their Governor come 2023. Pastor Umo Eno, a carpenter of ideas seems befitting of the accord.
Effiong is the spokesperson, Akwa Ibom State Youth Caucus