Gov Udom’s Endorsement Harvest And The Politics Of 2019
By Uwemedimoh Umanah
In the African traditional setting, political leadership must have some form of endorsement or legitimacy by the potentates and kingmakers whose voices represented those of the generality of the people. They were representatives of the people in the traditional era.
The advent of representatives democracy, beginning in the Greek city state had shifted emphasis from the traditional potentates (kingmakers) to contemporary opinion moulders, who became the best and most forensic advocates the society could produce. They include, some traditional rulers, opinion leaders, parliamentary representatives, clergy, some top notch public servants (serving and retired), among others.
This culture is nothing new in contemporary political parlance. In the United States of America, which is the melting pot of democracy, there exist political ‘bosses’ and ‘machines’ who have tremendous influence on the political life of the states. Some of them include Frank Hague of Jersy City, New Jersey, Ed Cramp of Memphis, Tenresee, Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi and Richard Daley of Chicago, among others. Some captains of Industry and leaders of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) also have tremendous influence on the political life of the United States.
The recently held reception for the Udom Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom State by the Ibibio, the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria, on Monday, 10th July, 2017, was a testament of endorsement by the potentates in the socio-economic and political spheres of the state.
Suffice it to say in the passing that the entire city of Uyo was agog; the mood of the people were enlivening and jubilant, as the numerous colors by the different socio cultural groups were those of pomp and pageantry
The harvest of endorsements exemplified what Plato, the ancient political philosopher meant by ‘giving to each man his rightful dues in the society.’ I think the sagacious Plato was right in his assertion, as it tended to corroborate Socrates’ view that ‘no evil can happen to a good man’.
Udom Emmanuel, as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, has broken the jinx of development and performance by operationalising leadership, and successfully too, in a most difficult clime and circumstances. On assumption of office in May 29, 2015, he rolled out a people-centred programme encapsulated in his 5-point agenda: Poverty Alleviation, Wealth Creation, Infrastructure Expansion and Consolidation, Political and Economic Inclusion, and Job Creation.
It is not debatable that Mr Emmanuel has fulfilled his agenda by over 90 per cent, to be fair and conservative. Roads in the state have experienced a aquarium leap, with the creation of many rural and urban roads, a conducive atmosphere has been created for an industrial and enterprise take-off in the state (with new industries such as the Syringe springing up everywhere), there is a new consciousness towards enterprise development with the advent and operationalization of the Akwa Ibom Empowerment and Enterprise Scheme (AKEES), electricity supply has been tripled in recent times with the opening of new power sub-station and provision of power infrastructure, and finally, salaries are promptly and duly paid to workers in the state, while generating goodwill for the State Chief Executive.
Needless to make recourse to the strategic areas of healthcare delivery system and education which are presently experiencing unprecedented leap. What is important is the fact that these and many other feats recorded by the Governor Udom Emmanuel necessitated the decision of the Ibibio to receive and endorse their son and Governor for a second term in office.
The event which could be likened to the ‘Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem’, which the Book of Matthew records in bold relief (Matthew 21:1-11), saw the greatest crowed ever in a political gathering in the state. In this record, Matthew notes that, “Jesus descends from the Mount olives towards Jerusalem, and the crowds lay their clothes on the ground to welcome Him as he triumphantly enters Jerusalem.”
The Asan Ibibio reception was an endorsement extraordinaire to the Governor. Analyst Felix Udofia described the event as unprecedented. According to him, “It has never happened in this magnitude in our state and I think it means an endorsement for the Governor’s second term… Sincerely he doesn’t have an opposition, judging by the prevailing undercurrents which have culminated in this gathering…”
Some of the potentates who spoke at the event maintained a similar tone, enthusiasm and extrapolation. In the words of Edidem Udo John Ntukubom, Paramount Ruler of Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, the event was about divine providence. “If all the Akwa Ibom people have come about to say that Mr Udom has their support for eight years, who is going to oppose that? Since no one oppose that, and God Himself has ratified it, I hereby present you with two cows, a male and a female, to symbolise the prosperity his government is bringing to Akwa Ibom State.”
This position was amply corroborated by Edidem Ime Dickson Umoette, Paramount Ruler of Etinan, who said that “Etinan people are in full support of Mr Emmanuel’s governance for two terms, as a performing Governor in the state.”
A careful appraisal of the two speeches leaves no one in doubt that the Governor has garnered the goodwill and support of the traditional institutions and by extension, in accord with the people they represent. Also, being the custodian of traditions, peace, culture and representatives of the people, their articulations have great impact on the political behaviour of the people.
If the views of the traditional institution was so promising, then those of the political gladiators cam with electrifying enthusiasm and hope in respect to Governor Udom’s second term. Goodwill messages from Governors Ayodele Fayose, Rochas Okorocha, Okezie Ikpeazu of Ekiti, Imo and Abia states respectively, demonstrated in bolder relief that Governor Udom Emmanuel is a regional leader, and by extension, a national asset.
According to Okorocha, “I came to further strengthen the bond of peace and unity between the South East and the South South, and advocate the strengthening of the economic ties that will generate wealth for the states in the two sub-regions. Governor Udom is not a governor of a section of the state, he is not a governor of APC or PDP, Governor Udom is the Governor of Akwa Ibom, therefore we must learn when to drop politics and when to embrace governance.”
In logical terms, Governor Okorocha had inadvertently or inadvertently acknowledged the fact that governance in Akwa Ibom is not mere rhetoric- a negation of political demagoguery!
In Okezie Ikpeazu’s words elucidated on Governor Emmanuel’s legitimacy profile. “Governor Udom is a fisher of men who has brought his people together.” Reinforcing the conceptualisations, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti enthused thus: “The endorsement of Governor Emmanuel is not a surprise. The party will always maintain strong grip in Akwa Ibom and South East and South South states.”
Taking cognizance these rare speeches by political leaders of no mean repute, carriage and clout, shows beyond common thought, that Governor Udom Emmanuel’s legitimacy and goodwill transcend the borders of Akwa Ibom.
The reception and endorsement reached its apogee when the Senate Minority Leader and predecessor of Governor Udom Emmanuel, Chief Godswill Akpabio, rose to the podium. In his characteristic manner, he described Governor Udom Emmanuel and his administration in strong and unequal terms, which by input rationalises his re-election. “The fact that everyone attended the event meant that Udom Emmanuel is a symbol of unity…That means that Akwa Ibom people did not make mistake in 2015 when we rose as one to elect Udom Gabriel as our Governor, Your Excellency in a period like this God must produce a leader, in a period of recession you have done exceedingly well.”
Other leaders and statesmen who spoke include Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, Chief Ndueso Essien and Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke, among others. All of them spoke eloquently in one accord- endorsing Governor Udom Emmanuel for a second term, on account of his sterling performance in the first two years.
Elated Governor Emmanuel took the reception as a challenge which sparked a desire to deepen on the provision of more and better service delivery. He could not hide his feelings and determination to double his campaign promises to the people of Akwa Ibom. He reiterated that the state needs more industries and job opportunities for her teeming unemployed youths. He called for improvements in security, medical and educational sectors.
The Asan Ibibio declaration, no doubt, has far-reading implications on the political character and behaviour of the state. First, it has demonstrated the conspiracy of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, which is typified by character smear and mendacious falsehood against the Governor and other public servants.
Secondly, it has nipped to the bud, the aspiration of any other gubernatorial aspirant, whose interest is antithetical to that of the people. That is particularly so as the APC’s performance at the centre has been abysmally poor and low.
Finally, for the first time in history marked a collective action by the people of the state to entrench good governance in the state as represented by Governor Udom Emmanuel.
In my usual style, may I surmise this treatise with the words of Woodrow Wilson, an American statesman and President of the United States: “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself…” This is the Udom Emmanuel’s story, hence his endorsement.
Uwemedimoh Umanah, an International Public Affairs Analyst, writes this piece from Uyo