Corruption has been the bane of underdevelopment especially in the continent of Africa and other Third World Countries, and in most cases, is umbilically tied to misappropriation due to high level of financial insensitivity among leaders. Money, if not properly managed grow wings like birds and fly away, leaving the people to suffer in poverty, with poor health care delivery system, poor education, insecurity and scarcity of basic societal needs. Hence, it has been a common prayer by citizens for God to give us leaders who are financially prudent. That prayer was answered on May 29, 2015, when Gov. Udom Emmanuel was sworn in as governor of Akwa Ibom State.
With his financial sagacity consecrated on him as a banker cum business strategist, Gov. Emmanuel has so far managed the lean resources of Akwa Ibom circumspectly.
He came to power at a time when the world was again badly hit by recession. And it can only take a man like Udom to save Akwa Ibom from the impending financial doom that was staring us in the face at that time after a near decade of monetary recklessness.
Akwa Ibom people were shocked to their marrows when the Governor recently revealed that he is still using the car since when he assumed as governor. Five years after, he is still using that vehicle, when he could have abandoned the basic needs of the people and change luxury cars every six months. But his financial frugality wouldn’t allow him to lead an extravagant lifestyle like his peers, buying property all over the world and building houses in every major city in Nigeria.
It was also an eye-opener when one of the chiefs in ONNA where the governor hails from disclosed that the governor had started building his house at his village long before he became governor and that quieted the insinuations of critics who alleged that the governor used state funds to build his house. But could such a structure be completed in one month like the governor once asked? Your guess is as good as mine.
This implies that Gov. Emmanuel is not only prudent in managing funds, he is equally financially discipline. Someone can be good when it comes to managing public money, but is not disciplined. From his religious background coupled with years of trainings, Gov. Emmanuel has stood out to be one of the best in Africa when it comes to financial management, and this has endeared him to many leaders within and outside the shores of Nigeria.
Interestingly, his characteristic of financial thoughtfulness does not in any way make him to be parsimonious, as misperceived by those who do not know him, or perhaps those who have been beneficiaries of years of financial recklessness that almost grounded the state economically.
The governor’s beneficence and charitableness has so far helped many youths and adults to build houses, buy cars, get married and make possible many landmark achievements, which modesty would not permit name mentioning.
Besides, the governor abhors such, chiefly due to his religious background and upbringing which does not allow the left hand to know what was given to the right hand. Although many, especially public relations experts do not see such disposition as healthy for a society that is good at megaphoning every charitable deed of a leader. The governor, as a matter of style does not support what Dr. Nsikak Idiong describes as all the “manifestations of the perculiarly Nigerian art of political schmoozing and traditional braggadocious broadcasts” of his charitableness, and nobody can force him to do otherwise. It is a matter of principle.
Some people are so used to giving in front of camera lenses, or spending lavishly at birthday parties and some unceremonious events. Such financial prodigality is unhealthy at this point in time, and should be condemned by all and sundry.
Besides, intelligent reports have consistently attributed the spate of kidnapping that almost became a citizen of the state years back, to camera lens philanthropy. So many victims of kidnapping in those days were beneficiaries of the camera lens benignant gesture of the leader at that time.
But Gov. Emmanuel, wouldn’t want to bring his people into such risk. He must safe guard the life and property of Akwa Ibom people which he swore to protect. He doesn’t need to make noise. He doesn’t need to shout. He doesn’t need to be like others. He is Gov. Udom Emmanuel.
His 5 years of steering the leadership of Akwa Ibom with unequaled financial judiciousness has revolutionised almost every sector. There has been a quantum leap in the number of roads and bridges constructed, as over 1,700 Km of roads and 40 bridges have been undertaken in addition to many rural roads across the state.
Akwa Ibom people are still celebrating the dualization of 29.0km Etinan-Ndon Eyo road with 2No Cable Bridges, dualization of 25.0km Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road, dualization of the 19.5Km Eket-Ibeno road and the dualization of the 13.5Km Okopedi-Oron road by East-West Road Phase 11, to mention but a few.
His lifetime blueprints in Education, Agriculture, Entrepreneurial Development, Transport and Aviation, Human Capacity Development, Youths and Sports, Health, Security, Social Welfare speak volume of his financial frugality in times like this.
These have proven that Gov. Emmanuel had prepared for an all-round transformation of Akwa Ibom State. And in line with his words, “In our completion agenda, we will raise the bar of performance…and lift our state to such an enviable height that it will be the pride of the nation”. And so be it.
Richard Peters writes from Uyo