(The New Breed Completion Agenda Series Vol. 1)
If James Freeman Clarke, an American theologian and author, lived with us in Akwa Ibom, it would have been difficult to believe that he did not have Mr. Udom Emmanuel in mind when he made that famous quote about statesmen and politicians. But he lived and died many years ago, before our amiable governor was born.
The fact that he stood an election, and even went ahead to win, automatically made him a politician. However, his case was different as he brought all the glamour, dedication and commitment to a shared vision of the corporate world into politics, and blended same with ease, thus, putting himself ahead of his contemporaries in the game of politics.
Beyond this, Governor Udom Emmanuel fits perfectly into the mould of a statesman who thinks about the next generation while occupying political office. Very many instances abound to demonstrate his statesmanship, since the responsibility of leading Akwa Ibom people fell on his shoulders.
In the policy thrust of his administration, he has left no one in doubt about the direction of his administration, which includes political inclusion. It is an indisputable fact that politicians explore all avenues to win an election, but Mr. Udom Emmanuel is not that kind of politician, as he led his political foot-soldiers on a different course to victory, devoid of violence and divisive tendencies. At a time when he was faced with the option of a divide-and-rule approach to win elections, he preached and practiced love, and at the end of the day, was able to dismantle all opposition to his re-election, winning massively across the state.
Political tolerance is a yardstick of political maturity, and only statesmen like Mr. Udom Emmanuel can allow such tolerance to thrive in the state. A case at hand that remains fresh in mind was when against persuasion from political allies, he granted approval to political opponents to use state facilities like the stadium for political rallies. Neither did he see any reason to bar the opposition from taking an office space on a major road leading to the seat of power in the state. He did this as a statesman, and had set the record straight that political power resides with the people, and when the people give you their support, you are safe from imminent defeat.
As a statesman, Mr. Emmanuel knew that if violence and hate was deployed as a tool to win the 2019 election, an evil seed would have been planted that would perpetually divide the state along ethnic lines, not only during elections. He knew that without a peaceful coexistence, generations to come will be affected negatively, and there will be no meaningful development in the state.
Again, Governor Udom Emmanuel knowing fully well the evil called cultism and its dangers to the society if allowed to flourish without serious check by government, has left no one in doubt about his desire to exterminate it from our social lives. Through an Executive Order, the governor proclaimed a ban on 33 cult groups operating in the state, a step many describe as a bold and courageous one aimed at securing the future.
On the other hand, when secret political enemies recruited cultists to disrupt the peace in Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun, the governor swiftly moved in and granted amnesty to them and re-integrated them in to the society as reformed persons. He did not take advantage of their violent nature by using them as thugs or agents of violence during the 2019 elections. This was possible because he thinks about the future more than the immediate gain.
In the area of project execution, the governor does not embark on projects aimed at massaging his ego but seeks the good of all in project execution. Coming on board, he realised the decaying status of some of our first generation secondary health facilities across the state, and decided to renovate and re-equip them for the benefit of the people. Today, the people of Etinan federal constituency now enjoy quality healthcare courtesy of Etinan General hospital that received a touch of the statesman. Same goes for General Hospital Ikono, Methodist General Hospital Ituk Mbang, General Hospital Ikot Okoro, General Hospital Oron and the latest addition being Immanuel General Hospital, Eket. The governor has not also abandoned the Ibom specialist Hospital despite its administrative challenges because it was not built by his administration.
As a statesman, His Excellency has continued to develop the aviation industry of the state from where past governors had stopped. Today, Ibom Air is the pride of Nigerian air as its services and aircraft are both world class. This further investment has earned the state more revenue and created jobs for Akwa Ibom people.
The state has witnessed peace and steady development because the man at the helm of affairs is not only thinking of winning elections but very interested in the value that can be added to better the lives of the people, now and in the future. He does not embark on ego trip nor chase shadows while governing the state, and to the people, it has been a dawn of a new era in political development in the state.
The New Breed For Sustainable Development.