By Uwemedimoh Umanah
In every political system, from antiquity to this era of post -industrial civilization, there are men who carry out important functions within and outside the court towards optimal productivity and socio-political stability of the system. While some of these functions may have been constitutionally assigned, others are politically expedient, to the extent that their roles determine the functionality of the system.
In Monarchical France, for instance, one officer who played a very significant ‘instrumentalist -role’ in the political stability of the monarchy was the Grand Chamberlain. Theologians and Historians have offered useful insights into the meaning of the term, Chamberlain. Some ancient scholars defined it as “an officer attached to the court of a king, who formerly had charge of the private apartments or chambers of the palace. He kept the accounts of public revenues.
In a royal household, for instance, a chamberlain was the officer who controlled access to the king. The term has its origins in the royal chamber; it was the king’s private room, or chamber, which was the chamberlain’s responsibility. The chamberlain was also the administrator of the household and any private estates the king might have. The Old Testament described it as “a post of honor which involved great intimacy and influence with the king”.
The political importance of a Chamberlain stemmed from his having permanent access to the King’s Chamber. His symbol of office was the keys to the royal apartments, which he always carried; in token of which, he was permitted to place two gold keys in saltire behind his coat of arms. He also was entitled to carry the banner of France. In rank, the position was between the Grand Maître de France and the Grand Écuyer. During a lit de justice, he sat at the king’s feet.
Flowing from this conceptualization, A Chamberlain in today’s political setting is the person who is the king’s closest confidant in private and public matters. It is in that respect that Sir Emem Akpabio served as Grand Chamberlain in the immediate past past Administration in the state.
A former top management staff of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Port Harcourt, who also oversaw the Ubie Gas Project, Emem Akpabio has a sound academic footing in the Management Sciences at the Usman Dan Fodyo University, Sokoto, Sir Emem Akpabio is someone whose leadership demeanor is unparalleled.
His role as chamberlain stemmed from his effective utilization of his closeness to the governor for the common good of the society, and his avowed determination at ensuring that the leaders succeeded in all ramifications.
An embodiment of contemporary strategic thought, Sir Emem Akpabio has proven his onion in respect of galvanizing and utilizing the best of human and material resources and tactical capability in achieving political objects.
As Carl Von Clausewitz, a Strategic Thinker and War Theorist puts it: “the more a general is accustomed to place high demand on his soldiers, the more he can rely on their response”. Suffice it to say that Sir Emem Akpabio’s conceptualization of the “Law of Challenge and Response” has shaped his leadership character which leaves no room for mediocrity and imperfection in political life.
During the 2015 general elections, I was privileged to have worked closely under Sir Emem Akpabio, having served in the PDP Campaign Council. As an expert in strategic thought, I can attest to his unparalleled feat in strategy, personnel and resource management.Through effective communication, Sir Akpabio takes every infinitesimal detail seriously and understands the art of collating and analyzing reports for strategic actions.
His humble and unassuming nature which everyone close to him readily commends earned him unquantifiable avalanche of goodwill by the day.I was told by a native of Ukana how Sir Akpabio’s children intermingle with them through football and other platforms.That is a sharp departure from the attitudinal disposition of some well placed persons in the society who deepen the class essence in their social relations by restricting their children from interacting with persons considered to be of lower estates.
Sir Akpabio’s mastery in political strategy is synonymous with that of a good chess player who schemes his way through his set targets and with mental aptness and fortitude “wins the king and conquers his opponents”. This has shaped his political and social life, so much so that, his support most often than not, causes a swings in victory.
This strategic approach paid off during the 2015 elections.
“A chamberlain in the court of Louis XVI France was partly instrumental to the peace, unity and stability…”, added Dr Folashade Ola-Oluwa, a university lecturer. It is from this perspective that Sir Emem Akpabio’s position as an “unconventional business strategist” can be highly appreciated.
It can be recalled that before 2007, specifically, youth groups and Socio- political associations were hot beds of conflicts as each group saw the other as being mutually antagonistic in ideology and interests. But it was to Sir Emem Akpabio’s credit that some of these groups were reconciled and ideologized toward the Akwa Ibom unity project. An ample example was the merging of very many but pivotal socio- cultural and political groups in Annang land under Ati Annang which Sir Akpabio served as pioneer president and now Chairman Board of Trustees of the Pan -Annang group.
Ati Annang has been re-invigorated through sound leadership, component, organizational and institutional framework courtesy of Sir Emem Akpabio’s torch- bearing insights, and has served as a platform for galvanizing youths in Annang land politically, socially and economically towards the actualization of the vision of the founding fathers of our state and the purveyors of pan-Africanism.
“The Leader of the Boys” as most of his political associates call him, Sir Akpabio has worked for and earned unprecedented quantum of loyalty from both his beneficiaries and some of his associates alike.
His inclination to professionalism and competence explains his bond and inextricable relationship with some topnotch performing public servants. That these “boys” excelled in their respective areas of endeavor was not because any special privilege accorded them, but their determination to live above board, in the discharge of their duty.
His penchant for teamwork and excellence cannot be overemphasized; his belief in the concept of distributive leadership, through which those he assigns roles share in leadership and reward underscore his people- centeredness.
An American scholar lends his voice in this regard that, “Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens, people feel centered and that gives their work meaning”.
Happily married with children, Sir Emem Akpabio will be remembered by generations as the Grand Chamberlin who made unequaled and pivotal sacrifices towards the political stability of the state.
As Sir Emem Akpabio marks his 2020 birthday, it’s pertinent to roll out the drums and celebrate a man who has inspired others to do the greatest things… Happy birthday Sir!
Uwemedimoh Umanah is a Diplomat, Transformative Mediation Expert and a Development Scholar.