I travelled to Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, a fortnight ago to see a friend of mine, Eddy Ekpenyong, and also stayed on to watch the Super Eagles in their qualification bid for the next global football fiesta, Russia 2018 World Cup. While we are celebrating “visible” stakeholders in the demolition of Zambia, one person worked assiduously behind the scene to guarantee our success. The fulcrum of our ascent to the next Mundial is Gov. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State. Not many people know this.
This columnist almost married an Ibomite, Iquo. The culinary distinction and unparalleled feministic allure of these hosts of mine can never be found in any other part of the country and excited me to gastronomic stupor and aborted orgiastic recklessness!
What superlatively thrilled me—and most other visitors—was the diligence, commitment and passion with which the governor personally drove the mechanics for Super Eagles’ World Cup qualification. The talk was all over the town. Even the flora and fauna could attest to the Emmanuel stamp on our supersonic flight to Russia! I cannot imagine how devastated this man of God would have been if the country had crashed out right there in his state in vitiation of his painstaking contributions towards the eventual success paradigm of the national team.
The preface to the latest Super Eagles’ victory in the same victory-laden stadium named after the former governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio started with Gov Emmanuel’s $30,000 pledge to the team which he redeemed on their victory over Cameroon preceding Zambia’s. Beyond the financial reward, his visit to the camp during training sessions and his words of moral fibre catalyzed what eventually culminated in our being the first African country to qualify for Russia 2018. This unprecedented sports tourism domesticated by Gov Emmanuel speaks volumes about the country and the personage of the taciturn brain behind it.
Emmanuel’s interventions in all the qualification matches may not be appreciated by those not involved in the country’s sports administration, but the football authorities and eagle-eyed Nigerians know the critical roles the governor played. At the fullness of time, the story would be told.
When I arrived in Uyo, I thought I had missed my way because the consolidation of transformations was unimaginable! I never believed anyone could improve upon the summit standard set by the former governor of the state Senator (Barrister) Godswill Akpabio. The way this man of integrity is going with sports tourism, he may end up bettering the records of M. K. O. Abiola and Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu in national and continental sports revolution.
Similarly, the youthful governor seems to have innate potentialities to surpass the robust achievements of his predecessor. The way he is going about sports and holistic developments of his state holds a profundity of hope for further re-engineering of this South South paradise on earth!
Today, I do not know which other state in this country is better than Akwa Ibom in terms of multi-faceted developmental transformations, specification of critical projects and institutionalization of unprecedented paradigms of leadership and commitment to the service of humanity, especially Akwa Ibomites. After a tour of major cities, particularly Uyo, in Akwa Ibom, you will marvel and lambaste some of its neighbours. Where are you going to start? There is no hoodwinking, deceit, lie, propaganda or giving largesse to elders in exchange for their consciences. The completed and on-going projects are very visible for anyone to see, even if you have cataract or glaucoma!
The whole of Akwa Ibom is like a construction territory—one thing or another that will benefit even generations unborn is up here and there. Perhaps, it is only Abuja that can equal, not supersede, Akwa Ibom.
Emmanuel is focused on unrivalled urban renewal of the entire state. When you are busy and affecting the lives of people positively and revolutionizing national sports architecture in splendorous victories, there would be no time for demonization of your predecessor, criminalization of oppositional forces, witch-hunt, inanities and character assassination through vituperative comments channelled via obstreperous media aides, among other depravities, as are blueprints for governance in most states!
When you go to Akwa Ibom of Emmanuel’s leadership complexion, you will wish it was your own state for innumerable reasons. You feel like staying back and forgetting wherever you came from. The magnitude of transformation in Akwa Ibom cannot be captured in this whole newspaper, let alone this half-page column. You need to see things for yourself: they are indescribable—no documentary, supplement publication, proxy, delegation or second-hand source can tell a quarter of the structural marvels, human capacity development initiatives, and redefinition of governance from what we are used to in other parts of the country.
Space constraint will not allow me to catalogue some of the referential points of the Udom quintessence in Akwa Ibom. You need to be there and see for yourself the physicality of governance. I can testify, to the glory of God and joy of mankind, to the numerous wonders of the world here that are truly ordained—not a function of political entrepreneurship and concomitant aggrandizement!
The amazing thing is the profuse passion and panache with which this reverend-governor touches his people’s lives. If you visit Akwa Ibom by road from Umuahia or Aba and return without weeping for Abia State, my decrepit state, it is either you are stone-hearted or suffering from cerebral palsy or both! Such heartlessness will not allow you to feel the fresh air of inimitable transformations in Akwa Ibom, to witness the meaning of leadership, to comprehend the reality of legacies and futurism in governance having virtually conquered today’s challenges and needs. I call it anticipatory governance after immediate accomplishments and totality of achievements.
In my next world, God should indigenise me in Akwa Ibom of Udom’s era! I am not kidding. I make this unapologetic declaration with all sense of responsibility. People from other states look at you with disdain and in contemptuous disgust when you mention arrested Abia as your state! True.
God will continue to prosper this performing governor, a fellow Great Akokite. How I wish serving and prospective state chief executives could borrow a leaf from Emmanuel, the blessed governor of Akwa Ibom State. May your light never dim now and even after this present tour of duty. What matters in life most, Your Excellency, is the name one eternally leaves behind. This has been reaffirmed with the glorious translation of Nelson Mandela.
Latest ‘kid’ on the national sports arena, God will continue to be with you. I will not come to Akwa Ibom again until you graciously leave office after your second term so that I do not return to my state weeping and gnashing! Henceforth, my wife’s name will be Martha and mine Udom, descendants of great-grand Pa Nkenang! I hope there would be no disclaimer on this unusual name-change!
Whatever your shortcomings, you are to Akwa Ibom what Governor Willie Obiano is to Anambra State: both of you are unassailable revolutionary icons.
Russia, here we come—thanks to Governor Emmanuel who facilitated the qualification project with peaceful environment, advisory role to the team, financial support and playing host to them at the Nest of Champions. Your recompense will be the ordained inauguration of your governorship encore in 2019, by His grace.