Aniekeme Finbarr

I love perfumes. My wife does not think so. She rather thinks I love ‘cheap’ perfumes. Women! You know very often she watches me dismiss all these designers perfume sellers and marketers who have pencilled me as a target for their products. I don’t know why. My problem now is how best to convince my wife that I love those perfumes, their deep, penetrating, lingering, floral and woody scents, except that I just don’t know why perfumes should be more costly than the minimum wage in the country. You mean all that money to smell good? Well, well, well.

This is how I see it, folks, the cost of each bottle of designers perfume can produce several other scents in my house like the aroma of fried egg, tomatoes and ripe plantain in the morning, pounded yam, with a native he-goat pepper soup to accompany it, with several other ‘obstacles’ and ‘animals’ slowing down traffic in the plate of soup and there is this lingering smell that accompanies fufu with a well-stocked atama soup. I mean these are aromas and scents that are relevant to the national economy. Somehow, you agree with me, I know.

Good perfumes are good to have, trust me. Cheap or costly. Their sweet, fruity or woody scents and floral undertones blend perfectly with musky notes. It gives you confidence and earns you countless compliments all day.

The perfume marketers just know how to keep us patronizing them our whole lives. They tell you, If you love Marc Jacobs’s Eau de Toilette Splash, you will love Chanel’s Allure Sensuelle, if you love Chanel and Dior, you will love Aveda and Mary Kay. And they go on and on. We just keep buying and buying.

Like perfume, like politics, both have their distinctive smell. If you love a bold, courageous, and impulsive leader, who takes on anybody, anywhere, anytime and appeals to his support base, you will love Donald Trump of USA. Trump is charming, interesting, daring, unusually self-confident, and shows feelings of grandiosity and entitlement. He enjoys taking risks, pushing the limits, and appears to thrive on excitement. He is quite impulsive, downplays his mistakes, takes ill-advised risks, no regrets.

If you love a leader who goes against the norm, defies protocol, talks tough, mixes with people freely, and excites the crowd, you will love Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State. If you love a tough leader, brilliant, yet ruthless, charming and intimidating, sometimes, difficult to understand, gets what he wants, then you will love Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader. Putin is a guy I labour to comprehend, He has a Ph. D. in Economics, graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University, and worked for the KGB in East Germany. His background in intelligence reinforce his innate love of order, hierarchy, and organization. He thinks like a spy and suspects everyone’s motives. He gets angry with a smile on his face. That’s his unique flavour and it smells nicely too, depends on what you like.

My next mission is to unravel the new fragrance of politics in Akwa Ibom State. There appears to be a renewed sense of calm and unity. The small fries are still taking potshots and but the eagles are aligning. There is a renewed and alluring sense of brotherhood, friendship, warmth, affability and conviviality. Obong Victor Attah, Idongesit Nkanga, Senator Godswill Akpabio, General Edet Akpan, Assam Assam, SAN, Umana Umana, Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok, Dr Ekidem, Engr Chris Ekpeyong, Chief Nduese Essien, Udoma Udo Udoma, Comrade Onofiok Luke, Ikpafak Thompson Essien, Arc Ezekiel Nya-Etok, Michael Bush, Chief Effiong Edunam, name them, all men, made of sterner stuff, with diverse interests and independent dispositions seem to agree on one subject matter -Governor Udom Emmanuel.

What these men are saying in different tones but in one harmonious symphony is that if you love political maturity, intelligence, decorum, Godliness, progress, passion, sacrifice, equity and development, you will love Udom Emmanuel. Like all products when subjected to microscopic scrutiny, there MUST be patent flaws and dislikes, but there is a consensus that Governor Udom Emmanuel has given Akwa Ibom State leadership that is not only progressive, humane, friendly but easy on the eye. The testimonies are trickling in from within and outside Akwa Ibom on the achievements of Udom Emmanuel. These have provided sufficient answers to the question of performance peddled by those whose eyes are closed to the realities of the gentleman’s vision of achieving a world-class state in a recession ravaged third-world nation.

The confirmations have come from and wide. Nigeria’s quick-witted Acting President, Prof Osinbajo, despite his opposing political ideology and leaning could not hold back his commendation of Governor Emmanuel’s capacity in harnessing the lean resources in the state, to grow it into a destination of choice, when he visited Akwa Ibom on a Townhall meeting. Osinbajo, in the presence of everyone, including the Governor’s mindless critics, some who hold positions of responsibilities in the Federal Government praised in specifics, the level of infrastructure and good governance the governor has brought to bear in his administration of the state. A pointer, that those who are against the Governor Udom Emmanuel’s achievements may be at crossed purpose with the agenda of wishing Nigeria well, just as my friend Joe Iniodu agrees.

Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Barr. Solomon Dalung defied politics too when he appreciated the Governor’s commitment to grassroots sports development at the recently concluded youth sports festival in the State, where he declared Akwa Ibom as Nigeria’s shopping ground and hope for talents in the next Olympics. Can you beat that? Dalung is not alone. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, could also not hold his emotion at the recently concluded 2017 Nigeria Oil and Gas Opportunity Fair, when he hinted that the choice of Akwa Ibom State as host was not unconnected with the sustained pace of development it has maintained. Several other examples abound but this is not the purpose of this write up. The fact remains that you cannot love development, no matter your political party and not love Governor Udom Emmanuel.

Governor Udom Emmanuel has adopted creative approaches to encourage entrepreneurship and there is a clear upswing in the number of business start-ups in the state. There is a renewed commitment to making power constant in the state to boost small and medium scale businesses. Recently, the Governor inaugurated a power substation in Uyo, the first of others to follow and the feedback has been overwhelming and far reaching. A greater part of the state capital enjoys at least 18 hours a day in power supply. Only hitches from the transmission company sometimes inhibits the power plan. Investments in the metering company will surely reduce that astronomical cost of estimate bills from the distribution companies. It is a steady work in progress. That is how to develop the state.

The governor through the Interministerial Direct Labour Committee has empowered thousands of people through various contracts. The recent release of the 2017 first quarter Interministerial Direct Labour jobs to another 5593 people (comprising ward executives of the PDP in the state) is another effort at making the benefits of governance trickle to the base of the polity.

Governor Emmanuel is synonymous with development. He has invested appreciably in quality infrastructure. The remodeling, completion and conversion of the dilapidated and abandoned anniversary hotel on Udo Udoma Avenue to the new Dakkaa State Secretariat annex speaks volume of his capacity in turning waste to wealth. There are well over 700km of roads completed and under construction. The 19km Eket-Ibeno road, the gateway to the nation’s oil treasury wears a new look, after decades of failed promises and abandonment. Across all the Federal Constituencies, if not local government areas are new roads and bridges linking up communities and ensuring a free flow of men and materials. There is also a conscious effort to tackle flooding in all parts of the state. The Nsikak Eduok-Tropicana-Itiam-Ibesikpo drainage project is a flagship in this regard. Flagged off in August 2015, the Nsikak Eduok/Oron Road/Akwa Efak/Tropicana Complex/Ibesikpo drains is delivered to world class standards. Handled by Julius Berger Plc, the project comes with a 1.5 km long drains; underground drains and open water channels. There are also side drains, fencing to protect residents, mesh and asphalted roads to complement the project. Uyo metropolis has additional 46 new roads to expand the city.

Governor Udom Emmanuel has ensured that all new roads, however, remotely located are accompanied with side drains to take out flood water to bigger channels. It was a luxury in the past. Roads linking Akwa Ibom with neighbouring states have also been given priority, like the Nto Edino-Ekwere-Azu road, the Obotme-Ikpe Ikot Nkon-Arochukwu road, etc. The Governor is constructing about 99 roads in all. The progress story is ongoing.

Worker’s welfare and salaries has been top on the burner for Governor Udom Emmanuel. All workers under the state employ are fully paid every month. There is also a conscious effort to clear backlog of salaries and other allowances inherited from the past.

In August 2015, Udom Emmanuel paid all the arrears of gratuities of local government employees for the past 10 years from 2002 to 2011. Touched by the gesture and kind-heartedness of the governor, the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and the Teachers Union had separately written letters of appreciation thanking him for his magnanimity.

Recall again on Friday- July 8, 2016 Governor Emmanuel again intervened by making funds available to pay for pensions to the local government workers. It must be noted that the payment of salaries and gratuities to teachers and local government employees is the sole responsibility of the local government council.

Earlier in March 2016, Governor Emmanuel commenced payment of salaries to newly recruited staff who were given appointments in 2014 by the immediate past administration.

Worker’s welfare is Paramount and there is no resting to making sure they are well taken cared of.

Agriculture, healthcare, rural development, sports, environment, tourism are all getting a fair share of the development touch of Governor Udom Emmanuel. The fragrance of development is strong, with impressions to last an entire life. Recently, the sprawling green lounge of Ibibio Union Museum and Park played host to an arts exhibition, fondly christened Usoro Uso which rejuvenated a forgotten money spinner-Arts. Akwa Ibom stood still for our Christmas carnivals and fiesta, boosting the local economy. Akwa Ibom is the football and sports capital of Nigeria.

There are still months, very likely years to go on this progressive journey with Governor Udom Emmanuel as captain of Team Akwa Ibom. Opinions may not align and interests may differ but those who sincerely love development, will love Udom Emmanuel.

Finbarr is a Public Affairs Analyst.

Photo credits: Prince Bassey

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