By Udoh Richard Foaster
Public figures of note draw certain airs of mystification. Stories are woven around them to create enigmatic caveats. The lacunas created by such stories open the floodgates for speculations, leading to more and more myths, false stories, and sometimes over embellishments that may give rise to bloated egos.
But sometimes people with fair and grounded knowledge of these public figures emerge to straighten the crooked edges of history told about the person they know. Most of such times, they find the earlier claims or narratives to be either incongruous, absurd or so over bloated that they are often forced to ask if they are referring to the same persons they know.
Governor Udom Emmanuel is one of such public figures that has been a subject of speculative narrative. With a career honed and heeled in a city where individualism is a life style, his return to Akwa Ibom State, first as Secretary to the State Government for about 15 months, and eventually governor, did not provide many in the State access to enable them form opinion of him. The consequence of this is the constant speculation and sometimes deliberate misinformation and disinformation that are prevalent about him today. There are also situations when this simple and unassuming man is so over- bloated that some who have had the privilege of knowing him would easily guesstimate the quantum of damage they do to his psyche each time they over exaggerate who he is. As a fervent and faithful Christian who cultivated the timeless value of humility early and allowed it to seep and be ingrained in him, modesty and moderation are his watchwords.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has been a subject matter in speculative narratives and commentaries since he became governor. While forging a career as private citizen, such speculations remained at the realm of oral tradition. But as a public figure presiding over an oil rich state in Nigeria today, he is a subject matter for public documentation. It is why those who know him very well have a moral obligation to bring him into public discourse with the intent to present him in the exactness of his person.
Udom Emmanuel can be classified as an enigma. As a young person, he had developed traits that distinguished him and made him a cynosure among his peers. They included focus, passion, vision, steadfastness, humility, discipline and devotion to any task assigned him. There were also other attributes which he also exuded as a young person which he aggregated maximally to gain leapfrog into life. Let me hazard some analyses of how these traits have corralled Udom Emmanuel into the public figure he is today. Count this as an eyewitness account. Udom has not only been a devotee of the Christian faith but a devout Christian that can do anything for the cause of God. I once recalled how somebody joked that if one wants to get anything from Udom, he or she should become a pastor. Udom is a lover of God to boot. The church is his immediate family. At Que Iboe Church, Surulere where he used to worship, he served as one of the pillars of that church. When one therefore hears people argue that his devotion is a mere camouflage, one could easily excuse them of lack of knowledge of the man they are referring to.
Many who have been witnesses to his ascension and familiar with his background know that just ordinary feat cannot achieve the mileage he has recorded. Udom has also severally told the mystery of his life with the loudest proclamation that the hand of God has guided it. In a discussion we shared with friends who also know him, one of us intoned: “nobody can do what he does for God and not be rewarded as handsomely. Being a governor is just the beginning of God’s appreciation of him”. Many share these sentiments, because even his advent as governor has the unequivocal trappings of divination.
While in school, he never missed being part of the Sunday Choir every Sunday at Que Iboe Church, Awa – a case of Steadfastness. He always ensured that he was home every weekend for the purpose of singing for God – another case of devotion and dedication. Such commitment endeared him to many as he became the choir master.
I have heard many people erroneously say that Governor Udom Emmanuel is limited in generosity. This is one of the most defective and unsubstantiable arguments of all times. The submission is rather ironical as Udom’s biggest weakness is giving. He gives to a fault and people take advantage of it. Those who lived with him in Lagos have missed a man who was always on hand to alleviate the burdens of Akwa Ibom indigenes. Qua Iboe Church, Surulere has missed a cheerful giver especially the routine Christmas largesse that had become an item on the church’s calendar. He was doing that as a private citizen working in a bank. His financial support to political processes in the State while a banker further acquits him as one with immense sense of generosity and goodwill. But all these, he does them unobtrusively with admonition to recipients that other people must not know.
Other traits of this banker who has become a politician owing to the compelling need for a broad platform to serve include love for Akwa Ibom State and the people. Suffice it to say that Governor Udom has high integrity, he is courageous, a great motivator and an outstanding orator and communicator.
He is a motivational speaker who is also technologically savvy and conversant with modern trends. He is creative and innovative, an excellent negotiator and a reconciliator. Despite distractions, Governor Emmanuel has tried to bring all these to bear in his governance style. His vision is to make Akwa Ibom a model State in Africa. His vision is an Akwa Ibom that would become an industrial hub that can create jobs for the people with the state becoming a Mecca of some sort for industrialists, businessmen and tourists. His personal integrity which is caste in iron can guarantee this and he has the reach that can bring this about. It is why those who know him would stop at nothing to urge Akwa Ibom people to cast their anchor with Udom in 2019 for him to further turn things around in the State. All he needs is the co-operation of the people and the rest would be a given. So, my fellow Akwa Ibomites, Rise Up and identify with the DIVINE MANDATE as this is the ONLY NOBLE CAUSE for those who love our dear State.
Udoh Richard Foaster wrote in from Lagos.