No matter what anybody may says about the administration of Governor Emmanuel Udom, one fact that remains incontestable is that it is anchored on the fear of God. Udom’s style of administration in the past three years or so, which is deeply rooted in the understanding that he is, at the end of the day, answerable to God, has engendered peace in the state – the peace that eluded the state in the eight years preceding his assumption of office.
Before the advent of the current administration, Akwa Ibom was synonymous with such alien vices as kidnappings, unexplainable disappearances and murders that never quite got resolved. We used to hear of families that were either offered huge monetary compensations to keep sealed lips over murder of prominent leaders or threatened with reprisals if they dared speak out. If my memory serves me right, there are, in one or two courts in the state today, high profile murder cases that have lingered for God-knows-how-long, while key witnesses have since vanished from the face of the earth.
Underneath the noise and propaganda of uncommon transformation was insecurity that reigned in the once peaceful state that was the attraction for indigenes who, after spending their entire working lives outside the state, or even outside the country, desired a place to retire to, for the remaining days of their lives on earth. The current peaceful atmosphere in the state has brought home the fact that Akwa Ibom was never the insecure place that it was turned into, for nearly two decades.
It is something of a common belief that it is not possible to be a Christian and also be a successful political leader in the position of a state governor or president of a country. This belief stems from the understanding (correctly or flawed) that at those levels, there are certain decisions a leader must take that will necessitate compromising on religious principles. Such decisions may include sanctioning elimination of perceived political opponents who may be considered impediments to the smooth running of the government. We see it happen in countries around the world, where presidents are known to order the killing of people considered to be threats to the national security of their countries, even though some of those threats have been found not to be real.
With barely seven months to the end of the first tenure of the current administration, there are some salient questions that need being asked. Are there no political opponents of Governor Udom Emmanuel that constitute impediments to the smooth running of his administration? Has the governor never disagreed with anybody since assuming office to the extent of considering him a threat to his administration? Why have criminally minded elements that held the state hostage for about eight years suddenly taken flight from the state?
The answer to the foregoing questions lies in the simple explanation that Udom has been able to prove that one can be a devout Christian and successful political leader at the same time. The governor has shown remarkable difference from what is considered the norm because he has allowed the fear of God to rule his conduct in office. His religious disposition isn’t a fluke, nor is he a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Udom’s position as governor is fraught with challenges that include the notorious banana peels that are deliberately placed on his path by people who should otherwise be interested in seeing him succeed in the onerous task of piloting the affairs of the state. But those close to him say he has over the last three years mastered the art of walking on those peels without slipping, let alone falling. The governor has gone about performance of his duties with the calmness and equanimity that belie the challenges he faces every day of his life. This is attributable to his demonstrable believe that God guides his every step and action.
What marks Udom out, which is evidence of his understanding that he would one day give account of his stewardship to God for his actions while in office, is the fact that he is a leader, not a ruler. He hasn’t been intoxicated by political power that he knows to be transient, knowing, as he does, that he will one day leave his exalted office to return to the ordinary life he lived before Providence thrust him into position of history. This explains why he is trying his best to live up to the promises he made while soliciting for votes in the 2015 elections, not minding the distractions and obstacles that have dogged his path from his first day in office.
He hasn’t gone out of his way to please anybody, especially those who feel he owes them eternal gratitude for making him governor, if that would mean compromising on his Christian principles. This is because he understands that whether or not he remains in office beyond May 29, 2019, is in the hands of God, not any human being’s.
Udom hasn’t made occupation of the office of governor a matter of life and death, as we see in other parts of the country, or even in Akwa Ibom before his coming. Before the 2015 elections, there were reports that he had made it clear the position of governor wasn’t the beginning and end of life for him, with readiness to withdraw if the office would make him turn away from his Christian path.
It is not likely he would shift from that stand in connection with a second term. For him, the office isn’t worth sacrificing anything to attain, if indeed the motive if purely altruistic. What will matter to him at the end of the day is not how long he held the office of governor, but the impact his tenure had on the lives of the people of the state.
So far, he has impacted positively on the lives of the generality of the people with programmes and policies that would certainly outlive his administration. It will therefore be left for the people to decide if they want to continue with what they have seen, or gamble with what they are being promised.
-–Ekpo wrote in from Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State
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