I remember vividly while during his confirmation hearing at the Senate, former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos state said “May our loyalty be tested”. All I can say is that the recent happenings in the politics of Akwa Ibom State and the defection of Senator Godswill Akpabio from PDP to APC have tested the loyalty of Governor Emmanuel Udom and he has not been found wanting.
The defection of the former governor was the height of intense politicking which had been ongoing for over a year now. Many would have expected extreme pettiness and political bickering, but we are yet to witness any such thing.No one can claim Emmanuel Udom has cast aspersions on the person of his predecessor or publicly maligned him for his stewardship to the state.
To those who know the man Emmanuel Udom, and who has been following the politics of Akwa Ibom State keenly since he assumed office on May 29 2015, this is not strange.
While many successors would have gone after their predecessors by either belittling or rubbishing their legacies, Udom progressed their legacies to having direct impact on the indigenes of the state from infrastructure to health, education etc, to mention a few.
While he could have easily “roasted” and sought conviction for Godswill Akpabio in public court, he preserved him. This was evident in his many actions. To highlight a few, he approached the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) seeking approval for the restructuring of terms for loan repayment of Akwa Ibom state. In the face of stiff opposition and campaigns of calumny by the All Progressive Congress in the State, he was unwavering.
It is on record that the Akwa Ibom state chapter of APC through its scribe Mr. Ita Awak attacked Emmanuel Udom just three months into his administration by demanding for the disclosure of the total debt profile and income Governor Udom inherited from Chief Godswill Akapbio.
Ita Awak further requested the EFCC, ICPC and other relevant agencies to conduct a forensic and thorough audit of the state finances from May 29, 2007 to May 28 2015, and issue a certificate of clean financial health before the CBN can look into restructuring the state debt.
Projects like the Enwang-Etebi Road, the Tropicana Entertainment Centre, the “commissioned” but uncompleted Specialist Hospital, the Pipe Jacket drainage in Uyo, the Hatchery at Uruan, the permanent Airport Terminal, the Airport Taxiway and 2nd Runway, the abandoned Etinan-Eket were listed as abandoned by the APC to press home their demands in the early days of Udom’s administration.
Emmanuel Udom pressed forward and he achieved his aim which enabled him fulfill most, if not all his campaign promises to the good people of his state.
The other “event” which further confirms Emmanuel Udom as a true definition of true loyalty were his actions during the September 3 2015 invasion of Akwa Ibom’s State House by the country’s secret police; the DSS, which was targeted at implicating Senator Godswill Akpabio
It was said the SSS operatives disarmed the security personnel assigned to the Government House and made straight for the VIP Guest House where immediate past governor and now Senator Godswill Akpabio stayed on his last visit to Uyo, the state’s capital, claiming to be acting on intelligence.
Governor Emmanuel Udom raced to the scene and got there within minutes into the invasion, and confronted the SSS officers. He met the operatives breaking the safe which contained N1 million and $50,000. He was said to be livid and demanded from the DSS operatives “Is this what you were looking for?”
Governor Udom further probed the officer who led the team of DSS operatives, and he admitted that they were carrying out the unlawful invasion under orders from above.
When the SSS operatives saw that Udom was livid, they mellowed and began to apologise. They pleaded with the governor saying they were merely obeying “orders”. Udom angrily asked them to go with the estimated $50,000 which they found in the safe, “since that is what they came for”. The SSS operatives declined.
On discovering they had found nothing incriminating in the premises, the SSS officers hurriedly vacated the premises.
In the face of what could be best described as an act of betrayal by Godswill Akpabio, Udom kept his cool and went about uniting his people and this was attested to by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki while on a solidarity visit to Governor Udom on the said matter. In his words, Saraki said and I quote; “We are here on solidarity visit to you and your government to let you know we are strongly and truly with you. We are here because we can see you have successfully united the people behind your administration. We can see you are serving the people well.
“The people of Akwa Ibom have shown they are with you. That is why even with the shout of defection across the country, you retained well over 95 percent of the elected and appointed officials in the ruling party. My experience in politics shows that once your people are with you, you need to fear nobody.
“With what I have seen and heard about your administration, your people know that you mean well. You have displayed capacity and demonstrated leadership. This Governor is definitely a dedicated, brilliant, focused and dynamic administrator”.
The Senate President told his audience which included key stake-holders in the State that he and his colleagues came to appreciate ongoing developmental efforts in Akwa Ibom State and not to play politics.
He further commended the Governor and said “The way all the elders and key stakeholders are supporting you shows that you respect your elders and carry your people along. It also shows that you are delivering on your promises.”
This was how far Emmanuel Udom went in demonstrating his loyalty. He put his life, office and reputation on the line. This is how loyal he is. He is the definition of true loyalty which is worth emulating, though lacking among our political elites.
–Folorunsho wrote in from Oyo