Umo Eno Vs Others: The Choice Before Akwa Ibom People in 2023

Uwemedimoh Umanah, PhD, ANIPR

Rosalynn Carter, an American activist was right in her opinion that “a leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”

What Carter implied was that, there are times in a society when things must be done the unconventional way, in order to achieve unusual and unconventional results.

The election of 2023 presents an ample opportunity for Akwa Ibom people to make a choice between leadership and great leadership, quality service delivery and mediocrity, and above all, security and insecurity of life and property.

The aspiration of Pastor Umo Bassey Eno, the immediate past Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources to succeed Udom Emmanuel as Governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2023 has continued to garnered unprecedented support from majority of stakeholders and people.

Akwa Ibom stakeholders consider Eno the desirable person for the exalted office, at this critical juncture. However, there are a few others who are critical of Eno’s aspiration, because of his association with the state Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, thereby ‘throwing away the baby with the bath water.’

They seem oblivious of Governor Emmanuel’s robust efforts in the development of the state and his penchant to get it sustained, hence the emergence of Pastor Umo Eno.

The latter group propagates that Pastor Umo Eno is an imposition on the people of the state by Governor Udom Emmanuel.

This argument falls flat in reason and logic, in the sense that, Eno is an Akwa Ibom son, from Uyo Senatorial District (where Governorship position is zoned to), and has greater capacity to deliver on the demands of the office of Governor, than the orchestrators of the imposition opinion. Why is Pastor Umo Eno’s credentials more desirable than those of his opponents ?

Character is the first credential of Pastor Umo Eno, which eludes his opponents. In this regard, I can’t agree more with Billy Graham that, “when wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”. Umo Eno is an exemplar of integrity and honesty.

Like President Lincoln of the United States, who offers us good examples of good character traits, Umo Eno’s good character has stayed with him throughout the evolution and growth of Royalty Group in 1995, till date.

Suffice it to note that a person with good character chooses to do the right thing because he or she believes it is morally right to do so.

As a requirement of leadership, character enables a leader do justice to all manner of people irrespective of their ethnicity, religion, gender and ideological persuasion.

Taking the above into cognizance, it is not in doubt, whatsoever, that Umo Eno would invest character in the management of diversity in Akwa Ibom State.

This is a departure from other gubernatorial aspirants in the state whose derogatory utterances might spell doom for the state, if given an opportunity. For instance, describing the people of the state as “dogs” is uncharitable, smacks of insensitivity and uncharacteristic of great leadership.

Secondly, Umo Bassey Eno will promote corporate governance in the running of government business. CG here refers to the way in which an organizations (including governments) are governed and to what purpose.

It’s aimed at building an environment of trust, transparency and accountability- necessary for fostering long-term investment, financial stability and business integrity- thereby supporting stronger growth and more inclusive societies.

In this regard, it must be noted that, for about three decades, at the Royalty Group, Umo Eno has been active in organizational decision- making, within the framework of accountability and transparency.

What gives PUE an edge over other aspirants for the office of Governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2023? Eno understands organizational character, diversity management and inclusiveness- and would use them as intangible resources for prosperity. Viewed from such perspective, Pastor Umo Eno is the best choice for Akwa Ibom people in 2023.

Thirdly, Umo Eno’s penchant for entrepreneurship and business development makes him the right man for the job of Governor of Akwa Ibom in 2023.

A World Trade Organization Report (WTO, 2016) supports this assertion- that SMEs represent over 90 per cent of the business population, 60-70% of employment and 55% of GDP in developed economies.

What does this imply? Growing economies (Akwa Ibom inclusive) need leaders who have knowledge of the workings of SMEs.

As a corollary, Umo Eno encapsulates the above description: his mastery in job creation, entrepreneurship and business development, typify a leader who won’t be be caught unprepared.

Furthermore, Governor Udom Emmanuel momentous feat in Foreign Direct Investments and industrialization, as exemplified in Ibom Air and other numerous industries in the state, require policy continuity that only Umo Bassey Eno can offer.

This is in contrast with other gubernatorial aspirants, who would oil the wheels of political acrimony- by ensuring these gargantuan investments in the state are dysfunctional.

Finally, peace is a social capital that Akwa Ibom is in dire need of. This is underpinned by its nexus with prosperity and sustainable development. The quality of leadership a society has directly affects its internal security calculus.

Does Akwa Ibom need a leader who would retard the state to the dark days of politically- motivated killings, armed robbery and kidnapping? Can a cultist or an abetter of insecurity guarantee steady peace and security and an investment- friendly clime?

The right choice before Akwa Ibom people is to support Umo Bassey Eno to sustain the momentum of peace initiated by Governor Udom Emmanuel and take it further. This is the unconventional path that Akwa Ibom ought to take!

Uwemedimoh Umanah, a development scholar, writes in from Abak

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