Governor Udom Emmanuel may have begun deft political moves to seek higher responsibilities and getting set to play at the national scene when his tenure expires in 2023.
Udom, who had been a key player in the nation’s financial sector bringing his wealth of experience in the banking industry to bear on the governance of Akwa Ibom State, has recorded significant achievements in many sectors. From the industrial sector to aviation and to infrastructure, the governor in popular parlance could be said to have done well.
With less than two years to the end of the present political dispensation, the governor is seen criss-crossing many parts of the country to deliver lectures in an apparent move to test the waters and show the larger audience the stuff he is made of, stainer stuff of hard work, dedication to national unity and above all with a keen eye on industrial development.
He first appeared in the political firmament of Akwa Ibom State in 2014 when he was appointed Secretary to the State Government (SSG) by former Governor Godswill Akpabio, himself a national asset and currently the minister of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and has since followed in the footsteps of his predecessor in the transformation of the state.
As a crowd puller, though a staunch member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he has earned the respect of Nigeria’s intelligentsia and technocrats irrespective of political inclinations with both the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and Senate President Dr. Ahmad Lawan visiting Akwa Ibom State to inaugurate development projects at various times.
While Prof. Osinbajo has visited Akwa Ibom severally, an indication that Governor Udom is a dependable ally, first he came in 2017, barely two years after the governor assume office to inaugurate the largest syringe company on the African continent initiated by the state government, he has visited regularly, the recent being when he came to inaugurate the Dakadda luxury estate last month, a residential estate that is complete with broadband internet connectivity.
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On the other hand, the President of the Senate also came last month to inaugurate the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene dual carriageway initiated by the previous administration but completed by the Udom administration, a good example of continuity in governance and the judicious management of public funds. The significance here is that Governor Udom Emmanuel has gone ahead to complete key projects initiated by his predecessor.
In the same vein, the application of available funds to where there is compelling need as well as the decision taken by the state government not to accept the federal government’s bailout fund some years ago goes to confirm the governor’s ingenuity and clairvoyance when it comes to the implications of free funds.
Having recorded unfathomable achievements in Akwa Ibom State, it is no surprise that the governor is now presenting his scorecard to the larger Nigerian society and it seems certain as usual that the golden fish as usually will not have any hidden place.
A few weeks ago, he was in one of Nigeria’s premier universities, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka to deliver a lecture. It is often joked in many circles that there is only one University in Nigeria and that is the University of Nigeria and that is where Udom chose to launch his lecture series.
As expected, he used the opportunity presented by the lecture and the audience drawn from the students and the academics from the university community to explain how he has been able to change the industrial landscape of Akwa Ibom State and attract an automobile assembly plant set to commence production of commercial vehicles by next year.
The governor has been quoted during the lecture as saying, “After I was sworn in, fully conscious of where we were going, I set up a technical committee on foreign direct investment and charged them to go all out and sell our state, our areas of comparative advantage and ensure that through industrialization, we would expand the opportunities of growth for our people.’’ That was the message delivered in no unmistakable way.
The governor’s next port of call was Kaduna State where he was the keynote speaker in the Arewa lecture series. Here, the message was that of national unity and cohesion in a country so richly blessed with human and material resources yet so divided along ethnic fault lines and a growing poverty level.
According to him, Nigerians identify more with their ethnic groups than with the country of their birth adding “ we don’t need more Ibibios or Fulanis or Igbos or Yorubas or Ijaws or Hausas. What we need is more Nigerians,’’ he stated.
For Udom, his journey towards his involvement in the nation’s political affairs at the federal level might have begun and it appears he is not likely to look back.
Many can readily recall events leading to the 2007 general election and those from the Niger Delta who had indicated interest to succeed Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, such as Obong Victor Attah and Dr. Peter Odili were eased out from the presidential race that year.
It remains to be seen how the unfolding events and Udom’s ambition of playing at the national level would play out.