Dr. Chris Ekpenyong, an Engineer, is a Former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State and General Secretary, Forum of Former Deputy Governors in Nigeria. In this interview with reporters in Uyo, the People Democratic Party, PDP, stalwart says Governor Udom Emmanuel can achieve his goals.
The Supreme Court recently validated the mandate of Governor Udom Emmanuel. What is your reaction to this?
For every PDP faithful like me, it is a thing of joy. For every Akwa Ibom person, it is a good thing as all the anxiety of waiting to get done with the journey is now over and our people can now know that they have a government in place. The petition was a distraction which made many waiver and some people’s faith in government to go down. We thank God this has come to an end. It is a good thing for the state as the issue of zoning which promotes equity, justice, fair-play, inclusiveness and people’s right, has been sustained by the court. We have always been in PDP and our politics and elections are always built on political structures. This structure delivered Governor Udom in April last year just like it did deliver Obong Victor Attah and Chief Godswill Akpabio. So, it is a good thing that the party with the most predominant political structure in the state won.
Today, it is Eket senatorial District. Some other day, it will go to Uyo Senatorial District and it gives me joy that my children can have an opportunity to present themselves when next it is the turn of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District. That is if I am not going to run again. So you see, the Supreme Court helped us solved a question which a wrong answer would have created division in our polity and balkanize our people.
To Governor Udom Emmanuel, what advice can you offer him?
First of all, let me congratulate him. The judgment clearly shows he is God’s choice for the state at a moment like this. There is no leader without the approval of God Almighty. So, when they call his mandate divine, I guess they know it is so. Else, who was he in our political mix as at April, 2014? So, he is God’s choice. I congratulate him once again.
However, watching him in the last seven months, I see clearly that he has a direction that is distinct but he needs to tinker his distinct style with what I may call forces on ground. He is a calm fellow and should remain so. In calmness, humility and the genuine will to serve, will he draw respect from us. He should draw close to and face the people because in a democracy, he draws power from them. He should throw his plans into the market place of public opinion. Then, he should not forget the party.
He should restructure the party to function as a party not as a parastatal of government. He should create a real time secretariat for the party as it is done in Abuja.
He should also guard against the creation of a cabal of friends and family. From experience, this creates division and promotes sycophancy rather than loyalty. He should differentiate between loyalty and sycophancy.
The thrust of the administration in the last few months seems to be moral rebirth based on the Dakkada philosophy of the Governor and Industrialization. Do you think these two can drive the sustainable development of the state?
Yes and No! Yes, because anything positive can drive growth, progress and development. No, if the implementation is faulty. The Dakkada Philosophy and industrialization are good concepts and are all together not new. Before the Dakkada thing, there was the etok syndrome philosophy of Obong Akpan Isemin, there was the come, let’s build together philosophy of Obong Attah and the Akwa Ibom Ado Ok philosophy of Chief Akpabio.
Past leaders realized what he has realized and tried to work on the people to move them to the faith of greatness. The Dakkada philosophy should note that we have always tried to be great but there are many inhibitions. Most of the youths he met on ground and may not have liked their attitude are well educated and enterprising. The lack of jobs and support made them turn emergency politicians. I am a business man. I own a farm. All I need is support from government to key into the government goal in food sufficiency and wealth creation. And what is this support? I should put it like this: The Governor must know that ke se mum nkpo edak’eda.
On industries, we do not need all the big big industries to be industrialized. In fact, he should leverage on agro business and make most of our industries to be agro based. Ten solid agro based industries in the 10 federal constituencies costing about N200M each will create more impact than some of the envisaged ones. We should also think of getting some of our natural resources out, resources like limestone and clay for ceramics. He should also check with the Chambers of commerce, the small scale Industrialists and small and medium scale entrepreneurs and the technology incubation centre, and see their proposals.