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UDOM HAS TO ALIGN WHATEVER HE DOES WITH THE VISION OF PDP – OBONG UDOFIA

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Obong Asuquo Udofia, Pro-Chancellor of Akwa Ibom State University, gives his view regarding the one year anniversary of Governor Udom Emmanuel. Excerpts:
How will you assess Governor Udom Emmanuel’s one year in office?
I had faith that, Udom Emmanuel as Governor, will do better because he became the only odd fellow that came out. All other aspirants came from the establishment, politics. But when he came out, from the industry, I knew that was the man to vote for. My final moment of conviction was when we were traveling back from the United Kingdom to Nigeria and for six hours I had no peace in the flight. He will come to my seat very often to talk with me and after agreeing, I decided to vote for him. The background to this is the fact that early enough, I was a frontliner to Obong Umana Okon Umana but I canvassed a stupid situation. In many meetings that were convened by the Uyo Senatorial District Elders’ Council, which I was a trustee, registered with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), everybody there felt “if not Obong Umana, no other person.” And for me, using my business background, I know that if you going into anything, you must have Plan A and Plan B and I continued to canvass the situation by saying “let us take a Plan B incase it’s not Obong Umana.” Whenever I tried that I was shouted down and after awhile they closed me out and stop inviting me to meetings.
So, I stayed out and when Udom Emmanuel came, we talked and I was convinced he will be the right person and I supported him wholeheartedly. So, let me hit the nail on the head: arising from discussions with him, I told him my personal view of what I expect from him in governance to the effect that there has been infrastructure albeit not terribly 100%, that we should in his dispensation have a new mindset, industrialization. By industrialization, whether or not it is full blown industry, I canvassed more on the Indian model. A situation where you have small industries employing small number of personnel and by the end of the day we will get many people into business, and when this happens, the economy will blossom and I am very happy he is looking into that model. For instance, if you have all the roads and you do not have small business that you can go to, you cannot use the road.
In one year he has tried and he is doing perfectly well and for the three years that is remaining, we are going to have great leap that will take Akwa Ibom to the Promised Land that we have been praying for. The Governor’s concept of Dakkada now challenges the average Akwa Ibom person to rise above the ordinary to join the comity of nation to be who we should be.
The Governor is preaching inclusive, returning the party to the grassroots. What is your take on the structure of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)?
That is exactly my vision. It is the practical democracy; if you choose to send somebody not qualify to represent you, that is your cup of tea. But let the people collectively select that person. And of course, the Governor has to tie whatever he does to the overall vision of the PDP.
Some people say the Governor is carrying a backlog of the previous administration in terms of inherited personnel that there should be overhauls to enable him bring in people with new ideas. Do you share this sentiment?
The present crop of hands the Governor is using, to me, are people in transition and I do not expect him to go to radio or television to tell Akwa Ibom people that all his appointees will go tomorrow. That will be penny wise, pound foolish. From the people he is using, there are those who have the propensity to contribute, he should systematically phase out those that are deadwoods. Government is a bridge; comes from here and stops there. You take from one into the other. You cannot close your book and start another, even in church, ministers are changed. You cannot come and say everybody go!
So, the Governor should be allowed to have some time to interact with his present men and after the interaction he can systematically decides to keep all or change as the case may be knowing very well that if his government fails, none of his appointees will be held responsible but himself. So, he wears the shoe and he knows where it will pinch.
Looking at the various groundbreakings that the Governor has done, how do you see it, given the dwindling economy?
Right step in the right direction; and if successive governments were trying their bits in this direction, we would have been better-off by now. The Governor is doing well and talking about industries, let him also put up a team, which I know he has, to the international and local communities to attract investors. We must create the enabling environment for business to thrive. My advice is that we should cooperate with the people, be receptive and we will see our state blossoms.
Government is considers the highest employer of labour. Do you share that?
It is not supposed to be. Government should not be the highest employer of labour, why? Because each position is programmed in the establishment. In an office, you are likely to have only one executive officer, yet there are so many who are qualified whereas if there where industries the left over will spilled into the industries.

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