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HomeEditorialOpinionNSIMA EKERE, UMANA UMANA’S APPOINTMENTS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR AKWA IBOM STATE

NSIMA EKERE, UMANA UMANA’S APPOINTMENTS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR AKWA IBOM STATE

BY N.T.A. EFO

etiebongSentiments apart, the appointments of former Deputy Governor Nsima Ekere and former Secretary to the State Government and Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the last gubernatorial election, Mr Umana Okon Umana, as the chief executives of two major petroleum and maritime based federal parastatals, will certainly rock the body politics and shake the socio-economic foundation of the Akwa Ibom state sooner than later.
Ekere was appointed Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, while Umana was appointed the Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority, OGFZA, by President Muhamadu Buhari recently.
Almost within the same period, the duo entered the next phase of their lives together. While Ekere was screened by the Senate Committee on the NDDC on 4 October, 2016, Umana resumed work at the OGFZA on 5 October, 2016.
For Ekere, it was not an easy one. Some people swore he was never going to be screened or that his nomination will be dropped.
Well, the two, though they mean the same thing, never happened and soon, the committee of the whole is sure to confirm him.
For Umana, it was a smooth sail. No protests. No swearing. No stopping.
By their appointments, even the least of discerning Akwa Ibomites know things will never be the same in the State again. The implications of their appointments are varied.
First, in the area of politics, it means the APC now has a clearly defined leadership structure that is going to lean on the shoulders of the two-one to the left and one to the right. The party leadership and membership will now have more confidence to stay on in the party, to support the party and to oppose the government in power very well.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, which is the government in power in the State, will not give the APC a wave of hand any longer. It will take it seriously. The PDP will need to know that with those two, the APC train will certainly re-fire itself for onward movement towards the takeover of its assumed birth right of the leadership of the State. And so,all the talk of an Akwa Ibom being a PDP state will be put to a test soon.
For Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Government, there will be a serious opposition in terms of policy criticism, projects alternative and substitution of empowerment briefs. What do I mean? The APC will now boldly criticize government policies. The APC will provide alternate projects through the two. First, see what the APC government-run NDDC’s emergency repairs of nine roads in the State, including Ukana Offot Street, caused the PDP government image makers to do on the internet. Now imagine what will happen when the new NDDC Board adds another ten roads to the list. It could make Governor Udom Emmanuel to do about twenty. And Akwa Ibom people will be better. The problem is, with the nine, he has not been vexed enough to do ten. A Governor who came into office through politics and who is not vexed enough to compete in the arena of the politics of development is a sad commentary on our descent into the i-don’t –care -what’s- going- on- around- me cliff? Please note that I feel that in doing those repairs, the APC run NDDC never towards the reaction of the government but I feel we should have reacted by doing other roads.
Also imagine the case of Governor Udom getting signals that an Ekere led NDDC has given roads, water rehabilitation and other contracts to Senators, House of Representatives and House of Assembly Members. He will, certainly. If the Akwa Ibom components in the legislature do not take the contracts, their other Niger Delta counterparts will. I am sure Governor Udom will try to take them more serious. I hear he doesn’t do the “needful” with them. People will say it is not necessary to do the “needful” with them; calling it sharing the commonwealth of the people with a few. But is it not better to let those the people voted in and who they still troop to their houses for support to have some crumbs from the table than for a few high-end Lagos friends and family of the Governor to live in spledour and affluence in fenced walls where no ordinary citizen can access. Go to the office or house of the Speaker and other leaders of the State House of Assembly and see how easily people go in to ask for all manner of support. Now, go to the house of any of Governor Udom’s family members , starting from the “Oga”, Ekerete, or Lagos returnee friends and see how no ordinary citizen can access him. Now, compare how much of the commonwealth, beyond statutory entitlements, are in the hands of the House members and how much of the same commonwealth are in Ekerete’s and the returnees’ hands. The result of this simple arithmetic will show you why it is necessary for Ekere’s appointment to create a different pool where we can access the commonwealth?
I am not talking politics here because 2019 is still a bit far but I am talking about the commonwealth of the State and that of the region, represented by the funds in the NDDC. Even if I was going to talk about the politics of 2019, I wouldn’t know if Ekere or Umana will contest for governorship. But I do know that their APC will certainly field a candidate and Ekere and Umana’s appointments will hold a lot of implications for the party at the poll.
It is important both appointees see the whole state as their catchment area. While serving in the offices, they should try and engage, encourage, empower and enable our people. In the NDDC, there is a huge vote for Akwa Ibom State. Even when its current budget is lean, there is a huge savings in the commission’s vault for past projects in previous budgets. What Ekere need to do is streamline the projects and see the ones he can work on. Some of the road projects are important ones that will touch the lives of the people. Some other ones like jetties, water projects, electrification are also important. He should make sure he touches all local governments with these projects.
He should be reminded that there were people like Ambassador Sam Edem and Barr. Bassey Dan Abia before him. One was chairman. One was Acting Chairman and Managing Director. Both touched the lives of their Nsit Ubium and Esit Eket community such that virtually eighty percent of roads in the areas were tarred during their tenure by the NDDC. The same should happen in Ikot Abasi “ke Obong onode ukeme”
Beyond the roads and other projects in their area, people complain of the failure of the two to empower Akwa Ibom people. We do not mean friends like Base Engineering or aides like Charles Ukoette. We mean general empowerment. Their general empowerment went more to the other Niger Deltans. If you visit their homes in the States when they were there, people say, it was easier for a nobody from the other Niger Delta States to pass through their gates then for a somebody from Akwa Ibom State to pass through the same gate. People also said their Executive Director, Project and Finance, were too powerful such that they empowered more people from and around them than the two Akwa Ibom bosses. I don’t think they were more powerful. They were just passionate about helping their people. It is this same passion I ask from Ekere.
For Umana, his role is regulatory and a lot of people who look forward to his office should please, be properly guided. No pressure should be mounted on him. OGFZA is like NAFDAC. Some Pharmaceutical Company could send drugs and other “gifts” to the Director General but what contract does NAFDAC give out?. This should be the mind set of people going after perks from Umana’s office.
As a regulator though, Umana will have the benevolence of getting goodwill, beyond the gifts I mentioned, from operators in the zone covered by the authority. This is where he will be beneficial to the State. A note from him can fix a job for an indigene of the State in these companies. A note from him can give contracts available in these companies to indigenes of the State. That is what I want Umana to do for us.
The two should look for people who know the terrains they are going into and its politics, and engage them for advice. It shouldn’t be about who were their supporters when they were governorship candidates. Otuekong Ini Jackson served as a board member of OGFZA . He should be of great help to Umana. There is a young man from Etinan, Engr Otobong Ben who has an office in the same building as Umanah. He should be the only Akwa Ibomite with a presence at Onne. Umanah should seek him out. Self acclaimed political leader of Ikono, Emmanuel Ukpong Udo knows Intels very well.He should drop politics and assist Umana to succeed.
Anietie Usen and Mercy Ikpe, late Brig Gen Wellington Bassey’s daughter, are still in the NDDC. Some contractors I can’t mention here know the politics of the place. Ekere needs to connect with these people. Umana’s and Ekere’s success will be successes for Akwa Ibom State.
Akwa Ibom people, including G22 members who, after their solidarity visit to Ekere, could not wait for a month to do a counter one to Governor Udom, should allow the duo maximum concentration to be able to push through and be successful in their offices.
For 2019, we will look at the implication of the appointments another day. For today, the call is for the duo to impact positively on the people of the State. The call is also for the people of the State to support the duo to succeed. Roads, jobs, contracts, empowerment and engagements do not know colour, creed, religion, tribe or party. That is the spirit I wish the people to have when supporting the duo. To the duo, God be with you and give you the wisdom and understanding to succeed for the good of our society.

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