Thursday, June 20, 2024
HomeEditorialOpinionENOIDEM, You Don Fall My Hands!

ENOIDEM, You Don Fall My Hands!

By N. T. A. Efo

“A man stands for nothing will fall for anything. -Malcom X
Barr-Enoidem
Sentiments apart, it made sense to hear that finally, Emmanuel Enoidem, Barrister-at-law; solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria; former Law Lecturer; former Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) State Working Committee member; former Chairman of Etim Ekpo Local Government Council and Commissioner since 2007, had taken a bow out of the cabinet of Governor Udom Emmanuel. That was two weeks ago. It may have been speculative though highly informed sources confirmed it actually happened.
But just yesterday, I heard a different thing-that he was back to the cabinet. The explanation for this was that the Governor minuted his resignation letter to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG). Nobody could tell what the Governor wrote in his minute, whether he sought for the SSG’s advice or he asked that the resignation be rejected. What I heard is that the SSG issued a letter to Enoidem rejecting his resignation.
For some months now, the Enoidem resignation blues has been a recurring melody in the political sound bites of the state. Some version has it that he had, one day, at a State Executive Council tendered his resignation to the Governor and he rejected it. That was about five months ago. Some other version said he went to the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to tell him he was resigning and he (Akpabio) told him not to, at that time.
Whether or not the time was right; or he actually did tender a resignation or got it rejected or not, the uproar over the saga will live long in the mouths of political gossips in the state.
For me, it was a very reasonable thing to do. For me, the Enoidem I knew to be strong-willed; courageous; unbending; principled; determined; fearless; outspoken, vocal is no longer that Enoidem if indeed he accepted the rejection of his resignation. I am seeing another Enoidem in the manner of another character people used to portray of him and which I never agreed to; that of a selfish; easy turn-coat; unprincipled; any position in government seeker. Those who hold this opinion about him used to point out the fact that as Party Treasurer in 2007, he was fully in support of the Obong Victor Attah agenda of stopping Senator Akpabio from succeeding him. How he turned round and supported the same Akpabio enough to earn himself an eight-year stay in his cabinet still baffles those who hold that opinion about him. The same set of people say he was one of those who strongly supported Mr Umana Okon Umana to be Governor when he was the “anointed” of then Governor Akpabio. How he easily left Umana for Governor Udom Emmanuel, earning another stay in the cabinet, is still a baffle for those with that opinion of him. Me, I no know ooh.
But one thing I know is that Barrister Enoidem don fall my hand. How? I am sure others who are watching the government of Governor Udom Emmanuel from the fence like I do think he did a noble thing to have resigned his appointment. Why? I have studied the pattern and the way the government is being run. No Commissioner or cabinet member is really working. Well, to every law, there is always an exception. So, I could say, with the exception of the Commissioner for Works; Health; Education; Special Duties (based on the fact that he told me things were going on in his Ministry. One of it is that the Four Point by Sheraton Hotel in Ikot Ekpene which I still think took the place of an international market that would have been more rewarding,will be open to the public by December); Housing and Urban Renewal; Finance; Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Bureau of Technical Matters and Due Process, and maybe Environment (considering that streets are still being swept), nothing is really going on. Most of them live on imprests. Some Ministries, departments and agencies do not even have imprest for months.
For the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment, which Barrister Enoidem superintends over, nothing worthwhile is happening there. The industries that Mr Industrialization Governor promised are still way away from coming on. Just go to the site of the Automated Personel Carrier and Luxury Buses (pray how come we even thought of such an industry when 10 small industries could be set up in the 10 Federal Constituencies with about N200million each and the multiplier effect on employment and other economic activities would have been felt far beyond the Hilltop Mansion) industry site at Itu Local Government Area, you will understand what I mean. The Peacock Paint Industry which was a signpost for the industrialization mantra of this government is said to be a scam. I do not know whether Enoidem was involved in it or not but we hear N400million of the people’s commonwealth went into the purchase of paint for the rushed commissioning that took place in the first 100 days anniversary of the administration. When Governor Udom Emmanuel call for patience with his industrialization policy today, I wonder why he was not patient with the Peacock Paint matter. No matter how one wants to explain it away, it is a scam which only patience and careful planning could have stopped. Then you go Shoprite. What is Shoprite sef? Shoprite is just a glorified supermarket which in some places, individuals purchase franchise of, and build. There is Shoprite in Owerri, Enugu and Lagos. I have not heard it was government that built them or partnered with them to build them. Even if it was so, I never heard the State Governors there pulling their entire cabinet to break a ground that is worth over N300million for free, for a firm that promised to create 600 jobs in six months. Now, more than a year after, there is no Shoprite. Have we ever considered what putting as much as N200million in an established indigenous supermarket like Nteps could have done to the economy of the state? Have we also thought of what will happen to the Shopping Mall at the Tropicana when Shoprite becomes operational? It will lie wasted. Does it make economic sense to have the Malls wasted?
Recently, applications for positions in the Metering company in ONNA has been issued. Is the metering company ready?
Well, there is an Akwa Ibom Enterprise and Employment Scheme (AKEES) which many know is not controlled by Enoidem’s Ministry. AKEES, originally registered as Akwa Ibom Youth Empowerment and Employment Scheme, I learnt, is controlled by one of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s closest favourites, Elder Ufot Ebong, through his son, Nduese. The scheme itself is as confusing as its control is. It has an office opposite Ibom Hall that is not busy and brimming with entrepreneurs seeking for registration, information or reporting progress. The office is rather more of the business office of Ebong Junior’s company, RootHub. Some say AKEES is principally an online scheme. Visit their website and report progress. Many have done that and got stucked on the net. And yet, AKEES claims to have created 20,000 jobs; run a factory that produces Battery Cages (for poultry farmers) at Mbo Local Government Area which will supply the whole of West Africa and Tomato farms at Ibesikpo Asutan and Nsit Atai Local Government Areas. Come to think f it, do the originators really understand the concept of AKEES themselves? Is it about setting up their own factories or farms or giving franchise to entrepreneurs or empowering old and budding entrepreneurs?
Then there is another new one, the Akwa Ibom Micro Enterprise Development Agency (AKMEDA). I am told it is still not under Enoidem’s Ministry. I hear it is the same Ufot Ebong who supervises it. Na wao. This government sef.
There is a Committee on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that is headed by one of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s closest pals who also represents him as a Director in Zenith Bank, Mr. Gabiel Ukpe. I do not know how much Enoidem’s Ministry, or the investment directorate of the Ministry, is involved with the Committee. It is, however, curious to note that Mr. Ukpe has an office, I am authoritatively told, in Government House and this one, I can confirm, that he goes about with the Governor to events, functions and even church services, instead of being on the road to attract foreign investments. Government people say the work of the Committee brought about the industries whose grounds have been ‘broken’ since. If that is it, then the FDI needs to re-fire itself. It has not achieved anything yet. There are no investors yet in the state but entrepreneurs. The only investors in the state are our women and men, young and old, who collect shops in the markets, on the roads and own farms around the state; invest their little earnings mostly without government support; pay wages to the few staff they have and prayerfully hope, daily, that customers will patronize them, their goods and services. The ones we always call investors are mere entrepreneur who come after government’s equity participation, uses the money to set up a semblance of business, which, in few years, gets closed down and whatever remains of the capital is flown abroad.
I guess there was nothing Enoidem’s Ministry could do to encourage small scale industrialists, small and medium scale enterprises, through institutionised groups like the National Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) or the National Association of Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs (NASSME) or even the Uyo Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines, and Agriculture (UCCIMA) in the last one year of his sojourn there. Did the UCCIMA trade fair hold last year? I cannot seem to remember.
It is a personal decision for Enoidem to resign or stay on. I, however, believe if he held on to his belief in resigning, he would have remained the hero he could have been in the eyes and hearts of watchers of this government.
I do not know what new promises have been made to him and how his Ministry will be impactful in the few days to come. He should be watchful. I guess he does not really know Udom Emmanuel’s government has a character already, a character that will be hard to change. Governor Udom Emmanuel has his favourites, people who have found favour with him. Enoidem is certainly not one of them and I guess he knows. Leaving the cabinet does not mean he is opposed to Udom. Leaving the cabinet will even strengthen the cabinet if Udom brings in a favourite who he will fund to execute the mandate of the office. On the fence where I sit, I hear Governor Udom Emmanuel funds only those he prefers to fund. He gives imprests to only those he wants to give it to in the mould of God showing mercies to those He prefers to show mercies to. He prefers the Dakkada Campaign to stay alone as a Brand Management Office under him than in the Ministry of Information and Communications. He prefers a Works Ministry running after dredgers at river banks to the Environment Ministry whose purview includes preserving the environment from all encroachments. He prefers cars to be bought by vendors for the SSG’s office which used to purchase them before. Their duty now is to just issue them out to officials. He even prefers to give the cars to only the officials he wants it to go to. That is why the FDI Committee Chairman will has a government car when he is supposed to be flying in the air looking for investors and use only CVU cars when he is in town. Governor Udom prefers to pay the salaries of Local Government staff directly even when he will shout true federalism if the Federal Government were to pay state government staff their salaries directly from Abuja. It is just a matter of preference. He is Governor so he does what will make his government move forward. But are we truly moving forward? Is the cabinet one and in sync with the Governor’s vision for the state? Your guess is as good as mine. I just hope Enoidem will not be changed before he accomplishes the things that made him agree to stay back. Just hoping.
Efo is an Uyo-based media practitioner

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