By Samuel Ayara
Max Depree thought well when he averred in his literary work (Leadership is an art) that, “the signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among followers. If they are reaching their potential, learning, serving, achieving the required results, changing with grace or managing conflict” in a way that could stir them to the reality that losing sight of the beauty of ideas, hope and opportunity, and to frustrate the right to be needed, is to be at the dying edge.
Agreeing with Depree stirs us to the reality that in Akwa Ibom State berths a leadership that fits perfectly into the book’s description of outstanding leadership where conflict is a needless event as Governor Udom Emmanuel through ideas, hope and opportunity have inspired the people to quit existing and start living.
Without attempting a comparison of records set by others, Governor Emmanuel has passionately gotten along with his duties, leading his class for the right reasons and showing clear example that with sufficient will and determination, an economic bloom could emerge from an economically recessed nation to create an oasis of hope from a desert of desolation.
Events of last three months of the over 27 months of his eventful tenure as state chief executive has not only pointed Nigerians to the possibilities of achieving feats that were hitherto unthinkable, but have clearly acquitted preparation and passion as an inseparable Siamese, if we must grow past the frivolous excuse of existing in a third world nation.
Providing solution has been the launch pad that has characterized the governor’s engagement in the last three months. This has gone a mile to proof that he never went on with governance without paying mind to programmes and policies that would give nerves to his promise and desire to industrialize the state.
While the thunderous ovation of setting out a module that conquered epileptic power breezed through the national space, the anxiety that reined the firmament was unsettling, such that states that wore kid gloves on matters of power could not help losing a chunk of investments and entrepreneurial concerns that made them thick, to Akwa Ibom.
Not done with attracting commendable investments to the state, the governor rather than sustain the power feat within the visible parts of the state capital, set out on an agenda of expanding its reach to other parts to ensure government’s effort at massively opening up the rural areas to investments that would discourage rural-urban migration is achieved. Today work on the Ekim Power Station is not just a promise fulfilled but also a vision well conceived.
A leader in Udom Emmanuel’s ilk deserves all the support; convinced that his kind in our clime had long gone extinct. Little wonder his being referred to as one who sees the future. Did he not know that a time would come when food would be all people have to work for, when he invested energy, time and resources to ensure rigorous pursuit of large-scale cultivation of food crops? It was not long before prices of foodstuff like garri, tomato, cucumber and other vegetables crashed because of his timely intervention at scaling up production to cushion the deficit.
Despite the gains that have quieted every dissenting voice, achieving food security did not come without a prize, as the agricultural value chain in the state has grown to accommodate even those who believed its possibility with a pinch of salt. Alas, government’s projection to make agriculture the next centerpiece of our socioeconomic endeavour has paid off with other states sourcing their food needs from Akwa Ibom.
The strength of this vision defies age and time, such that the state has not only attained the acclaim as an industrial hotspot, but have dislodge others who were ahead of her to emerge Nigeria’s second most preferred investment destination, according to the National Bureau of Statistics ratings. Attainments such as this are never a product of accidental fortune; they are a result of days and nights of putting words to work.
It is a given that in keeping with his commitment to wealth creation, Governor Emmanuel is determined to leave a trail on every path he threads, by swimming against the tides of downward economic trend to ensure the state does more than whining at the sad realities, but prosper despite the growing economic uncertainties.
Revealing is the biblical experience of “tears in Rammah and joy in Goshen.” At a time governance in other clime is viewed to have taken an abysmal nosedive, Akwa Ibom soars unscathed to harvest as the ruins of Nigeria’s socioeconomic fortunes find resuscitation in Governor Udom Emmanuel’s poise to change the Nigerian investment narrative.
Who could have trusted the possibility of attracting huge industrial concerns at a period multinationals were folding up? Of the truth, Akwa Ibomites in the choice of Governor Emmanuel could not have settled for less, considering his reach, pedigree and Midas touch on the international corporate turf, prior to his emergence as governor.
In a matter of days, Africa’s largest syringe factory and the metering company would be throwing its doors open for business in Akwa Ibom. What a plausible addition to value creation, employment, revenue, international presence and economic renaissance.
Understanding the times allows for remarkable appreciation of this gesture, considering that with a higher production capacity, the factory will be coming with a better promise of bridging the production gap that the South African Syringe Factory with an estimated 95 million per annum syringes production is yet to attempt.
Projected to annually produce 400 million syringes, to feed the Nigerian annual 600 million syringe need, it will not only attract high returns on investment, but it is an undeniable contribution to Nigeria’s ambition of reducing importation in a bid to grow the local economy.
The promise and assurances are not different with the Metering Company as it positions to take the challenge of helping Nigerians out from the menace of irregular billings due to unavailability of meters to regulate electricity charges, while this will boost the state’s earnings, it will for sure end the indiscriminate tariff regime of power providers.
Projecting what the state stands to gain from investing in this company is unambiguous. Common sense avails that with an annual production capacity of 600,000 meters, this investment is on the way to saving millions of Nigerians and service providers from the huge losses that have characterized transaction in the power sector for a period as long as Nigeria’s independence.
Work on the flour mill, fertilizer plant and coconut refinery are at advanced stage, while the pencil and toothpick factory as well as peacock paint are already running the market place, to signpost the governor’s charted race to economic bloom on a terrain he has mastered, despite earlier doubts cast by bookmakers.
Regular payment of salaries could be considered a fleeting achievement until one is confronted with the sad realities that in this country are states where workers are owed excesses of 9 to 14 months salary with no hope that it would get any better. The governor’s ability to act in departure with his colleagues in keeping up with workers muneration has opened a new line of interest for researchers in wages and emolument.
Forging ahead and soaring above distractions clearly distinguishes him in ways than few from the pack. As the state positions to celebrate its three decades of existence, one can readily look forward with enthusiasm of what blessings lie in wait, trusting that God knew we needed speed when he gave us a leader to strike our cord of optimism, adventure and industry in our walk to the Promised Land.
In all of these, one would agree that Max Depree was thoughtful when he submitted that, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality, the last is to say thank you, in between; the leader is a servant.”
In leading the orchestra of statehood at 30, Governor Udom Emmanuel has purged himself of mediocrity and has gratefully defined reality, to inspire the state to heights of acclaim and reckoning.
Samuel Ayara writes from Ibong Otoro in Abak Local Government Area.