Aniekeme Finbarr

Last night, my wife reminded me that I never proposed to her before we got married. ‘What? After how many years?’ I almost screamed. Women can be very wonderful. Of all the problems in the world, the only thing she remembers is how I did not propose. For peace sake, I explained to her that I did propose somehow and that is why we are husband and wife today with kids. She told me what I did was far below expectation.

She said she expected a meticulously planned and creativity executed stuff. Perhaps, it should have been done at a beach, a romantic vacation spot, an exotic restaurant or maybe right in front of the Magic Kingdom castle at Disneyland. She said I should have at least attempted the traditional ‘down-on-one-knee’ format; where a man kneels like a recalcitrant student in front of the school principal, with an engagement ring held high in his right hand and the girl pretending to be surprised, covering her eyes or mouth or both. Well, I have promised her a very ‘decent’ proposal before our 25th Anniversary. I hope that helps.

Managing the expectations of people as a leader especially in a crisis situation is not in the same league as handling my wife’s proposal worries. It is a serious business. A leader must be swift, creative, visionary, very patient and never weary of explaining why certain decisions are taken at every given point. I think Governor Udom Emmanuel has acquitted himself nicely in the management of the dreaded Covid -19 pandemic.

In this part of the world, citizens expect government to meet every need, from private to communal and deservingly so. Once the pressing need is met, new expectations kick in. In Akwa Ibom State, who remembers that once upon a time Information Drive was such an impassable road, despite leading to the NUJ secretariat? How do you explain to people the quality of materials and funds spent in taking out flood water around Nsikak Eduok avenue, Akwa Efak, Udo Udoma axis of the capital city? Students now graduate at Akwa Ibom State University without any second thought whether their courses are accredited or not. People now visit general hospitals in the state, from Iquita to Ibiaku Ntok Okpo, Etinan, Eket, to Ikot Okoro without remembering that some of these facilities had become fertile grounds for weeds and shrubs and safe habitats to snakes and all forms of reptiles.

Governor Udom Emmanuel long before the covid-19 era had invested generously in healthcare and agro-allied industries. With a ravaging virus strutting the universe like a colossus and forcing towns and nations to be on lockdown. Akwa Ibom State has been able to manage its own situation greatly, recording one of the highest recovery rates in the country’s books. Governor Emmanuel has also reached out to the local factories to buy off its products and in turn distribute them to all villages in the state.

It sounds all easy, but there were times some of these decisions did not go down well. When the state muted the idea of owning an airline. Not a few people thought the aviation industry was a no-go area, with airlines shutting down. But with a well thought out model in tune with market realities, Ibom Air is expanding on all fronts, bringing joy and satisfaction to its customers and returning jobs and cash to the state as investment benefits. Recently the airline landed its forth airplane preparing grounds for more local routes and regional flights.

Governor Udom Emmanuel has handled the day to day decisions in managing this pandemic with utmost maturity and wisdom. Without pandering to the gallery, uttering offensive verbiage, pulling stunts or seeking unnecessary attention, he has painstakingly consulted widely and dispassionately taken correct steps to contain the spread of the virus. With the fast recovery rates and the gradual re-starting of the economy, it is expected that Akwa Ibom State will be out of the woods soon and re-launch life with zest and excitement.

While states and nations are looking at how to deal with this pandemic, Governor Udom Emmanuel is already managing future expectations of Akwa Ibom people by setting up an economic recovery and reconstruction committee to give detailed plans for the future. The team is led by a renowned Professor of Economics, Akpan Hogan Ekpo.In that committee are also very capable hands like, Dr Leo Stan Ekeh , Chairman, Zinox Technologies, Prince Bassey Sampson Inwang, President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria –Akwa Ibom Chapter, Sir Effiong Afiakurue, Former Executive Director, NCDMB, Chairman/CEO of Rootcare Pharmacy, Lady Mary Uduk, Acting DG, Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr. Udom Inoyo, until recently, Executive Vice Chairman of Exxon Mobil, Mr. Hilary Akpan, Executive Director, NNPC/NAPIMS.

It is a well packed team, so you will also find therein, Prof. Vincent Anigbogu, Institute for National Transformation, Pastor Samuel Archibong, League of Akwa Ibom Business Association (LABUSA), Mr. Lordswill Umani , President, Akwa Ibom Business Community (AIBC), Obong Nseyen Ebong, President, Uyo Chambers of Commerce Industry, Mines & Agriculture (UYOCCIMA), Sir Inyang Inyang, Managing Consultant, NobleHouse Consulting.

To represent government as members of the committee are Pastor Umo Eno , Executive Director, Agricultural Investments (AKICORP), Dr. Glory Edet Hon. Commissioner for Agric & Women Affairs Mr. Ephraim Inyang-Eyen, Hon. Commissioner for Works, Mr. Akan Okon, Hon. Commissioner for Economic Development & Ibom Deep Sea Port, Mr. Linus Nkan , Hon Commissioner for Finance, Prince Ukpong Akpabio, Hon. Commissioner for Trade & Investment, Prof. Emmanuel Onwioduokit, Head of Department of Economics, University of Uyo and Mr. Imeh Uwah.

The times we are in are unique times, a sweeping crisis could affect every aspect of life including people’s confidence in financial stability for decades, leading to more cautious investment behaviour. Governor Udom Emmanuel is working his socks off to ensure the situation does not get that bad. His efforts so far are more than impressive, from agriculture to health, worker’s welfare to stimulation of SMEs, the testimonies are as eloquent as the future expectations. God bless Akwa Ibom State.

Finbarr is the Special Assistant, New Media to Gov Udom Emmanuel.