Thursday, 17 September 2015

Udom’s guacamole

Udom’s guacamole


On the 29th day of May, 2015; Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel was sworn-in as the fourth civilian Governor of Akwa Ibom State. Amidst the celebration that trailed his entrant, there are several hurdles in the path of the young administration, that are capable of slowing it down or grinding it to a halt, if not properly handled.

Udom, who was introduced to the Akwa Ibom State’s political scene on the 31st day of July 2013, when he was sworn-in as the Secretary to the State Government to replace Obong Umana Okon Umana whose gubernatorial ambition served as the knife that severed the hitherto robust relationship with the then Governor; Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio. The cold war that followed, culminated in Umana’s resignation and decampment from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Despite enjoying the endorsement and support of the former Governor, Udom Emmanuel’s trip to the Government House, Uyo was bumpy as he had to contend with 22 other aspirants who walked out of the December 8 2014 PDP gubernatorial primaries in protest, describing the process as “flawed.” They accused the Godswill Akpabio of manipulating the electoral process that produced him.

Described by his followers as a prudent, patriotic and pan – Akwa Ibom technocrat, Udom also has the academic and practical experience, in the estimation of his supporters, to continue with Akpabio’s ‘uncommon transformation agenda’ in the state and take it to the next level. His experience in the private sector has also been touted as one of the tools with which he will empower the economy of the state and boost productivity.

Politically, his chances of succeeding may be hurt by the internal crisis that rocked the party before and during the primaries that produced him, where 22 other governorship aspirants accused the state’s Party hierarchy of foul-play and doctoring of the delegates’ list. They petitioned the PDP and went to court to challenge his eligibility. in the same vein, a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State; Obong Victor Attah and one time Petroleum Minister ; Atuekong Don Etiebiet, both members of the party’s Board of Trustee pitched tent with the APC gubernatorial candidate, Obong Umana Umana. He currently faces an uphill task of trying to reconcile the warring factions within the party in the state.

Another herculean task before Udom will be his ability to operate a government devoid of influence by the immediate past Governor of the state, who is alleged to have single handedly imposed him on the party and state. Though Some aggrieved members of the PDP still regard the new Governor as Akpabio’s “stooge”, hence his third term by proxy. Proving to the people of Akwa Ibom State that he is independent and winning their trust might be a hard nut for him to crack, as some still allege that he was brought in as an expert to cover up the financial mess of he previous administration whom the opposition accuse of mismanagement and embezzlement funds.

Grapevine has it that Senator Akapbio has refused to vacate the official abode of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, while Udom operates from a private residence in Ewet Housing Estate, more than three months after the change of baton has been completed.

Recent events has sent conflicting signals. While the demolition of a newly constructed Petrol station purportedly owned by Prince Ukpong Akpabio (a cousin to the ex Governor) seemingly confirmed Udom’s independence, the appointment of Mr. Etekamba Umoren as the Secretary to the State Government led some people to reason that the Akpabio is still in charge, since Umoren had served as Permanent Secretary, Akwa Ibom State Government House and later appointed Chief of Staff to the immediate past administration.

Having worked in the banking sector, and rose to the position of Executive Director in Zenith Bank. Many believe that with his wealth of experience in the sector, Udom’s administration will deliver good governance, prudence and secure the welfare of persons on the principles of freedom, equality and justice. However, the debt profile of the state has been another issue on the front burner in Akwa Ibom State. Recent report alleged that the state owes over 300 bilion naira, but the immediate past Governor dismissed the publication and stated that the figure is wrong while disclosing that the state currently owes a little above 64.5 billion naira. according to some, the state’s indebtedness will hinder the smooth running of the state might find it difficult to consistently pay salaries and entitlements, while also repaying the debt.

Recently, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akan Okon attempted, albeit unsuccessfully to convince the people of the state that the what the state owes is in the range of 64.05 Billion naira, contrary to what was aired by Channels television, where it alleged that the debt profile is above 120 billion. The State has been economical with information concerning how much was inherited from the Akpabio’s administration, leading to a high level of distrust.

Though the state has been under PDP led administrations, since 1999. 2015 came with a different kind, as the APC won the Presidential elections. For the first time, Akwa Ibom State that has always discouraged citizens from supporting opposition parties now wears the opposition toga. This will certainly influence the outcome of subsequent elections, be it re-run or the forthcoming Local Government Chairmanship elections.

Obong Umana Okon Umana, the All Progressive Party’s (APC) gubernatorial candidate has also challenged the election result announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), alleging With the dwindling fortune of the Nigerian economy owning to the recent oil price crash in the international market, Nigerian states are bound to witness heavy fall in their monthly allocation. What this means is that states must strategize on additional ways to generate income. Any state intending to overcome the impending economic and financial challenges must form a very formidable synergy with the federal government and by extension international community. For instance, a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, states “Akwa Ibom’s IGR of N15.39 billion was equivalent to 3.25 percent of its 2013 budget of N470.1 billion”. Though very bad a situation, it was however managed because of the cordial relationship between the then government of Akwa Ibom and that of Jonathan’s administration. Akwa Ibom as an opposition state will find it difficult to survive such situation.

The recent operation carried out by officials of the Department of State Security (DSS) in Uyo, where some facilities within the Government House Uyo, was searched and items including large cache of arms and huge amount of foreign currency was allegedly found, items purportedly taken away by the secret police include; spy equipment like video recordings and eavesdropping equipment planted within the government facilities.

While the Speaker and Members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and loyalist condemn the “invasion” the opposition and many other citizens say its a welcome development.

While his supporters keep their fingers crossed, and pray for the actualization of the campaign promises of Mr. Udom Emmanuel. the success of the administration largely depends on how the above mentioned challenges are managed.

For me i will sit back, order for a bottle of chilled Extra Smooth and watch Udom Emmanuel munch the Guacamole. will he choke on it or will the uncommon food served by the great teacher lead to stomach upset?

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