* Udom Emmanuel
By Aniedi Uko
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has always been one that can correctly be described as a true son of the state and patriot. His interest in matters that affect the state goes back long before he began the journey that would end with him steering the ship of the state as its governor; long before he was appointed secretary to the state government in 2013.
For many years, Udom, as he is fondly called (not Emmanuel, his surname), was a frontline member of Akwa Ibom Professionals, a Lagos-based group of indigenes who see themselves as Diaspora citizens of the state, though resident in Nigeria, who have made their marks in different professions and have been silently contributing to the development of the state as a group and as individuals.
Prior to his coming into public office, Udom occupied the plum office of executive director in one of Nigeria’s high flying banks, Zenith Bank – a position that should have made a thankless job in public office an unattractive one, especially for someone not given to the politics and intrigues that are associated with political office at that level of government. While at the bank, he used his position to advance the interests of the state in any legitimate way he considered feasible and within his ability to do.
When he was called to serve the state in an official capacity, he knew the risks involved in leaving the comfort zone of the corporate world that had been his terrain for over two decades for the unknown and highly unpredictable public sector. But he was undeterred. He had been making little contributions, even if inconsequential, from relative obscurity. If it was the will of God that he should leave the known for the unknown in the interest of the state, who was he to refuse? Perhaps it was a Divine test and preparation for a higher calling that lay ahead.
Udom’s appointment to the third highest political office in the executive arm of government in the state was therefore an opportunity for him to further his contributions to the development of the state from inside. For the brief period he held the office of secretary to the state government, he acquitted himself quite creditably, such that the question on the lips of most people in the state was – what next for Udom? The question itself was answered by the people of the state who felt he had more to offer the state beyond the office he was occupying at that time.
And when, by an act of Providence, he entered the history books as the fourth elected governor of the state in 2015, Udom braced up for the onerous task of carrying the hopes and aspirations of the over six million people of the state on his shoulders. The quiet, unassuming and relatively unknown banker from the sleepy village of Awa, in Onna Local Government Area of the state had found favour in the sight of God who considered him a worthy instrument of change in a state that was in dire need of inspirational leadership.