By Etokowo Owoh
In Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel, the author creates a lady, Sidi, who was sought after by suitors. Two of such were Lakunle and Baroka. Lakunle was a hapless schoolteacher who preferred a modern marriage. Baroka, on the other hand, was a polygamist, an elderly man, and a village leader. These suitors did not have sufficient societal carriage to fit Sidi’s fantasies of a husband. In her mind, she was famous and gifted in beauty. Her photographs had adorned a magazine cover and given her a bloated sense of social opulence. But in Baroka was a determined mind who would by hook or crook marry her, his age, decrepit village life, multiple wives notwithstanding. He was not crowned with high morals and saw nothing wrong in hatching a sinister plan that would see him have Sidi as wife. He sold himself to his world as impotent. Sidi, not any different from Baroka, saw his impotence as an alibi to extricate herself from Baroka and blunt his gullible ambition. Baroka was smarter. With feigned impotence, Baroka lured and sexually assaulted Sidi; and ultimately married her.
That sounds like a typical plot in political gamesmanship. For while Baroka used a trick to attack his target, Sidi fell for it and failed to appreciate the imprudence associated with the pursuit of vanity. Doesn’t it sound like we electorates who get deceived by the ano owo mkpo mentality? Doesn’t it resemble our politicians who come with bags of tricks (sorry, rice) to hoodwink us during campaigns? Politicians live by the folly that the political arena is a killing field of trickery, subterfuge, sabotage, and all kinds of banalities. Some call it mbre ikit which, in Ibibio mythology, is a game of the proverbial tortoise often characterized by intrigues and deceits.
That is what is on the prowl right now with aspirants juggling for vantage positions in the fast-approaching gubernatorial race. One may ask if the field of politics and the game of politicking is this filthy, how can leaders emerge from such rubbles and be capable of good governance? How can anyone from this mbre ikit jungle be altruistic, patriotic, development-focused, and concerned about the good of the generality of the public? Conversely, how can a good man filled with genuine desire to bring change about, one with the mission to deliver, and with the fear of God, manage his way out of such stench and swim out of the poisoned chalice unscathed? But that is not what politics is. It is only how it has been christened by the practitioners. Some good children can be made to bear undeserved bad names you know.
There are characteristics one observes that gives an allusion to the fact that some aspirants are way above this hackneyed notion of dirty politics which, for so long, has brewed misgovernance and created all the terrible societal mess that have put Nigeria, particularly Akwa Ibom State, in this state of self-inflicted arrested development. Second, there are activities, and conducts, that suggest most eloquently that some aspirants are not only characteristically different but organically configured to give an off-the-curve kind of leadership when obliged the opportunity. When we examine our desecrated socio-economy we see that it has left over 80 percent of our people distraught, creating a never before imagined inequality, benign poverty, and mind-boggling unemployment. It becomes naturally evident that our current modus in the choice of leaders should change. This is because we will continue to arrive at the same unsatisfactory results if we don’t change our current philosophical paradigm; if we do not shift from greedy and selfish politics we have been so used to in times past. When we look at our bruised cultural setting contaminated by events and attitudes that were not heard of in our cultural setting such as cultism, politically motivated killings, fetishism, etc. one again laments, like the voice Jonah in Nineveh, this time not for destruction but for a change through a leader with sympathy and empathy. God did not bring Moses from the swathe of politicians in Israel; no, rather, He set him apart and prepared him with a different leadership template that was able to assuage the suffering of the Israelites from the hands of an unrepentant Pharaoh. To change our present state of affairs would require changing our current narrative. It, therefore, goes without saying that any good man who has the calling, and the drive, to save the situation should be protected from the harassment of those whose means of livelihood is hinged on the public till.
Let us not be weary in saying the truth, we have seen new and breezy perspectives being brought to bear on our system – in politicking, in empowerment, in ethics and morality, in relationship with fellow politicians and have come to say that this gentleman, Udom Uko Inoyo, is worth our “two kobo” and must not be missed in the new Akwa Ibom Udom Emmanuel is labouring to berth. An Akwa Ibom that will accentuate, escalate and broaden the horizon of development governor Udom Emmanuel is toiling to debut. This recommendation is based on what he had started doing some 20 plus years before retiring from ExxonMobil as Vice Chairman. It is based on what he is currently doing which makes a clear and unambiguous statement that his paradigm is not a mere flash in the pan but a well-nurtured attribute that is founded in innovative thinking, perspectives in human resource development, respectable giving culture, and above all a corporate governance culture that is founded on integrity, patriotic zeal and embraces collectivism as a mantra in public governance space.
The Mr. Udom Inoyo persona, his attributes, and character content represent an exemplary unique selling position that recommends him as one most properly primed to lead the Akwa Ibom State to come 2023. Three things stand him in good stead and are different from the pack. These are:
First: his core values of integrity, excellence, balanced sense of judgment, emotional stability, power of personal example, humility, and world view.
Second: his indefatigable commitment to improving education in the state and broad perspective to human capital development.
Three: his investment-friendly disposition, national\international linkages to the investment world, and ability to continue with a singleness of purpose the current industrialization drive of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Unfortunately, Nigeria’s political culture pays very scant attention to manifestoes and accountability. Generally, trust is lacking across all segments of the socio-economic pyramid. Governance believability quotient is at its nadir, and hardly do people care about socio-economic blueprint beyond the paper on which it is written. Equally, people have become so hapless having been emasculated by poverty and unemployment. We have become distraught and helpless like Stalin’s de-feathered hen that we cannot ask the right questions. Be that as it may, a gubernatorial aspirant worth his honour should, at a right time, market his blueprint to the electorate as his social contract with the people. But, no matter how perfect and appealing such a document may appear, its realization must be discounted against the moral foundation of the proponent.
A man’s core values predict his behaviour. They are the determinants of character, attitudes, and attributes. Core values are those believe systems an individual, a corporate body, or any entity such as a state hold dear. They are the predictable moral high ground upon which a leader stands to prosecute his blueprint. A governor elicits trust and confidence from the led based on how he is judged by the people. For Mr. Udom Inoyo, his family background and corporate boardroom experience lends themselves to a culture of integrity. It is neither superficial nor foisted on him by an inordinate desire to deceive. Having spent about 30 years in ExxonMobil, a Fortune 100 organization where excellence, integrity, humility, timeliness, and fairness are natural, it’s obvious that he stands head and shoulder above other aspirants whom we have tried at various levels of governance. Not that others in the past have not tried, but that it is time to usher in some fresh breath. Akwaibomites need such calibre of persons, across the tiers of governance, to come and rejuvenate the lost values in our political system. The state needs an Inoyo whose words we can be tendered as collateral at our bank of shared development efforts. Words fortified with sincerity, emotional intelligence, and scientific worldview. A man of Mr. Inoyo’s pedigree – sound mental acuity and a nimble heart would protect the less privileged as well as respect the high and mighty. More importantly, we should steer clear of small-mindedness in governance and cast our lot on someone who would ensure Akwa Ibom remains one indivisible entity and not tainted by fractious quasi-ethnic bickering. That is what is contained in an Inoyo package for the Akwa Ibom people.