The long held postulation that a prophet is not honoured at home suffered 360 degrees turn around on July 10, 2017 when Akwa Ibom people and friends of the State thronged the cultural capital of Ibibio Nation to be part of a historic grand reception in honour of Governor Udom Emmanuel and his dear wife, Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel.

Ibibio Nation, the largest ethnic configuration in the State which enjoys extractions in all the Senatorial districts Akwa Ibom had instituted a grand reception for Governor Udom Emmanuel and wife, Martha citing their performances especially that of the State’s helmsman whom they say has enshrined on the slate of the State a superlative people centered governance style in the face of a national economy that is in malady and has plunged other States into virtual stagnation.

For doing them proud through the raising of the bar of governance and for a wife who is not only content with supporting the husband but investing enormous energy, resources and time in services to humanity especially women and children, the humongous socio-cultural organization, Ibibio Nation decided to mobilize its people to turn out and give honour to whom honour is due. And the people yielded to the clarion call and came out in their numbers.

As early as 8am of that fateful day, traffic had graduated to a gridlock at Ikot Oku Ikono junction leading to Asan Ibibio. Vehicles coming from Abak, Idoro, Uyo and Etinan roads came to virtual stagnation as they had to mix with swarming human traffic that were also making their way with legs to the venue. The road to Etinan from Ikot Oku Ikono which is still under construction played host by way of parking to most of the vehicles. The entire expanse of land allotted for parking on the premises of Asan Ibibio was filled to capacity even as the vehicles were neatly parked to conserve space. The various agencies which had hectic task managing the traffic and parking, however, demonstrated excellence on the job. They provided outlets and were on hand to direct drivers of vehicles to park at designated points. This was why it was easy for people to leave the arena with ease at the completion of the event.

 

The crowd that thronged that event venue on that day was unprecedented. The quality of personalities was also unparalleled. With four sitting governors, former governors, Senate Minority Leader and other members of the National Assembly, mini Nigeria had gathered in deference to the honourees. Ibibio Nation used the moment to prove itself once again as the largest ethnic group in the State.

It also used the opportunity to reinvent the age long unity that our forebears instituted and which gave rise to Ibibio State Union that had Chief Sampson Udo Idiong, an Annang son, first as vice President and later President of the Union. The multitude of people that adorned that venue disregarded tribe and tongue and even party affiliations. It disregarded labels like Ibibio, Annang, Oron, PDP, APC and other sundry divisive nomenclatures and congregated to celebrate together in love and harmony. It was a moment that conveyed the convivial and harmonious mood the State so sorely needs.

The grand reception also acquired for itself a character of impeccability. Shepherded by Ibibio egg heads with Air Marshall Nsikak Eduok (rtd), two times Chief of Air Staff as Chairman of the event and Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, also a retired Air Force Officer as Chairman of the Central Working Committee of the event, the credibility of the reception had risen beyond reproach.

Air Marshal Eduok himself in his speech noted that he is not given to praise singing or the laborious role of trying to impress people by saying what they want to hear. He stated that Udom has been assessed as the best performing governor in Nigeria. He charged him not to rest on his oars in the remaining six years. The Air Marshal said that if he says that the governor has done excellently well so far, he would be saying the minds of millions of people. He wondered how the State would have fared if God did not give us such a prudent manager.

Air Marshal Eduok (rtd) is not known to be an establishment man since he left service as the number one Air Force officer. He is widely acknowledged to live a private life with little relationship with government. Known to be bold, frank and outspoken, he is popular for always saying his mind. That was eloquent on that day as he acknowledged in his protocol those that were not there but known to be prominent Ibibio sons who have decided to take adversarial role against the Udom administration.

While he thanked them for their contributions to the State, he charged them to join cause and support leaders pointing out that such negative attitude of consistently disparaging the government of the day cannot bring progress. The Chairman of the event said that he is convinced that Udom is a true child of God saying that it is why God has endowed him with knowledge and wisdom. Waxing dramatic, the former number one Air Officer said, “We should say ‘Yes’ to the bonds that bind us together and capital ‘No’ to things that divide us”. He stated further that a leader who has achieved so much in such a short time needs encouragement.

Goodwill messages which came in torrents had the likes of Chief Nduese Essien, a two term member of the National Assembly and former Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who said that “Udom is being received by all including those who did not support him from the beginning but who have come to join us now”. He advised the people to reduce the amount of pressure they are putting on the governor as he needs time to put the structure of governance in place.

The goodwill message of Uyo Senatorial District which was delivered by Distinguished Senator Bassey Albert Akpan also came with a strong note of dramaturgy. The Senator headed for the podium swarm by legislators from Uyo Senatorial District who joined him in solidarity. With a loud voice, he bellowed the traditional greetings with the crowd responding with enthusiastic spontaneity. After those preambles, Senator Bassey stated that history has a way of repeating itself. He noted that it was on the same ground that His Excellency, Obong Victor Attah was endorsed for second term. He said the same thing was repeated on the same ground for His Excellency, Senator Godswill Akpabio stating that just as it was done for the other two, the same must be done for Udom Emmanuel.

The Senator representing Uyo Senatorial District reiterated that he was echoing the voice of Ibibio sons and daughters. He asserted that no man, no force can stop Udom from doing 8 years. Senator Bassey submitted that Uyo believes in equity and justice and so must support Udom to enable power return to the senatorial district in 2023.

Immediate past governor and Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio held brief for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District. He said that politics is about development and the happiness of the people. The Senate Minority Leader described Udom as a symbol of unity submitting that Akwa Ibom did not make any mistake in standing as one to elect him. Senator Akpabio stated that Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District remains the shoulder Udom must stand, emphasizing that the governor was divinely chosen.

The immediate past governor recalled that until 2014, nobody knew of Udom Emmanuel in the political equation of the State but God’s will was done through him in 2015. He pointed out that God’s will, will be done again and again and again and again in 2019. Senator Akpabio lauded Governor Rochas Okorocha for the symbolic gesture demonstrated in his attendance of the event despite party differences noting that it is the spirit Nigerians must imbibe. Hear him: “We must build a future of unity for our children” adding that unemployment, hunger and poverty have no political parties.

The Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke in his goodwill message made on behalf of the House said that they have seen in Udom a man who does not know whether you are Oron, Ibibio or Annang but concerned only with welding the entire State together. He said that Ibibio Nation is proud to push forth a man who is intelligent and pledged the unalloyed loyalty of the House to Governor Emmanuel’s administration.

The governors of Imo, Abia and Ekiti States who graced the grand reception with their presence also took turn to deliver their goodwill messages. Governor Rochas Okoroacha in his goodwill message said that he was at the event to give honour to whom honour is due. Okorocha stated that the South-South and South-East are historically one noting that he has come to ensure the building of the bridge of love and peace between the two regions.

Governor Okoroacha who himself is of the APC asserted that Governor Udom is not a governor of PDP or APC but the governor of Akwa Ibom State. The Imo State governor who described Udom as a man of unity advised the people to always endeavor to draw a line between politics and governance. He told Udom that the best way to silent the opposition is to work for the people. Governor Okoroacha used the occasion to inform the people of the State of the unanimous choice of Governor Emmanuel as Chairman South-South/South-East Forum.

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State in his goodwill message thanked the people of the State for what he described as show of love and solidarity. He promised to create an economic corridor between the two States. Governor Ayo Fayose whose presence generated admirable stir described Udom as an icon and special brand. Fayose said that when he got to the gate of the event and saw the mammoth crowd and sea of heads, he said to himself, “Is this what the enemy wanted to wish away in 2015 using the tribunal”. He said he was thankful to God for not granting the enemies their wish. The controversial Ekiti State governor said that people my shut their eyes against the truth or pretend not to see it. He charged the people to continue to speak the truth. To Governor Emmanuel, he said “You are nothing but success”.

The Chairman of the Central Working Committee which midwifed the event, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga said that the gathering reinforced the legendary unity for which the people of the State were well known. He enjoined the people to reinvent that beautiful period. He said Ibibio people are morally behooved to support the government of Udom Emmanuel to harness the potentials in the State and build for us a virile society. The former Military administrator said that because of Udom’s initiatives, the State is at the threshold of a new dawn “We must remain steadfast in solidarity with our son”, Nkanga added. He concluded by proclaiming that the Ibibio Nation has endorsed Udom Emmanuel for a second term in office.

This position was corroborated by the traditional institution through the paramount rulers of Ikot Abasi, Edidem Udo John Ntukubom and that of Etinan, Edidem Ime Dickson Umoette respectively. The elated Governor Emmanuel who was presented with gifts by the Royal fathers thanked Ibibio Nation nay Akwa Ibom people and promised to serve the people even more diligently. In his words, “To whom much is given, much is expected”.

Governor Udom and Wife’s grand reception by Ibibio Nation which witnessed a groundswell endorsement by the political class and the entire people of the State was indicative of the resolve of the people of the State to pursue a political cause that would bring the greatest good to the greatest number. With Udom as the symbol of that ideal, 2019 is as good as assured.

Source: Joe Iniodu