By Osondu Ahirika
It is no longer news that Akwa Ibom State Governor, His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel is a major contender on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the Presidential ticket of the party come 2023.
The common experience is that most governors run for the Senate seat after their full tenures. When Governor Emmanuel declined that pressure from stakeholders and his people but demanded that the Senate ticket for his Akwa Ibom South (Eket) Senatorial District be zoned to Ikot Abasi/Mkpat Enin Federal Constituency, he left no one in doubt about his concern for sociopolitical justice and equity. But there was a larger picture.
The future direction became clear when on April 7, 2022 Governor Emmanuel was presented with the Presidential Nomination Form of the PDP by the Human Rights Radio, producers of the popular national Radio/TV programme, BreketeFamily, at the Government House, Uyo when the delegation from the media organization visited the Governor.
Earlier, the founder of the organization, Ordinary President, Ahmed Isah and his team had disclosed that his organisation as well as other Nigerians had contributed towards the purchase of the form in their bid to encourage Governor Emmanuel to step forward and rescue Nigeria.
An elated Governor Emmanuel seized the gesture and declared his acceptance. “Honestly when I heard this plan to buy me a Presidential nomination form was going on, I asked myself, how can they raise up to N40million to go and buy me a form?”
But today it has become a reality. There are over 200million Nigerians, but you choose to accord me this honour and privilege, and I don’t take this for granted. I really want to appreciate this family, I register my appreciation to all Nigerians, for this confidence. I want to assure Nigerians who have this faith and trust in our capacity,”
Governor Emmanuel said, accepting to run.
He espoused his plan and confidence in his capacity to change the leadership narrative and rescue Nigeria from the worst decline in decades. He said Nigeria presently needs leaders with capacity, sincerity of purpose, selflessness and readiness to make sacrifices. I wager that this submission is incontrovertible.
Governor Emmanuel who is one of the best money managers in Nigeria, correctly diagnosed Nigeria’s leadership and management problem. “Money is a principal thing. Nigeria today needs someone who understands money. It is unfortunate that if we are looking for an MD of a particular company, the CV we seek, spans 3-4 pages, but when we are looking for a President of the country, based on the constitution, all we need is WAEC, no experience,” he argued.
He lamented that premium is not paid to the leader in whose hands lie the destiny of over 200 million people, as it is done for a managing director of a company that had only few shareholders and stakeholders.
He urged that certain things needed to be corrected in 2023, so that the country can move forward. He reminded them of the importance of God in the business of leadership, and expressed the hope that the group had sought the consent of God before embarking on the venture.
Then he gave his word of commitment, “be rest assured that I have accepted the form. All Nigerians cannot come together to give me something and I refuse. Anyone with the experience of running a state in Nigeria for eight years can pilot the affairs of the country.”
Giving his remarks at the presentation, the leader of the delegation, Mr Innocent Orji said although, Governor Emmanuel was not the only one hosted on their programme, but that after they came to Akwa Ibom and discovered more than what they had heard from the Governor on their interview programme. “We all agreed that if you can do these in a State, if given that opportunity, you will do even better in the national level,” Orji said.
Since that eventful declaration, so much more has happened. Governor Emmanuel has received endorsements accross the nation, as he continued to consult critical stakeholders.
His achievements in Akwa Ibom State, nearly seven years after he assumed office, have taken the center stage as he takes his Presidential ambition to stakeholders nationwide.
So far, he first intimated the Akwa Ibom State National Assembly caucus before consulting with the members of the PDP Caucus in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. Governor Akpabio has reached out to former leaders of Nigeria including, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, General Abdulsalami Abubarkar, and General Ibrahim Babangida.
He has briefed first class traditional rulers from North to South and is on course visiting State structures of the Peoples Democratic Party across the country to share with them his vision of a new Nigeria.
Wherever he goes, the message is essentially a very clear vision and blueprint. Governor Emmanuel tells all that he decided to run, because he believes in his capacity to make Nigeria safe, peaceful, attract investments and become economically vibrant.
Speaking of his record of performance, which cannot be faulted, Governor Emmanuel says his vision on assumption of office, had been to vigorously tackle the three gateways to industrialization; land, sea and air, noting that despite the nation’s economic challenges, and lack of control on policies, he was able to make a mark in aviation development, and infrastructural expansion as well as other critical sectors of development.
He narrated how he has built several roads, including a road and two bridges through Ikpe Ikot Nkon in Ini local government area and another road and bridges in Obot Akara to open up some communities like Arochukwu and Ekwerazu in Abia State to improved economic and social activities, between both states. That’s a pan Nigerian approach.
He showcased his achievements in establishing the best airline in the country, as well as attracting so many industries in a period of economic recession. Governor Emmanuel argues correctly that, if he could do these when he is only managing a sub-national econonomy where he does not have control on several policies, then he obviously can do better given the national platform as President. Nobody can dispute that.
His strongest argument is that, “Those who can rescue Nigeria are the professionals in politics. Those who understand the language of the economy, those who understand the language of money and can manage resources, as well as those who have experience in the private and public sector.” i couldn’t agree more.
The responses have been quite positive. All those consulted so far agree that Governor Emmanuel restored peace, provided job opportunities and engaged youths in meaningful activities thereby reducing criminal activities and restiveness in Akwa Ibom State. They are witnesses to the fact that on different occasions, the Governor had hosted the Vice President and the Senate President to commission industries, healthcare facilities and roads, thereby making other political parties attest to his achievements.
His legacy of Ibom Air has remained a song on every lip. Like all these leaders, I believe too, these are good enough reasons why Governor Udom Emmanuel should run for President.