Strategy Consultant and Futurist, Philip ‘AsuQuotes’ Asuquo pens a thought-provoking open letter to the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel. The indigene of Itu of Local Goverment area of the State and author of the recently released WOW Code book addresses “five points that have stuck out in the conversations around government in Akwa Ibom these past three years and some months. Most of them started in the first year and have built up momentum over the years”, he says.
Read the Open Letter below:
Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel
The Executive Governor, Akwa Ibom State.
It is indeed a relief to finally put this open letter out to you and the public. I trust it meets you well, even with the turmoil in the political terrain that may have unsettled you for the past few days.
Right before the rumours of the defection of your predecessor came, I have always wanted to have this letter reach you. So, when I was at an event that you were supposed to be a special guest at and heard you wouldn’t be able to make it because of an urgent issue that came up that morning, I knew it was time to put this out. By the evening of that same day when the rumours of the defection of your predecessor raved up the social media space, I felt it had gone way past time for this. Nevertheless, I’d still have it out just like I just did.
One of the very first things I have always wanted to let you know, Your Excellency, is that no matter how respectfully treated you are and all the power available to you that you enjoy while being the prime occupant of the Hilltop Mansion and in lieu the governor of Akwa Ibom state, you are ONLY A TENANT THERE FOR FOUR YEARS OR EIGHT YEARS AT MOST, if re-elected.
This being, you ought to have focused and still focus on leading and pleasing the real landlords of that mansion and the real landlords are the people, not your predecessor or other predecessors. No matter how much they try to meddle with your tenancy, if you are in good terms with the real landlord (the people of Akwa Ibom State), the previous tenants(your predecessors) that were there before you would find it hard to convince the landlords that you ought to be evicted and have them evict you.
You see, there is a problem if a landlord thinks that a tenant is arrogant, insubordinate, not helpful and finds out that he or she owes rent or utility bills that have not been taken care of and does not take care of the compound. It gives grounds for eviction and these have been some of the grounds that have been used to portray you to your landlord, the Akwa Ibom people.
Sir, I have watched how some of your aides and social media ‘gongs’ have tried to play a different tune to this portrayal that has gone from being whispers among two or three to being the main say of a majority of people. I have reached out once or twice to say that the aim of PR and Strategy should never be to make the government look like much is being done but rather to outline what should be done that will reverberate well with the people and get it done and put out to the public.
I must say, most Akwa Ibom people have not been impressed with your efforts or the conversations around your person with regards to what is being said that you have done so far.
At this point, permit me to point out that I was one of the persons that stood right in front of you at the government house the night that the Supreme Court upheld your victory at the polls while that was being celebrated. I was excited because I had the notion that a governor that can be accessed/assessed and that would focus on driving the industrialization of the state away from political rhetoric (seeing that you had spent the bulk of your years away from the public sector) was about to get into government.
That excitement had a first plunge when I went to an office in one of the government-owned complexes and heard an acquaintance tell me:
“Philip, your man won. I hope he will work for the good of the people.”
I told her “I hope to see him do so too and if he doesn’t, we’d always sound the alarm to let him know where he isn’t doing well”.
“Hmmm. Are you sure he will be humble enough to listen to that? From what I hear, it might not be the case”, she surmised.
I got off that conversation with a sour impression and a little trepidation about the shape your tenure would take in the coming years. Today, after three years and some months into that tenure, I must say, the feelings have been mixed. I have watched how people have been labelled ‘opposition croonies’ for speaking up or sounding different from what those who try to defend you are saying. I must say, this ought not to be so. I have also seen a few adverts about a direct number people can call to reach your government with their concerns or complaints recently and in as much as it is a good move, I only wish more avenues have been provided through which you can be reached.
Away from this, it is imperative that I bring the focus of the conversations around your tenure from the people I have met overtime to you while I have this chance. My aim is to have you be in the know of them, in case these did not come in through the feedback effort of your government. I will try to keep this as concise as possible;
AVERSION TO YOUR INDUSTRIALIZATION EFFORTS:
Industrialization is known to be one of the hallmarks of your campaign prior to your election. This being, many people were excited about the industries they’d see in Akwa Ibom State. They followed closely when the ground breaking of some factories were done and looked forward to having those factories stand. For whatever reason, most of those proposed factories did not go as was shown and today the pencil factory has been the most attached factory to your industrialization bid. I have been in different conversations about this and in different states. It sure would have been an honor to see atleast one industry put up that the people would indeed be proud of.
LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN YOUR CABINET:
I have heard many people say ‘The governor is surrounded by mostly people that can’t drive or deliver whatever intention he has for the state and that has been an undoing’. I agree with this too to an extent. I don’t know what might have been your rationale in choosing or allowing certain people to be in your executive team but I do know that those that know them do not have confidence in their ability to get things done. Worst still, some are not focused on the work at hand but see their position today as a chance to nurse their immediate and future political intentions to fruition. While some lack the capacity to deliver, others are distracted by their own ambitions. Of course there are those who are a right fit for their positions but they are outnumbered by the other ilk.
ISSUES OVER PAYMENT OF SALARIES, PENSION AND GRATUITIES:
Yes, I am aware that the government gongs have repeatedly sounded off that salaries and such entitlements have been paid but we still have heard people complain that they are still in a fix with regards to this. I had to go away from the social media agitation over it and find out from those directly complaining or grumbling. Most of them said point blank that they wouldn’t complain if their outstanding entitlements have been paid. They complained about how they feel demoralized over it and as they keep speaking about it, more people are having that impression about your government too. It sure would be apt to set up a committee or saddle someone with the responsibility of looking into this and truly sorting it out. One persistent complaint source is from certain staff of Akwa Ibom State University.
SEEMINGLY ABANDONED PROJECTS OF THE PREVIOUS GOVERNMENT:
I have driven a number of visiting friends and partners (both from within and outside Nigeria) around Uyo and while they marvel at a few sights, they raise questions when we go past certain sites that have projects that look complete but not functional from the previous government. In my conversation with one of them recently, we observed that the difference with Lagos and most states is continuity in government. I don’t know whatever bottlenecks existed or still exist around projects like Ibom Tropicana, Ibom Specialist Hospital and Four Points By Sheraton but I do know that seeing them stand as monumental edifices without function is not telling well. The politics or terms of agreement around them might be murky but I believe a way could be found around having them completed and negotiated for balance. Projects like those should be seen for the value they’d give to the people while working to negotiate control away from quarters that may claim an unfathomable stake in it.
THE ‘THERE IS NO MONEY’ NARRATIVE
This is one of the undoing of the conversations around your government, sir. I have heard people complain about how people in government keep saying there is no money yet the federal allocations announced to have been given to the state say otherwise. This has given grounds to some persons who say your government is not transparent to harp on. There is something negatively recoiling about being constantly told there is no money. It becomes worse when those told so actually see moves or data that shows the flow of money.
These five points above have stuck out in the conversations around government in Akwa Ibom these past three years and some months. Most of them started in the first year and have built up momentum over the years.
Sir, I must also add that my conversation with players in the private sector within and outside the state have also raised concerns. Seeing that you came from a sector that is away from the public service space, it was expected that many sons and daughters of Akwa Ibom would have not just someone to look up to as they build their careers but also get a framework of support that will encourage them and other indigenes to pursue their career paths and enterprises. For once, a governor that had built his career outside politics is in office and was thus expected to support young indigenes and residents to build their pursuits beyond politics which translates usually into being a PA (Personal Assistant) or a PA to a PA to another PA.
That didn’t go as expected. I dare say that the private sector part of you seem to have been or is still at loggerheads with the public sector side of you. In that direction, I’d have advised that your policies and strategic efforts strike a balance between the public and private sector, the professionals/entrepreneurs of the state and the politicians, those who are interested in politics and those who are rather interested in building their businesses and enterprises or those of the state.
With the 2019 elections around the corner and in the face of the trepidations around the defection of your predecessor, Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, as well as the heated plans to succeed you by your opposition, I’d advise that the next few months be used to strike a balance in the public and private sector.
I’d advise that clear strategies and activities be executed that will improve the lot of the Akwa Ibom people. The truth remains that you are in government to better the lot of the people. If they are complaining, listen to their complaints and get them sorted out.
These few months might have the temptation of throwing money to politicians as a way to sway votes from their coffers but I’d advise you to reach the people directly instead (even if you reach the politicians) and use this period to truly impact the lives of the people of Akwa Ibom State. Whether you return as the governor or not, let it be known that there are lives you helped lift and that you made an impact in both the public and private sectors of our dear state. Let there be a legacy to your name.
So, I’d advise that while the political meetings are being held with an aim to show solidarity and drum up support for your political bid, let there be strategic meetings with strategic minds that will work on the humanitarian legacy of his Excellency.
Again, let me drum this up that every government in the Hilltop Mansion is a tenant for a maximum of eight years. It matters what the government in charge does while there. For those currently there, you have a chance to better the lives of our people today and in the future with what you do. For those coming in subsequently, let this be at the back of your mind and have you avoid jeopardizing the peace of this state that we have enjoyed just for your political ambition. Posterity will not be kind with anyone that tilts the state askew just for their personal or collective political ambition.
Your Excellency, may the wisdom of God guide you into doing the very things He gave you the chance to do as a governor. May you leave a legacy that will benefit the people of this State. May those He truly wills to succeed you be the ones to succeed you in due time.
Long live the people of Akwa Ibom State.
May we prosper and have our neighbours and nation enjoy our prosperity.
God bless Akwa Ibom.
God bless Nigeria.
Strategist | Poimen | Futurist
Philip Asuquotes is a frontline strategy consultant who believes that the African continent will be advanced by Africans through their intellect and committed endeavours. He has been active in the sphere of public discourse from an intellectual standpoint and the good of the populace over the years.
You can reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org
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