NIGERIA: On Udom Emmanuel’s ‘Imposition’ Mantra

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 One of the narratives the opposition and the G22 former PDP gubernatorial aspirants have been peddling for some time now in the hopes of reaping some political mileage and capital has been the obtuse and inane assertion that Deacon Udom Emmanuel the PDP Gubernatorial Candidate for Akwa Ibom state in the February 2015  governorship elections is an ‘imposition’, a ‘stooge’ and a man that is beholden to a political family and thus would not be able to exercise independent thoughts and practices in the discharge of his gubernatorial responsibilities.
This assertion is to say the least, laughable, misleading and a sly and sleek attempt to manufacture an issue that at best resides in the fertile minds of its purveyors.

The peddlers of this narrative know full well that Deacon Emmanuel Udom is one of the most successful technocrats Akwa Ibom state has produced in the past three decades. The purveyors of this sick tale know that Udom Emmanuel is tested, proven, has the passion, the right temperament, is ready and is poised to lead Akwa Ibom state to consolidate the gargantuan achievements recorded in the past almost eight years of the consequential administration of Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio.

The peddlers of this narrative know full well, that Udom Emmanuel has navigated the corporate world, mastered its associated intrigues and politics and by displaying a superlative record of achievements and innovative ideas, rose to become one of the highly respected voices in Corporate Nigeria today. You don’t achieve such, by not having a commanding and effective voice and mind suffused by ideas and strong qualities.

The peddlers of this sick narrative know full well that you don’t rise to become an Executive Director of by far one of the most consequential financial institutions in Nigeria and Africa in general – Zenith Bank, by being plaint, docile, or be defined by groupthink; the banking world of today has no space for people who are bereft of independent thoughts, or people who wait for others to think –through complex issues only for them to affirm.

The peddlers of this sick narrative know full well, that Udom has the superlative educational qualifications, the experience, and has dealt  and interacted with the people who run the world’s economy; the Wall Street honchos and you don’t deal with these people if you are seen to be tentative and unsure of your steps and your definitional platform.
Now, let us address the ‘stooge and ‘imposition’ narrative. The peddlers of this laughable narrative would have us believe that because Governor Godswill Obot Akpabio , having worked with those who had desired to succeed him – all of whom today have  coalesced under the aegis of G22 ,and in his considred opinion finally settled  and thrown his support for Deacon Udom Emmanuel – an endorsement G22 had all coveted, but did not get that, that, they are the embodiments of “Independence” or they have what the Americans would call ‘mojo’  and that Udom Emmanuel having won  the governor’s endorsement is an ‘imposition or ‘a stooge’,

It is a known fact that all the candidates who ran in the primaries including the APC flag-bearer, Mr. Umana Umana, before he defected to the APC had at different intervals sought the support and endorsement of Governor Akpabio in their quest to succeed him. As a matter of fact, until July 2013 when Mr. Umana ceased from being the SSG, the conventional wisdom then was that he was the shoe-in to succeed Governor Akpabio.

The system had internalized that notion, and most people treated the erstwhile SSG as the anointed one. Now, let me ask the people on the other side of the political spectrum: If Umana had become the PDP gubernatorial candidate, would they have tagged him a ‘stooge’ an ‘imposition’ or beholden to a political family? The answer absolutely would be ‘no’.
Why then is Udom Emmanuel defined as a stooge? The motivation here is to slyly inject an ethnic agenda into the political calculus in the hopes that such, would gain some traction. This approach was tried in 2011, and it failed miserably. If that play-book didn’t work in 2011, it will fail again in 2015.

Udom Emmanuel, as most dispassionate Akwa Ibomities have acknowledged has seen the transformation of Akwa Ibom state from a rural and civil service oriented state to a modern, purpose-driven entity where its people now are as inspirational as their counterparts elsewhere; where both the psychological mindset and physical layers of the people and the state have been raised to a dizzying height; where the people now believe that government indeed can be a force for good, and not for ill, where  a government’s policy thrusts on key areas of development has opened up the possibilities of engagements in other key sectors, as is done in mature democracies like the united States.

The PDP candidate-Deacon Udom Emmanuel fully aware of the trends in other parts of the world, where there is continuity in certain policy directions of government and where the wholesome reversal of good public policy based on ideological or personal differences are frowned at, has promised to deepen and sustain the developmental strides of the Akpabio administration. When did a promise to continue good policy thrusts of a successor be defined as being a ‘stooge’?

Would the opposition  have preferred, Deacon Udom Emmanuel  in order to establish his independent bonafides to begin to tell Akwa Ibomites who have enjoyed good roads, free education, free heath care and whose quality of life have improved significantly that he would reverse all those platforms that had ensured such achievements? Is that the kind of independence the opposition is desiring or advocating for Akwa Ibom people? If by acknowledging the transformational strides of the past seven and- half years and rededicating oneself to  sustaining and consolidating those gains means that Udom Emmanuel is not his own man, then majority of Akwa Ibom people are stooges and the PDP Gubernatorial candidate should consider himself to be in good company.

In the United states where we copied the presidential system of government, outgoing presidents and governors are eternally invested in ensuring that their successors are those who will continue upholding the vision that are enshrined in the party’s platforms or manifesto. The Establishment is always desirous of ensuring that a candidate of their choice emerges the party’s flag bearer.

In 2008, the establishment ordained Barack Obama as the presidential candidate of the party and all efforts of Senator Clinton to change that dynamics failed totally. The super delegates had pledged their fidelity to Obama and the numbers just didn’t add up for Senator Clinton, and she lost. The Establishment got who they wanted, and Barack went on to win the general election. The establishment was the Democratic National Committee (DNC) led by its then National Chairman, Howard Dean. Did the media define Obama as a stooge of Howard Dean? Has Obama led the US, as a stooge of any particular bloc of power? The answer is absolutely no.

The 2016 presidential elections in the United States, has already thrown up the establishment’s favorite, Mrs. Clinton and she is expected to have a coronation next year- would that make her a stooge if she wins the election in November 2016? G.W. Bush was thrown up by the establishment led by former Secretary of State George Shultz; did that make him a stooge? In Akwa Ibom state, the establishment had zoned the party’s gubernatorial position to Eket Senatorial district and the delegates in their considered opinion had identified Udom Emmanuel as the best person to continue the developmental strides of the past eight years, does that mean he is a stooge or lacks independent thoughts?

The notion that a PDP candidate, a loyal party man should disavow and condemn the superlative performance of a leader he is succeeding just to prove that he will be different is not how modern political campaigns are run. Al Gore in 2000 elections in an attempt to prove he was an independent person had distanced and repudiated the success of the Clinton administration. The last time I checked, he was not the president of United States from 2001-2009. Electorates hate politicians that deploy expediency as a tool of winning elections. They prefer people who are consistent, focused, and dependable, have the right temperament, are onward looking and Udom stands for all of the above. He will continue to foster Unity, Development and Onward Movement (UDOM) for the good people of Akwa Ibom State.

Udom Emmanuel represents the next level of development in Akwa Ibom state where the resources of the state will not be deployed for road construction and other infrastructural upgrades, Gov. Akpabio, like President Eisenhower did in the United States, has done that, already. Udom will grow our economy, provide jobs for our teeming youths, and ensure rapid industrialization while building capacity. This line of thought was amply represented in his New Year message when he stated inter-alia “After the euphoria of the elections, we shall be left to face the challenges of wealth creation, continuous infrastructure and man power development, need for provision of basic amenities amongst other pressing economic, social and political demands. We must grow above the ethnic impulses, falsehood and propaganda. We must put our best hands forward to save the future for posterity.
‘I solicit your votes to become the next governor of our dear state because I am prepared for this task. I have married the strides of the past with the expectations of the future. I acknowledge that Akwa Ibom State has been transformed from the pedestrian destination that nobody ever considered visiting, to a must-see wonder of infrastructure development, a prized destination, an economic hub and a recreational get-away. The journey to our dreams is still far away but we have made significant steps and with your support, I will take us there.” If these laudable programs mean Udom Emmanuel has no vision of his own, then let the opposition tell us what they would do differently.

As our political culture deepens and consolidates, our politicians must learn the graceful art of conceding defeat and pledging to work with the eventual winners of the contests. The political space and pot is big and deep enough to accommodate all interests. Resorting to vile propaganda and asinine assertions should be disavowed and eschewed.

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