Governor Udom Emmanuel

By B.N. Etim

Two events in Akwa Ibom state have presented to the public a misconstrued version of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s personality. The first was the last general elections in the state and the second is the state’s preparation for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the governorship election in Akwa Ibom state, there were heated expeditions by bigwigs of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who were hell-bent to capture the state. The state was launched into frenzy, with such proclamation by APC’s chieftian, Senator Godswill Akpabio that “federal might” would be deployed to “finish the election in three hours”.

Governor Emmanuel’s power as the state helmsman was challenged and at certain point, people had expected the governor to exercise his authority by redefining activities of the opposition party and perhaps curtailing the party’s excess. But, Mr. Udom Emmanuel chose to remain quiet and unshaken.

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The recent outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has also called to question the personae of the governor. Prior to the Covid-19 spread into some states, governors were seen displaying sophisticated isolation centres hurriedly constructed. From Lagos to Oyo, Rivers to Borno states, it was like a competition. There was consistent display of different isolation centres across the country on social and the conventional media. As if COVID-19 were another Biblical Ark of Covenant that would herald good things into the land, governors and their health Commissioners, were earnestly preparing to gladly welcome the strange sickness into their domains. Amidst this frenzy, Governor Emmanuel was seen to be very calm and composed. Of course, no sane leader would make noise while preparing for unwanted visitor.

The huge investment in the health sector since the inception of the current administration, was also enough convincing point to leave many Akwa Ibom State citizens unperturbed over the level of government’s preparedness in combating COVID-19. Prior to the sudden emergence of Coronavirus, Akwa Ibom state government had revamped virtually all the general hospitals in the state and equipped Infectious Disease Hospital in Ikot Ekpene. However, owing to the contentious nature of COVID-19, the governor saw the need to expand available bed space – hence he used the second floor of Ibom Multi-Specialty hospital, equip it with 13 new ventilators and made it another isolation centre.

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The expanded isolation centre at the Ibom Multi-Specialty hospital, has 20 bed spaces with modern equipment to keep patients in critical condition alive.

Speaking with newsmen when the governor inspected facilities in the Ibom Multi-Specialty hospital, he said his visit was to ascertain the readiness of the state government to contain any emergency health situation, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are here to make sure what we have put on ground are working well. We wanted the whole 13 ventilators checked to be sure they are working very well, even though we don’t have any incident of COVID-19.

“I needed to also ensure that they have expanded the number of beds. We ordered for extra 20 facilities in case of any emergency and I am happy with what I have seen.”

“It is not only Coronavirus that we should be concerned about. Malaria kills too. So we are interested in every aspect of illness and to make sure that all our citizens are well taken care of. So we don’t just react. We put things in place to take care of the health of our citizens, because and we and we every single life as important as the life of the Governor”, the governor stated.

COVID-19 and Governor Udom Emmanuel taciturnity Governor Udom Emmanuel inspecting the isolation center at the Ibom Multi-Specialty Hospital.

He noted that the state government places premium on the lives of its citizens and will continue to be proactive, rather than reactive in matters healthcare.

To further strengthen the level of preparedness of the state in tackling the novel coronavirus, the governor, two weeks ago, supervised the commencement of the construction of a 300-bed isolation centre for patients of COVID-19 in the sate.

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Situated in Ituk Mbang, a few kilometres from Uyo, the state capital, the hospital will complement the existing facilities in Ikot Ekpene, which also serves as an Infectious Disease Hospital in the state. This goes to underscore the governor’s foresight in tackling this pandemic at all fronts.

While catering for health needs of Akwa Ibom people, without any federal government assistance, governor Emmanuel has also made provision to mitigate the biting impact of restriction of movement and shutdown of businesses on the masses. For now, all the 31 local government areas in the state, depending on the population, have received nothing less than 386 25Kg bags of rice; 129 bags of Garry; 86 bags of beans and 43 bags of flour, distributed to people in the hinterlands. Already many have testified to receiving these palliatives from government.

Sadly, we are living in a society where the masses expect every leader to exhibit extraverted CEO stereotypes with lousy activities and charisma. People believe in the world of madness – wherein leaders are expected to exhibit hyperactivity in approaching state matters. But not all leaders use the same leadership style in problem -solving.

Governor Udom Emmanuel belongs to the class of introvert leaders, which research affirmed, spend a lot of time going over scenarios in their head before actually executing them. This crop of leaders may take longer to initiate a project, but when they do, they make sure their contributions are well-developed . That is why the Governor is not given to frivolities which a typical Akwa Ibomite expects him to be in view of his predecessor’s precedent.

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As an introvert leader, his taciturnity on certain state matters, has presented a misconstrued picture of who he really is. People think erroneously though that Governor Emmanuel is a weak leader. Others have posited that he has no administrative compass. Despite these perceptions, no one can fault his focus on development.

Governor Emmanuel is believed to have quietly studied the COVISPD-19 pandemic in the country. This has given him and his team a positive edge over other leaders, in response to and management of cases of the ravaging pandemic.

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