Barr Ini Ememobong, Commissioner for Information, Akwa Ibom State.
“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the man he has around him” – Nicollo Machiavelli
I don’t need to see my name in Barr. Ini Ememobong’s book of good or bad friends to feel good to say what I am going to write in this article. As a free-minded member of the commentariat, I should be readily disposed to commend with the same disposition I would love to condemn, if I value my moral license to do both.
If you like, deploy Barr. Iniobong Ememobong, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, to the International Ministry of Rocket Science and Spacecraft, he still will deliver and even overshoot set personal targets and public expectations. He has turned service delivery into fine art, thus progressively launching himself as unmistakable catalyst in everything that works for good.
The open secret is that he is naturally talented, copiously dynamic, perpetually dexterous, infectiously proactive, enviably creative, incurably innovative, passionately focused, and unapologetically hyper-productive, with a touch of class that has given him a distinct identity and patent in excellence.
Ememobong, incipiently apparently exposed his capacity and excellence to the limelight when he served as PA on Student Matters to former governor Godswill Akpabio, and subsequently, PA on Political Matters to another former, Mr. Udom Emmanuel; and more so, Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
His trailblazing impact must have been his testimonial for what were to follow! Until he was deployed to his present station, that ministry was like any other in unperturbed bureaucratic doldrum. No staff ever imagined that what has happened there in the past four years was possible.
But recently, I disagreed to agree with Ememobong on his aesthetic logic that it was unavoidable for His Excellency, Pastor Umo Eno, to make all former commissioners opportunistic returnees to their immediate past offices. His calculus was that it didn’t really matter because experience counts, after all in the US some persons serve government to their grave exponentially for reason of their cumulative record of competence.
To me, that argument was a contrived sophistry for the gullible and a fallacy of false equivalence. It lacked everything in comparison with the classic America and its democratic psychology and sanity.
If Ememobong had spoken for himself alone, there may have been no contradictions. In all fairness, he has been a serial stellar performer and textbook case of the Latin dictum – “res ipsa loquitor’ (the fact speaks for itself), and no one might envy him even if he were to serve in government till he clocks 98.
But the venal error he committed was that he generalized the matter with cheap and misplaced generousity on behalf of his fellow commissioners, some of whom he knew have clearly proven to be round pegs in square holes, mediocre on ego trip, with most nauseating attitude to public relations and perception.
Hence, in reference and deference, Ememobong’s disputation was a beautiful piece of sophism authored from position of relative advantage.
Conversely, although his opinion came close to logic, it was a tactical infringement on popular expectations in a so-called democracy where representative interests and inclusiveness ought to drive distribution of official portfolios. Put it differently, because politics has become a thriving industry that produces overnight billionaires, it is a condonable injustice to have one set of people reap from power for decades in a population rapidly approaching seven million.
Hence, my unaffected submissions were that, one, some of the reappointed commissioners were bound to suffer monotony or become easy victims of the Law of Diminishing Returns. Two, legally or illegally, they were bound to amass more wealth from public sweat. Three, some only returned to finish off unfinished inconsequential little wars in their previous offices. And fourth, fresh minds ought to have been given a chance, for fairness and inclusion. Maybe that’s why news of the reappointments came with stinking public indifference; government still operates with a lull; and nothing really new except official appearances at unofficial events of official insignificance. And we clap with syndromatic theatrical sychophancy!
Poor me! I forgot to remember that politics is the worst promoter, defender, and rewarder of mediocrity, damning consequences, provided godfathers and cabals were adequately gratified to the brim of their selfishness and huge investments. I however admit that the returning commissioners were Gov. Udom’s loyal script interpreters and infantry brigade in the controversial victory of incumbency. They deservedly deserve the front seats in the administration he midwived. That’s politics.
But against grandstand dialectics, melodies of inclusion in Akwa Ibom politics still remains interpretative; a tit for tat; a winner takes all. You either win to be seen or lose to be forgotten. Perceived opponents still wear labels of ostracism. Don’t shake the table of this argument, except you wouldn’t mind falling face down on the burning ashes of easy defeat!
In particular, Ini took a memorable big risk in the 2023 governorship conundrum. To keep his boat afloat in the turbulence of competitive options that tested solidarities, he saw expediency safer than a threatened brotherhood. His was a perfect combination of 3Cs – circumspection, calculation, clairvoyance. Today he is safely ashore with his cargo intact – or so it seems. He deserves commensurate returns for risking to invest on uncertainties.
Nonetheless, if Ini Ememobong loves history the way he loves his duties, he freely would admit that by virtue of the fringe engagements and strategic offices he so far has held ever since he became a State actor in 2013, it is no hyperbole to say that he started eating government early and long enough, enviable rare record many never have had and the very reason that some, unlike this writer, may see his recent reappointment as a complimentary overdoes.
To wit, if you aggregate governor Akpabio’s last two years and Udom’s two terms both of which Iniobong enjoyed recurrent mention, it will mean that he has been in government pretty above a decade, and still counting, such that he was so over excited to compare his situation with senators in the US. But it must said, his cyclic appointments have never been favours but unction and reward for his trademark capacity to deliver results, wherever. So we shouldn’t envy to blame a young man who has washed his hands so clean that kings and queens always scramble for his talents and signature? Please don’t.
There is yet another dimension. Even though ingratitude is a fashionable attire for politicians and “gofumen” appointees, Ini Ememobong proudly holds the instructive record of never being in the habit of biting the finger that fed him. He humbly always boldly acknowledges that he is not a self-made man, but has climbed to where he is today on a ladder held in place by others who value his talents and capacity as propitious assets and potentials in every great idea.
Let me play the devil’s advocate: Unless they imitated Ememobong’s model of survivalist loyalty that doesn’t know sentiments, Pastor Umo Eno’s tomorrow worst enemies and betrayers shall emerge from among his today’s best lieutenants. Underline those words!
The meat of this essay, in my unsolicited compliments, is that Ini Ememobong is the seductive face of what a 21st century Akwa Ibom youth should be. Hence, I don’t need your vote to pronounce him the most active, loved, dependable, impactful, and celebrated commissioner in Akwa Ibom’s recent history. Even if Gov Umo Eno had dared to break classified bargains with sadistic profiteers of his administration, Ini would still have returned.
This essay therefore is one debt I must pay this Info Commissioner although I never owed; nor have I for once ever had the fortune of sharing a “bottle of understanding” with him, to celebrate his charismatic stewardship of distinction. But say it again: Even if only one of the former commissioners were to have returned, it would have been Iniobong Ememobong. That’s superbly because he consistently fails to fail on assignments. He doesn’t toy with opportunities.