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Thursday, March 21, 2019


Gov Udom Emmanuel (L)  & Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, SSG (R) 

The news that greeted the appointment of Engr. Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem as Secretary to the Akwa Ibom state government, was one that generated mixed feelings. Not least from his own tribe of Oro, where many of his kinsmen felt his unbridled reputation for utmost sanity and decorum, was not cut out for the nitty gritty nature his new office would demand.

Here, was a man well established in his chosen field as an ICT guru, well grounded on international business and speaks several foreign languages fluently. Surely, his appointment was to be celebrated, not scoffed at.

Stepping into the shoes of his usually "larger than life" predecessors is one thing, fitting in seamlessly was another, as he faced the daunting tasks of spearheading the developmental goals of the Udom administration, as well as provide the needed leadership to a people yearning for one, who had come to recognize him, and rightfully so, as their political leader.

The situation was made even more precarious, dicey, given that his first year in the saddle was a make or mar - an election year.

And so, when the results of the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial and State House of Assembly elections in Akwa Ibom state started trickling in, right up to the eventual announcement that declared Governor Udom returned for a second term and a perfect sweep for the contesting state house-hopefuls, something unprecedented was on the cards: Oro was 100% PDP!

This piece serves to portray the undisputed role Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem played in ensuring that the "Avang Ki" theorem was effected to the letter. Oro was unified in it's decision to reelect Governor Udom and ensure the PDP produced the lawmakers for her state constituencies. The success was phenomenal and Ekuwem's role cannot be quantified.

So what were the key factors deployed by the Uda-born ICT magnate turned politician?


Suffice it to say that the initial appointment of Ekuwem was not without internal grumbling, especially from the four other LGAs that make up Oro nation. Eventually, all had come to see it as a plus to Oro and celebrated it wholeheartedly. His reception was a fitting testimony.

But in Mbo, an already brewing battle was gathering pace and unholy momentum.

Prior to Ekuwem's appointment, this was a local government blessed with a serving Commissioner and a sitting House of Representatives member. It is fair to note, that neither could truly lay claims to being the power broker in Mbo (either reluctantly or otherwise), an impasse that was readily addressed with Ekuwem's arrival.

Rt. Hon. Victor Antai's defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) swelled the ranks of the main opposition party in the state, not just in Mbo, but in Oro nation as a whole.
This was not unsurprising considering they already had a serving Senator.
Victor, spurred by his ambition to go to the National Assembly, attempted in no small measure to dent the image of Dr. Ekuwem and dismantle a grip he had already held firm since coming into office as SSG.

He had a mandate of his own: to defeat Rt. Hon. Nse Ekpenyong of the PDP at the polls, having secured the APC's ticket to run for House of Representatives, and his futile campaign to sell Nsima Ekere to Oro people.

It seemed Victor would have his way in the struggle for Mbo and eventually Oro. But in his meticulous ways, Ekuwem was silently stealing the hearts of his people by displaying unparalleled leadership qualities that endeared him to his people.

The PDP primaries was a perfect scenario to describe the astuteness of this elder statesman.

His disposition towards ensuring that a credible candidate "of the people" emerged as the PDP flagbearer, rather than imposition, turned the tide in his favour, and would eventually prove pivotal to the PDP at the main polls.
This singular deed cost a sitting State House member Hon. Samuel Ufuo, a second stint in the legislature, a development that unmasked the true nature of one initially portrayed as a political ally, but wasn't (his defection to APC later confirmed).

This was in sharp contrast to the APC were imposition of candidates were the order of the day and so, when the chips were down, it was easy for Mbo People to decide who and where they want to be identified with, going into the future. And PDP held sway.

Mbo delivered PDP at the state House of Assembly Level, returned Udom Emmanuel for a second term and gave Nse Ekpenyong massive support in his bid for a second stint at the green Chambers.

Without a shrewd of doubt, Ekuwem won the battle for the soul of Mbo, single-handedly out of Goodwill.


Victor Antai is by no means a push-over, but even that was made possible by his rise and rise in the PDP. His defection to the APC was a terrible miscalculation he himself has come to rue. Whether he will publicly admit that is a gist for another day, but when the chips are fully down, we will have stories to tell.

It is no longer news that the past administration in the state (whose kingpins had long defected to the APC) put paid to Dr. Ekuwem's Senatorial ambition. In 2015, Oro and indeed Eket Senatorial District, were denied credible representation at the Red Chambers by the unholy alliance that meant no good for us.
A rusty, stoned lawmker was unearthed from political oblivion to take the exalted role of Senate, and for more than three years, the Nigerian Senate were "a man less" and that's literally speaking.

Ekuwem would not seek another shot at the Senate, though I say and with good authority, that had he ran for the office this year, he would have won without any doubt. So the onus was on him to give massive support to the candidate the PDP would eventually back, in the mould of Senator-elect, Dr. Akon Eyakenyi.

While the APC and their candidates were relying on the manna from Federal might, Dr. Ekuwem carried out extensive Campaigning across the five local governments in Oro, championing the cause of the PDP and spreading the gospel of Divine Mandate.

His message has always been clear: "Oro has never had it better than with Udom Emmanuel", and the chances of drawing more projects and government presence was higher under Udom.

Getting quality representation at the N.A was sustainable by retaining Nse Ekpenyong and sending Nelson Effiong to a final political resting place.

He promised Udung Uko people, that the roads, which previous administrations had denied them, but the Udom government has started constructing, is just a starting point. The governor surely has more plans.
He galvanized Oron and Udung Uko to collectively support the re-election of Hon. Effiong Bassey for another term in the State House of Assembly.

Little wonder when the decisive moment came for Udung Uko to decide the fate of Oro Federal Constituency, they defied political grandstanding of "power supply by crook" to keep with the tradition of old - PDP.
Udung Uko voted Nse and it boiled down to those encouraging words from Dr. Ekuwem just days before the election.

He reminded Okobo that as the gateway to Oro nation, they could not afford to stay out of the umbrella, and a vote for Udom would translate to a vote for a sitting Deputy Speaker.

Urue Offong Oruko had an age-long tradition of not giving second chances to political, elected office holders. "One One Water" as the jinx is called was a living political myth.

Hon. Asuquo Archibong's victory at the 2015 polls under the platform of the APC, was a testimony to that.

Ekuwem broke that jinx!

He ceaselessly impressed on the people of Urue Offong Oruko the need to ensure 'Poison' was returned for another term.
So much as little faith was attached to these sayings, it eventually paid off with a resounding victory for the PDP and for governor Udom.


From day one, Dr. Ekuwem has commanded the respect of the political circle in the state, owing to his dexterity and diplomacy in handling the most delicate of issues as it concerns government.
Little wonder the governor delegates basically almost every Grade A responsibility he cannot attend to, to his office.
He has dutifully represented the governor at events where he has struck a cord with the people of the state, who have come to see governance in a different way, with these two professionals at the helm.
Through Ekuwem, they see a SSG who is committed to making the system work and not the type that fosters or ferments trouble within the polity that would lead to instability.

The cohesion between the governor and the SSG is growth-inducive and these are factors the electorates look out for.

So much is his personality overwhelming, that when a governorship aspirant from the APC, Engr. Dr. Edet Efretui, defected to the PDP, he cited the glowing leadership attributes of Ekuwem as a determining factor in his decision to ditch the opposition for the ruling party in the state.
Surely, that quantified to block defections from the other divide, which arguably translated to votes for Udom and the PDP. The reasons are endless.

For a man once ridiculed for being a political underachiever and a political lightweight, the success of PDP in Oro at the just concluded elections, is a big reward for hardwork, dedication to duty and focused leadership where it was required on the part of Dr. Ekuwem.

He came, he saw and he conquered.

He has undisputedly placed himself above his peers in the art of leadership and looking beyond 2019, this will be a time to forever reckon w Iith.

I doff hat for Engr. Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem.

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