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Sunday, January 16, 2022


Uwemedimoh Umanah, PhD 

Edward Hallet Carr, one of the world’s greatest historians said, “good historians, I suspect, whether they think about it or not, have the future in their bones. Besides the question: Why? the historian also asks the question: Whither?”

Carr’s thought simply suggests that facts speak only when the historian calls on them. It  is the historian who decides which facts to give the floor, and in what order or context. 

I may not have known Umo Eno from anywhere, I only know people who know him. I also heard he’s the Proprietor of Royalty Hotels, Royalty Suites and Signature by Royalty, which are among the best hotels in Akwa Ibom State, in terms of consistency in standard, innovation and expansion. 

I have neither worked closely nor benefitted directly from him, but I know a few persons who were his employees and those who have worked closely with him, for many years and are doing great. 

Ubong Jonah, who was President of the Faculty of Arts Students Association , Uniuyo , two years before I too, became president of FASA, Uniuyo chapter, worked with Royalty Hotels for over 10 years before moving on to establish his own business. 

The point here is that, it takes a resilient, consistent, humble and innovative leader, with quintessential technocratic acumen, to establish, manage and expand a hospitality facility to the magnitude that defines Royalty Group.

Whatever the magic wand Umo Eno deployed to grow the Royalty Group to such an enviable height, deserves commendation, epistemological assessment and a transplant into public life beyond 2023. 

My opinion is rationalized by the fact that very few businesses in this part of Nigeria have survived beyond twenty five (25) years, owing to poor practices and contradictory socialization.  

Needless to mention some of the biggest business concerns that held sway in the eighties and early nineties, but had gone extinct, due to poor management/ leadership practices and the lack of a continuity plan. This is in sharp contrast with businesses in the eastern part of the country , where the Igbo Apprenticeship System- the most viable in the world- has raised a crop of managers and business owners who grow business as a way of life. 

Suffice it to say that Pst. Eno is one person whose performance currency is needed in public life to sustain the momentum of development Governor Udom Emmanuel has created: the seaport project, Ibom Air, the automobile plant and the numerous industries that berthed in the state require an unconventional strategy that only a technocrat can give at the moment. 

Also, as the world (including Akwa Ibom)  experiences complexities and uncertainties propelled by economic constellations and the COVID- 19 Pandemic, only exemplary leadership can make the difference. These events have significant impact on the global political economy.

Eno’s appointment into the state executive council as Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources by Governor Udom Emmanuel seemed orchestrated by providence. It came at the peak of Mr Emmanuel’s industrialization, and when purpose- driven team players were needed to change the game. 

The state Chief Executive could not conceal his emotions about  Mr Eno at a Thanksgiving Service in honor of the commissioner. In his words: “this is one man, we invited him only once to our retreat and all Executive Council members will give you exactly the same report, he impressed everybody the way he made his presentation and we told him help us handle Agric Investments and absolutely he has never called me that he wanted anything in this life. So, please let not people say so because that is not true.”

Two things are decipherable from the Governor’s words.  First, Pastor Eno is an astute technocrat who has ideas to expend in the building of Akwa Ibom, and secondly, he’s a humble and unassuming person who won’t let the spoils of office change him; he doesn’t seem to have scores to settle with anyone and would discharge whatever role is assigned him, with greater emphasis on inclusion.

The totality of these make Pastor Eno an invaluable ally in the Completion Agenda of Governor Udom Emmanuel. 

Is political wisdom alone enough to consolidate the socio- economic and political gains made by the current administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel? The pertinence of this question is underscored by the fact that the political spectrum is so fragmented and political conversations so acrimonious that, Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and other development partners are looking for concerted and determined answers; and these can't be provided by career political figures.

What do technocrats in the genre of Umo Eno do differently in order to take the state above political rancors and build sustainable societies? 

The term "technocracy" - derived from the Greek word "tekhne" meaning "skill"- evolved in the US when Engineer Howard Scott set a group of engineers in 1919 that later proposed a new form of economic management as a radical response to the Great Depression.

Italy is not alien to the phenomenon, having appointed several technocrats to lead the country out of various economic crises in the early 1990s. The first was Giuliano Amato who became prime minister in 1992 to respond to Italy's expulsion from the European Monetary System. In 1995, Lamberto Dini took the reins to reform the country's pensions system.

Back to Akwa Ibom, Umo Eno, by reputation, competence and experience, can persuade investors, business leaders and the entire state that he represents transformation. The measures he need to implement are slightly unconventional, that they would have failed to get the necessary political support, if introduced by any career politician. 

Finally, the seasoned technocrat and reverend gentleman will bring a reputational advantage to governance, both in terms of knowledge and in putting the interest of the state above parochial interests.

Uwemedimoh Umanah, PhD, a Development Scholar, writes in from Abak

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