– Samuel Ayara
Without validating his antics Anambra based Prophet Chukwuemeka Odumeje, would seek to be humoured in his “I am not a preacher of love” proclamation, and whatever he makes of this defies every sane judgment as he battles to live true to his conviction in the fire, lion and war appellation. This brings to the fore the screaming contrast between reality and perception in ways we accept or reject an idea, which often does not negate what is true; whatever side of the social pole we find ourselves, there will always be the need to allow another the benefit of seeing things differently from the binoculars we project.
Premised on observed uncharitable rhetoric from some quarters to freeze efforts of the Akwa Ibom State’s Governor media handlers and Aides with the bashing submissions of the Governor being under-reported, there is a pressing call on both protagonists and antagonists of this school of thought to review their positions on the media deliverables from these gentlemen. Regardless of the dark narrative advanced against the team by a section of the social construct exists a soothing divide that spotlights assuring brightness for a team that has passionately publicized Governor Udom Emmanuel and government activities in the State; without which could not have dealt the darkness of misinformation.
In agreeing wholly with the non-universality of what constitutes news, the safest thing to acknowledge is the consensus that what news is for one may not affirmatively pass as such for another. Without holding brief for what would pass for news across demographics, the need to adapt to the fluidity of news mediums, sources and styles have become a prompt call to the guided changes on the turf of information management and dissemination. For the hesitant minds who still see information management in the eyes of what “Iwe Irohin” offered, these are no times to measure the efficiency of a media team with variables other than the results they have shown. Interestingly, Governor Emmanuel’s Media handlers do not deserve the black review people seek to foist on them, for the result and impact they have made.
Laced with verifiable national and international strides that span 35 years on the media and journalistic space to profit from, the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary and SSA Media, Mr. Ekerette Udoh can pass for everything but not unequipped for his briefs. The ONNA born alumnus of the City University of New York has in his professional bags tonnes of experiences he scooped from his engagement as a columnist with the defunct Sunday Times, Concorde newspapers and an array of bright imprints on virtually every reputable print media endeavour in Nigeria, including Thisday and Vanguard newspapers. His hold and impact on the media world can be traced to the unequivocal feat from his partnership with the Immediate Past Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu, which gave birth to the Hints Magazine; Nigeria’s biggest selling magazine of the time.
Publisher of The Diasporan Star, famed as the largest privately owned newspaper by an African Diaspora, Ekerette holds the New York State Senate honour for his works in enhancing community relations, an impressive ambassadorial acclaim for Nigeria. No mean feat by all considerations, he just would not stop there, but accepted the call to import his vast expertise to managing the image and brand of Governor Udom Emmanuel, another internationally renowned figure who also hearkened his peoples call to service. Not a time in the last five years has he reported to duty wanting solutions on how to get his job done; from dawn to dusk he adorns his professional robes at squaring up with issues that contend with the bright pictures the current administration has painted, with visible results.
In clear departure to the order in other climes, the Governor’s Chief Media handler like a professional conductor of an orchestra backs the crowd and focuses on his job, conscious of the fatality a distraction from the crowd could cause the orchestra’s ultimate goal. There is neither a time he came through as a distracted brand manager nor has he ever been concerned about accolades, but has consistently soldiered on with his eyes perpetually on the ball. His upwardly mobile disposition to the job and ability to galvanize a good cache of the media community to the Governor’s vision for the State accounts for his long spell on the highly coveted job as Chief Press Secretary, with testimonies from within and outside agreeing to the value he brings to the table.
It is no compensation for nothing that the Akwa Ibom State Governor parades a retinue of media Aides that have justified their briefs and professionally fit the bill, apart from Ekerette Udoh, how in God’s heaven can the productivity of a team that has Michael Bush, Uko Umoh, Sampson Akpan, Aniekeme Finbarr, Emmanuel Sam and Richard Peters be questioned? Looking at the depth of human resource which spans several generations one would quite love to agree that there could be more to what book markers describe as under-reporting the Governor; else we may be tempted to reflect on the spice they all bring to the table of information management.
Michael Bush for example spots the marks and scars from twenty-seven years of active and impactful presence on the broadcast media turf, and in those years has reinvented electronic broadcast with his famed Bush House Production, which other than revolutionize media production and presentation has become a national standard in media programming and management. To his credit and that of the current administration, Akwa Ibom Calling, a daily two hours programme on Radio and Television stations across the state has x-rayed the impact of Udom Emmanuel leadership across various sectors in its more than 1000 episodes, and has remained unrelenting.
There is hardly a viable newspaper publisher in modern day Akwa Ibom State that did not pass through Uko Umoh or one of his mentees in the last twelve years, this could never have happened as a volcanic eruption, but a deliberate strife to stay above mediocrity. Often celebrated as the life wire of liberal media practice, Uko the publisher of Community Pulse which metamorphosed to Nigerian Pulse Newspaper, parades a fledgling media management credential; an experience he has brought into discharging his duty as media Aide to the Governor.
Emmanuel Sam has a fine hold on media strategy, which he brought to bear in his stint as publisher of the Guide Newspaper, one of the widely read local tabloids in the State. Savy in political media reportage; he is reputed as a practitioner who is worth his salt in passion and conviction, often celebrated for his hardliner disposition in support of issues that are beneficial to humanity. Sam with over ten years active media presence has earned himself an undeniable role in media evolution.
I am yet to see a movement or political system that would not want to enlist an Aniekeme Finbarr in its media wing, like him or think otherwise this wordsmith’s firm hold of the new media turf is a good advantage nobody can wish away. Quite popular on major online platforms Finbarr understands what vibe fits into every situation and has safely deployed same to export the Akwa Ibom brand as well as the Udom Emmanuel’s strides since 2015. Famed as a passionate information manager and communicator he brings to the job an uncanny enthusiasm and rare energy of interacting with people across demographic line.
Not many State Governments in Nigeria can boast of a functional website with robust reports on programmes and policies of government, but with Solomon Eyo, the Akwa Ibom State website; www.akwaibomstate.gov.ng is a completely new experience on interactivity and user friendliness. Tracking information about the state has quite been easy, just as the state has leveraged on the ICT vista Eyo has deployed in ensuring the larger globe becomes a participatory audience in the workings of the Udom Emmanuel administrations. Through live streaming and other technological stopgaps, governance has become pro-people and demystified.
Many may quite not agree with his style but the energy and zest Richard Peters bring to the job deserves every commendation he can get. Regardless of whose ox is gored, Peters run through online conversations defending programmes and policies of government and in the course braves more than a bargain at getting his job done and by all means possible; his unapologetic commitment and dedication to the Udom Emmanuel brand should a be a course of study in followership.
Away from those on the core media briefs, the capable media hands on duty as the Governor’s Aide like Raphael Edem, Emmanuel Nicholas, Essien Ndueso, Uwemedimo Umanah, Ndanti Ekuh, Joseph Okon, Aniefiok Macaulay among others, are a valuable addition to the Completion Agenda message. These cerebral minds have in ways than few, saturated every available media space, to project Akwa Ibom as a global brand, despite being a component of a struggling nation.
Is it not worthy of note that no government in our state’s recent history has related more with the citizenry than the current administration? As of last count, the various electronic and online media interactions are deliberate windows to allow the citizenry a voice and role in governance. With programmes like Akwa Ibom Calling, Dakkada Akwa Ibom, Politics Today and active social media presence, the recently premiered fortnightly conversation by the Governor is an innovation that has redefined citizens’ engagement.
That the bright sides of the Udom Emmanuel administration have found prominence in media circles despite the unprovoked effort in tearing down every fabric that has made it thick is a testament to the capacity the team has shown, one can only imagine the mileage they would have attained if the space were less toxic and combustive. In answering the question of time, acknowledging that every administration has a priority smacks no form of patronage, and notwithstanding the difference, people must find common grounds of reviewing every stride an administration brings to the table with open minds that would engender positive values and growth.
Just like Lamborghinis are never advertised on television, to avoid the wastage of targeting the wrong publics due to the long held belief that people who can afford them do not sit on TV screens. Governor Udom Emmanuel among his colleagues, willfully parades a team of media handlers who understand the essence of audiences in information management and with this grasp go about their publicities in strict regard to audience sensitivity. This has put the State on the front burner of conversations in both the traditional and new media; which largely explains the leap in investor interest the state has recorded to put it second on the scale of states with the highest Foreign Direct Investment.
Except an individual’s news and information preferences lie with tragedies and obscured narratives, the current administration is a part of the larger globe that is heavily hit by the COVID-19; its weight on the economy and the new normal, but finding cerebral minds to handle the government’s media is certainly not one of such problems with the Ekerette Udoh’s star-studded team. With reasonable support, this team can do more to paint Akwa Ibom in bright colours to the advantage of the future we all aspire for; Governor Udom Emmanuel is not under-reported.
Samuel Ayara writes from Ibong Otoro in Abak Local Government Area.