– Samuel Ayara
Tales of marginalization by a section of most stratified population have remained a manifest feature of almost every developing society. This holds true because development in such societies are neither patterned along proper planning nor adequate statistics. The haphazard approach to getting things done often leaves in its wake agitations of inequalities and at other times suspicion. In occasioning the least of harm, not the best of leadership intentions ever get past crucibles of human’s survival instincts, as every move is considered more selfserving than patriotic.
The “build the youth, empower the women and maintain the elders” chant that has permanence in our political system may have derived its essence from perceived imbalances. The situation could be more tilted to helplessness in a multifaceted society as ours, where profiting, even from the worst of human adversities had long become courted and its negative consequences completely ignored. Some of these imbalances have seen our society drift on all fronts from ideologies that prioritize humanity, and explains why people would do the untoward, to have and keep power.
If there is a construction to do, an amenity to fix, or an outreach to consider, the “charity begins at home” cliche has taken such unfortunate hold on our very best and has turned us against the ‘triage principle’ in administering development. It must begin from home regardless of how much it is needed elsewhere. Seeing the society as a single constituency can make all the difference at reinventing the wheels; saner climes had better days from leaders who long ago saw farther than their nose.
Akwa Ibom State in 36 years has been blessed with leaders who holistically approached development. While a comparison would avail little, an affirmation of the silver lining that accompanied the advent of Governor Umo Eno’s Golden Era must both be applauded and internalized. In four months, Nsit Ubium LGA is yet to fair much better than the rest of the other thirty LGAs; a clear departure from observed precedence and a gesture that twice discourages bickering and primordial sentiments.
While the satisfaction of a kinsman calling the shots at the Hilltop mansion is considered priceless, Governor Eno in engendering a balance has redefined brotherhood away from the lame judgement of clan and tribe. This has repositioned the administration as one that came on the wings of adequate planning and informed decisions than needless ego. How more would one explain that Nsit Ubium is yet to record a major infrastructural intervention within same period other parts of the state have counted more than one.
Interestingly, the deafening decibels from hue and cry of marginalization from some parts of the state is already giving way to tales of gratitude. This revolutionary approach to inclusion, more than clime-sensitive has remained upbeat at giving every demographic a sense of belonging. Top or intermediate, the spell of loneliness has been broken and every population spread given a space to ventilate, cross fertilize and test ideas that resonate with their stratification. Nothing of the truth could better define carrying everybody along, as finding a consensus of shared interest on same table with a demographic of varied opinions.
Establishing spread in projects, appointments and interventions has never been an easy call, there is always an outburst over who got more, until the ARISE Agenda flipped the pages to hand us a new template. Beginning with beneficiaries of the Songhai Farm Training project, to the appointment of 368 Personal Assistants to the Governor, and then beneficiaries of the Ibom Leadership and Enterprise Development Programme, as well as other appointments and interventions of the Umo Eno administration, bookmakers would fault everything but its spread, reach and balance.
Never has rural communities evened the urban areas in development and impact, nor youths, women and elders engaged in such perfect proportion that everyone has who to look up to. Today, the Governor has absolved himself of liabilities associated with mediocrity; no strata of the Akwa Ibom population would be spared the blames if this experiment fails. Everyone has an equal opportunity and preference; never has our strength as a people resonated more than now that the weakest of us is enboldened to stand as tall as the rest.
Giving bite to every endeavour and strengthening our stratifications to play big has on more than one count been identified as a fulcrum that will oscilate the citizenry round the pecks of the famed ARISE Agenda. It did not happen too long ago to be forgotten; in just four months the administration has reached out for an amicable resolution of the wage differences that saw some retired permanent secretaries earning far less than their latter day contemporaries, staff of the unified local government service and a section of hitherto underserved retirees no longer remember their grief of denied entitlements. It is hoped that this ‘happy hour’ will never end.
Tucked away in the nation’s commercial capital for the Executive Council Retreat, same way Akwa Ibom have jointly and severally played host to other states of the federation, is an all-green signal for the administration’s resolve in putting ideas to workable perspectives. Enthused minds should in this light be pointed to Blessing Ebong Uko; a Maxwell leadership scholar who agrees that “leaders are not born; they evolve, and in evolving become self-aware; emphasizing openness, honesty and authenticity in confidently developing leadership skills while eschewing arrogance”. She further holds that “confident leaders lead through value, vision and vulnerability; while arrogant leaders magnify fear, blame and ego. Governor Umo Eno comes ready as a leader who would give more to internalize value, vision, etal.
In praying for better leadership, it is also time we prepared for the citizenry to scale-up to demands of evolving times, where change more than ever has become an actionable item both leaders and the led must pursue. It is no fine time to plead the outsider sentiments, Governor Eno in expanding the table of stakeholdership has engendered fair participation for the worst of underserved and hitherto unreached population. How much of fair deals we deserve from leadership afterwards, may depend on how well we grabbed the opportunities the Golden Era handed us. Gain or loss, we are all in this.
Samuel Ayara writes from Ibong Otoro in Abak LGA.