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ENOBONG UWAH: A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

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By Osondu Ahirika

Come January 15, 2017, he will clock 48. Until His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel dissolved his cabinet on October 15, 2016, he was the Honourable Commissioner for Housing and Urban Renewal. Prince Enobong Uwah is the subject of this thesis.

Reappointed Commissioner having served in the previous administration of Chief Dr Godswill Akpabio as Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources, a few dissenters protested that, he shouldn’t have made the cut for that position. Even after the dissolution, these opponents campaigned hard, that he should not return to the new cabinet. Yes! He didn’t return. Not because his opponents won, but because his boss, Governor Udom Emmanuel knows his cards and how to play it.
Truth is, Prince Uwah had trailing him, an irrefutable history of sowing loyalty in the Udom is Right project, from its conceptual stages to the inauguration.

Let me rewind to the past. Enobong Uwah’s 45th Birthday anniversary set a record yet to be broken in this state, in its attendance, pomp and highlights. It was celebrated with a remarkable and unforgettable solemn assembly held at Shelter Afrique field, Uyo. From all over the state, and particularly, Uyo Senatorial District, an unprecedented multitude trooped out to celebrate a Champion.
The event also attracted the Who-is who, with top government
functionaries, seasoned technocrats, VIPS, family, friends and well wishers making the list. He was then serving as Commissioner For Environment
and Mineral Resources.
The significant point to note is that, then Secretary to the State Government, Mr Udom Gabriel Emmanuel was the Special Guest of Honour at that gathering. It was his first public outing of such far reaching magnitude and Prince Uwah did not shy away from unveiling him, as the Right man, for the swirling 2015 Governorship elections. Back then, the possibility of Mr Udom Emmanuel running was still hinted in hushed tones.
Prince Enobong Uwah of course, took some beating by naysayers and fault- finders, who abused him for allegedly, turning his 45th Anniversary celebrations into a political rally. Albeit, convinced of the rightness of his course, he did nor falter or crumble to their misfired assault. He kept his belief- unpretentious, unwavering and uncompromising. He made it clear, he had decided to pitch tent with the Udom Emmanuel who also emerged as the preferred successor of his erstwhile boss, and now Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

By June 28, 2015, Prince Uwah went full blast with his campaign. Addressing a pool of Akwa Ibom Young
Professionals Leadership Initiative (AK-PRO), at one of the Conference Halls of the Prestigious Protea Hotel,
GRA, Ikeja, Prince Uwah sold the sterling leadership qualities of Mr. Udom Emmanuel, having seen and worked with the latter, at close quarters.

The tour which took place in other major cities of Nigeria, including Port Harcourt and Abuja, drew the political class and Akwa Ibom Professionals based in those cities in their droves to the conferences. The common theme, was, “The Involvement of Professionals in Politics: A Call for Attitudinal Change”
Through the tours, his message was precise and unequivocal. Prince Uwah insisted, Mr Emmanuel is an
asset to the state, possessing an
amazing capacity and passion for excellence. The Uyo Prince, who holds the title of Iberedem Uyo, Obong Unwana Atan Offot, among many others, correctly argued that, Mr Emmanuel’s background, experience and passion eminently qualifies him to be considered to take the Akwa Ibom story to the next chapter. His catch phrase was, “Udom is fresh and clean. I have worked closely
with him and I can testify to that. I am not someone who is easily convinced. When you consider where he is coming from and where Akwa Ibom is heading, you will be left with no other answer than to say that he is the man.
Here is someone with over 23 years of solid experience in Financial Services and corporate governance. Someone who is authorized to carry out Financial services in the United Kingdom by
the FSA. Someone with experience and contacts in business development, international investors relations, oil and gas, infrastructure, power, telecommunications, government relations and management. Which better person will fit the shoes?”

On this crusade, Prince Uwah did face formidable odds. He was viciously attacked by right wing Political elements from Uyo Senatorial District, who were fiercely opposed to power shifting to Eket Senatorial District. He was labelled a sell-out, traitor, bastard and other unprintable names. When many elders jumped off the train of Akpabio’s succession plan, Prince Uwah’s steadfastness earned him the sobriquet of, ‘Blind loyalist’. He did not cower.
Rather, Prince Uwah decried the sad attitude of some “elders” from Uyo Senatorial District whom he said were bent on whipping ethnic sentiments. He reminded all and sundry, that, Onna people were also Ibibio’s and that, Governor Udom Emmanuel, an Awa Iman son from Onna, should be supported by Ibibio’s of Uyo Senatorial district.
He proceeded to fashion a broad based socio-political group, called, Uyo Senatorial District Progressives Initiative, USPI, with Otuekong Raphael Bassey as National Chairman and Elder Imoh Okon as Secretary. USPI became an effective counterforce to the rebels and stabilized the polity for the Udom is Right movement. When they coalesced into the Akwa Ibom Consolidation Alliance, ACA, Prince Uwah, emerged the Champion in Uyo Local Government. He was the inspirator and motivator in chief for the project.
Ultimately, Prince Uwah dropped his bid to run for the Uyo Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representatives and focused on delivering Candidate Udom Emmanuel of the PDP in Uyo Local Government in particular and the Senatorial District at large. The rest as they say, is history, which I must add, should not be discarded or forgotten by those who now parade themselves as his rivals in the current system.
Appointed Commissioner for Housing and Urban Renewal, Prince Uwah acquitted himself, unsurprisingly though, with distinction. In a record period of less than three months, Prince Uwah delivered for inauguration as part of the 28th Anniversary Celebration of Akwa Ibom State, the newly constructed Gynaecology
Ward of the Catholic Hospital at Anua
built in memory of an Irish Reverend
Sister Dr. Ann Ward, complete with two renovated administrative blocks and facelift of the perimeter fence.
Again, Governor Udom
Emmanuel, showered encomiums on the Prince Uwah led Ministry, as he commissioned a new Secretariat
Annex complex to mark one year anniversary of his administration on May 29, 2016. Built 18 years ago by a previous administration as the 10th Anniversary Hotel, but abandoned, Prince Uwah led the charge to transform it into the breathtaking edifice it is today. Before he left as Commissioner, Prince Uwah had set in motion a very transparent and honest process of disposing off the 100 units Low cost Housing located at Idu in Uruan Local Government and another at Ikot Ekpene.
His excellence in service delivery is not happenstance. It is well cultivated second nature. As Commissioner for
Environment and Mineral Resources in the old testament, Prince Uwah left a legacy of prudence with the innovative Green Brigade. An adhoc creation with about 2, 500 staff strength which was charged with waste, collection, management and disposal in the state.
He equipped them with all the tools and safety gadgets to do their task with zero tolerance for health hazards. Compactors were acquired to ferry waste out and mowers, pesticides,cover-alls and boots etc were in good supply for the Green Brigade. It is a legacy that many states borrowed from. He also midwived several memorandums of understanding between oil companies and host communities with no major crisis of confidence in the areas throughout his four year tenure. I could go on and on.
On a personal level, I enjoyed the immense generousity and benevolence of Prince Enobong Uwah. Unfettered by tribal difference, Prince Uwah endorsed me as a media aide, and rewarded me, quite unexpectedly, with a brand new Toyota Camry Saloon car, for what he said, was hard work. I am aware a few people raved against him for engaging an Ibo man, but he damned their discriminatory rant.
I don’t think any well-meaning Uyo son/daughter will contradict may say-so, that, ‘No public officer/political office holder, elected or appointed, have impacted more positively on Uyo people, or empowered more of his people than Prince Enobong Uwah. Even out of office, he remains constant in his virtues of charity, love and selfless service. As he clocks, 48 on January 15, 2017, this is my heartfelt ode to a man for all seasons.

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