The Proverbs of Solomon chapter ten, verse one reads that, “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother”. The book wraps it up in Chapter 23 verse 24 that “the father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him”. That aptly captures the sense of joy and fulfilment that flows from the heart of Elder Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang, an 85 year old foremost educator, headmaster and quintessential teacher to his son Udom Emmanuel, a seasoned Finance Guru of international acclaim. Obviously no two fathers are alike – their style is a blend of their unique personalities and strengths – but good fathers do have certain traits in common. Good fathers are known by the quality of their sons. Ete G E Nkanang is nothing short of a great dad, a hero whose place in the heavens has been prepared for his commitment, lifestyle and upbringing of his dear children including the priceless son, Udom he has blessed Akwa Ibom State with. A good father makes all the difference in a child’s life. He’s a pillar of strength, support and discipline. His work is endless and, oftentimes, thankless. But in the end, it shows in the sound, well-adjusted children he raises. Typical of a cleric and school teacher, Ete Nkanang was strict and imbued discipline in his children. He ensured that Udom went to the best schools he could afford, attending church regularly and learnt sound christian values and teachings. The testimonies are there for all to see today.
Udom can proudly boast to have attended Community Secondary School, Ikot Akpan Eshiet in Onna Local cal Government Area and later the School of Art and Science, Uyo where he bagged an A Level in November, 1981/1982. Ete Nkanang can boast that by his efforts his son gained admission to the Prestigious University of Lagos where he studied Accounting and graduated with a second class upper degree. There his son mingled with other youths from every part of Nigeria and the world. Elder Nkanang will remind us that his son, Udom was an outstanding student at College. He has not forgotten that in his life time, his returned home proudly with a Masters Degree in Corporate Governance from Leeds Metropolitan University. Ete Nkanang is proud wherever he goes because he had laid a fantastic foundation for his son’s growth. I’m sure the old teacher will be comparing notes with his contemporaries( that is if some of them are still alive) He will tell them his son has attended numerous Offshore Courses / Executive Management Programmes- Advanced Management Programme (AMP) from INSTEAD in France, Advanced Leadership Management Programme, London Business School. He will say proudly that Udom also attended Harvard Business School where he undertook the course, Changing The Game: Negotiation and Competitive Decision-Making. He also has attended the Wharton Business School in the United States of America where he studied Strategic Thinking and Management For Competitive Advantage. That Udom underwent too an Executive Leadership Programme at the Columbia Business School, United States of America. That his son has also done two courses at Euromoney in London. What more will a father desire to achieve in life? That is why we must ignore Chief Assam Assam’s recent remarks in an interview when he referred to Ete Gabriel Nkanang in this words, “His father who is my age mate is an illiterate in the village, he has never become a lawyer. He wants to deprecate education and age. Isn’t it stupid?“
A good father loves his children, but he doesn’t let them get away with bad practices. He strongly disapproves of his children’s misdeeds, using tough love to prove a point. He does this through the power of his words, not his fists. Those who have more privileged information know that Mr G E Nkanang is a great dad. He never lets his children take what they have for granted. From the food on the table to the good education he’s paying for, a good father will make his children see the value in everything they have. He’ll ask his child to get a job to help pay for a part of his first car, and take the time to illustrate how important a good education is. He doesn’t let his kids treat him like an ATM. Ete Nkanang is in that mould. He is a living legend. He is above the old “do as I say, not as I do” credo. He will not smoke if he doesn’t want his kids to do it, and definitely won’t drink heavily. He teaches them to deal with conflict with a family member and with others by being firm but reasonable at the same time.
Udom Emmanuel is a digital, coloured photocopy of his great father. Udom’s life has indeed been a study in success and hard work, passion and excellence. His gentlemanly credentials are further appreciated from the dapper dignity of his appearance to the brisk, pragmatic intentions of his movements, the wisdom, insight of his writings, the clear and precise tone of his speeches and the authority and discipline with which he carries himself in his private and public lives. He exhibits an uncommon and calm disposition, never wavering in his inner strength and belief in God. A well exposed and widely traveled man, committed, dedicated and confident ever to succeed. He is not easily angered, very patient and listens to all sides before taking a stand. Udom reposes confidence in people, especially in the younger generation, a meticulous man, prudent in his managerial projections and will not dare pursue anything in life that have not satisfied his critical and measured standards. Udom Emmanuel is an exceptional gift to the state. We owe Ete Nkanang all the thanks.
Udom’s valuable weapon towards target objectives is the functionality of his intellectual power. While his intellectual station proffers a sense of social responsibility, his gut to try the extraordinary(including the Governorship) underpins his impulse as a crusader for change. A deeply humble young man who covers it all with the force of a brainwave that’s capable of the unexpected. A man that is naturally loved and admired by people; a democrat and pivot of mass mobilization; a man who achieves greatness through sheer determination; a good listener; a man that remains unruffled even at the height of unwarranted intimidation and provocation; a man with critical thinking skills. The fruits of Udom’s life so far can be likened to course worthy to be studied by anybody wishing to succeed in life. I am left without a choice than to conclude that if Udom could impart humanity and deliver excellently with his present capacity, then he can surely do more with more. The foundations of his father has made him today a great mentor, a savvy, purpose-driven, value-maximizing and thoroughbred professional whose driving force hinges on the fundamental need to make a difference. His achievements have had no magic wand other than his commitment to excellence which derives its finer stuff from hard work, dedication and recourse to endless prayers. Akwa Ibom cannot afford to play politics with its future with this rain of oil money descending increasingly. Certain discussions concerning 2015 should be relegated for the real issues of development to be discussed. To go to the extent of roping in Udom ‘s father is unfortunate, a man who should be celebrated for his age long steadfastness and love for his family. I know many politicians are naturally uncomfortable when these hard core issues are advanced. They would rather hang around successive governments, gain fabulous contracts, build a few hotels, sleep in them, build filling stations, run them down and snoop around for the next opening. These are the class of people who say Udom Emmanuel is not a politician. Udom will not line up citizens in a crude fashion and physically distribute money? Or make fantastic donations from the treasury indiscriminately? This is a phase we must out grow.
The world outside is moving fast, we cannot be left behind. This whole discourse is pointed at 2015. The next Governor of Akwa Ibom should be a man prudent with resources and not afraid to engage the best hands across all fields. I see Udom Emmanuel as that kind of leader who can shoulder the responsibility of assembling the best brains, experts and ideas to lead and drive the industrialisation and modernisation initiative . In that regards, he will fancy an economic development council that will oversee economic planning with emphasis on job creation, continuous infrastructure modernisation and the setting up of special economic zones / self serviced industrial parks . The special economic zones / self serviced industrial parks will, in the immediate short term, aim for the mass production of low tech or soft- goods such as footwear/ shoes, bags , toys , furniture, beddings ,cushions , mattresses , baby carriages , clothing/ textiles , garments , undergarments / pants , socks , brassieres , plastics , toiletries, pharmaceuticals , agro- allied products/ food processing and others for local consumption and export. Vigorous training programs would be undertaken for youths to acquire relevant skills for the mass production of goods . Its a step to create jobs. In the long term, high tech goods such as machineries, electrical , auto parts and others will be integrated into the industrialisation initiative. That’s better than mere cottage industries flung around the state. The economic development council will be made up of seasoned experts and technocrats to be chaired by an expert and technocrat of high repute. This formidable team of technocrats will formulate policies and drive initiatives on all spheres of development. Governance is about strategic planning and excellent application of resources. And in no less a time, we are heading towards China. Udom Emmanuel is a thorough technocrat with the welfare of his people at heart. He will fancy too a fundamental approach to tackling poverty and youth unemployment which must begin with social engineering. This implies the biometric registration of all unemployed youths between the ages of 18 and 45 years of age who are neither in school , apprenticeship or self employment and who are resident in the state , and the setting up of unemployment offices in each of the three senatorial zones . Registration will make it possible for the government use some of the youths for purposes of direct labour , while some will be sent for vocational training programs and those who might have had some apprenticeship training will benefit from grants which will help them to set -up business in their area of training .
Registration will also make it possible to mobilise resources by appealing to international aid organisations , private individuals , the federal government , religious organisations and other charities and philanthropists that will help to fund the training programs , provision of grants and other initiatives that may be undertaken to address youth unemployment . As part of the strategy to tackle youth unemployment , the government would urgently set up vocational training centres in all the local government areas of the state to facilitate vocational training programs in different skills for youths across the state . The skills will make it possible for the youths to go into employment or to become self employed. At a recent public event, Udom Emmanuel said: “the action word should be a sustainable development. What will interest me to park like ten cars in my house while a lot of people in my community are trekking? So we need somebody that has the interest of the people at heart. Let’s try to remain focus. We need to change certain equations. I want to see this state in the next few years where our graduates will leave school and a petrochemical industry is somewhere for them to work. I want to see one or two industries somewhere.” That is the kind of man we need. A proud son of his father. A good chip of the old block.