By Otobong Sampson
Etido’s public office outing dates back to 2007 when he resigned from Schlumberger – an international oil firm. There, he had worked for about twenty years and rose through the ranks to head managerial positions. On the invitation of then governor Godswill Akpabio – who is now the minister, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, his expedition to public office was registered. First as Special Assistant, Bureau of Technical Matters, Akwa Ibom State and later, Special Adviser of the same Bureau, the man had overlooked the non materialization of the Works Ministry slot he was promised. That was the deal that had triggered his resignation from the global oil giant. After it didn’t sail through, he got on with the Bureau job and served with his heart and might.
Schlumberger, it is on record didn’t feel comfortable with his decision to resign from a managerial position for the SA job. The company’s hierarchy followed up their discomfort with express and unconditional offer for him to return to the position he left if he wished to quit his public office job within the first two years of his resignation.
But for this fine and accomplished engineer of global repute, service to Akwa was topmost on his priority order. Great and quality service he rendered as he poured his expertise into the pool of knowledge that the Akpabio administration needed to take the state up the stairway of development. He remains thankful for that opportunity just as he is of immense gratitude to the present governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel for the opportunities he has had to serve in the present administration.
Etido’s years in public office, like everyone else’s should be scrutinized and weighed on a philosophical scale. The ethical concerns of public office have been widely documented in Indian scriptures and other treaties such as Mahabharata, Budda Charita, Hitopadesh, Ramayana, Bhagvad Gita, etc. Similarly, the maxims on ethics on this same issue were provided by the Chinese philosophers such as Confucius, Mencius and Lao Tse.
In the Western philosophy, there are three prominent schools of ethics. The first, inspired by Aristotle holds that virtues (such as justice, charity, and generosity) are dispositions to act in ways that benefit the possessor of these virtues and the society which he is a part. The second, subscribed to by Immanuel Kant, makes the concept of duty central to morality; human beings are bound, from knowledge of their duty as rational beings to obey the categorical imperative to respect other rational beings with whom they interact. The third is the utilitarian viewpoint that asserts that the guiding principle of conduct should be the greatest happiness (or benefit) of the greatest number. Having offered these insights, the people can form their verdict of his times in office. It is not expected to be any different today from the long-held popular opinion that he has been outstanding in performance and exceptional in service.
For anyone, working with Engr. Etido is an amazing experience. Works with him and his engagements in public office have served huge traveling companions on the path of life. His works have been brave and challenging in order to bring desired goals. He brings energy and speaks a language that generates appetite for learning and hardwork – and transmutes plain conversations into ideas that inspire for innovative undertakings.
From when he came on board in 2007, the man has creatively worked with diverse teams to move the state and governance from here towards there, deploying in a bespoke manner, the appropriate expertise and making the presence of his competence palpable. At every turn, public service journey with him has been eventful, stimulating, enhancing, and a massive learning curve for subordinates. But the bond we both share beyond the spheres of officialdom counts more.
For him, winning is not never-ending roles; defeat is not being needed no more. This is how he wins, always! He feels, and rightly so that the legacy he lives at every point is most important; hence, he is more concerned about making things stick than trying to stick around.
Mahatma Gandhi, preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in one of his reflective moments had opined that, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. This holds true for this internationally certified project manager – who has always served his all for collective glory. He is simply never interested in taking whatever glory there is.
Always aware that public office is but a temporary terminal point, he has maintained remarkable decency and sublime integrity in any of and all the offices he has held sway. The preservation of these two virtues in public domain, has over the time, been one of my prominent roles as his media man. Ours hasn’t been a relationship devoid of strong debates and fierce disagreements. It isn’t a yes-sir affair either. No! But his trademark and rare humility has sustained the bond we share and the friendship we both cherish. It is uncommon that a ‘big man’ who is way superior in all walks of life would most times be the one to first extend an olive branch whenever we are yet to agree on any issue. This part of him has come to shape my relations with people. For Etido friendship does not matter more, friendship is everything.
Albert Schweitzer had opined: “Sometimes, our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light”. This is a deep Thank You to Engr. Etido Inyang for the numerous lights he has rekindled as he braces the 56 tape.