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Governor Umo Eno’s Unfolding Script

Governor Umo Eno’s Unfolding Script

By Osondu Ahirika

The story is told of a Sunday school class that had been asked the question, “In time of discouragement, what is your favourite scripture?” A  young man’s answer was, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). A middle-aged woman said “God is my refuge and my strength, a very present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 40:1).

 Another woman said, “In this world you shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 10:33). Then, 80 years old Mr John, with a head of white hair and dark black skin stood up, and said with as much strength as his failing years could muster, “my pick is this: and it came to pass”. People were embarrassed at this incomplete phrase.

 Explaining himself, old John retorted that, these four words is repeated so many times in the Bible. The class started to laugh a little, thinking John’s age and lack of memory was getting the best of him.

 When the snickering stopped, John said, “Well, at 30, I lost my job, with six hungry mouths and a wife to feed. I didn’t know I’d make it. At 40, my eldest son was killed overseas in war. It knocked me down. At 50, my house burned to the ground. Nothing was saved out of that house. At 60, my wife of 40 years got cancer. It slowly ate away at her.  We cried together many nights on our knees in prayer. At 65, she died. I still miss her till today as the agony I went through in each of these situations was unbelievable. I looked in the Bible, I saw one of those verses that said; ”… And it came to pass”. I felt that God was telling me that my pain and my circumstances were also going to pass and that God would get me through it. He did see me through it all and I’m here today.”

 When I reflect on this short story as enacted by American Lutheran Cleric, Rev. Greg Seltz, I cannot but picture the dreamlike Oath taking ceremony that ushered in His Excellency, Pastor Umo Eno as the Fifth civilian Governor of Akwa Ibom State. It’s a moment that even he can’t fully fathom as we write this piece.

Done with his preliminary acknowledgements, His Excellency Governor Umo Eno made haste to observe that, as a little boy he used to watch his father, a Policeman partake in parades to honour dignitaries. On May 29, 2023, fate reversed roles. He was now privileged to inspect a parade and guard mounted in his honour by officer’s of the Police service. Sobered by the reflection, Governor Eno cited a scripture I now believe is his favourite.

Ingrained in his inaugural address, the recitation was taken from St. Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 1 verses 46-50 using the King James version:“And Mary said “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour, for He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.”

When he marked the 35th Anniversary of his marriage and when on May 25, 2022 PDP Governorship Primaries, he quoted the same scripture. He proceeded to tell his story which summates that scripture. Hear him:

“My story is well known to you, but please permit me to repeat some elements, so you will be further inspired by it. I was born in the police barracks and had lost my Father at a very young age and the burden to raise  my siblings  and I, fell on my late Mother, a true Amazon, who  went on to instill in us, the virtues and values of hard work, faith in the unchangeable  designs of God Almighty, honesty of purpose and faith in the goodness of the human condition.

Life in the police barracks back then was drab and dreary  and all around us, were things that were designed to bring out the worst instincts in us. I was the one most people thought would not amount to anything. No one gave me  a fighting chance to succeed. But because God’s plans would always confound the wise, I summoned hope and overcame. I could have fallen through the cracks of life, and be swallowed by the gaping hole that we daily encounter; I could have surrendered to some negative tendencies associated with peer-pressure, but I summoned hope and kept my head above the murky waters of despondency.”

Then he adds, “… If the child of a lowly maidservant like me could overcome and thrive in the private sector, running a conglomerate of concerns spread across the hospitality and service industry, employing over two thousand workers. and now, the Governor of this great State, you too, can and you will!”

Like Mr. John, Governor Umo Eno is indeed a winner, for it took a living faith, to see him through it all. I may add that in addition to all the other favourite verses by the class, that favourite  verse of old John also sums up the testimony of the Governor’s fairy tale journey from the Police Barracks to the Hilltop Mansion Government House.

It was significant that we had the early morning showers that blessed the day and ensured a very clement atmosphere for the Swearing in ceremonies at the usually airtight Godswill Akpabio Stadium. It was more remarkable Governor Umo Eno consciously elected to deck up his clerical collar, indicative that he comes to power as an undershepherd of God over his people.

In subsequent pieces, I will interrogate matters arising from that handing over ritual.

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