By Christian George
For more on Idorenyin Umo’s program, click here
“I was the only one who saw the vision. Those who were with me did not see anything, but they were terrified and ran and hid.” So states Good News Translation of Daniel 10:7. As if this portion was written solely for Hon. Idorenyin Umo, a governorship aspirant in Akwa Ibom State that he could see the solution to the need of the state and vie to ensure that those needs are met to the benefit of all.
Being the only one who can interpret the vision of developing Akwa Ibom State, Hon. Umo‘s passion for development was fuelled by his strong desire to alleviate poverty in the State, restore peace, justice and equal opportunity etc. for all. Just like the call of Samuel in the Bible, Hon. Idorenyin Umo had long seen that the mandate of taking the state from the level it is to where it will become a point of reference for not just other states in Nigeria but provinces and regions in other African countries would emulate.
Maybe others had a little idea of this vision but the wisdom and skill of implementing it got them terrified and they had to run and hide as if the portion above was written today; it showed that to whom the vision was shown clearly has the strategy to implement it.
To further prove that the vision was ordained, a line in first Corinthians chapter eight verse four has it that there is no other God but One and one may wonder why does the word ‘one’ keep reoccurring in the two verses, it is a clear pointer to the fact that Hon. Umo who was born on the number one day of the sixth month of the year, the number six which, in the bible, was the day of the creation of man and one year after Nigeria got its independence, just to ensure that he was born at the right time when he could have the best training in the right environment, with the right friends who will help, by virtue of God’s appointment, take him to where he needs to be for the vision to become a reality.
Being the only one who caught the vision, he has rolled out his master plan to ensure that the entire state is connected to development from government, ranging from quality education cutting across all nooks and crannies, good hospitals with best equipment and well trained practitioners, good roads in the interior areas with the aim of connecting rural and urban areas as well as heavily investing in agriculture for food not only to be in abundance but cheap. He has the key to policies that will create a thriving environment for businesses and make it a peaceful entity where everyone would enjoy if he finally becomes the governor of the state.
In his strive to impact on lives of over 7 million population in the state, the dream was further interpreted in the third chapter of Proverbs on the 13th and 14th verses which emphasizes on the importance of education and its returns which immediately triggered the establishment of IB Benest Investment Limited, popularly known as IBBIL Computers in 1997, whose effects have been felt in several schools in the country to add value to education.
Hon. Umo who started an ICT hub had seen to the discovery of challenges most schools face to include innate public sector, sector inefficiency in ICT management, inadequate planning for ICT integration into educational system, weak ICT policies and implementation strategy, theorization of the subject, lack of pedagogical training in using ICT in classroom as well as lack of maintenance culture. Others include high cost of facilities, limited school budgets, inability to maintain equipment, lack of cost and power generation.
Technically, frequent electricity interruption, inadequate skilled ICT Staff, inadequate maintenance of existing facilities and connectivity problems still pose as threats to the success of implementing ICT in schools.
In a brochure containing list of projects carried out by the firm including supply, installation, maintenance, provision, training and consultancy services in not only Southern part of the country but to the far North, East and West, severally of these projects also include Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) training center, Graduate computer training programme where about 100 people had about 240 training hours in various ICT certification packages.
Also technical partner for International Finance Corporation (IFC) sponsored small and medium enterprise (SME) owners’ forum. In this capacity, 100 SME owners were trained on the use of an online business tool kit. The project was stewarded by Pan-African University, Lagos.
In a related development, the company also carried out the development of connectivity and learning tools to five schools in Edo State, under the School Access Programme (SAP) of the University Service Provision Fund (USPF), supply and installation of computer systems and staff training on ICT facilitated e-learning equipment at the Maritime Academy of Nigeria; supply and maintenance of computer systems and accessories at the University of Uyo, consulting on the deployment of wireless internet access to facilitate ICT based e-learning programme and internet connectivity in the University of Uyo as well as supply of computer systems TETFUND intervention in library development project.
A few other state government projects handled by IBBIL Computers included supply, installation, networking, maintenance of computer systems and staff training on ICT resources linking all key government ministries and agencies in Akwa Ibom State. This project included the development and installation of software in the area of human resources, budget and accounting, payroll and internal revenue generation; supply, installation, maintenance and provision of training and consulting services for ICT facilities in the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly.
Training of teachers on ICT based e-learning curriculum under the UBE programme in Akwa Ibom State through this project, teachers in the state have been trained to be in line with current e-learning project with the need to imparting same to their students in classes. According to him, the vision of impacting knowledge and empowering through ICT will make the state a hub of workforce that is digitally enabled and available which would not just equip an individual to become functional in today’s digital world but would be among the best in any field of endeavour.
Creating a digitally viable citizen will give rise to a generation where graduates in the state are employed without delays. Since the world is driven by technology, there would need to be breeding a generation which is digitally equipped to be able to cope and survive in the future.
The economic impact of digitally wiring the state would leave students and school learners to be economically relevant based on their skills, which will in future lead to the increase in economic growth and productivity.
Hon. Umo, who had this vision several decades ago, stressed that digitally enabled society will give birth to reliable information storage and retrieval capacity which would wade off crime or reduced it to the barest minimum.
On the bid to achieve this vision, technical orientation of students without coercion will be deployed as well as community integration platform for parents and educators. Also, knowledge and skill empowerment for present and future services are also seen as clues to ensuring that the project lives on to next generations.
He reiterated that an informed society comprises of learned and well informed citizens, where every individual is thinking of innovation to improve on what has already existed or create a new one with the view to making life easier and better. In this capacity, IBBIL had come up with school learners ICT programme which is a special turnkey package that would facilitate computer education in various schools setting. This includes training folios for teachers and students at primary and secondary school levels. This programme is to enable schools to give their students a stellar ICT education and prepare them for national and international level of examination in a world which is increasingly ICT based in a non-capital intensive way.
Compelled by the vision of building Akwa Ibom State with a God-driven purposeful leadership with the view to developing the state like an independent nation, he would only use his business and political experience and exposure to turn the state into a digitally wired entity but a hub where entrepreneurs would settle for their business.
As he constantly re-echo, “to harness available resources to create wealth and make life comfortable for the people so that the people would fulfill their destiny in God”, he draws inspiration from God as a Christian and believes that as God had given him this vision, it will definitely come to pass and the state will greatly benefit from this venture.
This vision had been partially implemented when in his little capacity as a state coordinator in the Peoples Bank of Nigeria as at then when he could open several branches in the state strategically locating them where indigenes could easily access and be employed and that led to 200 securing a means of livelihood.
In order to step further and reach out to more lives, he has sponsored a number of students on scholarship not just to secondary schools but university with a view to giving them a better future while a hand full have been employed in his ICT firm.
Taking stock of his political career he said,” I represented my people in Ibiono Ibom State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. During this period, I attracted government presence to the area by spearheading a number of developmental projects which included innovation of schools and hospitals, electrification and water projects for a number of communities. I also assisted a number of indigenes of the constituency to gain employment in to the state public service while others enjoyed scholarships in secondary school and universities. As a chairman of the House committee on works, housing, transportation and environment, I spearheaded identification of corked and abandoned oil/gas wells in the state. This process helped to draw the attention of government and oil companies to the dehumanizing conditions prevailing in the host communities of these corked wells and prompted some actions to alleviate the suffering of the people.”