By Emem Nkereuwem
There is no doubt that 2023 is the trending issue with Udom Uko Inoyo as the brand to beat. And this is undebatable. While there are divergent opinions on what should be the qualifiers for the job, sadly the discourse are not anchored on who could best bring to sustainable reality our collective aspirations for our common goals but rather on such mundane issues as when a man last ate áféré átámá at Eká Nko Bar. The mundane merely serves a fleeting moment. While it is important to build a strong connection with everyone irrespective of their social class, it would make a lot of sense to critically assess the men who wish to aspire for the exalted office of the Governor as Akwa Ibom’s torch bearer. This kind of arduous responsibility isn’t the tuff for mere musclemen.
Thousands of years ago, a certain gentleman, Moses was divinely chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to their promised land. The Israelites had been in Egypt, a place of unfathomable slavery for 430 years (Exodus 12:40). Then suddenly gboom, God mandated Moses under divine guidance to match them out of Egypt. Moses even sought a peaceful resolution with Pharaoh. The later was adamant until God had to prove His supremacy through multiple plagues. Alas all was set for the journey to Canaan. A ready-made city, unparalleled in splendour, comfort and flowing with milk and honey. It is recorded that the journey with an estimated 2.4 million people was fraught with challenges. The Israelites complained at every minor need or discomfort. Not even the miracles God performed through Moses could deter them from hounding him.
They were perhaps content with the suffering in Egypt than the vision God had for them. I imagine that Moses may often have been totally exasperated with such a people. Perhaps if his encounter with God were to be face-2-face, the Moses I know would probably have abandoned those folks in the red sea and handed over the wonder staff to God with terse finality ‘Étte mbók, mbó esang nfo, utom ami ákák ndion. Nsutó ibon!’ I guess that Moses may have been at the crossroads of doubt countless times and perhaps wondered how he would bear the cross to Canaan with a people that were unwilling to see the glory beyond Egypt. But he trudged on for 40 years till he died on Mount Nebo, just a few metres from Canaan.
This above succinctly illustrates the incalculable loss that faithlessness and doubts can cause both the people and its leaders. We see this narrative play out across all strata of our society. The political discourse these past months has once again highlighted our grave indulgence on things mundane. It has brought to the fore our pessimism and our notorious dislike for innovation and innovators. Great countries were made through these. While a few of Udom Uko Inoyo’s traducers and their paid agents may be rattled by his impeccable credentials, it is pertinent to ask some very salient questions: who among the proposed or intending candidates have spent their personal income to promote any sustainable social good as Inoyo? I don’t mean ‘political money’.
While several of our men and women have contributed their quota to the growth of communities, Udom Uko Inoyo has gone some step further into the future by supporting education in public schools – a key component of development. Let us never forget that no sustainable social, economic development can happen if we do not fix education. Our future depends on it. While Udom Uko Inoyo and indeed Akwa Ibom State may be at the crossroads of doubts on the road to 2023, it is germane that we understand that the task of charting a course for a viable state requires our collective consensus.
The task of building enduring institutions for the present and the future is possible if we agree that we have to change our perception of politics. It is not enough for our common wealth to reside in the palms of a few clansmen. It is not enough to assume that the pittance a few are given would serve through the night. Yes, often those pittances are transient. I imagine that Udom Uko Inoyo and indeed Akwa Ibom people may be at the Crossroads and wondering if this Cross with its attendant burden, hounding and blackmail is worth his while. Yes it is worth our while. This cross is our collective cross. And there are a myriad of crosses.
The cross of rising unemployment, the cross of social dissonance, the cross of growing despair and all sorts of crosses are our collective crosses. Should Mr Udom Uko Inoyo be willing to move beyond the crossroads to carry this cross, it is expected that he will harness his brand which encapsulates his values, vision, passion, and social capital for the good of Akwa Ibom people.
We cannot continue to linger too long at the crossroads. Bill Gates may have had Akwa Ibom State in mind when he said ‘as we look into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others’. Udom Uko Inoyo fits perfectly into this description. He is futuristic. I should therefore lean on this to request that as we continuously work towards the progressive development of Akwa Ibom State, we should entrust our state to someone who will put to good use our resources for the good of all.