At some point he served as head of strategic planning in Zenith Bank; a responsibility that has great demands and challenges. Whether his penchant for strategic thinking is a natural course or a result of the much training he acquired from various institutions may not matter, but how he has as governor of Akwa Ibom State employed it to shape the socio-economic policies and political events in the State is central to this treatise.
In an inquiry from his career godfather, Mr. Jim Ovia, Chairman of Zenith Groups by Yours truly on why he considered Udom for a job with Zenith Bank, he noted, “his vast knowledge and experience in accounting and his excellent understanding of global best accounting practices”. Then Mr. Ovia added the catch, “Even more, his attention to details”. This last part undoubtedly falls into known strategic confluence. Every strategist must pay attention to details as a salient minutest detail if not incorporated could upset the attainment of a set goal. This could be why Mr. Ovia stated confidently, “he is well positioned to succeed in anything he chooses to do whether in politics or in business”, referring to Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Some events which underline the Udom administration these past sixteen months confer impetus on the assertion that the accomplished banker turned politician is not only a strategist but a strategic thinker of extraordinary hue. As a person, he is endued with the critical attributes of a strategist. For instance, he is optimistic with unfailing belief in positive outcomes. It is why in the face of national economic dire-strait; Governor Emmanuel has kept hope alive in Akwa Ibom State, by honoring obligations and consistently oiling the wheels of good governance as if all is well in our Nation. To buoy even more hope, he is often quick to tell the people that there is a difference between money and cash implying that you don’t necessarily need to have physical cash to plunge into an economic venture.
But in the building of hope, Governor Udom has never fallen short of another attribute of a strategist which is being realistic. For instance, he is abreast with the current reality and has foisted prudence in public spending but without sacrificing governance expectations. For him, certain things must be done differently if previous methods adopted over the years are seen not to be working optimally. Of course a strategist must have the ability to see ahead, possess of insight to enable him chart the course for the best expectations for the future. His vigorous pursuit of the industrialization agenda bears credence and exhibits that strategic style of leadership.
Harnessing the attributes isolated above without ethical conduct puts any strategic approach in danger. Ethical standard is an essential component of good character which is expressed in honesty, trustworthiness and sincerity. Governor Udom’s corporate background and inviolable faith in Christianity have duly shaped his ethical behavior and made it suitable for a modern day strategist. He has complemented this with good communication skill; another attribute of a strategist to rightly earn the prescription. Governor Emmanuel is not only a communicator, he is one gifted with the art and nuances. He is a spell binder to his audience when he is one the soapbox. His robust bank of words, timeless quotation especially from the Scriptures, the elocution and the cadence of his baritone voice, the histrionics are features that combine to distinguish him as an orator par excellence. He proved this eloquently in the lecture he delivered during Leadership newspaper Award at Abuja were he stole the show with a deafening post speech ovation.
Governor Udom came into the business of governance duly invested with the mindset of a strategist. His actions, decision, policies and approaches are therefore never lacking in strategic underpinnings. As a strategist, he does not follow the tide but logical reasoning that has enjoyed deep reflection. It was why the dissolution of the cabinet lingered in public space for a long time. Even the constitution of his cabinet upon assumption of office came with huge anxiety which dovetailed into vociferous criticism by a section of the people. But the master-strategist knew what he was doing as he discountenanced the frenzied discourse while continuing with his result driven governance.
While opinions on cabinet reshuffle or otherwise continued to gain currency, the governor continued to work. When he eventually cast the anchor of cabinet dissolution, not a single politician or even the cabinet members had an inkling of his plans. Many posit that some of the Exco members were still clutching files containing memoirs for which they were seeking approvals that fateful Saturday while the governor in his mind had resolved to dissolve the cabinet that same day. The commissioners just like members of the public were taken unawares when the release announcing the dissolution of the State Executive Council came. The decision and its execution were no less strategic and bore the poke mark of a strategist who understood the imperative of keeping such critical information close to his chest. A renowned politician in the State described it as a tactful approach and commended the governor, but advised that he infuses more haste in the reconstitution to avoid undue pressure on him from politicians
Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem, a former Commissioner for Investment, Commerce and Industry and the longest serving Commissioner in the State having served for 91/2 years who resigned in August to contest for the office of the National Legal Adviser of the People’s Democratic Party in the botched August 17, 2016 Convention asserted that Governor Udom is a consummate strategist. He said that as a man with foresight, he saw the need to have his person positioned in the party. Barrister Enoidem captured succinctly how His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel encouraged his aspiration to the National office of the party. He said he arrived the country from abroad on the eve of the Convention into the warm embrace of Governor Emmanuel in Lagos. The former Commissioner said that when he told the governor that his credentials were in Uyo and would be needed in Port Harcourt, the governor graciously flew him in his aircraft to Uyo where he picked his credentials and from there to Port Harcourt for the Convention which was unfortunately aborted.
Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem who returned from a one- month intensive course on leadership at London Business School, fully paid for by the State Government, recalled that when the election at the Convention could not hold as initially planned, the governor encouraged him to use the interregnum to acquire some training which in his view would add value to his operations in any office he may find himself in future. The former commissioner advised Akwa Ibom people to continue to support the governor whom he said was produced on account of his capacity and pedigree. Barrister Enoidem said that the charter with Governor Emmanuel as governor of Akwa Ibom State is for eight years and advised the people to be patient as the governor is doing so much even in the face of plummeting resources from the Federation account.
Barrister Enoidem who arrived the Uyo International airport at about 12:45pm on Monday from United Kingdom thanked Governor Udom Emmanuel for his generosity in underwriting the cost of the programme including a handsome estacode for his upkeep. The former University Law teacher observed that Governor Udom’s interest in deepening the intellect of an Akwa Ibom son like him shows the quality of leader he is and the total commitment of the governor in ensuring that Akwa Ibom sons and daughters ascend new heights. He said that though he has no plans whatsoever to return to the State Exco, he would remain steadfast in his support for Governor Udom Emmanuel whom he said would enjoy the mandate of Akwa Ibom people for eight years.
* Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst