“There can be no higher religion than human service. To work for common good is the greatest creed,” Mahatma Gandhi
There is no gainsaying the fact that Godwin Ntuk Udeh, the immediate past Transport Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State has made his supporters and indeed the entire state proud. For the three years and some months that he was member of the State Executive Council, he left no one in doubt that he has the capacity and character to perform any task given to him. For me he is a generational blessing not just to Akwa Ibom State but Nigeria in general. He is a man richly endowed to affect his generation and leave indelible marks on the sands of time. He is an embodiment of achievements, an inspiring educator, distinguished and prolific scholar and author, proactive administrator, institution builder, mentor, creative thinker, role model, orator, an outstanding intellectual of the 21st Century. He is also a world class furniture maker reputed for moulding gold out of wood; a civil society leader, a consummate politician, former international President of Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, a key player in the Akwa Ibom State project. Before answering the call to serve his fatherland in 2013, he was a successful entrepreneur and selfless civil society leader whose heart beat was to see a crisis and poverty-free society. This he did by engaging in philanthropic works ensuring that illiteracy was eradicated and that the House Boys and Girls mentality was seen as a thing of the past.
Through his visionary leadership laced with his administrative ingenuity, Akparawa Ntuk Udeh as the first International President of Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, re-structured, repositioned and refocused the Organization to become one of Nigeria’s leading socio-cultural organizations in terms of physical structures, leadership direction, empowerment, advancement and defense of state’s interest and all these helped in rebranding the political landscape of Akwa Ibom State. Apart from ensuring that Mboho was established in other countries of the world, Udeh singlehandedly built and furnished Mboho Unity School, donated two civilian coasters, borehole and other amenities to the school free of charge. He is one of the few recognized Civil Society Leaders that addressed the two chambers of the National Assembly on the imperatives of Resource Control during the onshore/offshore oil dichotomy imbroglio.
A golden fish we are told has no hiding place. Ntuk Udeh’s success pedigree in the business world and the success story of the Mboho prompted the Chief Godswill Akpabio-led government to appoint him Honourable Special Adviser on Political and Legislative Affairs. He introduced some tremendous changes to the system that led to the place becoming a beehive of political and legislative activities and helped improve political culture in the state. Few months after, he was appointed Commissioner for Transport; a position he has used to transform the transport sector. Let me say that the Ministry of Transport was once regarded as a dry land and a wilderness where nothing good can be seen. With the help of God, management staff and knowledge of government policies, Udeh turned around its fortune to become a sought after Ministry always in the news for one positive impact to the other. His service in the Transport Ministry portrays his life as a servant-leader who does not seek for benefits or gains but what it can offer or contribute to make life meaningful and society better. Udeh does not seek to amass wealth or siphon public funds but tries to create wealth and empower his followers to be economically independent.
His achievements in the transport sector of the state are such that even the blind can see. Under him unauthorized motor parks that hitherto operated within the city centre of Uyo were relocated to government-owned parks; Committees were set up to manage these parks, he refurbished the five model government parks, with restoration of water system, solar lightings, paintings, etc. He eliminated of all forms of touting and set up Monitoring Team to ensure sanity on our roads, check habitual and indiscriminate parking of vehicles on major roads. A Drivers’ Arena (a Mini sports facility) at the Itam Central Motor Park was built to discourage negative vices within the rank and file of stakeholders in the sector and to exercise for stress-free living. The cost of sales of the ticket for tricycle operators was reduced drastically taking direct responsibility of its management while registration and renewal fees were also reduced thus creating employment for more than 350 persons. The Ministry also carried out biometric capturing exercise of commercial vehicles and tricycles operating in the state for ease of identification and checking of criminal elements in the sector. He also ensured that operators painted their vehicles with state colours of orange and white. A policy restricting the operation of Tricycle to the precinct of Ibom connection was implemented directing them to maintain a distance of 120-200 metres away from plaza, the city centre and other major roads..
Under his leadership, the Transport Ministry procured towing trucks for heavy duty, medium and automatic vehicles to rid the city roads of scrapped, broken down and accidented vehicles as well as clamps to check excesses of road users. New and air-conditioned buses were acquired to boost the activities of Akwa Ibom Taxi Network, the only Agency of the Ministry for workers/visitors plying Wellington Bassey Way (Government House/Governor’s Office Road). More than 70 buses were distributed to various transport unions in the state to boost transport activities in the state and empower union members. Unnecessary U-turns particularly that of Ben Udo by Nwaniba Road and Ikot Ekpene Road by Old Motor Park have been cordoned off thereby easing traffic flow in the areas affected. These and many more are landmark achievements of Ntuk Udeh in the transport sector. On the 13th November, 2014, the Transport Ministry played host to its Federal counterpart courtesy of the Honorable Commissioner on the occasion of Stakeholders Validation Workshop on Urban Transport Policy. The workshop underscored the need for implementation of Urban Transport Policy by states and the need for government to subsidize urban transport, regulate and professionalize the sector as well as promote continuous training and capacity building. Recommendations made at the end of such seminars and workshops formed part of the nucleus of what metamorphosed into the Akwa Ibom Traffic Management Authority Law. The Law seeks to create awareness among road users to have a transformed mindset and to “act right” while on the road so as to bring about sanity in the State transport sector.
The Honourable Commissioner also recruited and trained Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) to ensure that only worthy vehicles are allowed to ply roads in the state and this initiative of having its VIO recruited and trained is the first since 1987. He also championed the establishment of Ibom Cooperative Multipurpose Society for stakeholders in the transport sector of Akwa Ibom State. The essence of this move is to create a platform for the transport stakeholders to voluntarily unite to meet their common economic, social, and other needs and aspirations and be able to help themselves in diverse areas of need. He also recruited yet to be inaugurated Traffic Marshals to assist Road Safety officials and other relevant agencies to maintain order and sanity on our roads.
As a leader who is always innovative, he stunned the Akwa Ibom public service when he creatively organized a pull-out-parade for a retiring Permanent Secretary as is usually done in the Military. This of course is the first of its kind in Nigeria’s public service for a Retired Permanent Secretary to be so sent forth. This is a legacy and a shining example worthy of emulation. As a great individual, Udeh is not only popular but he gives popularity to whatever he touches. That is why all the organizations and public institutions he has been privileged to head have all experienced change. In all these places, he has established solid reputation as an inspiring teacher, distinguished and prolific scholar, proactive administrator and institution builder. He was able translate and implement the transport policy of the Udom-led government and created a congenial environment for travelers and tourists in the state.
I have always maintained that the essence of education is not to speak too much grammar or know plenty book but to contribute to scholarship and improve human society. The late Professor Uya once told us in class, “The reason why you are in school is to improve and equip yourself with the requisite skill and knowledge to better yourself, family, society and those around you”. Udeh has used his acquired knowledge to help improve human society. The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simple of repeating what other generations have done. Prince Udeh has no doubt brought change to his immediate environment. He has always matched his words with corresponding actions. As an authority in public policy administration, he has ensured that policies within his domain are seen to a logical conclusion. Where policies are hampered in terms of implementation, Udeh has always brought his understanding of public policy to the fore by going back to the drawing board after receiving feedback from the public.
On the home front, Ntuk Udeh has not left anyone in doubt that he is a man with a very large heart. He has assisted tremendously in attracting well meaning projects to Uruan. He was instrumental to the creation of additional clan for Uruan. He has always ensured fair play in the distribution of amenities and political offices in Uruan. During the last Peoples Democratic Party State Congress, he ensured that party offices were evenly distributed among the 11 wards of Uruan and that the people chose their leaders. Also, during the constitution of the Caretaker Committee for Local Governments in the State, Udeh made the voice of the people count by ensuring that those chosen were from the people thus giving them a sense of belonging and participation. This of course is in line with Udom Emmanuel’s agenda of political inclusivity. He has organized free medical outreach for his people and provided scholarship for indigent students and job opportunities for graduates. He has allowed his munificence spread across the nook and cranny of Uruan.
It was the late Steve Jobs who said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michel Angelo painted, Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say “here lived a great sweeper who did his job well”. Ntuk Udeh based on the above postulation has not only done well but has court the attention of all. His meaning of excellence is simply that whatever he tries to do in life, he tries it with all his heart to do well; that whatever he devotes himself to do, he completely gives himself to it; that in great aims and in small, he has always been thoroughly earnest. If public servants, political leaders and opinion molders will learn to display dexterity, ingenuity, innovativeness, strength of character and thinking out of the box, Nigeria will be a better place for all of us.
The activities of Prince Udeh as Transport Boss have not gone unnoticed both within and outside the state. Network of Grassroots Publishers of Nigeria, Chartered Institute of Leadership among other reputable groups have honoured Udeh for his five star performances in the Transport Ministry. The House of Representative Committee on Inter-governmental Affairs honoured Prince Udeh with the award of the Most Outstanding State Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State in 2014.
The late Steve Jobs paints the true picture of Prince Udeh when he said; “Here are the crazy ones; the misfits, the rebels, the trouble makers; the round pegs in square holes; the one who see things differently. They are not fond of rules and have no respect for status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you cannot do is to ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, others see genius.”
Ka Chineke Mezie Okwu (Let God be the Judge)
* Deacon Aluu Vincent, a Media & HR Consultant writes from Uyo email@example.com, 08036688375, 08089753734