By Ubong Sampson
Someday in May 2016, Ini Ememobong Essien, a comrade by struggle and a lawyer by profession, was in a queue of oath takers, swearing to defend the constitution of their party, the Peoples Democratic Party as it bears on respective offices in the EXCO of Akwa Ibom state chapter wherein Ini just got elected to serve as publicity secretary.
For those that knew him in-depth, it was a square peg just getting fixed in a hole with same shape and size. It was a thumb up to the party for a choice that was definitely right. Nonetheless, being human with the tendency to disappoint, one could only wish him well, while hoping his intelligence and proficiency will be brought to bear in the delivery of the responsibilities demanded of the office.
For his close associates like myself, we had from inception known that where it concerns issuing of press statements, regular appearances on Television/Radio to address issues bothering on his party’s interest and simultaneously promoting the party’s image directly under his care, and a few other things not mentioned, Ini would live up to expectations. But what we could not foresee was that he will get to grow so much passion and initiating several creative means to selling his party and its image, such that it would be less a surprise if one visits his house someday and finds him trying to selling his party even through the process of throwing balls of garri into his mouth.
May I be corrected if there was any holder of that office, pre-Ini, who was heard any time other than during party announcements, but the narrative has far changed for the positive. The Nigerian political party system is believed to be a structured dependency which exhausts all its activities and displays it exploitative tendencies during election, and thereafter resort to depending on the electees it was able to elect into office on its platform, while awaiting the next Australian (election) season.
Ini Ememobong’s days in the PDP state leadership has brought revelations that near totally contradicts this
notion – his irregular ways of discharging the regular demands of his office and the extra initiatives, are glaring evidences and have all contributed in diverse ways to the popularity the party has gained extra in the last 3 years plus. Ini’s party had in 2016 trusted him with the party’s image and expected him to be just an image manager, but to individual members of the party, the entire Akwa Ibom public and arguably, members of opposition parties too, he has been different things on different
For instance, to some small business starters in the state, Ini has been a lifeline to their businesses through the umbrella business quest programme which processes run both on and off the radio. The transparency and consistency employed in running the
programme has earned it a slot in the list of most consistent empowerment programmes around. I never understood what N250 can do to a small startup until I started mine.
Are his contributions to his party’s something to scramble for? Who, even among opposition parties in the state, did not see and feel the effect of creative, proactive and promptly reactive measures to subduing opposition media, and how the creativity, proactivity and prompt reactions told positively on his party’s chances for the election approaching days through the elections proper? – so conspicuous that he could attract willing and conscious commendations out of members of opposition parties, while also forcing unintended ones from those he has made to feel disappointed with their own publicity secretaries who appeared too undersized for the shoes of that office, no thanks to Ini.
Interestingly, Ini did all of these by
just doing his job and showing elastic capacity and superlative wit in it. For instance, he must have known that being reachable and accessible to the media and trying to do so at all times would be very vital to his job line. So by just doing his job, he was synchronously
building good media relations both for his employer (the party) and to aid his job.
This has earned him commendations across party lines. For instance, some reputable public analysts of different political extractions have admitted and acknowledged his competence and the creative wit he
displays in the job.
According to Kemfon Neke in a private chat few months back, “based on my knowledge of him, particularly given his background in communications, I expected him to perform high in office. The deliberate effort to work with young persons is the most commendable aspect of his tenure. His commitment and effort to achieve media victory for his party cannot be questioned and maybe is unparalleled. However, a lot of neutrals may have a sour taste in the choice of diction in most of the official communications issued from his office, which seemingly elevates humiliation over education and taunts over fairness, which are often targeted at eminent leaders of the state though of the opposing party and thereby sustaining the mindset that issues cannot be successfully canvassed while sparing the opposition players of personal ignominy. So on partisan consideration, he has maybe exceeded the expectations of the office given his several media victories but the tenure may have punctured a deep cut in the consciousness of a young vibrant population with media enthusiasm on what may be categorized as a noble political communication”.
Barr. Neke a lawyer and public affairs commentator who has severally declared his sympathy to the All Progressives Congress (APC) which plays lead opposition to Ini’s party in Akwa Ibom.
Also, another intelligent young lawyer, Eyeyak Ikpat who is also sympathetic to the APC had joined in acknowledging (publicly, too) the indelible marks and institutional prints the Ibiono Ibom comrade was to leave behind, as at when there were no indications he was going to continue in same office after the expiration of his first tenure.
Barr. Ikpat who granted permission for his words as expressed via his Facebook timeline to be used for this purpose, had these words of commendation for the spokesman and his state chairman:
“As the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nationwide begins their next round of Congresses that will produce officers of the party from Ward level to National, the state wing of the party has reasons to be grateful to these two gentlemen who have piloted the affairs of the party in the state in an uncommon manner. Whereas Hon. Paul Ekpo (aka Hon. Paul Politics Ekpo) will be leaving as the State Chairman of the party, Akparawa Comrade (Barr) Ini Ememobong will be leaving as the State Publicity Secretary of the Party.
“The uncommon manner in which these great gentlemen exhibited their administrative and leadership qualities is appreciated even by members of the opposition party. While the state chairman has proved his mettle by making sure his party emerged victorious in all the elections conducted during his tenure as the State Chairman of the
party, the Publicity Secretary (being the image maker of the party) has given members of the opposition party sleepless nights.
“His frequent press releases have become Scud missiles that have shattered the tables of the opposition parties. This development has caused many political observers to paint the Publicity Sec in a bad light. This wrong notion is born out of the fact that these people fail to separate the person of Comrade Ini Ememobong from the office
he is occupying. Consequent to this is also the fact that the opposition parties have a very weak Publicity Secretariat capable of matching the missile power of the PDP Publicity Secretariat. The result has been the blame game, while the ruling party continues to move from strength to strength”.
Within his party, the commendations have been the same and even more, coming from the direct beneficiaries of his sagacity and erudition concerning the job. A former state EXCO member currently heading the Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA) board, Mr. Enobong
Uwah said, “Ini has met my expectations. Five star performance as publicity secretary of my party. He couldn’t have done less”.
Still within, Hon. KufreAbasi Edidem, Representative of Itu State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom Legislature rated his performance as “simply excellent!”. Part of his reasons being that the comrade lawyer has redefined what was hitherto perceived about the office, and in a way that will leave a big challenge to the next occupant and maybe subsequent ones whenever he leaves. For me, finding a replacement for him might be one big mess the party will be left with – mess of fallen standards, except the party takes the office out of its political process and designs a succession grooming plan.
From the neutral, a journalist and Akwa Ibom correspondent with the Daily Independent Newspaper, Idongesit Ashameri who also ‘chairs’ the NUJ’s Correspondent Chapel in the state said, “he has even accorded the political party a human face. He has performed quite high. Beyond the party, he has groomed so many youths and emboldened their sense of
worth. Through the umbrella business quest, he has encouraged and facilitated growth for young entrepreneurs in the state. Ini is just beyond politics! He has exceeded my expectations”.
Leadership and management seem to be two traits with scarce record of coexistence in one human. But with what the Akwa Ibom publicity secretariat of his party has seen and become in his reign, the comrade lawyer must have held on to his game confidently with the way he has
productively managed quality and resourcefulness out of his staff.
Aside other innovations he has brought to the job, his media empowerment gestures has touched the watching public the most, apparently owing to the entailing sacrifices. From a distance, someone in my like would want to ask how much funds accrues to his office in
the statutory and incidental respects. Could he be planning these gestures in faith and optimism pending whenever the luck of the beneficiaries would shine through him? Well, it is, methinks, safer to dismiss these rhetorics with the conclusion that whatever is passion
driven has no limit foreseeable with the mortal eyes.
Again, Ini has done much to shift out of the distasteful paradigm and perception that the Ibibios in politics do not develop or empower (using the common word) their own. So far with the opportunities he has been privileged
with have had very impacting touches on the people around him. In the words of one of his staff, Akanimo kingsley, “he does not manage his staff, but causes his staff to manage each other through certain principles of emotional intelligence. His management method designs
the Publicity Secretariat to function like one big family. To grossly rate his management level, I place it at excellent. Given the result it has yielded, it is excellent”.
With this now, we can only hope his faithfulness in this little, continues comparatively when higher and greater opportunities come. As for the unexpected continuity, one can only expect more from him and the office.
Ubong Sampson (08021419939) writes from Ata Idung Minya, Mkpat Enin LGA.