Governor Udom Emmanuel on Tuesday sent names of new Commissioner/Special Adviser nominees to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly for screening and subsequent confirmation.
The nominees are John James Etim, Ph.D, Uko Udom, SAN, Pastor Umo Eno and Mrs Idongesit Etiebet.
It could be recalled that in a ‘TheMail Newspaper’ exclusive, the paper on 1st December, 2020 reported authoritatively that the governor will undertake a minor cabinet reshuffle/rejig which will see few new entrants into the exco.
Now, the question on the lips of many is: Who will the new nominees replace? Based on information obtained from several top Government House sources, TheMail tries to answer the question.
UWEMEDIMO NWOKO: The Ika-born legal luminary was appointed as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in December 2014 by the then Governor of the state, Chief Godswill Akpabio. He was appointed to replace Barr. Ekpenyong Ntekim who resigned to contest the governorship election. Nwoko was however reappointed by Governor Udom Emmanuel in June 2015. Since then, he has survived all the cabinet dissolutions and reshuffles till date. He is the longest serving commissioners in the exco alongside Glory Edet, Akan Okon and Monday Ebong Uko who were all appointed in 2013.
Last Sunday, December 20, 2020, he held a thanksgiving service to celebrate his elevation to the legal height of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). In the invitation letter sent to guests, he stated that he is the first known Nigerian to become a Life Bencher and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) same year. He also prides himself as the longest serving Attorney General in Akwa Ibom.
He will most likely be replaced by another SAN – Uko Essien Udom, a friend of the governor based in Lagos. Uko Udom who is from Etinan LGA is the founding partner of Udom & Udom Legal Practitioners. He holds a diploma in Company Administration and a law degree from Manchester Metropolitan University. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in July 1983. He specializes in Civil litigation, Oil and Gas, Aviation (transactioinal issues in power generation, transmission and distribution) and Arbitration. He is an Arsenal fan, married to wife Eme. They have 3 kids together.
CHARLES UDOH: Charles Udoh is a banker whose last stint was at Wema Bank, Lagos before he was drafted into the state exco in 2016 to replace Aniekan Umanah as Information Commissioner. He served in that capacity till August 2020 where he was shifted out to the Ministry of Environment and Petroleum Resources. Udoh, equally an Arsenal fan like Uko Udom may most likely be replaced by his compatriot from Uyo, John Etim. John and Charles are from the same Offot Ukwa in Uyo.
John James Etim, Ph.D is a former National President, Akwa Ibom State Association of Nigeria, AKISAN USA who served in that capacity from 2014 to 2016.
He is a real estate investor who schooled in the University of Calabar. He obtained his Ph.D in Public Administration from American Trinity University. Before leaving Nigeria over 2 decades ago, he was a secondary school teacher. He lived in Pennsylvania for many years. JJ as he is fondly called is a former International President of Offot Ukwa Association, USA.
ARC IME EKPO: A retired civil servant, the architect was appointed to oversee the Ministry of Lands by the governor. But his time in the Ministry was riddled with several controversies. One year ago, the 64 year old reverend gentleman infamously ordered the demolition of structures on the eve of Christmas Day. The affected structures located at Nung Oku were said to be on government land. There was a lot of public outcry and condemnation of the commissioner’s action. Recently, there have been reports of land scam syndicates operating in his ministry, a report he has promptly disclaimed as untrue. He was also mandated by the Governor to ensure the construction of the controversial International Worship Centre, Uyo. He hails from the same village with governorship hopeful, Udom Inoyo. Inoyo is rumoured to have been the brain behind the nominations of Charles Udoh and Ime Ekpo into the state exco. But on December 24, 2018, the then Speaker of AKHA, Barr Onofiok Luke during his Amazing Grace ward tour claimed he recommended Arc. Ime Ekpo to the governor to be nominated as Commissioner into the state exco, a statement Ekpo himself has not disputed publicly.
To take the slot of Nsit Ubium in the exco which is currently held by Ime Ekpo is Pastor Umo Eno. Umo Eno is one of the governor’s favourites in this administration. He is the owner of Royalty Hotels and a key figure in Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly (ACA). The governor is said to have made him the main man running the show in ACA while Archbishop Cletus Bassey has largely been reduced to a figurehead. In order to also reduce the influence of the likes of Senator Effiong Bob, Onofiok Luke ahead of 2023 governorship election, the governor has made the fair-skinned hotelier-cum-preacher the go-to-man in Nsit Ubium politics. Umo Eno is equally rumoured to be one of the governor’s options for the 2023 governorship.
EKEMINI UMOH: She is currently the Special Adviser to the Governor on Bureau of Rural Development and Cooperatives. She took the slot of Abak when Aniekan Umanah exited the exco in 2016. But if information at our disposal is anything to go by, Abak may lose the slot to Oruk Anam. A top source from Government House told TheMail “We already have a deputy governor from Abak who has been there since 2015. Also, the LGA has had Commissioner and Special Adviser in the exco since inception of this administration. So, it is time for another LGA to have a shot in the exco”.
Idongesit Etiebet, currently serving as Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Education Monitoring may take Mrs Umoh’s slot. She hails from Oruk Anam LGA and has been one of the most influential and well-funded aides of the governor since her assumption of office. She held a top position of Deputy General Manager, Zenith Bank before she resigned and relocated from Lagos to join the government.