Home Opinion Umo Eno’s leadership and the unceasing suffering in Akwa Ibom
Opinion - April 18, 2024

Umo Eno’s leadership and the unceasing suffering in Akwa Ibom



By Uwem Archibong


If there was an end in sight or an imminent relief from this unfriendly harsh leadership reality of Governor Umo Eno; perhaps, a message to quell some fears and douse some tension as is usually the case with pandemics, the weight of this burden would have been a bit, if not entirely contained.

Many would have chosen to regard the present leadership duress with an expected positive end and a strong conviction that “all will be well” in no time. But no one knows where this will get to and for how long we will remain here, neither do we know what effectively relieving measures will be put in place to ease the pains of the times.

Unarguably, we’re caught in the web of another wrong leadership decision we made; one we bought with 2 cups of rice, 2 sachets of tomatoes, and a pack of salt. A leadership that has taken bread off our mouths and replaced them with stones; a government whose effect we’re already reaping in leaps and bounds within 11 months.

To say that we called this rain upon ourselves is not only an understatement but an unbefitting definition of our current pitiable state. It happened that we didn’t think twice before accepting the unfounded rhetoric of politics, soaked in the murky waters of personal grouse and selfish interest.

Thus, we surrendered our integrity and consciences for paltry food items and pennies that would haunt us for 4 whole years or more, and now, at the dawn of this government’s day, we’re already praying to wake from this distasteful nightmare of Pst. Umo Eno’s administration.

Of course, no one thought it wouldn’t be golden as initially evangelized. We all thought we’d walk on streets decked with luxurious comfort and spend our entire weekends drinking free beer, whilst enjoying the grooves of nightlife in one all-expense-paid premium bar. How gullible we were to have believed and even sold out this fallacious concept, borne purely to buy us into accepting what we ordinarily would not have looked twice at. Sad! We have been scammed! This must have been the case when Winson Churchill noted that alcohol had taken more out of him than he had taken out of it.

As usual, it turned out that we were only but mere buttons pressed to secure a pass to the seat of authority, or what do you think of a government whose impact is yet to be felt 9 months after inauguration? An honest review of Pst. Umo Eno’s government reveals that things have already fallen apart even before nearing the centre. Like a toddler whose wobbling legs are sure to result in a fall, so are the legs of this administration; shaky and unstable, with an imminent fall in view.

This is no bad prayer or wish, but a holistic appraisal of how it is going so far. And of course, insiders who know this would rather be quiet than lose their jobs. The hypocrisy of people in government has always been terrible; they suffer and smile while feigning blindness to realities within the four walls of their supposed empire. But current realities might soon give room for murmurs and bickering, especially as their interests have been cut off and their work proposals slammed on the table. They’re expected to run their offices from their salaries, build structures, and settle them from their salaries too.

It is therefore not surprising that many of the Governor’s aides now shun public events so that they won’t be asked for ‘landing’. They are unavailable even in their houses and are only seen in the Governor’s entourage. The story is not entirely different with the State House of Assembly members who suffer the same ill luck. These are people who ought to be the Governor’s eyes, noses, and hands.

The newly appointed aides paint the worst picture of a Governor’s Aide. They reckon deep neglect as they squeeze in and out of commercial transport vehicles, coming out of the discomfort of their public places of residence. They’re worn out and can no longer ring out the balderdash they used to sing in the days of yore. one would be tempted to ask about the whereabouts of the Wardrobe allowance that was so pronounced during Governor Akpabio’s time. Those fanciful campaign promises have turned into sour ‘stories for the gods’, with them as the first litmus paper.

Evidence is glaring that structures built for the Governor on hard-earned trust, profuse sweat, and painful toil have all been abandoned without compensation or any hope of revisitation in mind. Political groups and enthusiasts who suffocated the media space with promotional content (albeit jargon, most times) have been carefully removed from the stage of play like they never existed and for once in the contemporary history of Akwa Ibom State, we can breathe….

Information has it that they are no longer of relevance to the Governor who doesn’t fancy the idea of funding them and they do not have access direct enough to move the State’s Chief Executive. On this, would not agree less; the current administration of Governor Umo Eno is run as a sole proprietorship where the Governor is the only cock crowing. Nothing flies if it doesn’t pass through his painstaking assessment and authorization, and especially if it isn’t worth his definition of something worthwhile.

On his instruction, the Chief Press Secretary works with only 5 persons out of the more than 50 aides appointed, putting him at variance with the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity and Senior Special Assistant on Research and Documentation to be at the mercy of the CPS.

Despite the pressure placed on him to a relaxation of these stringencies by persons who know at least, a little; nothing seems to change Pst. Eno’s mind when he’s made up. This unarguably, was the reason he lost his cool at a public function, warning politicians who did not have an appointment with him, to allow him to focus and work on why he was elected. Suggestions and opinions therefore do not count to the Governor. Even within his cabinet, he frowns at those who offer him some sort of guide on how to go about certain tasks. He is said to have warned his internals from making phrases like “this is how it is being done”. Our number 1 man seems to know how to do his thing, just like every sole proprietor does.

One would therefore not be surprised if the Secretary to the State Government who would have been his liason but doesn’t take calls or messages nor returns them, is acting on his instructions. Till now, appointments into key positions like entertainment and protocol have not been made, not because there are no capable hands to man them, but because the Governor does not want to spend money.

It’s even worse that Umo Eno has no mumu button, an indirect button (person) one can press to access him. For all he cares, he calls the shots without anyone’s permission.

A mumu button, in this case, is a liaison or intermediary between the governor and the people. For sure, no single individual would be able to attend daily to the unique demands of everyone hence, the imperatives of a go-to person. This person would therefore be that emergency button one can easily reach the Governor with. Obong Victor Attah had, Prof Akpan Ekpo, his siblings, and others as ‘mumu buttons’ when he was Governor.

The Senate President in his time as Governor had Etekamba Umoren; his wife, Unoma Akpabio, his siblings, and Umana Umana differently as his ‘mumu’ buttons. His successor, Udom Emmanuel had the then Ephraim Inyangeyen, Emmanuel Ekuwem, Nathaniel Adiakpan, Ekerete Udoh, a few Commissioners and Special Advisers as well as some members of his immediate family differently as his ‘mumu’ buttons. And these were persons you could beat your chest to say that you would have seen the Governor if you saw them.

Differently, they accommodated complaints and suggestions from various angles of the society, while providing positive feedback to those concerned when such was needed. By so doing, they watered down several pressures on the Governor thus, making the job of the number one citizen less cumbersome.

No one can say that Governor Umo Eno’s siblings have blessed them with N50,000 as they often complain of “No money”.

But the ’golden boy’ who knows better is not towing that route. His sole proprietorship approach to governance which to him is frugality will only become a bane and drown him in the war field of politics. Truth is, no one who fights alone wins, and no king can be wiser than the kingmakers. It is obvious and true that his ‘makers’ have shrunk into their shells after being reported to each other for ‘disturbing’ him, and are seriously threatening to ensure that he doesn’t go any closer to clinching a second-term ticket hence, his play to Akpabio’s gallery. But that won’t save him. Fate won’t be on his side if he rides on the goodwill, trust, and political contacts of those who hedged him to the seat of governance and removes them as one takes off a coat or jacket.

The worst type of governance is one administered by a person who is unapproachable and all-knowing yet, vulnerable and unskillful in the play of politics; their mighty fall never takes anyone unaware.

Umo Eno has all the time to redeem his debts and retie the relationship chords he has loosened. He’ll do more and be the best Governor Akwa Ibom State would have ever had if he listens to, and collaborates with the experienced voices within his cabinet. Their ideas, juxtaposed with his, would make a big difference in his story as Governor of the State.


Uwem Archbong a public affairs analyst writes from Uyo Akwa Ibom State.

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