Umo Eno soars against odds
As Governor Udom scores him high in performance
Like the proverbial horse that skidded into a ditch but gradually surged upwards into total rebounds, against piles of mud cast to bury him where it unwittingly fell into, Pastor Umo Eno has continued to surge upwards, breaking barriers on all fronts.
Described by Governor Udom Emmanuel as the “barrack’s boy who was not given any chance for success in life in his early days,” he has continued to count his blessings, as witnessed last weekend when he hosted the world at a thanksgiving service.
But Pastor Umo Eno had remained reticent until two years ago when he joined public service as the Executive Director, Agricultural Investments, AKICORP and later the State Executive Council as Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources.
And whether by some supernatural arrangement or coincidence, the lot fell on his zone to produce the next governor of Akwa Ibom State. Pundits say ‘he’s best suited for the top job,’ given his track records of job creation in the private sector for over two decades in Akwa Ibom. But unlike other public officers who have overtly shown interest in the race, he has continued to focus his energies on his current job, yet several piles of sand were being cast on him to eclipse him. At each count, his star continued to rise to the surprise of both his admirers and detractors.
Last weekend when he held a thanksgiving service to commemorate the first anniversary of the transition of his mother, his 35 years of fulfilling marriage and his appointment into the State’s Executive Council as Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, his credibility and leadership acumen soared beyond success.
The occasion, greeted with heavy downpour as a sign of divine outpouring of blessings, was attended by the creme de la creme of the society, with the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, wife, Dr. Mrs. Martha Emmanuel and Deputy Governor, Pa Moses Ekpo, senators and PDP party structure and leaders were complete in attendance, as the College of Commissioners led by its Dean, Dr. Glory Edet, took charge of the planning, management and execution of the events held in a school premises in his home town, Ikot Ekpene Udo, Nsit Ubium Local Government Area.
Top Christian leaders, including Rev. Dr. Uma Ukpai, the Akwa Ibom Spiritual Fathers of Faith, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) National President, Rev. Dr. Samson Ayokunle, the traditional leaders led by the Oku Ibom Ibibio, the newly sworn in Director General of the State Traditional Rulers Council, Ntenyin Solomon Etuk, JP, the business community and academics well attended the occasion, as crowds defied heavy rain and kept surging in like an army of locusts from all directions to fill up every space inside and outside the expansive school premises.
For hours, guests who arrived late struggled for space, as more people who couldn’t find seat stood under the rain, just to catch a glimpse of the events.
A GOVERNOR WITH A HEART OF GRATITUDE
As Mr. Udom Emmanuel mounted the stage, he reemphasized the imperative of thanksgiving for someone who has benefitted much from the grace of God. A man with a grateful heart, he praised God for letting the heavy downpour abate for the events to progress smoothly. He went to encourage Pastor Umo Eno not to give in to pressure from the press, which at the eve of the occasion, made various unfounded claims over his intention to hold a public thanksgiving service.
He admonished the Commissioner not to be distracted by misleading reports, recalling that from the days of Moses, Jesus Christ and the apostles, there had always been people with negative perspectives about intention of leaders. “As far as you’re in the position of leadership, you must be blackmailed, you must be misquoted, you must be misconstrued, it happens,” the Governor said.
He stressed that for leaders who serve with honesty and sincerity, people will always cast aspersions on them. However, he noted that those who have been insulting him as the Governor, will soon get to know that he came and did his very best for the people of the State.
SCORES UMO ENO HIGH
For many, it came like a big surprise because the Governor hardly praises his appointee openly. He found exceptional qualities in Pastor Umo Eno, describing him as a leader with capacity for achievement of set goals.
For those who do have this detail, the Governor’s first contact with Umo Eno was at Zenith Bank as the Executive Director, Lagos, while Umo Eno was the CEO Royalty Group, Eket. The later sought a loan approval to execute some offshore contracts with one of the oil and gas giants.
Delighted to know that an Akwa Ibom citizen had capacity to handle a big oil and gas servicing contract hitherto dominated by expatriate, Udom Emmanuel didn’t find it burdensome to approve the offer. Conversely, Umo Eno didn’t also fail to prove to him that he was a man of integrity, as he strictly complied with the terms of the offer. Since then, a relationship that was to later culminated to both now working together for the good and prosperity of the State was hatched. This explains also why Umo Eno in appreciation for that trust named a meeting hall in Signature By Royalty, Ewet Housing, Uyo, Udom Emmanuel Hall. Sadly uninformed media went to town with claims the Governor owns the highbrow hotel.
PAST ACHIEVEMENTS NOT ENOUGH
Given the high expectations Udom Emmanuel places on his appointees, the past successes of Umo Eno in private business wasn’t enough grounds for his being invited into the public service. The Governor needed a private sector entrepreneur with sound knowledge, turnaround skills and sagacity to manage investments in agriculture, with a touch of speed and accuracy in delivery. He remembered there was Umo Eno to try. He swiftly interpreted the Governor’s dream in agricultural investment portfolios and impressed the State EXCO members when he was given a small window to make a presentation on agricultural investment turnaround mechanics. Unknown to Umo Eno, that session was marked excellent. Then came another opportunity in the EXCO and he was posted to the Ministry of Lands and Water Resources, where he is also putting a mark of excellence on delivery of services.
NOT A LOBBYIST
Against the misleading information that he lobbied for his appointment, having served during the last elections as Secretary of Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly (ACA), the Governor openly dispelled such notions.
The Governor’s remarks: “Let me also dispel all kinds of things people say…; ‘that Pastor Umo Eno as the Secretary of ACA went behind to lobby the Governor for appointment’ (I’m standing on the pulpit of God to say this), Pastor Umo Eno didn’t lobby me for any appointments.”
“When I came here last year, I said I hardly score people very high but this one man, we invited him only once to our retreat (and all EXCO members will give you exactly the same report), and he impressed everybody at that meeting by the way he made his presentation and has never lobbied me for anything, please let people not say so again,” he sued.
Accentuating further, he added:”Today, I want to thank God for his life, he’s a man who has the capacity, he has love for his people, he has a heart to work for his people and the God who sees his heart will reward him for his heart for his people.”
GREATER WORKS FOR DOING WELL
Meanwhile, the CAN president, who spoke earlier, vouched for the integrity of Pastor Umo Eno, placing him in the moulds of the biblical Daniel who excelled in public service because he was exposed to the spirit of excellence.
His words: “As part of us; a minister of the Gospel that you are, we are proud to identify with you and your achievements. I wish you greater progress in the year ahead, I’m sure that the achievements of the Governor and yours for the State have to do with the fact that you truly know God and serve him like Daniel with utmost integrity.”
“My brother colleague in the Gospel ministry, continue to serve the state with integrity and the fear of God. There is no limit which God cannot elevate those who serve him well in future. The reward for good work is for more and bigger work in future. The Bible says that a servant who his master gives assignment to do and does it well, will be given more assignment (Matthew 25:20-21).
2023 FOR TASK-ORIENTED, CREDIBLE PARTY MAN
The CAN President said: “As 2023 election is coming close, if one is given an assignment to do and do it well, more assignment will be given to him, whether at the national or state levels, please do not hesitate to make yourself available and serve God’s people faithfully and pragmatically, to the best of your ability.”
Praying for Umo Eno, he added: “I am sure that the church and the mass of people will be ready to support you if you serve God very well. Nigeria in 2023 will not vote for looters again, we need people who are circumcised in the heat by the Holy Spirit to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.”
The CAN President also lent his voice on 2023 succession, praying the Governor to ensure he sought for a credible and task-oriented member of his party who will sustain the legacies of this administration, to succeed.
He also applauded the Governor of Akwa Ibom State for being the first to invest in aviation industry, as well as infrastructural development of the State. According him, the achievements of the Governor in six years, especially his outstanding contributions to the Christian faith in Nigeria, was why CAN elected to honour him with award of excellence in service at her anniversary in Abuja.