I have met Udom Emmanuel, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, a couple of times at functions; but these encounters were so brief that I cannot claim to know him. And I have no idea whether I will take a shine to his personality if I ever get to know him.
Meanwhile, I don’t know any of his friends and have cordial relationships with Akwa Ibomites who can’t stand his guts and have told me lots of negative stories about his character and activities.
I’m making these points to show Vanguard readers that my attitude towards Governor Emmanuel as an individual is neutral at best…and that the praise I am about to heap on him is emotionally detached, completely objective and motivated by nothing more than an intellectually honest desire to give credit where credit is due.
What am I going on about?
Ibom Air, the airline that Emmanuel established three years ago.
It is quite simply the best Nigerian carrier I have ever travelled on.
Ibom Air planes look new and are clean and comfortable.
Passengers can relax in the cheaper economy seats without suffering from painful cramps caused by insufficient legroom or derriere space. And the ground staff and cabin crew are very professional.
Then there are charming little original touches like branded dinky water bottles and recorded announcements in different Naija languages, including a quirky pidgin version that makes me smile.
When my sister applied for a refund on a ticket she hadn’t used, she was impressed by the speedy and courteous manner in which the customer service department handled her matter.
Since most government enterprises are inefficient and corrupt, it is possible that Ibom Air is badly run behind the scenes. But it behaves extremely well in public and any internal dysfunctions that might exist don’t show.
If only other state chief executives could waste less precious time on toxic political shenanigans and invest more energy in developing ventures that will assist their fellow citizens and make their states look good.
Emmanuel’s resourcefulness, within this context at least, is what I call creative governance. I hope Ibom Air goes from strength to strength and that his successors don’t destroy his legacy.
Comments from a reader
From Frank (0813 9944958):
You may not agree with him, but his is an interesting and controversial perspective that is worth debating. Other Vanguard readers are invited to share their opinions about the following:
[According to reports about the controversial BBC and Trust TV documentaries in which terrorists were interviewed]: There is a feud between the Hausa and Fulani. And this is the reason for the escalation of the present insecurity in the country.
The crisis between the Hausa and Fulani is systemic and has spread to the security forces affecting their effectiveness. The Army, Police, DSS, etc, are at war with themselves [because] the security agencies are predominantly composed of the above two ethnic groups.
The implication is that there is divided loyalty to the government as they align with their ethnic origins. The consequence is that the nation suffers as the security operatives do not give their best efforts to fight the scourge of insecurity.
It has been reported that when they are tipped off about flash spots, they bolt away and even betray their informants thereby jeopardising their lives.
As a way forward in the fight against insecurity the electorate is enjoined to use their votes wisely. They should not vote for any presidential candidate of Hausa and Fulani extraction.
Also, the National Assembly should be implored to invoke the doctrine of necessity and disqualify Atiku Abubakar of PDP and Rabiu Kwankwaso of NNPP because both of them are of the Hausa and Fulani stock.
For now, it is only a Southern president that can reconcile the Hausa and Fulani since he will be neutral.
Peter Obi is best suited to play this role and unite the nation. He is neutral and does not engage in ethnic or religious politics.
The incumbent president is from Fulani extraction. He is lethargic and lukewarm about the fight against insecurity because he does not want to be accused of taking sides. When he met with the British Prime Minister in Rwanda, Boris Johnson offered to help in the fight against insecurity, but he rejected it.
He said it is the war in Libya that is spilling into Nigeria. The rejection of the offer is unfortunate. The British demonstrated their capability in the fight against terrorism in Sierra Leone.
A British citizen was taken hostage. Some special British forces were despatched to that country to go and rescue the victim. On arrival they immediately cordoned off the area and threw a smoke bomb. Thick smoke engulfed the area. The forces wearing protective gear and gadgets moved in and pronto rescued the hostage. Similar mode of operation took place here when a US citizen was kidnapped.
The lesson for us is that technology that can help to fight terrorism is available, but we must partner with those countries that have it to sell and show us how. If, for example, we had used the smoke bomb to neutralise or incapacitate terrorists in Kaduna forest, the hostages would have been freed by now. Technology is the solution.