Gov Udom Emmanuel Reception By Mboho Remarks by Chairman Udom Inoyo August 6 2016

Chairman’s remarks at the reception/investiture ceremonies of Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio-Uyo, August 8, 2016

The monetization of values

‘’In just about every area of society, there’s nothing more important than ethics’’— Henry Paulson

It is an honor to be asked by Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio (MMI) to chair this occasion, which is significant in two ways; a celebration of Mboho’s 29th anniversary and honoring a promising son of Ibibio, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel. Twenty nine years in the course of human affairs and still standing strong, is no mean feat. It is undoubtedly a testimony to the good works by members who have remained steadfast to the motto: oneness for service, andI congratulate you all.

This is not my first interaction with Mboho as I recall that on March 10, 2012, you asked me to chair a dinner focused on the state of the economy at the Sheraton hotel & Towers, Lagos.I thank you sincerely for the honor of extending an invitation for me to be here today.My brief remarks this morning is titled ‘the monetization of values’and is intended toaddress three important questions.

  1. What do we really want in life?

I must confess, that a recent interview by the former President of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings published in The Guardian Newspaper of Sunday, July 10, 2016 provided the title for this brief remarks, ‘the monetization of values’. The interview was a reminder of how “fantastically” low we now are on matters of morals even in spite of our enthusiastic and sometimes aggressive embrace of religion. You can see churches in almost all nooks and crannies of the state and no function takes place without having on the agenda an opening and closing prayers, irrespective of how the eventwill end. Yet, things are getting worse. I am a witness that it never used to be so, and while there are many postulations for the current decay, I’m sure there is also alignment that this country we so love will continue to struggle until we pay serious attention to our moral values.

Recently, I was attracted to aFriday Worship message for Moslems, in The Guardian of July 8, 2016, page 35, with the intriguing title, ‘’Arisekola Alao’s mansion for termites, rodents’’. I hope we all remember that billionaire and prominent philanthropist, whose businesses were as vast as his political connections and patronage. According to the columnist, Afis A. Oladosu, when Alhaji Arisekola Alao was alive, there were two types of security walls around his sprawling mansion, the physical and the human.

‘‘The physical comprised iron and steel…It consisted of guns and bullets. The human, on the other hand, could be divided into two: the security detail and the ‘insecure detail-the pauperized legion of hangers-on featuring professional and unprofessional beggars, loafers, lazy denizens and occupiers of the periphery of life’. When he was alive, the visitor would know the presence of Alhaji in the mansion, not so much by the presence of the security details, but by the convergence of the poor and the needy at the gate to the mansion’’.

Today, that sprawling mansion has been taken over by the “real owner” – Time. Weeds have begun to grow on the terraces and the only dinner that may be taking place in the mansion, according to the writer, would probably be that of ants and termites. He died only 2 years ago, at the age of 69.

Since it appears that as a people, we have lost our sense of purpose on earth, given our selfishness and relentless pursuit of wealth, at all cost, and at the expense of what should really matter in life, I am reminded to ask you today to reflect on the question: what do we really want in life?

  1. Why is MMI honoring Governor Udom Emmanuel?

We know that awards in Nigeria, especially those accorded persons of power and influence, are sometimes unmerited and with the value significantly discounted once the recipient is no longer in a position of influence to grant favors.  But there are recipients whosevalues never diminish, whether in or out of public office. Bob Marley, the greatest reggae expositor that ever lived once said that ”the greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”.

I have known Governor Udom Emmanuel for over 2 decades and in thisperiod, he has demonstrated some admirable attributes which I believe have endeared me and others to him. For the sake of time, I’ll like to focus on only two of these attributes this morning –hardworkand humility.

Understandably bright, Udom’s meteoric rise in his chosen career of banking remains a testimony to the virtue of hard work, dedicated service, honesty and trustworthiness. Unfortunately, these attributes are in short supply in our society today and it is my hope that we would be able to restore themknowing that these attributes use to define what we stood for as a people. We musttherefore reorient our young ones to emulate and tow this honorable path. We must arrest the shameless resort to easy handouts from political office holders which breeds a culture of praise-singing and has sadly become a widely accepted norm. They must be reminded, as Bongos Ikwe, that sonorous musician, told us many years ago that, nothing good comes easy.

The other attribute, humility, can be gleaned from the stories in the gospel of Mark, chapter 10, Verses 35 – 52, which are similar in that both were requests for favors from Jesus, but with different contrasting outcomes. I am referring to the story of the sons of Zebedee,John and James, disciples of Jesus, and the blind man, called Bartimaeus. While persistence and great faith in God were significant enablers to the restoration of the sight of the blind man, the request by the two disciples, demonstrated a strange sense of entitlement which is prevalent in our country today.  Almost everyone who has managed to get into the public space today talks about political structures and consolidation of power. I wish the same passion will go into building a culture of excellence in service and with the humility of the blind man, appreciate that our destiny is ordained by God.

It is my hope that it is these and many more qualities that have made Udom deserving of this award by MMI. If this is so, and not just because he is holding the office of Governor today, then the best legacy of today’s event will be for Mboho to imbibe and propagate these values. That way, your award will occupy an enduring place in Udom’s heart even beyond 2019.

  1. So how can MMI change our narrative?

In 1982, when I returned to Calabar after my NYSC, there was anewly formed organizationto galvanize the Ibibios. My father, even as a serving Permanent Secretary with the Cross River State Government had joined and I did not hesitate enrolling in it. It was a movement that united our people and took the state’s political and social landscape by storm. But shortly thereafter, and as a young man who was very politically conscious, I beganto observe a crises of confidence within the leadership. For example, given the political dynamics of that time, I couldn’t understand whether it was a strategy for our leaders to be in different political boats as opposed to lining up behind one strong candidate, but it was obvious that we were disunited and the outcome was only predictable.

I am providing this background because of the onerous responsibility on socio-cultural groups such as MMI to clearly articulate what they stand for and for the leadership to constantly communicate her expectations to members. The world is very dynamic and issues would always come up, necessitating an adjustment of position. Whatever the situation, do not leave room for doubts on where you stand.

Overall, my prayer today is that you will remain that institution that advocates what is noble and right, speaking up for the voiceless, and  uniting all Akwa Ibom people. I know you have invested in education, awarded scholarships and even building a school. Please continue in this all important cause, knowing as did Nelson Mandela, that, ‘’Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’’

Conclusion:

Let me bring this message to a close by first addressing the Governor. Today is your day and I join thousands of Mboho members to celebrate you. This honor should spur and motivate you to do more. Your Excellency, don’t rest on your oars. Your concern about the welfare of our people, majority of whomcontinue to wallow in abject poverty, is well known and though handicapped by the significant decline in the revenue stream, youshould remain committed to programs that will energize the economy and put money in the hands of many and not just a few. Please continue to ensure probity in governance, and do everything in your powers to utilize the services of our best and brightest to move the state forward. Nigeria has been held down for too long by destructive politics and mediocrity; and if Akwa Ibom must stand out nationally and beyond, then you must assemble a good team to work with you as well as leveraging on the experience of our elders. We will continue to pray that you remain steadfast in doing that which is right in the sight of God.

Overall, let us all remember that at the end of our life’s journey, what will matter most will not be the wealth we have acquired, but rather, the value we added to mankind. It’s all a matter of time and we shall be no more!

Congratulations MMI and best wishes to our Governor, UE.

 

 

 

Udom Inoyo

Ikot Okoro-Ubium