Tuesday, 24 March 2015

2015: Udom will win - Edwin Okon

2015: Udom will win - Edwin Okon

Dr Edwin Enefiok Okon is a man of many parts. He is a consultant in education where, among others, is geared towards assisting Nigerian students desirous of schooling abroad actualise their dreams. He holds several academic qualifications from reputable institutions across the globe b that cut across Management, administration and more. He is a board member of Akwa Ibom Ambassadors Forum, a group working for the victory of Udom Emmanuel in next month election. He spoke with KENNETH JUDE on a range of issues and why Udom is the best man for Akwa Ibom state. Excerpts:

Please sir, may we meet you
My name is Dr. Edwin Enefiok Okon. I am from Central Uruan Ward 1 in Uruan Local Government Area. I am a graduate of Management from the University of Calabar. I had my first Degree in 1993 and second Degree in 2002 (MBA) from the same University. In 2014, I was awarded PHD from the City University of Mill Wall in Politics and Business administration. I am the Chief Executive Officer of REIMA GLOBAL CONSULT LIMITED. It is a management consulting outfit that is based in Lagos. We also operate a school system by name REIMA ROYAL SCHOOLS comprising Nursery, Primary and College— all based in Lagos.
We are also into recruitment of students into International Universities; as a matter of fact, that’s what the consulting outfit is doing. We recruit students for International Universities because we partner with quite a number of them and we recruit desirous students for different disciplines into the institutions. We also do a bit of corporate social responsibility like in Lagos where we are into Community Water Supply within our immediate community. That is done under the auspices of our NGO ‘Mankind Garden Care Foundation’. I am a member of some professional bodies like Institute of Management Consultant of Nigeria, Association of Professional Managers in UK and the West African Administration of Managing Consultants. I am married with four lovely children.

Sir, we will like you to shed more light on “Akwa Ibom Ambassadors’ Forum’’
Akwa Ibom Ambassadors Forum is a platform I am using because I have been so impressed with the work of the incumbent governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio. For those of us outside the state, we can talk very categorically about the achievements of this state because the erroneous notion people used to have about people from Akwa Ibom outside the state was either a house boy or gateman but that has now been eroded almost completely.
So, with the advent of this administration, Akwa Ibom has become one of the states being talked about outside the state. In Lagos where we are, people have a very high regard about people from Akwa Ibom having seen the landmark events and programs that have been embarked upon in the state like the Flyovers among others. This has given credibility to what had already been. He has improved the status of the state remarkably and we are feeling it all today. Akwa Ibom Ambassadors Forum has a good program and a good platform where we can feature prominently and foster that vision. That is why we are in this group. The slogan is “transforming the polity’’. Of course, it’s all about transformation. The incumbent governor has laid a foundation for uncommon transformation and we are to carry on from there. By the grace of God, we have a governor coming into continue with the work and we too will be there at the background trying to push those ideals to make sure that we put this state where it should be so that when they talk about Nigeria, Akwa Ibom will follow and I think it will come to that point if we continue with this level of spirit and passion.

What is the composition of your organisation and are you supporting a particular candidate for the forthcoming elections?
The Akwa Ibom Ambassadors Forum has Dr. Effang Effang as chairman of the Board of Trustees. It is a state wide forum association and we are working majorly to install our governorship aspirant Udom Emmanuel. That is our main focus and we have what we call “project one on one.’’ We had good outings in other localities about two weeks ago. We were at Itu, Ibiono, Uyo and now, we are taking the project to Uruan Local Government Area. The one we are doing is a twin program because the chapter had not been inaugurated before in Uruan, so we are embarking on inauguration and flag-off of the One On One project campaign.

Don’t you think the flag-off is too late considering that election is barely days away?
Last impression is a lasting impression. In fact, injury time in football is when the match is even more interesting because you bring all the zeal and we believe that with few days to election, it will be so much alive in people’s mind. Now, by the time we do these things few days to election, the impression will be lasting in the minds of the people. If you tell them to vote for umbrella when you go preaching the gospel, the impression will be lasting and they won’t forget it easily when they head to the voting points. That’s why we want the impression to be fresh in the minds of the people.

In the areas your organisation has visited, what have been the experiences and the response of the people?
The response has been very impressive and overwhelming because when you do something that transforms the mind, they can’t easily forget that. Politics is game of numbers and people wants to see you. Some people preach politics and don’t present themselves to the populace. They go for radio jingles, newspaper adverts and all that but when they see you in their house and you preach a particular message to that person and the person shakes your hand, sometimes, it’s even better than giving them money because it gives that person a sense of belonging and brings the person closer to government.  Some people are not even aware of what they are supposed to do; they are carried away by ethnic sentiments and all that. We want these sentiments to be eroded off by letting them know why they have to vote rightly.

By the time we sit down ‘One on One’ to talk to you, things will surely be different. Like in Itu, sometimes, when we go there, the people are sitting down talking and having some drinks and all you do is order some drinks for them and continue the discussion. By the time you don it like that, they will be amazed by your gesture. We have this sticker that we use, it’s not a flyer because by the time you give flyers to people, they look at it a couple of distance from where the collected it, they drop it. So, we’ve made it as a sticker such that if we come to your house, you’ll be the one to stick it. If we are talking to an okada (Tricycle) man, we stick it on his bike same with Keke and others. It doesn’t inconvenience you because you don’t carry it in your hand always.

Uruan is believed to be a core opposition territory, do you think your program will thrive in this district?
It is going to thrive because the only permanent thing in life is change. This is why we have come out to enlighten the people and this program is very, very essential. Uruan, as a matter of fact is not playing opposition anymore. As long as I’m concern, we are voting for PDP and they will win. So, whoever thinks he can sit somewhere and import any other party should have a rethink because the whole of Uruan is PDP

Among all the candidates in the governorship race, why is your group rooting for Udom Emmanuel?
It’s a matter of choice because it’s like joining any of APC, Labour Party and the rest. Udom is a man of integrity. We have seen that he’s coming with new ideas and personally, having worked in the private sector, he will do more because those of us from there, we do things differently. Over there, you are very discreet with the way you handle issues. You are proactive because you know every moment of your time counts. I have seen that attitude in Udom Emmanuel and that’s the kind of qualities we should look out for in the person we want in that high office. Having been to the level he was in the banking sector, he has developed the integrity, transparency, know-how and skills to do things in the right way. That’s why I feel that this man is the best to take over from the incumbent governor.

When is the Inauguration of the Uruan Chapter coming up and who are those invited?
The inauguration is slated for Wednesday March 25th and it’s going to hold at the Women Development Centre at Uruan Local Government Secretariat. We have taken permission from the chairman of Uruan LGA and we expect him to attend because everybody is being carried along.  I have already fixed a meeting with the political leader of Uyo to see me and some PDP aspirants have also been invited.  The women leader has been contacted and she’s working hard to make sure that the women are well represented and of course too, the Ambassadors have ward leaders and members, so each ward is expected to come to the program with at least 15 – 20 members.  On the whole, we are looking at 300 – 500 people in attendance and we will make sure we pass information to the people.

Considering your rich and intimidating profile, one wonders why you have not taken up a political position.

Everything has its own time.  If my people say I should go, I won’t say no.  When the right time comes, and my people say I’m qualified, I will accept the offer.  The landscape of today’s politics is changing.  You don’t just pick anybody and put in a position because a time will come when obviously it will be expected of you as a political person to may be represent your state or your local government and all that, and you should be able to do that.
We are trying to inject life into the system and when the people feel the time is right, we will step to the fore and hearken to the clarion call.

We have done a number of things.  We have bought a bus and branded same with Udom’s pictures and that of Aniekan Bassey representing Uruan State Constituency; and that on its own is a landmark development which has helped a lot to push the campaign forward.  So, we hope with time, the dividends will be seen because you shouldn’t just sit and ask somebody to give you this or that.  Your contribution first of all matters a lot. See what you can do to improve your locality and not what your locality can give to you.
When your people are convinced that this is the kind of person, if we vote him in, he will do this and that, they’ll say we have seen what he has been doing now come and do more.

If Udom becomes the governor, what experience do you think he will bring to bear and the areas you’ll like him to concentrate on?
Industrialization mostly. When we are talking about industrialization, we are not saying that the road network that the former governor started will be stalled or that electricity will stop, not even the health facilities and free education which the former governor had initiated will stop but we are saying that by the time we add industrialization of the state to the development that was pioneered through the uncommon transformation of Governor Godswill Akpabio, honestly, you will wake up one morning and call this place Dubai because we have the resources to transform the industry in Akwa Ibom State.  I was discussing with my boy and I said that there are some industries you set up that will employ at least not less than 5,000 or more workers and when they close from work, it will look like they are returning from crusade and some other ventures like that will be brought into the state whereby people that are roaming the streets including graduates will lay their hands on something.

Presently, many of our people rely on Civil Service job – they are waiting for monthly salary, expecting gratuity, pension at the expiration of their job and all that.  Nobody sits back to think what he/she should do to better their lives and employ some other person.  This is the next stage that we should move on to by going into government partnership and private initiative and by the time we go into more industrialization, everybody will smile.
Udom will win ad we are very optimistic about that but you know they are two sides to a coin, the head and the tail.  The head now is bigger than the tail – the optimism is on a very higher level so, am not even contemplating whether Udom is not going to win.  He is winning the election.

Are you not intimidated by the growing profile of the opposition especially the APC?
There’s nothing wrong about that because that’s the joy of democracy.  If you wake up one morning and you have so much money and build a very beautiful mansion in your street and within the street, nobody has built anything close to what you’ve built; you are in serious trouble because you are going to be hated by the people around.  They will ask, especially when you drive out in your fine car if you are the only one.  But when the mansions are scattered around, you will relax because you know that you are at peace.  It wouldn’t be interesting if PDP were to run it alone.  We are not intimidated because PDP will win at the end in spite of what you see.

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