Thursday, 21 May 2015

Enobong Uwah: Leaving behind a rebranded ministry, Akwa Ibom environment

Enobong Uwah: Leaving behind a rebranded ministry, Akwa Ibom environment

True leadership has become a lead want in governance. Even in Nigeria, a third world nation where genuine development seems to be a mirage, the clamour for true leadership has overtime taken an alarming and not-easily-discardable dimension.

With the currently witnessed speedy pace of development, only hands with proven competent attributes and experiences; men who are angry, yet, focused, creative and passion driven with development are required on deck to ensure satisfactory delivery.
In the Nigerian, nay, Akwa Ibom polity today, while carefully analyzing the desired qualities in leadership,  non-lenient emphasis are placed on competence and passion for service for leadership selection. However, the success of whatever vision the masses may hold depends largely on how effective its strategies and action plans are interpreted and by those at the leadership level.

Though Nigeria brims with varieties of abandoned projects, aborted hopes and dried up dreams, the incapacity of the state to deliver minimal benefits to stakeholders constricts the space for individual and corporate accomplishments. However, Akwa Ibom State appears a proud exception, as the Godswill Akpabio led administration has taken an exemplary lead by way of going first and lifting its vision to higher heights and beyond its normal limitations.

Obviously, since the advent of democracy, the Akwa Ibom Government, especially in the last eight years, has confounded the generality of Nigerians with its speedy pace of development and policies, especially those who may have underrated it in time past. So far, so good, the way seems cleared, and the stage, set for the next step and phase of development which apparently is a task for succeeding administrations. But just before the handy transition, a thorough assessment of political office holders, their challenges and the level of performance as well as achievements recorded despite the challenges, became a stoppage time point of focus for our team, the TEAM E4+.

And while about a handful of the political office holders whom our searchlight spotted had taken to their heels, giving out an apparently true impression of having slept in office all awhile, others had quickly presented themselves to be assessed and rated.

Be that as it may, one of those in the latter category, Prince Enobong Uwah, Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources made a striking move by not waiting to be spotted by our searchlight. 

Perhaps, eager to know what his scorecard would be like, this public servant had taken a positive advantage of an event to put himself forth for assessment- same which revealed his giant strides in the environment ministry under his stewardship, and which prompted the forgoing. But most striking was the way and manner he responded to an online post which was aimed at drawing his attention to a spotted public menace of one of the placed waste disposal bin within Uyo metropolis. He did not just end by responding urgently to the SOS call, he also proved his critics wrong by appreciating the call and tendering perceptibly sincere apologies to the residents of the affected environment who may have gone through the hazard of a polluted environment resulting from the abandoned waste spot which routinely clearing was long overdue.

In all honesty, the response of Prince Uwah which went as a comment to the online post in context, did not just end up winning many likes online, but went as far as changing  the impression of a hardly accessible and elite personality had by many about the Uyo born commissioner. The writer is a stark evidence in this regard.

A scrutinized juxtaposition of Prince Uwah’s indirect and unplanned journey to the environment ministry and the positive feats he has recorded in the four years of his stewardship, one might be forced into the belief that the turnout of the 2011 elections in the case of Uyo State Constituency was divinely programmed. For after losing out in the said election and subsequently being appointed to man the ministry, Prince Uwah, even before these countable days of his tenure, had already proven that his presence in the environment ministry was more than a political compensation believed by many to be.

Like the biblical Abraham whom God had displaced from the comfort zone of a hometown to a strange land,  Prince Uwah wasted no time accepting the fate of God’s purpose by quickly putting behind the discouraging difference(s) between an elected and an appointed public servant. He immediately settled for work in his new jurisdiction, with all plans and strategies conforming to the uncommon transformation agenda of his boss, Governor Godswill Akpabio.

This he began by receiving and domiciling a first ever policy on environment for the state. And to ensure strict adherence to environmental laws and regulations, Prince Uwah’s led ministry restructured and restrengthened an enforcement team for an all-round-the-clock monitoring and surveillance of the state capital.

Prince Uwah’s led ministry then struck a legally constituted collaboration with the first lady which saw to the establishment of the green-attire, army-like environmental sanitation corp officially known as Green Brigade. This is a well known standing structure responsible for the cleaning of the Akwa Ibom environment. And more interestingly, this structure, asides its aiding strongly waste management and environmental maintenance, has had a notable advantage on the state’s economy by providing employment opportunities numbering close to three thousand (3,000) to indigenes cutting across the 31 local government areas of the state. This includes about 1,500 women together which alongside other beneficiaries, perform environmental management duties including desilting gutters and drainages, mowing lawns, trimming flowers and collecting, evacuating refuse, among others. 

Prince Uwah, upon resumption of office seemed to have had a natural, or perhaps, developed a perceptible grudge against the issue of indiscriminate disposal of wastes; this is evident in the aggressive measures he has taken towards effecting a lasting control on it, as he had barely celebrated his first two (2) months in office before launching a two-week intervention cleanup campaign in the state capital which was in a deplorable state. He deployed waste compactors, steel receptacles across strategic disposal areas in the state and energized the system for effective waste management collection and disposal. This was a kind of first aid measure, before the major operation to restore the Akwa Ibom environment began.

And to crown all efforts in this regard, he facilitated and secured a grant for a land along with an issued Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for the proposed Integrated Solid Waste Management Facility in the state.

Also, the environment ministry under Prince Uwah has recorded a feat in one serious threat-pulling area to environmental safety. This is the area of undergoing engineering studies, the outcome being the possibility of a perfect anti-ravine facilities design which implementation had aided the ongoing control of ravines in Uyo metropolis. The completion of these cavities for the Eka and Asutan Streets ravines are visible evidences in this regard.

Notably in the area of flood and erosion control is the effecting of a flood control project at Nwaniba Road through former Timber Market site in Ewet as well as Uruan Street a d its environs which has so far progressed to 95 percent completion level is another major feat by Prince Uwah’s led ministry. The culverts at Uruan Street through Oron Road as well as underground drains from Udo-otung Ubo linking to an outlet in Dominic Utuk Avenue are evident co-beneficiaries through a first time desilting since construction. The positive effects of the aforestated have can be seen in the reduction of flood impact in the affected areas.

Another move to check a possibly outrageous erosion and flood was the construction of a pipe jacking drainage system in Uyo and Abak areas. This has been reported to be the first ever spotted in the whole of West Africa.

Though being heard more on environmental activities, Prince Uwah also has a tenacious grip that keeps him on top of situations from the Mineral Resources management area. His stewardship in the ministry under his charge has paid an almost 50-50 attention to areas involving both the environment and mineral resources. For the latter, Prince Uwah has recorded several sacrificial efforts towards establishing a fraternity between all parties concerned, stabilizing the sector; thereby setting the stage for a consistent derivation of maximum and hitch-free turnouts.

The occurrence of intermittent crisis in oil producing areas arising from disagreements between authorities of oil companies and their host communities has been a seeming unending burden in the country and Akwa Ibom, being a major oil producing state has never been an exception. The seeming insurmountable nature of this sad, yet inevitable development has at several times had devastating effects on both the companies and their host communities (and indigenes). 

However, Prince Uwah, in his strive to ensuring an accommodating Akwa Ibom environment for indigenes and visitors at all times, took to engaging the oil drilling companies operating in the state to a documented Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with their host communities. This was a move to ensure a conducive working and dwelling environment for all concerned. And by way of tackling the problem from the root, he further led his ministry in a move to initiating and putting in place a machinery to ensure swift and prompt responses to incidents of oil spills in the state- same incidents believed to be a major cause of crisis in oil communities.    

Among others, one recorded positive result of this move was the peaceful collaboration with Exxon Mobil to clean up incidents of oil spill which were far gone in ravaging Akwa Ibom coast lines.

Very popular among his feats in the environment ministry is the renovation of Ibom Plaza which has had its aesthetics improved, making it more of a tourist attraction site. The least to be forgoteen, especially by those who had turned the complex into a full-fledged trade zone, is the aggressive, yet modest way and manner they gradually chased out of the complex by the enforcement team of the environment ministry. Today, the site has regained its sanity with a regular cleaning and maintenance visit to sustain this sanity.

With all these, the capital city has become a tourism destination of choice as there have been a legally instituted process whereby pay loaders, compactors and tippers daily evacuate refuse in all parts of the city and this has been an unhidden secret to the daily new look worn by the capital city, though in varying sights.
Others in the long list include, production of blueprint of the management of burrow pits by construction companies in the state; working closely with Septa energy to establish the largest Gas processing plant in west Africa and successfully held talks with stakeholders to ensure compliance to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) standards and guidelines for sustainable development… among others. And above all, the issue of quackery and low intelligent quotient is expectedly a thing for the history books in the ministry, having encouraged core professionalism by boosting human capacity of staff in the ministry with the exposure of staff to international best practices through international conferences, courses and seminars.

Summarily, there seems to be a unique kind of beauty, recounting such remarkable feats by a man whose dream was to make laws while representing his people at the state legislative chambers. And while one may be wondering how all these became possible, one word- VERSATILITY… best to describe Prince Uwah, may just be a suitable answer. But then, aside the benefits of a well established structure for environmental sustenance, another benefit of discovering an asset for the present and future, especially in an era where professionalism and high-handed intelligence have become a dire need in governance would be a perfect explanation as to why he may continually be an indispensable tool for effective governance.

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