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Presidency 2023: Weighing An Atiku-Udom Emmanuel Team

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Presidency 2023: Weighing An Atiku-Udom Emmanuel Team

Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State ticks several crucial boxes as a fitting vice presidential pick for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the pivotal 2023 general elections, writes Louis Achi

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Today, Nigeria stands on the brink of significant disruption – and of substantial opportunity – as ‘new’ political leadership models enter the fray to hopefully disrupt conventional governance playbooks and challenge traditional templates. As it were, only tested pathfinders with vision, knowledge and courage can provide the critical and inclusive leadership to ensure both stability and progression.

Against this background and looking beyond Mr. President, the position of Vice President (or for now a Presidential running mate) carries considerable weight, especially in assisting the President to chart the course of bold engagements with the critical elements in a democratic mix and subsequently delivering astute governance in a damaged entity.

This requires a cool-headed personality that will assist the President birth a new political and organisational transformation, especially in a political space that has long been driven by traditional and often parochial metrics. More, it requires bold, game-changing leadership – in the side-lines.

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It is against this backdrop that Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State comes under exacting scrutiny. It of course cannot be denied that several competent personalities, especially in the South-South and South-East zones could give Governor Udo – a feisty contestant for the PDP presidential ticket – a stern chase for the diadem.

Since the presidential primary election of PDP was concluded with the emergence of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as the party’s standard-bearer for the 2023 presidential poll, all attention are now locked on finding a fitting pick as vice presidential candidate.

Cleary, the choice of running mate is as critical as that of the presidential candidate. Crucial political calculations and the imperative of balancing interests of various tendencies in a politically and an ethno-religiously diverse milieu is indeed very critical. While many, rightly or wrongly, believe that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the presidential standard-bearer of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) task in choosing a running mate is far more difficult than  the Turaki Adamawa’s, they may need to rethink this simplistic position.

It is beyond debate that the 2023 general elections will be keenly contested, especially with the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as APC presidential candidate – a personality who is certainly no push over on the national political stage.

A sterner examination of Governor Udom’s credentials and trajectory will serve to glean the strengths that stoutly recommend him to the main opposition party PDP which is seeking return to power. As a vice-presidential pick, Governor Udom will bring a humble, clear-headed, cutting edge leadership to complement his principal Atiku Abubakar on the bracing task of reinventing the nation.

In a period of national uncertainty with a social contract between the rulers and the ruled in tatters, Udom will clearly represent a critical asset to the PDP in the build up to the 2023 general elections and thereafter if the party clinches the presidency.

In the professional turf, Udom was a top bank executive before his entry into politics. A cutting-edge financial guru of uncommon reputation synced with deep knowledge of the economy, he will bloom as the nation’s vice president. This is even more so as the constitution vests on him the crucial responsibility of heading the economic team.

His transformational governance in Akwa Ibom speaks to the leadership depth of the man. Akwa Ibom benefited from a focused and targeted, massive industrialisation. Given the nighmarish economic state of the country today, an Atiku presidency certainly needs this fellow with the Midas Touch.

In the demanding arenas of prudent resource management and creation of jobs for the teeming population of his state’s youths, Governor Udom has an unbeatable scorecard to his name.

One of his notable and uncommonly innovative actions to re-oxygenate Akwa Ibom’s economy was floating the only surviving state-owned airline in Nigeria – Ibom Air. Like the man who saw tomorrow, he ignored pessimists and assembled best hands in the exacting aviation industry to administer the company. Not surprisingly, today, Ibom Air is not only the pride of Akwa Ibom State but that of Nigeria.

“We started with an initial three CRJ 900 Bombardier aircraft, later added additional two, bringing the fleet, then, to five, and earlier this year, added two brand new Airbus 220-300 Series bringing our total fleet to seven. We have also increased our routes from an initial Uyo-Abuja-Lagos-Uyo to other cities such as Calabar, Port Harcourt, and Enugu,” Udom once told a rapt audience.

Hear him: “In less than three years after it commenced commercial operations, Ibom Air has become a dominant force in Nigerian aviation industry, flying the colours of Akwa Ibom State within the Nigerian aviation space and proving cynics wrong who thought we were embarking on what they call in my country a ‘’ white elephant project.’’.

There is more. In the challenging turf of infrastructure revamp, he scored several firsts. In roads construction, he was outstanding. Under his circumspect watch, hundreds of kilometers of asphalted roads have been constructed. His administration constructed the First Led factory at Itam, the first Shoprite hyper market at Ibom Tropicana, the Automobile Assembly Plant at Itu and DAAR Communications Broadcasting Complex, Abak among others.

On the crucial education turf, Governor Udom organized the first ever Education Summit where experts and other stakeholders reviewed the subsisting education template in the state and consequentially transformed it to 21st Centurty standards. Today, a greater premium is placed on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to build the future manpower for the emerging industrialized state. This is vision in action.

Obviously not ignoring the youth, his administration established trhe Youth Empowerment Programmes (AKEES) which has taken many jobless youths off the streets and has also contributed to the improved peaceful co-existence of the people of the state.

Akwa-Ibom State under the nimble guidance of Governor Emmanuel Udom is not surprisingly adjudged one the most peaceful states in the country. This certainly was not a coincidence but flowed from creatively using economic empowerment to guarantee social harmony.

What’s more – the reinvigorated PDP certainly needs a personality with the compelling pedigree in both private and public sectors Udom boasts. Governor Emmanuel Udom has quietly constructed powerful political networks across Nigeria.

Even Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo could not hold back from telling Nigerians that he is very proud of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State for his great achievements in the area of infrastructure and industrialization in seven years of his stewardship as the governor of the state.

Osinbajo who spoke while commissioning the 21-Storey Dakkada Towers in Uyo, recalled that in 2015 the governor had shared the vision of his administration to construct the tallest building in the South-South and Southeast regions.

He noted that the 21-storey smart building is not just the tallest region, but certainly among the tallest in Nigeria and in West Africa, congratulated the state governor for his visionary leadership.

From all metrics of assessing both personality and performance, Governor Udom certainly ticks all the boxes and favours him. Well educated and politically savvy, as a vice-presidential pick, he will undoubtedly harvest crucial votes for the party both in his geo-political niche of South-South and Nigeria at large.

The emerging consensus is that the Turakin Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a savvy politician with vast experience cannot get it wrong if he chooses Governor Emmanuel Udom as his running mate in the 2023 general elections.


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