John Calvin Maxwell is an acclaimed American Author, Speaker and Pastor who has invested nearly a lifetime in simplifying the intrigues of Leadership, and has seen his books sold out in millions of copies, with some on the New York Times’ best seller list. It was him who said that “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. One is tempted to believe that this writer with a lot of silver linings in his award cabinet had the Chairman of Uyo Local Government Council in mind when he said that.
Elder Hon. Imoh Asuquo Okon the Executive Chairman of Uyo Local Government Council who turned 50years in April, 2018 assumed the mantle of leadership on 7th December, 2017 after been sworn in by the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State Mr. Udom Emmanuel. The swearing in was immediately followed up by a solemn assembly which was geared towards committing the administration to God.
One month after, he convoked an Economic summit where all stakeholders in Uyo L.G.A irrespective of political affiliation were part. There he doled out his blueprint in a 4-point agenda which are: robust empowerment and rural development, improved IGR for wealth creation, active social welfare and renewed partnership for good governance.
An African American Muslim, Malcom X, posited that “Education is the passport to the future because the future belongs to those who prepare for it today”, So, in a bid to prepare the children of the council for the bigger picture, Elder Okon has aggressively pursued the payment for school fees for indigene and even non-indigene students of the area in higher institution with at least 130 students gazetted between December 2017 and June 2018. Procurement of JAMB forms for 150 youths of the council could be easily described as the passports Malcom talked about but the prompt payment of salary of Primary School Teachers’ steals the show and takes the shine off others.
Cleanliness, they say is next to godliness, and that perhaps greatly informed why the ordained Elder of United Evangelical Church (founded as Qua Iboe Church), has been ruthless in the course of sanitation; partnering the council legislators to formulate policies and enforcing them effectively. Today, many areas around the metropolis hitherto synonymous with dirt now sits comfortably in the committees of cities with affinity for cleanliness. The Ibom Plaza in the city centre, and the Udua Akpanandem market are obvious examples of places where the Chairman alongside council officials carry out sanitation exercise from time to time. He has also banned roadside trading. He instituted the Ndiong Idung Scheme sanitation programme in Ikono ward 8 where 86 persons have been engaged, and this is to be replicated in other wards.
The Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and a co-founder of Apple incorporation; a renowned entrepreneur and business magnate, Steve Paul jobs, once said that “innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”, while an acclaimed American Business Man, Raymond Albert Kroc Once said that “the quality of a leader is reflected in the standards he/she sets for themselves”. Elder Okon, is an embodiment of these two assertions all wrapped into one and this is reflected by the targets and goals he has set for himself and the council which of course are consistent with the United Nations sustainable development goals – by the addition of innovation, style and creativity to his role. These are clearly mirrored by a number of initiative ongoing and completed in the council.
For instance, primary healthcare delivery in the council has received rapt attention by his administration in many special ways. First, was the grading of an access road leading the facility at Uyo village along Barracks Road to enhance accessibility and lessen navigation stress. A survey done after the grading shows that attendance at the facility has increased by nearly 30 percent. Renovation of the facility itself was the next target, as the Chairman continued to carter for the exogenous factors of the health sector. A face lift will definitely be an understatement, as the Chairman went beyond renovation of the blocks to the revamping of water supply which has since been in desolation for many years. Security personnel’s were redeployed in their numbers to the facility to curb theft and robbery around the premises while the council’s First lady donated a freezer for preservation of samples, and other perishables. Prompt payment of salaries to these primary healthcare workers on a normal circumstance wouldn’t have gotten a mention, but when One does a comparative analysis of what is happening elsewhere in the country, that is considered the icing on the cake.
Sports, undoubtedly, is a money spinner globally; spinning at least 5 billion US dollars annually, and Elder Okon who has seen it as a multidimensional tool for engaging the youths and stimulating the economy has passionately invested the council’s commonwealth in it. The immediate result is reflected in the Laurels won by Uyo Local Government Area who emerged second overall in the Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festival. Another pointer to that fact is that the council has provided a level playing ground for intending and established sporters through the provision of basic immunities especially security, while the housing of many sport academic remains a landmark.
Security has been a major challenge of any government the world over and Uyo Local Government, Unfortunately, has not been an exception. Hosting of the first security meeting in as many years as, could be described as a major step and strategy to coax the stone of crimes out of the hands of disgruntled elements and melt their lump of attacks in the metropolis. Since then, an unprecedented calmness has hovered around clusters hitherto mired by robbery, theft and the likes. Today, Uyo Local Government is a safer place.
Elsewhere, empowerment in different shades and shapes, forms and sizes, has been another stand out feat of Okon’s administration. Women across the elven wards of the council were first given tutorials by the instrumentation of the Wife of the Executive Chairman, which served as a manual to guide and help them make informed decisions on investment. At the end of the training they were given grants to help them start up. In the same vein, physically challenged and the less privileged have been canopied by the broad umbrella of Mr. Chairman’s empowerment efforts, as many received aids in cash and in kind. For instance, a physically challenged ICT-Preneur has seen his business partly paralyzed by inadequate power supply up until Okon’s Intervention with the donation of a generating set. Payment of shop and house rents are eloquent testimonies of his administration’s thick skin resolve to battle poverty to a logical conclusion.
All that have been done so far, of course, largely hinge on the availability of funds which is only traditional for Local Government Administrations to depend on the national cake. But Elder Okon has again marked himself as a 21st century leader by re-invigorating other income nerves centres of his council. He inaugurated an engulfing IGR committee that works on a tripartite structure of the consultancy firm, the council and the public. Often times, the Chairman leads his team to some business premises to make clarity on the need for them to pay their rates promptly. Today, Uyo has not only received a breath of fresh air but has seen her income increase exponentially and tower significantly in comparative terms.
Other areas of successes include: the organizing of the burial of the Late Paramount Ruler of Uyo, His Royal Majesty Edidem E. Silas FNIS within two weeks of resumption of office. The furnishing of the office of the chairman with state of the art furniture, provision of colour printers for office operations, repairs of the council’s generator and rehabilitation of all conveniences to ensure staff work in a conducive environment underlines Okon’s quality leadership.
Staff welfare is taken as a priority, as staff claims are paid promptly. The administration barely one month in office on December, 2017, organized the first ever staff Christmas party where families were also part of.
In the words of John C. Maxwell “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”, it would be fitting to say that Elder (Hon) Imoh Okon knows the way, is going the way and is showing the way.
© Edikan Inim
Public Affairs analyst and commentator
Currently serving as the Personal Assistant on media to
The Chairman of Uyo Local Government Council.