Aniekan Umanah: I Will Pronounce Your Name

By Osondu Ahirika

This may be regarded as the second part of my 'epistle', about Mr Aniekan Umana, Akwa Ibom state's Honourable Commissioner for Information and Communications. The other time, I took set out to celebrate a thoroughbred professional, media guru and loyal officer of the state, dispelling a lame attempt to dismiss him as a nobody by some misfiring detractors. I shall not belabour that matter again.

Today, I WILL PRONOUNCE HIS NAME. How do I mean? Folks', that title of my piece is not my franchise. It is ascribable to a poet, who became the first President of Senegal, Leopold Sedar Senghor. He wrote this poem, which I beg permission to copyright, for my purpose here.

Before I copy that poem of his by the title, I WILL PRONOUNCE YOUR NAME, let me relay for us a thematic analysis of the poem. It is a love poem, in which Senghor celebrates or announces his love for a young African, by the name, Naett, to whom he dedicates the poem.

Senghor verbalizes his profound feelings, admiration and respect for Naett, with no fear of contradiction.

I feel the same compulsion to grab a megaphone and blare the illustrious accomplishments of Aniekan Umanah, who will mount the dais of honour on August 28, 2014 to be garlanded as a Fellow of the Prestigious Institute of Management, Lagos. It is meet that I do so, for, a man who exercises diligence in his work will appear before kings and not mingle with mean men.

If I had my way to give an oration or toast on that day, for this exceptional Information manager, I would do effortless justice to the occassion, which I proceed to render here, uncensored. I will parody that lovely poem of Senghor, and simply substitute the name Naett with Aniekan (Umanah) and the message is passed. Here I go with that befitting portraiture, of which I play the plagiarist, with due apologies to Senghor. The ode goes thus:

" I will pronounce your name, ANIEKAN, I will declaim you, Aniekan!

Aniekan, your name is mild like Cinnamon, it is the fragrance in which the lemon grove sleeps.

Aniekan, your name is the sugared clarity of blooming coffee trees.

And it resembles the savannah, that blossoms forth under the masculine ardour of the midday sun.

Name of dew, fresher than shadows of tamarind,
Fresher even than the short dusk, when the heat of the day is silenced.

Aniekan, that is the dry tornado, the hard clap of lightning.

Aniekan, coin of gold, shining coal, you my night, my sun!

I am your hero and now I have become your sorcerer, in order to pronounce your names.

Princess of Elissa, banished from Futa on the fateful day."

Having lifted the poem, it is pertinent that I as well, help us digest my deep thoughts here. Aniekan Umana, about whom I make this deposition is a young vibrant Nigerian. I compare him to a "cinnamon", a tree of sweet smelling aroma, useable as spice, found in Eastern India.

The symbolism of blooming coffee trees speaks of the blossoming of the information and communications sector under the watch of Aniekan Umana. He remains in my view, the revolution of that strategic Ministry, given the professionalism, and achievements he has brought to speed in that sector.

Like Senghor, I compare Aniekan Umana to the "savannah" that flourishes in the tropical midday sun. A dew which is fresher than the tamarind. A tropical tree, whose freshness is like the dusk which removes the scorching heat of the day, bringing it to a close.

I also concede, Aniekan Umana's stirling qualities, amiable personality, integrity and sense of duty makes him a beauty to behold, just like an African queen. A gold coin, whose value every man of worth knows. The 'dry tornado' and 'hard clap' speaks of his discipline and tenacity of purpose. If I join Senghor to describe my subject as "Shining coal', don't doubt it. It is a figurative expression, that depicts a man who has risen above the odds to make his mark in private life and public service.

As a 'sorcerer'(oracle), whose revered position in African cosmos I now assume, I pronounce that, no enemy or competitor can expel Aniekan Umanah from relevance and distinction, like Princess Elissa was banished fron the ancient kingdom of Futa. Such a misfortune will never be the lot of any prudent patriot.

Why do I consider this man to be the epitome of excellence in his chosen field? Beginning as a Reporter in Outlook Newspapers Limited, during his Youth Service in 1989, by 1992 he became her Chief Correspondent in Lagos. He was enlisted by Newswatch Communications Ltd Lagos, as a Correspondent, the same year 1992.

Between 1992 – 2004 of his stint with Newswatch, he served in several editorial and advertising capacities and rose to the managerial position of Controller, Special Projects and Advertorial Business Development.

The twelve year service at Newswatch turned out an icing on the cake of a period of practice, that positioned and exposed Mr. Aniekan Umanah to new frontiers and relatively lucrative horizons. By 2004, he made an incursion into web media, thus carving another feat in his self development.

Aniekan Umanah got appointed as the Director and Editor, Web Media for the Millennium Choice Technologies, United States of America in 2004. He was to make a major stride in his professional endeavour, becoming the Chief Executive Officer, Executive Options Media Limited, Lagos. A position he held from 2004- 2008.

Through all these, Mr. Umanah brought to fore, path breaking synergies, cutting edge ideas and unparalleled innovations, which in totality impacted on the Advertising industry. A stickler that products can only become brands if they have enduring impressions in the mind of consumers, and seeking to create strong and enduring brands within the advertising industry, he became the pacesetter of Outdoor Publishing with The Billboard World, as a publication of Executive Options Media Limited.

Today, the publication, through its yearly Brand As King Awards has carved a niche for itself in the advertising and brand management industry.

Aniekan Umanah who was appointed into the Uncommon Transformation Team of His Excellency, Chief Dr Godswill Obot Akpabio in July 2008, to mann the Information and Communications Ministry, flies a good educational background to recommend him as the number one image maker of Akwa Ibom State. He began his education in Bishop Clark's Primary School, Abak, where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate in 1979.

His secondary education saw him traverse Holy Family College, Abak and Lutheran High School, Obot Idim Ibesikpo, before earning the West African Schools Certificate in 1984. The then University of Cross River State, UNICROSS, was his next port of call. From thence, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History, in 1989. Other institutions attended include: Nigerian Institute of Journalism, NIJ, Lagos, for a Post Graduate Diploma in Media and Public Relations in 1994 and the Advertising Practitioners Council Of Nigeria (APCON) a Diploma in Advertising in 1997.

In my last notary on Aniekan Umanah, I attested to his performance as an Information and public relations expert. I won't mind a season II of that account. I stated inter alia, that, "Mr. Aniekan Umanah's quest to leave the Information sector better than he met it, has led to historic feats. Through dint of hard work, perseverance, loyalty and dedication to service, Mr. Aniekan Umanah has become a household name in the State and beyond as the oracle of the Uncommon Transformation of the Governor Godswill Akpabio-led administration. He is the award winning Best Commissioner for Information South/South and Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. A catalogue of awards for effective management of Information machinery presented to Mr. Umanah by different groups are eloquent testimonies of his work, which speaks volumes.

The list of achievements range from projecting government image to cultivating good government / media relations, human capital development in the media world, provision of state-of –the-art facilities to media organizations both Government and privately-owned, as well as maintaining good Public relations among others." Is it for nothing that during his time, Akwa Ibom had its first private Radio station, with the attendant explosion of Independently owned Newspaper outfits. A more proactive Union of Journalist with the state in the spotlight of global media blitz.

A man who horned his skills working with a star-studded line-up parading the likes of Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese, Nosa Igiegbor, Akpandem James to mention but a few, cannot but excel and earn acclamation as will be accorded him by the National Institute of Management on August 28. Before joining the Akwa Ibom State Government as Information boss,Aniekan Umanah had worked with a couple of other State Governments, namely, Bayelsa, Delta and Lagos.

I want to pronounce the name of Aniekan Umanah, who, by way of tracing his lineage, is from the loins of the royal stock that founded Abak . A devout Christian, happily married to Maureen and blessed with children, he hails from the said Abak Town, Abak Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Mr Umanah, I must add, is also a member of various notable professional bodies, including the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) and Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN).

Folks', join me to pronounce to the Hall of Fame, Aniekan Umanah, whose simplicity, scholarship and life of service to God and his people have endeared him to all. Accept my felicitation on this milestone Honourable Commissioner.

Ahirika, a social commentator writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State

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