Enoidem: Celebrating A Colossus At 50

By Uwemedimoh Umanah

It was Pope John XXIII who noted that 'men are like wine, some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age'. Though the axiom was well contemplated,it's probable that very few understood its full import in the context of the dynamics of human relations.In the ancient and medieval periods, wine was a necessity, because it symbolized sustenance and life. In Christianity, wine also represents joy, celebration, and festivity, expressing the abundance of God's blessing.

Therefore, when a man is likened to the best of wines, it implies that he has contributed meaningfully towards the advancement of human civilization.That conceptualization, is perhaps, most apt, whendefining the life and times of Hon. (Barr.) EmmanuelEnoidem, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Special Duties, who turns 50, on Sunday July 27, 2014.

When a great personage is born, history is altered, and in the words of Benedicto Croce, 'facts do not speak for themselves; they must be systematically interpreted.Hon. Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem was born in 1964 into the family of Chief Moses Enoidem ofUtu Ikot Eboro Village, Etim Ekpo Local Government Area, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem's meteoric rise in scholarship, public life, and private thinking, could be ascribed to providence, hard work and humility.

He attended primary school AfahaObo, in Ukanafun Local Government Area; Western Annang Secondary School, Utu Etim Ekpo, Abak, and the University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where he bagged his first school leaving certificate in 1976, west African school certificate in 1981, and a Bachelor Degree in law in 1988, respectively.

Barr. Enoidem's robust world view of education as a social asset, and the surest requisite for intellectual capital development, saw him through a master's degree in law in 1996, thus setting the stage for his future legal, social and political exploits.In the words of Voltaire, one of the greatest French philosophers of the 18th Century, 'God gave the gift of life, its left for us to give to ourselves the gift of good living'. This insightful thought has guided Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem's professional, political, religious and humanitarian endeavours.

Emmanuel Enoidem began his legal sail as legal adviser to the Mass Mobilization for Social Justice and Economic Recovery, MAMSER in Benin City between 1989 and 1990, worked with Victor Oviosunand Co between 1990 and 1992, and later got employed as a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Uyo. Enoidem's abhorrence for social inequality and class stratification has a historical root and defines hisprofessional and political character.

'After the war soldiers invaded my father's compound and forcibly relocated my father from where I have built my present home, to somewhere else that incident cost me a great deal of trauma when I grew up I thought of going into the university to study law so that I would be armed intellectually to fight against such oppressive acts. I studiedlaw because I hate inequality, oppression and servitude in the society'.

Barr. Enoidem's social democratic philosophy, which is geared towards defending the fundamental rights of the 'defenseless' in the society, led to the evolution in 1992 of his private law firm, Enoidemand Associates in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

That Barr. Enoidem successfully used his legal profession to further his philosophy of equality and fundamental rights of man is not as important as his protestant work ethic of undeterred hard work whichserved as fundamental bedrock for his leadershipdemeanour.This protestant work ethics was first amplified by Marx Weber, who enthused that the value of hard work by the Calvinist in Europe was an important force behind the unplanned and uncoordinated actions that influence the development of capitalism.

A gold fish, they say has no hiding place. In 1997, Enoidem heeded the clarion call to service by his people, becoming the first elected Executive Chairman of Etim Ekpo Local Government Area, a position which served as a justification to his inextricable relationship with thegrassroot.As Chairman of EtimEkpo Local Government Area, Barr.Enoidem earned tremendous goodwill which later served as a catalyst to higher public callings. Chris Okorie, the former chairman of EtimEkpo Local Government Area sees Enoidem's phenomenal ascension in the political ladder as natural. According to him, 'my friend and brother, Emmanuel Enoidem has a community heart, which gave him the goodwill he is enjoying today. To my mind, goodwill is an asset in politics, and once somebody has that, his rise in politics is natural'.

Though his stewardship as council chairman was short, it was nevertheless, eventful; it re-echoed Hugh Walpole's thought, in his novel, 'Fortitude', that 'it isn't life that matters, but the courage and hard work one brings into it'.

Political Sociologists see politics as a process through which change can be brought to the society. This theoretical thought explicates Barr. Enoidem's political thinking. It was not surprising that when he held sway as State treasurer of the ruling People's Democratic Party between 2001 and 2007, he left an indelible footprint in the annals of the party. Arch. OtuIta Toyo, a former state chairman of the People's Democratic Party described Enoidem as a team player. In his words: 'Enoidem is a rare breed politician in the state... I have worked with the man, who apart from being the party's treasurer, was in the state caucus of the party and I can say that he will certainly go places. He has stamina for work, he is bold, he is trustworthy, he is consistent. What else do we want from a leader?'

In 2011, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem served as statetreasurer of the People's Democratic Party, AkwaIbom State, a position he held till 2007 when he was appointed the Pioneer Commissioner for Housing and Urban Renewal by Governor Godswill Akpabio, before his redeployment in 2013 to the Ministry of Special Duties.

In the last 7 years as a member of the state Executive Council, Barr.Emmauel Enoidem has offered himself as a pivot of functional change, and a dependable team player in the government of Governor Godswill Akpabio through his judicious interpretation of the vision of the uncommon transformer. He has never hidden the fact that mentorship has played an important role in his drive for success. 'My penchant for success is predicated on the fact that I found a man whose love for Akwa Ibom State is genuine. By providing first class and strategic infrastructure which are second to none in Nigeria, Chief GodswillObotAkpabio has left a legacy that will transcend 100 years', Enoidem enthused.

Enoidem's passion for hard work which has found expression in quality service delivery, was eloquently captured by the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief GodswillAkpabio, during the first Mass organized in the Government House Chapel in 2009:

'let me say that the standard of this State of the Arts Governors Lodge which we have completed under 18 months shows that, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem, whose ministry is in charge of the project has done a great and commendable job Barr.Enoidem, please take a bow!'

In the same vein, Enoidem's supervisory acumen was brought to bear duringrelocation of Uyo main market, and construction of Akpan Andem Market; Construction of State of the art Governor's lodge inUyo; the Ibom e-library in Uyo; the IbomInternational Stadium; the Tropicana Entertainment Centre in Uyo, Ikot Ekene Prisons complex,Ikot Ekpene Plaza and recreational centre; the 20th anniversary hospital, and several housing estates across the state, among other numerous projects.

Apart from representing a cynosure of an emerging businesshub in Nigeria, these turn key projects of the Akpabio administration speak volume about the acumen of Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem whose investment in political will, discipline, loyalty to the state governor, and leader of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Chief Godswill Akpabio, have led to the actualization of these gargantuan projects.

Barr. Enoidem's preference for state exigency over private and parochial considerations has made very many to refer to him as a statesman. Statesmanship involves having a community heart, and thischaracterizes the philanthropic and humanitarian disposition ofBarr. Emmanuel Enoidem towards hisimmediate community, local government area, andAkwa Ibom State in general. The free medical care and educational development initiative, and youth empowerment programmes variously embarked upon by Barr. Enoidem are aimed at creating the necessary manpower for sustainable livelihood and development.

Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem sees God as the main source of his strength, and believes thatthere is 'little or nothing any man can do without thepower of God. That bold line of thought accounts forEnoidem's burning desire to deepen his philanthropicgestures, and advance the work of the kingdom at the Power City International where he is also a pastor.

The truism that the African culture places premium on the indissolubility of the family system make better sense in Barr. Enoidem's perception of marriage and family system as sacred institutions. This has molded his character so much so that, the sanctity of the institution cannot be compromised.'My husband is like a friend, brother and everything to me. He cherishes our union to the extent that when he is not at home, a vacuum is felt by me and the children', said Mrs. Ann Enoidem. Married to Ann Emmanuel Enoidem, with three wonderful and promising children, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem has proven that life, like the best of wines improves with age.

As this colossus marks his golden jubilee on planet, earth, let us make a recourse to the admonition by Abraham Lincoln, that: 'In the end, it is not the years in your life that counts; it is the life in your years!.

Happy birthday, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem!

MR UMANAH, A DEVELOPMENT HISTORIAN, WRITES FROM UYO, A'IBOM STATE

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