Udom’s leadership vision, proactive was in healthcare sector: beyond diversionary arguments
By Edet Okpo
It cannot be argued against the fact that both in his first and second tenure, quality healthcare infrastructure and delivery had formed strategic parts of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s policy thrust. Therefore, for whatever reasons, it would be funny and ungrateful for any Akwa Ibom person to forget in a hurry the political willpower and commitment the Governor of the State has so far demonstrated in revamping the composite healthcare system in the State right from 2015, a bold and foresighted step taken as if he literally foresaw future eventualities.
Amidst the indifferences and cynicism that expectedly may have trailed his drive, which are almost always the natural disposition by the insignificant few towards any change in human affairs especially in our clime, it could conveniently be said today that Governor Udom Emmanuel’s proactive and empirical modalities as far back as five years ago were those of clairvoyance and ratiocination of a leader who saw ahead of time.
Otherwise, with the outbreak of the cataclysmic Coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging the world, imagine that there was nothing on ground in the State in terms of healthcare utilities to begin with at such a critical time, especially with the definitive confirmation by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that there were five cases in Akwa Ibom State, which by comparative analysis are still a token of the national incidence and devastating global impact of COVID 19.
The Webster’s Collegiate Lexicon defines the word clairvoyance as “The supposed faculty of perceiving things or events in the future or through extrasensory perception”; whereas ratiocination is seen as “The process of exact thinking; a reasoned train of thought”. By provenance or etymology, both words have their linguistic and semantic taproots in the more generous and popular word “foresightedness”.
Conversely, Governor Emmanuel’s advanced commitment to upgrading and retooling the status of hospitals in the State, to the best of his ability within available resources at the time as if he knew the events of today will strike, clearly defines and edifies proactive leadership.
Like in other critical sectors of the State economy, available statistics of what the present administration has accomplished in the last five years in the area of transformation of healthcare infrastructure in the State easily swallows up every possible argument to the contrary. Without going into numbers and componential details that are beyond the scope of this article, with Governor Udom Emmanuel believing in the principle of government being a continuum, it can be said in bold and superlative summation that his administration has either built or revitalised hospitals of various statuses spread across all senatorial districts in the State, far more than any administration before it in the history of governance in the State could boast to have done.
Most spectacular and indisputable perhaps is the fact that, long before COVID 19, the State government had deliberately upgraded the Akwa Ibom Specialty Hospital far beyond where it met it, and with transparent determination launched it as a global brand for both domestic and international attention. According to the Governor in his expert understanding of management economics and ergonomics, the Specialty Hospital was progressively being brought to international standard and retooled both with quality personnel and facility to serve as a possible last resort for referral cases from primary and secondary healthcare outlets that are of no less peculiar standard.
It has since become apparent why the incipient or initial trendy disputations by critics and fifth columnists on how best or otherwise the said upgrading of the hospitals was or how ready the Akwa Ibom State Government must have been at the inevitable and improbable emergence of COVID 19 in the State did not ruffle government quarters. It was however obvious that the criticisms instantly lost their fervor to the superior logic of discretion and pragmatism that the Governor had already demonstrated in the restructuring of the State’s healthcare system.
By relativism or syllogism, it further implies that when the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh, said in one of his initial interviews that the State Government was ready to tackle the devilry of the behemoth called Corona virus, it was, in that specific context, a modest statement of confidence than a grandstand exaggeration of factuality. Hence, those who perceived or insinuated that the State government had denied the presence of the cases in the State cannot however undermine the intrinsic and potential dangers of taking and accepting things on face value in a crisis situation, when there was expediency for reaffirmation in matters involving life and death.
Kudos to the Governor that he stepped in at the very right time to assuage and mitigate the proliferation of virulent and misplaced feelings and wild misconceptions over COVID 19, as well as for instilling hope in the populace of his government’s ability to contain the emerging situation. In his state-wide broadcast on March 21, 2020, the Governor assured the citizenry and residents that there was no need for panic but encouraged all to exercise caution, nevertheless.
Besides the Specialist Hospital and Infectious Disease Hospital in Ikot Ekpene, the Governor said there were adequate screening facilities at the Victor Attah International Airport; surveillance, prevention and infection control measures put in place in strategic hospitals; and provision of Personal Protective Equipments, infra-red thermometers, sanitizers, as well as facilitation of aggressive sensitization on all conventional and social media platforms.
Again, government has already constituted the Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Task Force, headed by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong. Worthy of note therefore was the resounding Governor’s admonition: “This disease has no political colouration. It does not and will not spare those to be infected along political lines. Therefore, we should put aside our political affiliations and tackle this issue as an existential threat”.
However, with the confirmation of the pandemic in the State, the Governor again was humble to make another stateside broadcast to update the citizenry, further assuring them of preventive apparatuses and apparatchiks that have been put in place and government’s genuine plans to offer palliatives to the common masses.
By today, process for distribution of assortment of foodstuffs and other consumables have begun Knowing that not everyone’s needs in a state of well over 6 million population could be met, Governor Emmanuel therefore deserves commendation for his demonstrative leadership and equally needs the loyal support of all, than criticisms and despondency.
On this factual and satisfactory note, the Eket Senatorial District Media Professionals therefore specifically commend His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, for his statesmanship, competence, empathy and stamina in containing the prevalent situation. We also appreciate the small and big efforts of all who have contributed in one way or another to the fight against this dreaded deadly virus whose time is already numbered, through cash donations or provision of foodstuff to the indigenes.
We equally use this occasion to thank the President of our dear country, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, for ameliorative measures so far taken at the federal level. Most importantly, we reassure His Excellency, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, of our continued support to his lofty cause and governance style, even as we shall continue deploying our professional services to informing Akwa Ibom people of government’s efforts, policies and the need to stay safe by adhering to all precautionary measures from health authorities, local and international.
Let us endeavour take to heart, the assurances in the latest press release from the Government House: “The State government is working round the clock and deploying every available resources at its disposal to ensure that the situation is brought under control”.
Edet Okpo, a Journalist, Public Affairs Analyst and Chairman, Association of Eket Senatorial District Media Professionals, writes from Uyo