Udom Emmanuel has set out to douse the fire in his political household, writes Fatunde B. Adelabi

 When he was picked recently to chair the presidential campaign council of Atiku Abubakar, it signalled not only a recognition of a major figure among the governors of this generation, but a stout party stalwart. Governor Udom Emmanuel’s choice as chairman of the campaign council has brought a cleansing oil to what seems a simmering feud within the party.

As a man who brought peace to his state, he has set out to douse the fire in his political household. He is shaping up to be the PDP man of peace. Before he became the chief executive of Akwa Ibom State, the place was a land of turmoil. It was not only with rhetoric that people skewered their enemies but also with guns, with machetes, with grenades, with a huge barbaric temper.

Churches turned from house of prayer to funeral homes. Many went to church with the joy of the Lord only to depart with dour faces and wonder at the existence of their maker. In markets, many were not sure they could buy rather than die. On the streets, on village squares, when they were at home with their families. An otherwise serene people started to look over their shoulders if a Judas was wielding over them an instrument of finality.

In the same way some communities dread both dawn and dusk in parts of the north today, certain neighbourhoods of the state also heaved a sigh of relief if a day passed without a tale of blood. But then came a man of peace, and a balm of silence fell on the people. That was the presence of Udom Emmanuel as the chief steward of the people. To be a good leader, the first dividend is peace.

He mounted the saddle and gradually the state forgot its terms of disengagement. The hubris of the violent yielded to the pact of harmony. So where was the rage? Where were the cutlasses and machetes, the vile and tempestuous and incendiary rhetoric? Where was the suspicion? As it is often said, the history of the world is a history of great men. A big man with a big idea who can look into the soul of the people emerges. The people see him and see their own tranquillity and their progress, and they follow him.

It is that credential that has made him a great presence in the state, even as it is about to mark its 35th birthday. He has become the big, bright light of his state for this era. He set the peace as a template to bring development. Who does not know of Ibom Air today? Who does not know that it is now the unannounced flagship in the Nigerian sky, piloting, as it were, the other airlines on where to go in the horizon.

Who has not seen the beauty and architecture of the Dakkada Tower, the tallest in the region and one of the smartest in the sub-region? Who does not know it as a disruptive force in the region for oil companies who have looked to Lagos alone to locate their offices?

It is a man who builds peace and prosperity, and that accounts for why the party hierarchy decided he had to become its chairman. He will be the one to sell its candidate, to bring stability in a time of doubt.

He has not only shown himself as a man of peace, but a great party man. For many minds within the party, Atiku might have chosen him as a running mate. In the primary of the party, his performance was not shabby. He put his imprint with the sway of votes he wielded. He sold his candidature for president in the party. His application form was purchased not by him but by a group of volunteers in the civil society, after a revealing engagement with the Berekete radio. He buzzed online and quite a crowd who had heard less of him began to see him as a great tribute to his era.

The party has been in a sort of tizzy of late. The governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has kicked up a storm of dust over the emergence of the Adamawa Chieftain, Atiku Abubakar, as the presidential candidate of the PDP. He is angry that the Sokoto State governor, a former friend and ally, Aminu Tambuwal, turned against him and made common cause with him to tilt the tally in favour of a fellow northerner. Because of that, he has called for hell and high water. He has called for the chairman of the party. He wants Ayu to go, and he has, by virtue of his leverage with his fellow party leaders, gained momentum in sections of the country.

Atiku has been trying to quench the flames but it seems he has not made enough headway. While he picked Tambuwal as campaign director general, he has turned for the matter of peace to Udom, a man with such a track record.

He knows it is about making moves for peace, and mapping out a cooperative strategy towards the future. “I also want to say that no one person can do it alone. It involves everybody in all the units, all the wards and all chapters of our party to come together for the party to move forward.

“I want to use this platform to appeal that if we had made mistakes in the past, we cannot turn back the clock.
“We cannot recall what had passed yesterday. We can move forward in the spirit of oneness, unity, prosperity and progress for our party, and I will appreciate it,” he noted shortly after he was unveiled as the chairman of the campaign council.

He will do his bit, and the nation watches as one of the nation’s best doves perches for peace in is party. It is time for him to bring his acumen into full action. The man who turned a state into a sea of tranquility has grabbed with both hands the chance to exhibit it on the national stage.

Adelabi writes from Port Harcourt

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