By David Akpan

Assuming a leadership position can be said to be a direct invitation to criticism, opposition and sometimes outright hate. This has been the case from time immemorial and even Jesus Christ was not spared!
Those who covet a position but missed out, those who disagree with the methods of the leader, and those who outrightly dislike the leader (sometimes, for no just cause) are usually the biggest players in this hate game.

This is one fact Hon. Emmanuel Ukpong-udo, member representing Ikono/Ini is not oblivious of especially when his emergence as the voice of his people was born out of a gruelling bull fight.

Having dared the odds and emerged triumphant, many of these aforementioned “players” thought he would tow the part of some first timers who sleepwalk and get relegated to the back bench at the Assembly so they can lash out with their tongue. These naysayers lay in wait to measure him by the standards of his predecessors, thinking he would be subdued by the huge expectations that stared him in the face.

Against their wishes, Ukpong-udo, propelled by grace, divine guidance and purposefulness has in just seven months, redefined and set a precedent for representation. He has laid down new standards of people-centred leadership that his successors may find daunting, if not impossible, to match.

Buoyed by his commitment to “give back to Ikono/Ini people what rightly belongs to them”, Rep Ukpong-udo has gone about catering for the social welfare needs of his constituents which has seen over 200 individuals and families receive various gifts and empowerment packages directly from him to either boast their businesses or meet pressing needs. He has succeeded in assisting over 30 of his constituents to access positions of perpetual relevance; his way of giving them a means of livelihood.
Who will say he or she hasn’t heard of the ‘Macaire Mother and Child Care programme’, the ‘Macaire Enterprise Development Scheme’ and the ‘Macaire Student Support Programme’ which are addressing several facets of need in Ikono-Ini Federal Constituency?

These notable and uncommon acts of humanity irk the naysayers as they rack their jobless brains, wondering where he gets the money. Yet this is all a function of his thinking outside the box and going out of his way to do what needs to be done for his people. This is a man averse to excuses but has chosen to take the challenges of representation on the chin not minding the huge sacrifices that go with it.

Recently, a local tabloid peddled falsehood labelling Ukpong-udo a high-handed usurper of authority; a futile attempt by political jobbers to blackmail the member and negate the influence he has rightly earned. As it has turned out, if the Pharisees could accuse Jesus Christ of casting out devils with the power of belzebub, yet he continued doing the needful, Rep Ukpong-udo is determined to remain a perpetually unfathomable wonder.

Another sect portraying themselves to be holier than the pope, having found absolutely no blemish in the illustrious life of the Federal lawmaker, condescended to attacking his social life to score cheap points. This is quite laughable. That, Ukpong-udo – the human that he is – embraces certain social habits without pretence doesn’t make him worse than some hypocrites within the system who hide behind the cloak of religion to discretely commit various grave atrocities against the State and mankind.

It is funny how people dwell on trivial and inconsequential issues like the social habits of a full grown man. As a human being with his fundamental rights, his social choices deserve to be respected, especially as there is no iota of illegality associated with them. In making Ukpong-udo a subject for discourse, there are weightier matters to consider such as the massive impact he has made on Akwa Ibom people and beyond because those criticizing his specks (even while they have logs in their own eyes) do not have a single bettered life to their credit.

Yet another sect of naysayers in a bid to distract the member in the line of duty have engaged their noisy cymbals to sound the second term message with every ounce of strength in them when the subject of their claims hasn’t even completed 12 calendar months in the green chambers. Are they now doing a “Martin Luther” on the member’s behalf?. What a fruitless attempt to heat up the polity!

Brain Tracy rightly asserted that Leaders concentrate singlemindedly on one thing – the most important thing – and they stay on it till its complete. That “one thing” Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-udo concentrates on is the task of explicitly “giving back to Ikono/Ini people what belongs to them.” The schemes of the naysayers remain a futile fight against the grace upon his life.