“A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession. A leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. A leader who produces other leaders multiplies his influence”—John C. Maxwell

The lingering question on who will succeed Governor Udom in 2023 is gradually falling into place like a jigsaw puzzle. The governor’s lips and body language in recent time are very eloquent on this and you don’t need any bionic ears to fully comprehend his message. Unlike the APC in the state that is currently suffering from ‘toxic house syndrome’, the PDP in Akwa  Ibom is in a joy and serenity station similar to the holy catholic church and its members all ad idem with their leader the governor.

Governor Udom though seemingly deficit in open swags or brags, knows what he seeks in 2023 and how to find it or knock and get the door opened for him. Knowing fully well that the challenge to produce his successor is a moral equivalence of war, Udom I am sure would be deft and Napoleonic in tactics. As a veteran of the game of power, he is sure to have fully analyzed the contest ahead, and the soft under belle of the key opponent. Being a smart politician, he is not likely going to bank on the weakness of APC alone to extract victory, he will obviously be strategic. He is wise enough to know that depending on the weakness of your opponent alone to win an election is only a shaky hope and not a sure fire strategy.

Governor Udom’s  intense interest on the kind of person that would take over from him is very critical to his succession plan.  As a constitutional principality who assumed power through the ballot box with a fixed sell-by date, he is smart enough to knows that his lasting legacy as governor will be determined by who takes over from him. Obviously bothered by the litany of rumoured aspirants eyeing his seat in the next general election, the governor on the 6th anniversary of his tenure lifted the veil slightly for the public to catch a glimpse of the picture of the successor he is having in mind. Without equivocation, he doled out some ignoble moulds his successor must not be hewn from, and also subtly pointed to the manner of man he seeks. He sounded iconoclastic, but positive though. The people felt a culture shock on his drastic deviation from the familiar norm of gangster and swagger stick politics common to our clime. They wondered and questioned how he will flip the page to achieve the kind of successor of his dreams

With a clear sonorous voice, Udom clothed his 6th anniversary speech with gravitas when he came to the section that touched on his successor.  In his distinct declamations encapsulated in succinct nuggets, he gave Akwa Ibom people a frank talk on the kind of choice to make for governor come 2023.

Udom ‘s attitude is very much in line the standard practice in leadership succession from antiquity till date which requires that a great leader should be mindful of who succeed him. The prolific John C. Maxwell made it even more compelling when he wrote “A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession. A leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. A leader who produces other leaders multiplies his influence”. The governor is aware of these principles

Obviously disturbed by the massive number of aspirants of all stripes and shades Udom said “Let me now ask you my dear Akwaibomites: Do you want a successor who will cancel out all the great strides in industrialisation we have started? The peace we currently enjoy and return us to the years when violence and kidnapping reigned and sowed fear in the hearts and minds of the people?

Deeply concerned about the survival of his legacy or possible policy summersault, the governor further said “Do you want a successor who will come with anger towards all we have done, as opposed to continuing with the great works we have started?  Do you want a leader whose approach to testing his popularity would be to drive in a long convoy to “Ibom Plaza” and throw money at the hapless people, watching them scramble for the money and the people would say that’s “Ano owo Mkpo”! Is that the kind of a successor you want?

Genuinely worried about how to continue to drive the joint ventures and PPP initiatives in the state after his exit, Udom also questioned “do you desire a successor with a known e-mail address that the International business community recognises? Do you want a leader who will fritter away our commonwealth in search of cheap popularity or one who would utilize the resources and continue investing in projects with enduring value?

Disgusted about the looting culture by kleptomaniacs and gluttony for power by megalomaniacs in public positions, the governor warned “Do you want a successor who would see Government as a cabal where our commonwealth would be shared among a privileged few or do you desire a leader who would continue to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of our people, a successor who understands the economic dynamics that shape our globalized space and would utilize those skills to advance our well-being?

As a peace and nonviolence advocate who witnessed   the near –Gestapo era  when violent crimes of kidnapping for ransom, political assassinations, armed robbery and all form of dangerous criminal activities reigned  in the state, the Udom asked again“So my dear Akwa Ibomites, if what you are desiring is a successor who will not have the capacity and the discipline to build a state where you and your children will live in peace and strive to excel, if you are desiring a successor who will turn back the clock of our developmental strides.“If you are desiring a successor who will bring out the worst in our youths as opposed to galvanizing their energies and challenging them to be the best they can be, if you are desiring a leader who would not  efficiently  utilise the  resources of this State on projects that have redeeming value then I am sorry to disappoint you, God will not give us such a successor.”

From the long list of over 10 aspirants in PDP from Uyo senatorial district where the governorship is zoned to, how many can we say perfectly or partially say fit into the image of Udom’s  dream successor?  Those said to be currently interested in the position include Senator Bassey Albert, Senator Effiong Bob,  Rt Hon Onofiok Luke, Mr Udom Inoyo, Mr . Akan Okon, Pastor Umo Eno, Mr Akanimo Udofia, Mr Gabriel Ukpeh, Comrade Ini Ememobong, Hon Mike Enyong  and many more to come. Flowing from the long list, how many of these people can make the short list or possess the qualities of what the governor wants. I think only a very limited number of them. Perhaps one or two good guys, while a large number of them may not align with what the governor has in mind.

I seriously agree with Udom that the credentials and background of his successor is critical to advancement of Akwa Ibom of the future. Come 2023, the State needs a strategic leader, skillful administrator and policy wonk to run its affairs. Out of the long list of aspirants, I can boldly point to two or three guys who can effectively do the job. But out of my three-man short list, one person is very outstanding. This one outstanding person does not only represent fresh breath, he is also a complete embodiment of what Akwa Ibom needs today to accomplish a greater tomorrow. That is the kind of man governor Udom wants as successor.