FEATURE ARTICLE

Saturday, December 23, 2023
[email protected]
Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State (2015-2023)

Forwarded by: MOSHOOD FAYEMIWO

FOR THE RECORD: OPTIMIZING YOUR POTENTIALS IN A CHALLENGING FUTURE

Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State (2015-2023)

et me begin by thanking the Chancellor and Chairman, Board of Trustees and governing council of this noble institution, Dr Daniel K. Olukoya for the invitation to speak at this 5th Convocation Ceremony. I will also express my appreciation to the members of the Governing Council, management, and staff for the commitment to the vision of the founders of this institution.

When I received the invitation from Chancellor through the Vice Chancellor, Professor Elijah Ayolabi, I was excited about the opportunity to speak to a community of predominantly young people. This spectrum of people here is a true representation of the demography of our great nation where we have over 60% of our population under 30 years old. Therefore, I see this as an opportunity to inspire, motivate and challenge first the minds of the graduating students and indeed everyone in this hall.

The world we are living in today is characterized by a very high pace and scale of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It is important to note that no nation is immune from the challenges of the present day. From the hostilities in Gaza, the war in Ukraine, to unprecedented levels of inflation across the major economies of world to the numerous challenges plaguing our nation, we see that there is really no nation that is not facing some form of hardship or the other. One of the very critical pillars of life that we see being eroded today is HOPE. Many are losing hope because of the enormity of the unresolved issues being faced on a daily basis. Many are filled with fear at the uncertainty of what the future holds. But hope is the one attribute we must never loose. Like Archbishop Desmond Tutu opined, "hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." We must therefore put our trust in God and know that what we see today is just a bend, not an end.

My assignment here today is therefore to challenge our minds to rise above the myriad of challenges facing our world today and as individuals challenge ourselves to make a positive impact in our world. I have therefore titled this lecture - OPTIMIZING YOUR POTENTIALS IN A CHALLENGING FUTURE.

As a man of faith, I will be speaking to you from the vista of God's word. The scriptures show us unequivocally that God gave man the mandate of dominion. (Genesis 1:28). This means that the original plan was for man to have the power to direct, control, have mastery and exercise authority over all things. Why then does it look like this is not happening enough in our world today? The thoughts and experiences I will share with you today will empower you and position you for a life of dominion in spite of the prevailing circumstances around you, especially as you begin this new phase of your lives.

I assumed office as the 10th governor of Akwa Ibom state on May 29, 2015, with my job well-defined. The thrust of my administration was industrialization and with this in mind, I had laid out a 5-point agenda of Wealth Creation, Economic and Political Inclusion, Poverty Alleviation, Infrastructural Consolidation and Expansion and Job Creation.

The vision of our government was to galvanize our people, harness all our resources, networks, and alliances to build a prosperous state with a position of honor on a global scale. While pursuing our 5-point agenda, I did not lose sight of the fact that the greatest development will be in the mind of the Akwa Ibom person - the Akwa Ibomite. We needed to reignite the passion, drive, and aspiration for greatness in every daughter and son of Akwa Ibom State. This was the passion that birthed the Dakkada Campaign of my administration. Dakkada in the Ibibio language means 'Arise." It is a clarion call for all Akwa Ibom people to rise to their true potential of greatness, spiritual rebirth, moral transformation, and re-orientation. The campaign is a call to our people to realise that with God all things are possible, that we can rise above our primordial biases, ethnicity, hatred, anger, bigotry, and the exclusionary tendencies. The campaign is a call for all Akwa Ibom people at home and in the diaspora to deepen their value-sets; to re-invent the spirit of creativity and chart a new course for the present and future generations. Today, eight years after the Dakkada campaign was launched, the people of Akwa Ibom State have arisen to the faith of their greatness. The youths, women, elders, and all across the social spectrum are using the works of their hands to make a living for themselves. The blame games have reduced, there are no more pity parties, and there is a reduced aptitude to wait for Government to provide all their needs from cradle to grave. From agriculture to other creative pursuits, the entrepreneurial spirit has been awakened, youths are optimally engaged while market women and traders have been indoctrinated in positive ways to enhance their earnings with the interest-free loans which were given to them regularly during my administration. On the moral side, the people have been made to understand and accept the concept of right and wrong and a new tone of engagement and interactions introduced across the layers of the society. There is civility in the land-based on shared values and our common humanity. This has, in the process, brought about peace and tranquility, helping the State to attract foreign investors, and becoming the second State after Lagos to attract the most foreign direct investments according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The effect of the Dakkada campaign is birthing a new mindset, predicated on growth and expansion. The learning point and philosophy of the Dakkada campaign has set the tone for a future of increasing greatness in our people. It has moved from being written on paper to being engraved in the tablets of their hearts and in their thinking.

Today, I will share 7 foundational principles that shaped the thinking behind the Dakkada campaign. These principles will help you chart your course to greatness.

ACCEPT THAT LIVING IN DOMINION IS GOD'S PLAN FOR MANKIND

Your life will ultimately be a representation of your belief system, your philosophies, and your ideology. No one can make progress beyond his mindset. What is a mindset: A mindset is a fixed mental attitude or disposition that pre-determines a person's response to situations and his interpretation of those situations. It is a programming of your mind to reason, respond, interpret situations, and behave in a certain way. This is the reason why two people facing the same challenges may end up with different outcomes. You must rise to the faith of greatness. This begins with accepting the possibility of greatness. You therefore have to accept what God has said concerning you and feed your mind with those words that will deliver to you the mindset of a winner.

Make up your mind to feed your belief systems, philosophies, and ideology with information consistent with the quality of life you want to live. Embrace a growth mindset, accept that all you know about any particular subject matter is not all that exists and be open to engage with and accept superior information. This is what the scripture calls "Renewing your minds" - replacing thoughts that are not consistent with who you are, and the potentials God has deposited in you with thoughts that challenge you to greatness.

THE POWER OF VISION

Today, you are being officially launched out into a new phase of your life. It is of utmost importance to take time out to have a vision for your life. Vision is the imagined mental image of something. You must have a mental picture of what future you want to create. Your imaginative power is your creative ability. This means you can only create what you can capture with the eyes of your mind. As noted by the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, the best way to predict the future is to create it. Most of life is filled with uncertainty. This is especially true of the future, but God gave us a guarantee when He left the Holy Spirit here with us. Create pictures of the future you desire. Take a journey into the future in your mind. Your life is more likely to go to where your mind has been to. If you can hold onto a vision of what is yet to come, you can boost your chances at achieving your dreams and being successful.

When I assumed office as the governor of Akwa Ibom state, I was determined to open the state up for accelerated economic activities and prosperity. I was committed to opening up the state by creating ease of access by road, water, and air. My vision was to turn Akwa Ibom into a financial, economic, and technological hub. I had a clear mental picture of where the state had to be. This was the passion behind Ibom Air- the only airline owned by a sub-national in Africa. Today, Ibom Air founded in 2019, wholly owned by Akwa Ibom State has 8 aircrafts, flies to 6 destinations in Nigeria and Accra in Ghana and just last month, I was in Canada to take delivery of the first of ten-brand new Airbus A220-300 aircrafts which I ordered before I left office. With this, the airline is positioned to expand its operations beyond Ghana to other West and Central African Countries. We also built a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility at the airport in Uyo, the first of its kind in West Africa. This positions Akwa Ibom to emerge as a regional aviation hub.

I am sharing this with you to underscore the power of vision. I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do as Governor even before I assumed office. With the right passion and the help of God, that vision crystallized into concrete reality. You can also do same.

Gov. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State (2015-2023)

The importance of having a vision. Vision delivers meaning and purpose. A vision is a way to answer your own "why" of life. It gives you the reason for your actions, choices, hopes, and desires. This fills your daily activities with meaning and purpose. Vision provides you with the impetus to overcome roadblocks and hurdles. It provides you with a reason to keep going and staying power, even when the times get tough. Vision Substantiates your goals. Having a vision places a purpose upon your goal-setting activities. Without an end goal or destination in mind, you won't have a clear or defined path. Vision provides this. Vision keeps you well-grounded and helps you maintain focus. It reduces distractions and provides an anchor for your decisions. Vision without action is an impotent dream. Action without vision is diffusing energy but vision with action can change the world. Working hard towards actualizing your vision as vision without execution is delusion. Remember that while ambition is about more, vision is about all.

THE CHALLENGE OF EXCELLENCE

There is a word you have to intentionally fight against. That word is "mediocrity." In our local parlance, we love to situate this within the 'manage' syndrome. We deliver poor quality service, and we feel the need to 'manage' it like that. We put up sub-par performance and we 'manage'. We deliver less than our inherent potential and we expect society to 'manage' us like that. Being mediocre means being of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance. It means being ordinary. Many people put in the barest minimum on the job or whatever assignment. You cannot excel that way. The bible tells us that a man that is diligent in his business will stand in the company of kings and never be obscure. There will always be room for the diligent person. Diligence describes being thorough, conscientious in paying proper attention to a task; giving the degree of care required in a given situation. Become a person known for excellence. The challenge of gender, racial, ethnic, or whatever biases only count at the average quality level, when you become excellent at whatever you do, these biases become absolutely irrelevant. Excellence puts you above all biases. Be so good at what you do that you become almost indispensable.

When Joseph showed up before Pharaoh, all biases of an ex-prisoner, a non-indigene, a slave boy, paled into insignificance in the face of the value he brought to the table. Daniel was a Jewish captive in Babylon who became a civil servant, a senior member of the king's cabinet and was relevant through the reign of four kings. The bible described him as excellent. Mediocrity is toxic to excellence. Refuse to condone mediocrity. Make the best of every opportunity. Be committed to outcomes and not just efforts. Efforts only count to a point, but outcomes, results and impact distinguishes you. Fight for a seat at the table. Better still, fight for a seat at the head of the table. To build a personal culture of excellence, you need to disallow procrastination and over-analysis. Learn to hold yourself personally responsible for your decisions, actions, failures, and success. It doesn't matter how you were born; it matters how you live the rest of your life. Do not let your background put your back on the ground. Your mind is your greatest capital and your greatest battle ground. Say no to mental laziness. Put your mind to work. Challenge your mind, that is the seat of your creativity. THINK! A lot of people don't think. Ask the right questions. Challenge stereotypes and the status quo with intention of improving on it. Innovation starts from asking questions like "why are we doing this and how can this be done better?". Become a creative and solution-oriented person. Continuously feed your mind with the right information. Refuse to be ignorant about any area of your life. Go for knowledge and embrace understanding. Develop competence in whatever field you are into. Competence is a combination of knowledge, skills, and experience. Practice makes perfect so keep at it until you become a master of your craft. Remember that you are what you repeatedly do.

Excellence is a habit, not an act! Strive to stay current with trends and developments in your field. Always pay painstaking attention to details. Sweat the small things because the aggregation of those little things result in excellence. Do not forget that big things happen when you get small things right! Become a person of value. Your value must be packaged and served with excellence to attract a higher reward. Excellence involves surpassing ordinary standards. Battles are first won in your mind; victories are won first in the mind. Challenge your mind with the possibility of a better future and go for it. Don't let the naysayers discourage you. Many times, the only voice of encouragement you will hear is from within you.

Gov. Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State (2015-2023) with Dr Daniel Olukoya, Chancellor of Mountain Top University, Nigeria

UNDERSTAND THAT SUCCESS CAN BE MEASURED AT EVERY POINT OF YOUR LIFE

Life is in phases and seasons and your goal must be to be successful at every phase. Be determined to take advantage of every good opportunity you have. Always put in the work required and never be comfortable with giving excuses for failure. Be intentional about developing yourself. Invest in your personality. Work on becoming and not on having because when you become, you will definitely have. Who you become is more important that what you acquire. Failure, a concept people are not favorably disposed to, is a part of life, failing at an event or with a task does not make you a failure. You are on a journey, and it is better to attempt something laudable and fail at it than to be held back from trying because of the fear of failure. Always learn from your failures and those of other people. These provide valuable lessons for your journey in life. People that we celebrate today because of their admirable success also have stories of failure in their journey. Les Brown, an American politician and motivational speaker, made the following thought-provoking statement " The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is there that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream."

Embrace challenges, embrace adversity, and anticipate some pain in your journey. In your path in life, understand the law of process, this is the journey that God will take you through to become the person in the dreams and visions he has put in your heart. It is your reaction to adversity and the interpretation you give to the challenges that determine how your life progresses. Learn to view life through the vista of God's word and you will be able to go through the storms of life with joy. It Is never about the adversity but the meaning you give it.

Today, we are celebrating the graduation of the 2023 set of graduands, each one of you armed with a certificate, evidence of 4 to 5 years of learning, rigor, discipline, and hard work. What you make of your life beyond these walls is your responsibility. Keep your inspiration burning and put in the hard work required to succeed. On your journey to a life of success, be a person of character, integrity, and value.

THE CHALLENGE OF OPPORTUNITY

Your perception of challenges has a great impact on the quality of your life and the impact you are able to make. Many people today have a negative perception of challenges that circumstances and situations of life pose to them, thereby losing sight of the opportunities for victory in that situation. Problems and challenges are your opportunities for victories. Be that person that embraces challenges at home, at work and in your community and proffer solutions. You will never be small that way. Success is finding or anticipating a human need and meeting that need. The many challenges plaguing our nation present a world of opportunities to the one with seeing eyes. Find your place and be determined to make the world a better place starting from where you are. Align your passion to society's needs and you will make a success of your life as success occurs when opportunity meets preparedness. Often times, opportunities come in human form, make up your mind to treat people well irrespective of their state in life. Naaman's opportunity for healing from leprosy came in a little slave girl that worked in his house.

FIGHT FOR YOUR TIME

Fulfillment of destiny is time dependent. Time is one of the most valuable resources given by God. Time is more valuable than money because once you lose time, you will never get it back. This is why I don't agree that you must sleep for 8 hours each day. If you do that, you would have slept a 3rd of your life by the time you are 30, you would have slept for 10 years. Ten productive years gone. Think about this for a minute.

Your life is a function of passage of time so fight for your time. Be intentional about what you spend your time on. This is particularly challenging in today's world of numerous distractions and decreased attention span. To have dominion in life, you must have dominion over time.

As the Governor of Akwa Ibom state, I knew from day 1 that I had a few years to deliver value to my people so from day 1, it was a race against time. I wanted to leave office with a clear conscience towards God that I had done the best I could. This fueled my thoughts, plans and actions. This was the inspiration behind the ambitious 5-point agenda I announced on my first day in office and the Dakkada Campaign that caused a paradigm shift in the mindset of the Akwa Ibomite. I had little or no time for leisure, I needed to finish my bit in the time available. I knew I couldn't do everything, but I was determined to leave the state in a far better way than I met it. My challenge to you therefore is to optimize your time by planning, prioritizing, and delegating. A plan highlights what you want done and how you want to get it done: a schedule puts a time to every deliverable. It takes both a plan and a schedule to get things done. An hour of planning can save you several hours of trial and error.

You need to set goals and stay focused on your priorities. It was Abraham Lincoln who said that the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time. Therefore, have a plan and a schedule for each day, review it regularly during the day to ensure you are on course. Time flies but you can take charge by being the pilot on the flight. A good plan is not enough, execution is king. A vision, plan or strategy is not enough, the long-term key to success is diligent execution. You should develop a penchant for taking required action, implementation, and execution. Act on your plans. Life is stagnant without consistent decisions and actions. Good decision making is based on a careful evaluation of relevant, diligently sought out and verified information and also the exercise of discernment. Learn to ask the right questions and seek answers from the right sources. Your life is the sum of all your choices, decisions, and actions. The quality of your life is built on the quality of your decisions. You may not have had a choice of what type of family you were born into and may have suffered adversely because of that but now, you can decide what you want to make out of your life. The ball is now in your court. Remember that many of our important decisions have timelines, a delay in making that decision may result in a loss of opportunity. Like the Latin dictum says, 'Carpe diem!'. Seize the day!

Finally,

BUILD STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIPS

This is the world of men, advancement in this world is based on relationships. Relationships provide you with leverage. Relationships can preserve your life.

God's modus operandi is to bless men through men, therefore learn to invest in relationships. Bring value to your relationships. Learn to honor and treat people with respect and kindness in spite of their place in life. I am amazed at the level of dishonor, disrespect and entitlement mentality exhibited by the young people of your generation. Understand that nobody owes you anything, so lavishly express gratitude for every good thing done for you.

In conclusion, let me congratulate you all on your graduation. You have attained the golden fleece. By this feat, you have registered an accomplishment that many sought and are still seeking in vain. Make your education count. As the motto of this institution says, you have been empowered to excel. Make excellence your watchword and be proud ambassadors of this citadel of learning.

The world is your oyster and my challenge to you is "Dakkada". Rise to greatness, make your mark, conquer your world, and become a blessing to humanity. It is four days to the celebration of Christmas, so allow me to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year 2024.

Thank you for your attention.

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