By Osondu Ahirika
On January 15, 2018, he will clock 49. Back on 13th July 2011, Otuekong (Prince) Enobong Enobong Uwah was appointed and sworn in as Honourable Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources by then Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Dr. Godswill Obot Akpabio CON. That’s not the issue. His brief included taking charge of the Plaza, the melting point of Uyo Capital City of the Akwa Ibom State.
He did well. Rid the Plaza of criminal elements. Restored its serenity. Eradicated the menace of cluster trading with its associated dysfunctions around that pride of the State. Uyo the capital city and environs became one of the cleanest towns in Nigeria, courtesy of the novel Green Brigade, he launched to handle litter control, street sweeping, grass cutting and trimming of vegetation, waste management and disposal. They were about 2000 strong and gainfully employed youths and women in the Brigade. The story isn’t exactly the same today.
Last December, without recourse to his consent, the creative and performing Honourable Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon. Victor Antai, named and designated him Leader of the Plaza Band. One, of the five bands that made a historic mark in the maiden Christmas Fiesta tagged, UKAPAISUA. Whatever guided that choice, I wouldn’t know. It was however apt for this Prince of Uyo.
He made tremendous sacrifice. Bankrolled all expenses for costumes, props and accessories used by a throng, of almost, a thousand five hundred members of the band. It included logistics and feeding of the thousands per rehearsal and, of course, on D-day. It takes a heart of charity and patriotism to put in so much in a Street groove, with no political capital or economic gain for him. But he believed it was about Uyo and its most recognizable totem- The Plaza. A monument akin to New York’s Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel tower in Paris.
Do you know the greater signification of the prefaratory facts I have narrated? Okay! Hear this. He is generally known as the Champion of Uyo. A venerable acclaim for his role of being at the vanguard of the Udom Emmanuel Divine Mandate Project in 2014, uniting Uyo under the Udom Emmanuel for Governor goal.
Proceeding, His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel appointed him Honourable Commissioner for Housing and Urban Renewal. Sworn in on 6th July 2015, Prince Enobong Uwah again had a major assignment to execute for Uyo metropolis. St. Luke’s Hospital Anua is a legacy heritage for Uyo, that served, still serves, the Healthcare needs of Akwa Ibom State and the South East /South South regions back then.
Prince Uwah got marching orders from Governor Emmanuel to fix the hospital. In a record 72 days in office, Governor Emmanuel commissioned his first major project, which was the refurbished Pediatric blocks and a brand new Administrative block named after Dr Ann Ward, complete with internal roads, perimeter fence rehabilitation and gully erosion intervention behind the School of Nursing, Anua.
Not done, Prince Uwah got another tall order from his boss. The conversion of the erstwhile 10th Anniversary Hotel into a modern State Secretariat. Abandoned for almost two decades, it was an eyesore for Uyo and became a habitation for evil. Today, a State of the art Secretariat housing strategic Government ministries and agencies that it has become, is a tourist delight in the City of Uyo.
It is pertinent to observe that, fate, in her construction, contrived that, this illustrious Prince of Uyo, should be the one fixing problems in his land of nativity. Folks’, his interventions does not end there. It is ongoing.
He is currently, the Executive Chairman, Uyo Capital City Development Authority, UCCDA.
On June 19, 2017, Prince Uwah took the same midas touch he swings, to the UCCDA when he formally took charge. Let me shock you with a tale he may never say, but which I apologize for leaking, given its moral lessons.
Prince Uwah owns a property he wanted to develop in Uyo few years back. Being a law abiding stickler for due processes, he approached the UCCDA to have the building plan inspected, approved and registered. For days, weeks, months and then, years, he was frustrated by some officers of the agency, who wanted him to ‘shake body'(give kick backs or grease their palms) to do their statutory jobs. He stubbornly declined and left the building to stall.
His appointment to head the UCCDA was a clear writing on the wall for those corrupt officials. Eradicating corruption became the core of his agenda, which is one of the most welcomed reforms, Prince Uwah has since initiated to rebrand the UCCDA.
Learning from his bitter experience, Prince Uwah implemented a policy of getting every application treated and disposed with, in a period not exceeding two weeks from date of application. There is now zero tolerance for graft in the UCCDA. A front desk has been opened, where all inquiries are made and treated in the open. He fought hard to restore public confidence, which had virtually disappeared, in the operations of the UCCDA. He has succeeded in giving the UCCDA a human face.
Under Prince Uwah’s watch the the inspectorate teams of the UCCDA are enforcing the maintenance and upgrade of the orderly physical developments in Uyo Capital City, which is prone to violation by developers.
Halting the common infractions will prevent the problem of narrow roads in newly opened suburbs in the ever expanding uyo, as prevalent in the older parts of the city. In some areas of Uyo, there is no alignment space left for drains and other social amenities unless, you demolish structures, at severe compensation costs to the State Government, to enable enlargement of the road width.
Prince Uwah has also ordered the creation of a central digital Geo-information Bank to domicile, enable storage or retrieval of private and corporate projects attributes, including, applications – names – ownership – and geo-spatial coordinates, like, aerial dimensions of landed structures. When completed, access to information about the city will be a click button away.
It needs be stressed that, this development will give Geo-information on all government lands, estates and property, thus becoming a reliable data for internal revenue generation and monitor, as well as, check both innocent or wilful encroachment of government land and private property.
The UCCDA under Uwah’s watch also plans to put in place a thematic Uyo map that can be accessed by tourists for a guide, in addition to the ambitious resolve to build a befitting Permanent site for the UCCDA, which is still housed in a rented property. There is a move to expand the city and create a new Uyo, relocate the overstretched Mechanic village and many other things in store.
As this great son of Uyo continues to anchor and drive development strides for his people, history I wager, will be kind to him. As he marks another birthday in this eventful life, I join his dashing gorgeous wife, Inemesit and lovely kids to celebrate their gift to us all. Here’s a toast for the Champion of Uyo.