By John Ntekim
I have read with keen interest a tribute to Mr. Udom Uko Inoyo, who is Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil affiliates in Nigeria, presented by former Nigerian Ambassador to Russia and the Belarus, Chief Assam Assam, SAN, during a reception organised for Mr. Inoyo by the Eket, Esit Eket, Onna and Ibeno communities of Akwa Ibom State on April 29, 2018.
In the said citation, Chief Assam expounds the personal attributes of the ExxonMobil chief, recalling some past instances in which Inoyo had displayed commendable level of patriotism as an Akwa Ibom indigene, while naming a few benefits same Inoyo has attracted to the state through his advantageous position in the American multinational oil and gas company.
It is however deducible from the tribute that Assam who seems to know so much about Udom also knew his father closely. Moreso, he satisfactorily describes Udom as one who inherited several characteristics of his late father.
In a paragraph, Chief Assam narrates, “I have had the privilege of touching Udom Inoyo. Before him, I touched his father, Elder Uko Inoyo. When I touched the part of him that I did, I could feel the aroma of his father’s discipline, his adherence to details, his penchant for privacy, his ability to have and keep his friends and yet distance them from his work, his devotion to his family and most of all, his love and trust in God.”
It is noteworthy that Inoyo’s humility and modesty which have been attested to by some notable personalities are emphasised in the tribute under review, as the author explains thus, “…looking at your antecedents, you have consistently exhibited the character of one who abhors dishonesty and mediocrity and continually takes sides with the truth and merit. You are endowed with great intellect, yet you are not vainglorious.” Assam further describes Inoyo as one who avoids extravagance and lives a simple life.
The patriotic disposition of Udom Inoyo is also highlighted in the tribute, as Ambassador Assam recollects Inoyo’s role in the days of the struggle for resource control, led by former Akwa Ibom governor, Obong Victor Attah. According to Chief Assam, Inoyo it was who led the Akwa Ibom professionals in Lagos, a group vehemently opposed to the Supreme Court judgement that deprived Akwa Ibom State from benefiting from the 13% derivation payments.
“You anchored the the compilation of literature which in no small measure whipped the conscience of the country to adopt the political solution,” Assam reminds Inoyo.
He continues, ” The legislation which I personally drafted for presentation to parliament by Senator Udoma Udoma, and which increased our revenue to this day was a culmination of that effort and your leadership.”
Listed by Chief Assam Assam as those who were privy to Udom Inoyo’s contributions to the fight for resource control are Sen. Anietie Okon, Uko Udom SAN, late General Philip Effiong (Akangkang of Ibibio nation) and Chief Anthony Anennih.
Furthermore, much is said by Amb. Assam about how Inoyo’s consistent plea convinced Obong Victor Attah to fashion a development program for the oil bearing communities. Assam explains that Inoyo worked with Dr. Ebebe Ukpong (then Commissioner for Economic Development), Amb. Mrs. Nkoyo Ita Toyo (a development expert) and Mr. Nsudoh S. Nsudoh (now a Permanent Secretary in AKS), “to produce a document whose content has the panacea to resolve most of the feuding issues in the oil bearing communities.”
On the dualized Eket-Ibeno road, Chief Assam writes, “The Eket-Ibeno road, a distance of 15 or so kilometers used to take hours with attendant safety issues. I was the Attorney General of this state at the time and privy to how you convinced the management of Mobil and the Government to take over the road project from NDDC. They did. You got Mobil to contribute a whopping N8B towards the construction of the road which was completed by another Udom, this time by the Udom of Emmanuel. That road is now dualized and a pleasure to drive on.”
Additionally, Ambassador Assam appraises the strides recorded by the Inoyo Toro Foundation, founded by Mr. Udom Inoyo and wife. Assam describes the foundation as a platform that mentors students, models leadership behaviours in young people, inspires confidence in teachers and creates opportunities for them.
“The Inoyo Toro Foundation today serves as a shinning template for everyone seeking to uplift society and make a difference. Udom, you and Ntekpe the wife of your youth, set up that platform, with like-minded Nigerians, to enable successful Akwa Ibom and Nigerian professionals intervene in public secondary schools in Akwa Ibom through rewarding teachers who have excelled in teaching science and other selected subjects.” – Chief Assam Assam SAN.
The former Nigerian Ambassador to Russia and the Belarus however concludes his tribute to Udom Inoyo with an assertion, “We, indeed this state owe you a duty to celebrate you, Udom.”
This testimony presented by Ambassador Assam is one of the very few appraisements received by Mr. Inoyo, whose close associates say often shies away from encomiums and eulogies. The tribute authored by Chief Assam presents Mr. Inoyo as a compassionate individual who continues to prioritize the interest of his home state, even as a private citizen, fights to protect the rights of his people and contributes personally to their educational advancement, yet prefers to have strories of his contributions to public good unadvertised.
Inoyo appears a strange gem in a clime where self-glory, ego and swellheadedness seem to have outdone modesty and simplicity. Hence, this writer feels the natural burden to remind the masses that people in the mold of Mr. Udom Inoyo still exist, making untold impacts in various spheres of human endeavor.
John Ntekim is a public affairs analyst.