By: Israel Umoh
Some people are made for a season. Others are made for a time. Few are made for a period. Season segments the time but time has elasticity that oils season. Period is the timetable of suddenness and unpredictability. Though the sequence is a centrifuge to all, frequency in achieving anything is the magic wand that uniquely identifies the capacity and passion of a person.
To those born for a period belongs Iniobong Ememobong, the page boy of Use Ndon in Ibiono Ibom local government area of Akwa Ibom. A Classics graduate and a Barrister-at-law, Iniobong is not Akwa Ibom governor nor is he an elected a member of Senate, House of Representatives. House of Assembly. He is not a local chairman nor a councillor. Neither a board chairman nor a member of any commission. But, he is the state publicity secretary of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
He may be vilified as enfant terrible. He may be called other names by his political friends and foes. As a human being, he is not perfect just as another is not except God. When the Jews resorted to cross-examination to find a contradiction to nail a blind man who was healed by Jesus Christ, he responded “Whether He is a sinner or not, I do not know, one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see,” John 9:25.
Iniobong, Akwa Ibom name meaning God’time, is a crisis leader- the person who knows how to solve the problem and will take the necessary steps to do so. In fact, he is the man footing the bill of coronavirus crisis. When the ravaging COVID-19 started from China and entered the USA, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain and landed in Nigeria, he alarmed that the pandemic could annihilate a large chunk of Akwa Ibom populace. Not that he is not a Christian, but he must have read Physics, Biology and Chemistry in his secondary school days. As a one-time science student, he knows the meaning of virus and realised the negating impact of coronavirus and he did not wait to see it as a scam. Like Biblical James, he believed that faith without work was vain. And he toed the line of work in seeking an end to the pandemic.
Some boasted that Akwa Ibom is named after God and that the virus would not be able to enter. Other bragged that they have ventilators and built isolation centres. None (I need to be proved otherwise) told the waiting masses of owning respirators. While the blame game continued in some quarters, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos Governor was talking tough, rolling measures against the virus and giving Lagosians hope that the COVID-19 is not a death sentence.
To mitigate the pandemic adversarial sting in the state, Iniobong made himself available for the arduous task of serving mankind and was emotionally connected to the people- the traumatized, the ignorant and the financially helpless. He cast away his political garment to redeem some human beings from the deadly ‘dragon.’
Coming under the canopy “The Ini Ememobong Foundation,” he commissioned a health team to fumigate Akpan Andem, Itam Markets and Central Abattoir Livestock Market at Itam in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
The foundation took the campaign to Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom Council and doled out bags of rice, sanitizers and face masks to some of its members.
To further stop the spread of the COVID-19, the foundation visited and donated various items to Federal Road Safety Corps, Akwa Ibom Command; Akwa Ibom Transport Company, Nigerian Medical Association, Akwa Ibom State chapter, Nigeria Police Hospital and Comfort FM, Uyo.
Moreover, the foundation donated handwashing buckets, hand sanitisers and liquid soaps to major markets in Essien Udim, Abak, Ikot Ekpene and Ibiono Ibom particularly Use Ndon as part of efforts to increase the awareness of the dreaded Pandemic in these potentially high-risk places.
The University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, Uyo was not left out in the sensitization campaign. Items such as liquid soaps, sanitizers and other improvised washing equipment were given to the hospital.
Moved by this kind gesture, Felicia Bassey, the Deputy Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, poured encomiums on foundation, describing it as a strategic interventionist in important areas of community development
On one occasion, Iniobong Ememobong, the chancellor of the foundation, bared his mid thus “Considering the critical and sensitive roles played by medical officers and the strategic status of the hospital in the health ecosystem of our state, the Foundation deemed it necessary to embark on this Needs Assessment visit to the medical facility, so as to get first-hand information on the additional needs of the facility. The Foundation expressed its readiness to partner other stakeholders in bridging the gap in healthcare provision at this critical time.
“As people try to hurry and stock up in a bid to fully adhere to the ‘Stay at Home’ Preventive Policy, we reckon that many people might forget to observe the basic healthy preventive tips of social distancing and handwashing or sanitising, this is why we have commissioned the team to thoroughly fumigate these markets and abattoirs in Uyo. The reason we are doing this is because our collective safety as a state will be dependent on the efforts we make to fight back this pandemic together. Therefore nothing should be left to chance.”
“This is not the time for buck-passing and blame-tossing, but the time for people to ask how they can help in reducing the rate of the spread of this virus, and so, as a Foundation, we are here for this reason,” Iniobong noted.
Some elected members in the National and State Assemblies from the state and government appointees might have reached out and donated to their constituents, but this is infinitesimal to what Ini did in that they are mandate carriers and earn salaries and allowances from the government.
In this period of global catastrophe, philanthropic organisations and public-spirited individuals and other persons must pool their resources together to bail out the poor and financially challenged from the dungeon of financial haemorrhage.
The state government should not fold its arms without releasing meaningful palliatives to the less privileged, the jobless and the indigent, especially during this pandemic lockdown.
Like the Biblical David, Ini, the bill footer, has killed Goliath, the Philistine giant (coronavirus pandemic). From the little he has been collecting for his office, he does not use it to swell his bank account or build skyscrapers. He rather uses it to save lives and more lives are being preserved. It behoves all to emulate his magnanimous gesture and be their brother’s keepers.