First Lady Martha holds regular outreaches for pregnant women to enlighten them on the ad hoc healthcare – à la Martha Pregnacare.

Michael Bush

(Continued from last Monday)

There can be no gainsaying the fact that Akwa Ibom people shall continue to see the wife of their current governor as the yardstick First Lady, even long after 2023 when he must have completed his second and final term. First Lady Martha’s swag and savvy can also be said to have enhanced family support and wellbeing. She has built factories to process garri (a staple food in Akwa Ibom), oil palm produce and fish farming yields in areas where these are predominant means of livelihood. She has instilled the virtues of hard work and industry in the women of the state and with a huge number of them engaged in the Martha food factories, food prices have so crashed that those who know say the rest of the country and indeed the subcontinent may soon turn to Akwa Ibom for their food needs!

Martha: The unsung marketer-in-chief of the Udom-Moses brand

Furthermore, still on the matter of family,

First Lady Martha holds regular outreaches for pregnant women to enlighten them on the ad hoc healthcare – à la Martha Pregnacare. She has so far dewormed over three hundred thousand children across the state and shone the light for multiple birth families, women in small scale businesses as well as youths providing them with access to skill acquisition opportunities, startup packs and capital. Yet, her massive influence on the Udom-Moses PDP governorship ticket in the election scheduled for next March, may not be a direct consequence of this selfless excellence. Yes, an incredible chunk of the Akwa Ibom electorate pulled by her very essence shall deliver the ticket for her sake; but not so much because of what she has done.

No, a poll I have taken hints that most Martha-induced votes for Gov. Udom Emmanuel and Deputy Governor Moses Ekpo, MFR would be a function of either what she hasn’t done or the way she has done what she has done these four years. This consciousness is deep and prevalent, and spreading. The masses deeply treasure her noiseless love, kindness and genuineness. Those aware of the deafening decibels of the era past would truly appreciate or internalise the foregoing which speaks to the humility, charm and gracefulness that have been the hallmarks of the Udom Years.

There’s something that I personally find deeply ethical, attitudinal and spiritual in this Martha approach. The fact that beneficiaries applaud or grin when benefactors broadcast benefactions should not be misconstrued as approval, when it is just acquiescence. Anyone who gives and tells has received own reward. Nature and humanity only owe helpers who do their thing in secret!

It is wihin this context that the Akwa Ibom governor’s wife must be seen for who she truly is: a beloved, talismanic and irresistible canvasser. Sometime in 2016, while still trying to convince myself to start supporting the Udom administration publicly (that is, in ways I had never supported any other) I attended and even spoke at an event at Ibiaku Ntok Okpo, headtquarters of Ikono Local Government. It was a FEYReP send-off to reward and set up hundreds of hitherto unemployed women and youths who had come through some skill acquisition trainings. Without saying a word to me, First Lady Martha who attended the event in person and from start to finish provided me enough reasons and to spare.

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I was enthralled by her humanity, her motherliness (patience mixed beautifully with strict firmness) and above all, by something she did at the end of the event while her aides were about to lead her out of the hall. She asked and got the gift earmarked for traditional rulers present at the event, broke free from the ‘leggedese’ convoy, went and knelt down in front of the paramount ruler and his chiefs, as she handed him the parcel. Having been around (man and boy!) and seen our men and women of power constantly treat these natural leaders so disdainfully, the respect accorded them by this powerful woman seemed so strange but so compelling to me. That got me, and still does.

In every sense, Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel is a total First Lady (committed to making life better ethically, medically, agriculturally, educationally, socially, name it). This acknowledgement is accepted if it was not given by international, national let alone state

organisations. Her honours shelf is as enviable as it is congested. She got Heart of Champion award from the International Human Rights Commission, New York; Africa Impact Leadership award from Centre for Economic and Leadership Development, Paris, and the No. 1 Nutrition Champion award from UNICEF, not to mention the intangible awards of appreciation flowing from millions of local hearts every minute.

Fondly called Eka Unwana (Mother of Light) Akwa Ibom, First Lady Martha Udom Emmanuel is without doubt the Udom-Moses ticket’s No. 1 outside-insider mobiliser, crowd puller and publicist. The devout Christian of Qua Iboe Church stock, whose hobbies include singing gospel songs and dancing, is a blessing to the Udom administration, the state and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) especially vis-à-vis 2019 electioneering. Akwa Ibom people don’t and won’t talk about it, because she’s inscribed in the part of our heart that’s too private, too sensitive and priceless to be discussed anyhow. God bless the Martha that is the matter 2019 in Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria!



Are we really planning for elections?

I am anxious. I don’t seem to see enough green light by the umpire or political parties. Are we safe?

Or, is the lull a function of our economic realities? Whatever, one hopes that nothing affects the dates and quality of the much-awaited ballot. 2019 is a task that must be done!

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