“The Giver” Syndrome as Governance Philosophy: The Linus Nkan Perspective

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Linus Nkan is the Akwa Ibom State commissioner for finance. He is one of the core professionals that Gov. Udom Emmanuel engaged to interpret his vision of service to the people of Akwa Ibom State. He is one commissioner that has maintained a remarkable silence, while working to deliver on his assignment in government. Until recently, he has been seen as a very press-shy government official, but the coming to office of Amos Etuk as chairman of the Akwa Ibom State council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, has shattered that myth. He was guest at the November 2019 Congress of the NUJ, where he used the opportunity to thank the media community for their cooperation with the Udom Emmanuel administration.

Last week, Mr. Nkan played host to a couple of journalists in his office. After a brief courtesy of welcome to his guests and wishing them a happy new year, the commissioner launched into two hours of passionate appeal for a paradigm shift in the governance philosophy, which tends to place so much emphasis on the act of giving by politicians and those in government officials that he says, is disturbing and embarrassing.

These days the only thing that seems to matter to our people is, ‘Ono owo nkpo’. This one is a giver; this one is not a giver. Governor Udom Emmanuel does not give and such like utterances. I dont know if you have been hearing things like that, he asked rhetorically, looking at his audience.

This issue of who is a giver or who is not a giver has unfortunately taken over the political conversation in the state, to the grave disadvantage of citizens concern for good governance and sustainable development. Our people are not asking the critical question about things that would add value to our state, he said.

He said it was painful to hear people say that Governor Udom Emmanuel does not give. He said it was hard to come across any person that gives as much as the governor, noting that his philosophy of the right hand giving without the left hand knowing what the right hand is doing, which is a scriptural admonition, was responsible for peoples perception. He described Gov, Emmanuel as a man mindful of the respect and dignity of those who receive from him. He noted that it was not in the character of the governor to give and the next minute see his deed in the media.

Another worrisome dimension to the whole giving saga, according to Nkan, is that some people will receive as much as a million naira from a public office holder for one problem or the other and as soon as they come out they tell others that they received nothing or they mention a ridiculous amount.

That is not really the problem. The problem is that the issue of this man is a giver or this man does not give, has replaced the core issue of sustainable governance. The main criterion people tend to use in judging who a good leader is is now how much the person throws around. I think this is quite unfortunate. How do people rate you outside the state, when they see all the write ups on what we now consider as our philosophy of leadership? he queried.

Continuing Mr. Nkan said, I am of the same school of thought as the governor; the school of thought that sees the greatest good for the greatest number as the truest reflection of giving. It is that type of giving that is sustainable. Governor Emmanuel believes that sustainable economic development is what any government worth its name should be aiming at.

The commissioner noted that the Udom administration has done so much to change the economic and social narratives of the state. He singled out agriculture as one of the areas, the governor has identified as a core component of economic growth for the state. In this regard, Mr. Nkan gave a highlight of the governors attainments in agriculture to include the engaging of about 10,000 cassava farmers, with the right stem variety and other inputs. This, he said has led to self sustenance in garri production by the state. He praised the rice initiative of the Udom Emmanuel administration that ensured that all the rice, that amounted to well over 20, 000 bags, distributed to families in the state were sourced within the state.

Another area he said the governor deserves accolades is on the steps so far taken to actualize the Ibom Deep Seaport. He told his audience that the project is closer to realization than the people of the state realise. He said that rather than engage in endless quest for people with handouts to give, youths in the state and other citizens should be thinking of how they could benefit from the project and other developmental initiatives of government.

As media practitioners, you have the task of teaching the people how they can position themselves for the actualization of the project so that people from other states do not come and take the benefit of the project to our peoples disadvantage. That project is one capable of launching the state to an economic super power and industrial giant, he said.
He said that there was no Robin Hood giving that would equal the tenacity with which the governor is pursuing the industrialization drive of the state. Today, even the most rabid critic, according to Nkan, is appreciating the many industries now in operation in the state. He disclosed his worry that while the people of the state doubt, people from other states are taking advantage of the opportunities available in the industries as suppliers of raw materials and distributors of the products.

The rate we are going, if the tempo is sustained by subsequent administrations, we shall get to a stage where our youths will become more productive; a stage where every Akwa Ibomite is sustainably adding value to himself and the state. Between that and frittering away vital resources on a few persons privileged enough to get close to people in government, which is more ideal for the state and her people?, he asked.

The current leadership in the state, according to Nkan, remains focused to ensure that policies of government are directed at every citizen and other Nigerians. He noted that it is a better governance philosophy when every resident of the state can access health facilities when they have need; access quality education, gain vital equal access to possibilities in the state to advance socially and economically.

Excessive reliance on handouts and the governance philosophy of ono owo nkpo can only breed indolent and perpetually dependent citizenry; a far cry from a sustainable governance philosophy that produces more thinking citizens; citizens economically competitive; citizens that add value to society and citizens ready to take advantage of government policies and programmes to attain self sufficiency. These were the lessons the visiting journalists took away that evening from the commissioner for finance Akwa Ibom State.

Mr. Nkan has extensive experience in banking and holds a Bachelors degree in Accounting and a Master in Business Administration. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Associate of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.

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