Facts have emerged why Governor Umo Eno boarded Ibom Air flight to Abuja instead of flying with the state-owned private jet which had been the practice by past governors of Akwa Ibom State.
Essien Ndueso, an aide to the governor, said that Umo Eno took the decision to fly the commercial airliner to live up to his promises of encouraging investments and the urgent need to encourage local businesses to thrive in view of the present harsh economy in the country.
This, he said, was one of the reasons the governor used the state-owned airline, Ibom Air, during his recent trip for official engagements outside the state.
In a radio interview in Uyo, Ndueso, who was reacting to series of criticisms trailing the decision by the governor to patronise the state-owned air carrier, said it was rather unfortunate that the good intention of the governor, in having firsthand experience with the state airline, was being misunderstood.
The governor’s senior aide, who hailed his principal for being down-to-earth in his leadership style since he assumed office on May 29, reminded critics that the governor had during his campaign tour promised that he would occasionally be flying Ibom Air to have the same experience as every other passenger, to guide his decision making.
He said the governor used the opportunity of patronising Ibom Air in his official capacity as governor of the state to share the experiences of other passengers, and wondered why some people would rather misinterpret that action with unsubstantiated claims.
“Remember His Excellency, Pastor Eno, said he is not a governor who sits in his comfort zone in the office to receive reports from the fields, but one who will go out to feel and experience, the realities of investments and public utilities funded with public funds,” he said.
Ndueso, who had previously served as media aide to former Governor Udom Emmanuel, dismissed the rumour making the rounds that Governor Eno resorted to flying with Ibom Air because the former governor, Udom Emmanuel, was still keeping the state government’s official private jet.
Ndueso, who described the allegation as a frivolous one aimed at tarnishing the image of the former governor, urged the public to discountenance such allegations, as they were with no iota of truth.
He explained that Emmanuel, despite being the immediate past governor and former boss to the current governor, has not shown any overbearing attitude to his successor, but even came to declare during the state dialogue that there can only be one leader at a time in the state, being Governor Eno.
“Recall that Udom Emmanuel was the one who told everyone to support the governor as the new leader of the state. Others would be coming to government house every day, or even lodge in the Government House guest house, but the immediate past governor has kept his promise by returning to his private practice, allowing the incumbent governor to freely run the business of governance.
The governor’s aide further explained that Umo Eno’s decision to fly Ibom Air was a simple way of telling the story of Ibom Air, and urged those spreading falsehood on the matter with the aim of tarnishing the image of the governor and his predecessor to desist from such acts.
“The entire country has come to appreciate Umo Eno as a simple and down-to-earth leader who has not allowed the aura of his position to have a negative influence on his humble nature.
“The governor has told his people that he, in appointing aides, is not appointing aides that will carry his umbrella and phones since he is carrying them himself, but he would rather appoint people with capacity to add value to his administration.
“Even at the airport, you could see him subjecting himself to thorough checks and other airport procedures, and that is because he wishes to lead by example. Such actions should not be misinterpreted, but seen as actions that make him more connected to his people,” Ndueso added.
Eno is said to have boarded the Ibom Air flight for the first time since assuming office on August 15, underscoring his unwavering dedication and determination to patronise local businesses.
He is reported also to have arrived at the airport “well before the departure time, meticulously ensuring that his presence did not disrupt the carefully planned schedule, despite the inherent challenges posed by security protocols and other governmental obligations.
“The governor’s actions echo his dedication to ensuring smooth operations for the people,” according to the airline authorities.