By George Inyangette II
There is a fascinating story of a set of unidentical twins we have read a thousand times. The plot is epic. The locale includes Gerar, which is present day South Central Israel. The main characters are Esau, Jacob and everyone linked to them either by affinity or consanguinity.
Right from the womb, the twins battled each other for superiority, with attendant agony meted out to their mother, Rebekah. When Rebekah sought to know why she was experiencing such trauma, she got a reply: “And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two MANNER OF PEOPLE shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23; emphasies are mine.)
Eventually, Esau appeared first and Jacob (clung to Esau’s heel) followed closely. Rebekah became drawn to Jacob and Isaac to Esau, exacerbating an already volatile situation. At some point in their growing up, Esau, molested by hunger, mortgaged his birthright to Jacob for a pot of porridge. When Father Isaac, ignorant of the birthright transaction, was set to dispense his final blessings, he invited Esau to prepare him a venison and receive his blessings. While Esau went hunting for animals, Jacob, aided by Rebekah, quickly slaughtered two goats from his home-reared flock and prepared the requested meat meal for Isaac, who had grown old and was blind. Isaac ate and proclaimed the blessings of the first son upon Jacob. Jacob became very prosperous.
While some preachers have harangued Jacob, describing him as a cheat and a golddigger, it is instructive to note that the Bible never did so. Jacob and Esau simply operated along two distinct paradigms and had contrasting value systems which eventually affected the events and outcomes of their lives. While both siblings had their strengths and weaknesses, Esau’s paramount undoing was that he lived for the now and cared little about the future. He recklessly exchanged his most valuable asset for a plate of meal. Unlike Esua, Jacob took no delight in toiling the whole day just to fetch what was enough just for that day. With each animal Jacob had, he thought of rearing and (re)producing more for the future. This mindset too accounted for his enormous prosperity while serving Laban, despite Laban’s sundry manouvres to shortchange Jacob.
In his book “Buy the Future”, Ghanian topmost pastor, Dr. Mensah Otabil enunciates how present day humanity belong to each of the Jacob or Esau paradigms. He describes the Esau paradigm as a consumption economy whose value systems focus on immediate gratifications and explains the Jacob paradigm as a production economy whose value systems involve saving, investing, producing and recreating for the future from the resources of today.
Give an Esau a river filled with assorted fishes today, he will sweat himself out with crude technology to drain away the water from the river so he could lazily handpick the lifeless fishes, amass them for himself and family and then sprinkle a few on passers-by just to secure for himself the title of “Ònò Òwò Nkpò 1 of Africa”. In a matter of days, he would return, cap in hand, to Jacob’s river-turned-ocean to beg for one more fish for one more day. Give a Jacob the same river of fishes, he will strategically make an ocean of it and gradually turn the spot to an internationally sought after fish production hub and teach the inhabitants of the riverine community how to fish for themselves and others and draw sustainable revenues therefrom.
There are countless persons today in Akwa Ibom who remain grateful to the first Akwa Ibom born Executive Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil subsidiary Companies in Nigeria, Barr. Udom Inoyo for teaching them, directly or indirectly, how to fish for themselves, rather than spreading a few lifeless fishes to them in exchange for banal publicity. Though he is of the private sector with no budget or obligation for personal social services, Mr. Inoyo has, over the years, demonstrated his passion towards human empowerment and infrastructure development.
For instance, there are multiple testimonies of such selfless human empowerment and infrastructure development in his home community of Ikot Okoro Ubium in Nsit Ubium Local Government Area. From provision of electricity, libraries, classroom blocks, roads, cassava mills, palm mills, training of youths in sundry skill areas, institution of a systematic employment plan which has, over the years, aided the employment of many folks in the Local Government Area; Barr. Inoyo has significantly demonstated his passion and capability for human capacity and infrastructure-type development. Like Jacob, his philosophy is empowering the people for economic independence.
Akwa Ibom State has been blessed with few leaders with the Jacob paradigm. In the heat of the turbulent Onshore-Offshore dichotomy struggle, our founding fathers, including the legendary erstwhile Governor Victor Attah, selflessly demonstrated the Jacob character. This has greatly benefited Akwa Ibom State today, making our State recipient of the highest oil and gas derivation allocation in the country. If they acted like some of the Esaus of today, they would have transacted the rights of the State for a pot of porridge. In the end, Obong Attah sacrificed and lost his bid to becoming Nigeria’s President but won the collective bid to making Akwa Ibom State financially viable for the future. That’s the Jacob paradigm!
Today, incumbent Governor Udom Emmanuel is vividly demonstrating the Jacob character as he passionately pursues the implementation of his Eight-Point Completion Agenda, anchored on industrialization. His industrialization drive is today yielding enormous gains in facets like capacity building, human empowerment, sustainable employment, infrastructure development, revenue optimization, foreign direct investment, and most importantly, security of the future. His stock in trade may not be the ‘phariseeic’ or ‘fatherchristmasic’ cascading of handouts and lifeless fishes in return for publicities, inanities, banalities, frivolities and mundanities, but the provision of sustainable means of life and livelihood to citizens and denizens of the State. Like the many industries now running across the State, Ibom Air, for instance, is an eloquent testament of how Government can make things work. There is no doubting the glaring reality that Gov. Emmanuel today runs a production economy, not a consumption economy. That’s the Jacob paradigm!
These are all stories for another day. My focus for today is to highlight what is still celebrated today as Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) Unlimited’s best Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme in Nigeria offered to Akwa Ibom as host state. It was a spectacular teach-them-how-to-fish initiative christened Graduate Assistance Programme (GAP), sponsored by Mobil, supported by the Akwa Ibom State Government and facilitated by Knowledge Partners Limited (KPL) in partnership with International Business Machines (IBM).
Necessitated by the requirements for capacity development of graduate youths on skills that would enhance employability and entrepreneurial proclivity and strategically position them for gainful employment, GAP, first conceptualized in 2006 by KPL team, was submitted to Mobil through IBM, with the active participation of the then IBM’s Regional Manager, West Africa, Fred Udoaka and adopted by MPN who engaged to secure AKSG’s commitment before commencement in June 2008. GAP Phase 1 featured the intensive training of 450 graduates on various ICT, Project Management and Entrepreneurship courses in batches of 50 and ran from 2008 to 2011.
It was sructured as a 6 months human capacity development programme comprising 3 months Instructor-Led Training (ILT) and 3 months On-The-Job (OTJ) development through internship placements in reputable private and public sector organizations. The venue for the ILT was provided by the State Government at the Ministry of Science and Technology with the over 50 computer sets and other facilities provided by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited. During the 6 months of training/internship, MPN consistently provided stipends to beneficiaries to help them carter for their immediate needs.
For GAP Phase II, from 11,108 applicants who applied and wrote the aptitude test, about 4,000 candidates were rigorously screened and 300 were eventually selected to commence the two-part training in batches of 50. Criteria included being unemployed University/Polytechnic graduate in any discipline with minimum of 2.2 or Lower Credit, having completed NYSC programme, aged between 21 – 35, and being successful in the GAP test/interview sessions.
Through GAP Phases I and II, a total of 750 graduates (98% from Akwa Ibom State) were thoroughly empowered to gain sustainable employment and set up Small and Medium Scale Businesses. In the end, each of the 300 graduates of GAP Phase II also received brand new laptop computers. Many of the graduates from both phases were thereafter established in business ventures sponsored by Oil and Gas Industry Foundation (OGIF). About 70% of the beneficiaries were already gainfully engaged at close of each phase. Like many others who got their first lift into MPN through GAP, Edidiong Asuquo, a female graduate of Mechanical Engineering who hails from Akwa Ibom State, now works with Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited. Like other graduates of GAP who are blazing the trail in various fields of endeavor today, Edwin Ebiese (popular by the radio name Mc Governor), though originally a graduate of Agric. Engineering, is now a celebrated OAP and award-winning broadcaster working with Inspiration FM in Akwa Ibom State.
As a top-grade Management Consultant in Lagos, MD/CEO of Knowledge Partners Limited and Principal Consultant, Ian Georges Consulting Limited, one with vast exposure within and outside Nigeria and currently a doctoral researcher at the Business School of a prime UK University (on Entrepreneurship as a Base of Pyramid -BOP- Poverty Alleviation Strategy in Nigeria: Studying BOP Settings in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria), I can tell a good human capacity development programme when I come across one. Believe me, GAP Phases I and II were amazing and I hope MPN takes up a third phase in the nearest future, in the interest of Akwa Ibom State.
The overreaching testimonies of MPN-sponsored GAP may have already been in public domain, no doubt. But very little is known of how such a multimillion naira proposal by a private firm that I was personally involved got such massive funding and network of support. This is key because as lofty as the initiative was, if it wasn’t sponsored it would not have seen the light of the day.
As the Executive Director in charge of External Affairs, as he then was, Mr. Udom Inoyo was the one instrumental to driving the initiative to secure all necessary approvals. It was Udom Inoyo and team who made a compelling case before NNPC(NAPIMS), who owns 60% of the NNPC/MPN Joint Venture business to secure allignments and funding approvals. Mr. Udom Inoyo was particularly passionate about bringing the programme on board for the purpose of making from Akwa Ibom youths as many fishermen as possible. Even after his transfer to Human Resource department of the Company, he was still following up on the programme.
Given his enormous contributions to human capacity development and poverty alleviation through sustainable empowerment even within his small space as a private citizen, there is no doubt in my mind that should Barr. Udom Uko Inoyo eventually accept the overwhelming clamour from Akwa Ibom people to throw his cap in the ring by 2023, Akwa Ibom State will, of all states in Nigeria, be most blessed. More than ever before, our state needs visionary leaders who have the integrity, dexterity, capacity and sagacity to deepen the employment/employability profiles of Akwa Ibom youths and utilize their wealth of exposure and network of international accesses to develop our dear State.
This is our chance to have it right. We cannot repeat the mistakes of Esau by mortgaging our future with every opportunity we have today. We should rather seize the moment to choose for ourselves a Jacob-type fisherman with the antecedent, integrity and requisite capacity to make many more fishermen from Akwa Ibom State.
(George Inyangette II is a top-grade Management Consultant, MD/CEO of Knowledge Partners Limited, Principal Consultant, Ian Georges Consulting Limited, a Doctoral Scholar at Henley Business School, University of Reading, United Kingdom and hails from Ikono Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.)
Mr. George Inyangette