When Dr Dominic Ukpong was first appointed some years back to oversee the then comatosed Ministry of Health in our land of promise as the helmsman, many of the political stakeholders in his immediate community of Eket raised serious eyebrows.
Their reasons, as at then, were not far fetched. He was seen as an outsider, a political neophyte and was even accused of coming to reap bountifully from where he did not sow politically.
He was also perceived and seen as an anti establishment person who will not easily compromise, pander to their whims and caprices, be malleable, and tied to their political apron strings .despite knowing his onions.None of them faulted his competency and integrity.
But Governor Udom who gave him a leeway to further prove his mettle, after a meteoric service in the corporate world as an astute medical practitioner, from the outset knew what he wanted and had already make up his mind to make this Hippocrates son, part and parcel of his team.
The amiable state helmsman as a professional in politics, also needed a soul mate of his ilk, who will come and revamp the ailing health sector in a twinkle of an eye and then added fillip to his administration as one of his engine rooms.
So despite the initial pockets of opposition opposition and garagara from some members of the political class in Eket , the governor kept, maintained his cool and still gave the no- nonsense erstwhile chief medical director of Exon Mobil, Dr Dominic Ukpong, of no mean repute, a chance, to add more pep to his government machinery.
So far, so good, the integrity driven commissioner of health has kept a clean slate and has lived up to expectations Even his ardent critics can not fault his performance and impeccable credentials, in the health sector.
Their main grouse, however, with him is that he does not ” land ” very often not even minding the fact that, his real name is Dominic, not Richard or John of the famous Lander Brothers fame in our primary school history of those hey days.
Dr Dominic Ukpong is not oblivious of the fact that politics is indeed a far cry from the corporate world where he has spent his entire working career and left indelible footprints on the sands of time.
He is yet to decipher why a typical Nigerian politician should speak with both sides of the mouth. This man of God, with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, calls a spade, a spade irrespective of whose ox is gored. This is indeed one of his Achilles heels.
He does not mince words in his deeds and actions and is too blunt and straight forward to a fault which is against the normal ethics of the political chess game.
As one of his keen aficionados, I knew for sure that so many landmines were ladened for him on the road, and his traducers were just waiting for an opportunity to detonate the impending time bomb, blackmail and ease him out from office, so as to have their ways. They see him as a stumbling block to continuously swindle the government of the day and feed fat on the tax payers money.
They thought that the election time will offer them that much needed platform to vent their spleen and take their pounds of flesh from this man of integrity, they fell like pack of cards when the medical guru coasted home to victory and delivered his entire Okon Eket geopolitical zone to the state ruling party.
They had to retrieve temporarily into their shells, bury their big heads in shame when Dr Ukpong was appointed again into the State Executive Council due to his track records and milestones of achievements with #OnlyGod as his mantra.
Dr Dominic Ukpong has been a silent operator, working assiduously to the best of his ability without blowing his trumpet.
He is not also cut out in hiring social media hirelings to sing his continuous praises for him as is the order of the day among his contemporaries.
His destiny lies in the hands of God and he is one person who will not dip his hands into the public till to enrich neither himself, his cronies nor members of his immediate family. He prefers having his reward in heaven despite not being in the teaching profession.
So when this global emergency of the much dreaded coronavirus of a thing surprisingly came calling out of the blues, many professional politicians thought that they can explore this avenue and window to make more money illegally from the government coffers, but alas, the reverse was the case as they met a stonewall from the Hon Commissioner of Health who did not want to do their bidding.
The Ikot Akpa Ikpo born medical practitioner was first accused of high handedness and operating like a one man’s riot squad by his fellow health workers but the government quickly stepped in, doused the tension and corrected all the grey areas.
Not done yet with their antics, another scene came when about five suspected cases of corona virus patients were identified in Akwa Ibom State, and the pragmatic Commissioner did not waste time and swung into action by sending the samples for tests.
According to the embattled commissioner, due process was not strictly followed and when the man in the eye of the storm cried foul, he is now being pummeled right, left and centre. He is now being accused of playing politics with human lives and all of them are now shouting, lead him to Golgotha for his crucifixion as if he is infallible. No man can play God.
Nso ke owo edinam, ke imi iboho nsuk uyo! History will surely vindicate the just and the wicked will never go unpunished.
Dr Dominic Ukpong played unknowingly into their hands filled with filty lucre and now they want to play Pontius Pilate. His head will never be found in your platter because he has recorded great milestones since assumption of duties. I am not holding brief for him but let the bitter truth be told, at least for once, in its speakable terms
One thing is certain and sure, since he is not the originator of the dreaded COVID-19 , it will never consume him nor his office. His labour of love for his father’s land will never be in vain.
Emmanuel Almand Paragon Mbong,
a public affairs commentator and analyst, writes from Ikot Ataku in Okon Eket geopolitical zone.