By Ubong Sampson
At first, my relationship with Ekong Sampson was a case of a public officer and a critic. In my early days of media practice, I had chosen to restrict my closeness with public/political office holders so I don’t have to enjoy favours that would have me mortgaging my conscience when matters involving collective interests arise. Despite this, there are very few ones I found myself comfortable with in close friendship and Barr. Ekong Sampson falls among.
I have never stopped criticising this man till date. Only difference is, I now channel my criticisms to him privately, and so because of his tolerance for them and how much he has allowed himself to welcome my diverse opinions and views to his actions, decisions and beliefs, where it concerns his political and public service career. When I refuse to stand for what he stands for, he respects my opinion and view, and has so far not placed our friendship on such condition. These, aside the intelligence he impressed on me from the very first event of our interaction, are what endeared me to him.
Criticism, whether public or private, is what public officers in this clime glaringly lack tolerance for, especially when there is a clear difference in the age and social status of the critic and public officer. Having tolerated my criticisms all these years, Sampson has shown himself to belong to a different breed and class.
Rather than draw lines of antagonism with his critics and opposers, the Mkpat Enin born lawyer has a way of embracing them, and having them contribute their values towards public service delivery for collective good. This one trait, among a few others, has made him a central rallying point in his homefront– Mkpat Enin, hence, justifying the somewhat funny title he carries as the “political junction” of the area. At first, that was to me one of those political titles given to politicians even when undeserving, until I found out the man has managed to touch a life in virtually every family or kindred in Mkpat Enin. Little wonder his political aspirations have always been greeted with wide acceptance, as he seems to have a ready structure upon which he establishes his political expeditions.
Clearly, one with such level of tolerance possesses one very key quality of the type of leader required in the 21st century democracy where public awareness and political participation are on the increase. By always widening his mind to accommodate dissenting views even to his personal aspirations, man shows clear understanding and respect to the role of the electorates in leadership selection and subjects himself to accountability demands by the electorates in every mandate he is entrusted with.
How he balances his patriotism at all levels— displaying love for his Ikpa Ikono clan without allowing same override the need for a united and progressive Mkpat Enin area, while still displaying equal love and patriotism to Akwa Ibom, remains a stunner, yet a strong force that has comanded a wave of admiration and followership his way, and now one of the strong qualities that place him above co-contenders, as Akwa Ibomites of the southern (Eket) senatorial district extraction are seeing him as one with the ability to manage and equitably balance the interests of the different ethnicities within the senatorial district.
Confessions from employees in his chains of businesses are also pointer to the fact that Sampson promotes an ideology of cohabitation. His criteria for hiring running hands for his investments have been strictly on excellence and capacity, above favouritism on ethnic or other clumsy basis that commonly promote segregation. Having often expressed, at formal and informal settings, his uncompromising stance for excellence, his focus has insistently been on value, as much as it can contribute towards progressing the course in hand.
Any wonder how he stands out among the crowd in every area of responsibility he mans? Reason is simply because where people see rock as a hard stone, same is to him a raw material that can be melted and used for very productive purposes. One with such quality can turn a bleak situation into fortunes. So to my fellow electorates in Eket senatorial district, as you think of representation come 2023, here is just introducing to you, Ekong Sampson.
Ubong Sampson (08021419939) writes from Ata Idung Minya, Mkpat Enin LGA.