Governor Emmanuel, COVID-19 and crisis management
At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady. She started screaming out of fear. With a panic-stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach. Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.
The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away, but it landed on another lady in the group. Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama. The waiter rushed forward to their rescue. In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter. The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behaviour of the cockroach on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.
Above presents a picture of the ability and inability of many a person to manage crisis and attitude to crisis situation as postulated in the Cockroach Management Theory by Sundar Pichai.
In his conclusion, Pichai reasoned that it was not the cockroach, but the inability of those people to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach, that disturbed the ladies. Thus, while the ladies reacted without getting any positive result, the waiter responded to the situation in a perfect manner.
A crisis comes in different shades and colours and managing it, is one of the numerous challenges confronting humans on a daily basis. Some may be predictable while others are unpredictable. At times, it could be intrapersonal, interpersonal and in some cases, global in nature like Covid-19.
In whatever nature, form and shade the crisis comes, the outcome whether successful or not would largely depend on the attitude, knowledge and confidence level of the crisis manager.
The insurgence of the COVID-19 has once again thrown up the leadership capacity in crisis management by state governors and heads of government of many nations.
While some leaders have been blamed by their citizens for the poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic owing to their lackadaisical approach to curtailing the number of deaths, others have been commended for leading the fight from the front.
Interestingly, just as, it may not be the shouting of bosses in the office that disturb us, but our inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shout, so it may not be the noise of the minority members of the opposition who criticize every step of a leader in the handling of the situation but the ability or attitude of the leader towards the generated noise.
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom state, even in much better ways than the waiter in the Pichai’s theory has oftentimes shown a legendary prowess in responding to the crisis that is far more complicated than the cockroach analogy. In doing that, he has always led in the front, maintained a positive attitude and gave hope that the solution was realizable.
Good enough, the Governor is not new to crisis management. For instance, he successfully managed the economic recession of 2016. While most of his counterparts ran to the centre for bailout funds to pay salaries of their employees, and others even with bail-out funds owed salaries for ten months or more, Governor Emmanuel expertly navigated the troubled waters of recession without owing salaries and pensions.
Needless to point out that even at close shave with a fatality, the governor has always risen to the occasion in showing exemplary leadership by leading in front. Many are appreciative of the strength and confidence he exuded in the management of the December 10, 2016 Reigners’ Church collapse crisis which led to the control of the death toll and rapid treatment of the victims.
Regardless, Governor Emmanuel also proved bookmakers wrong in their assumptions that Akwa Ibom was a flashpoint of the 2019 elections. By his peaceful mien, godliness and pursuit of peace with all men, he refused to be distracted by the sounds of the drums of war beaten by the Warsaw saw war political warlords.
In a rare exhibition of the character of the biblical Zedekiah, on the eve of the governorship elections, Governor Emmanuel went to the Latter House Chapel and offered a prayer to God. He requested God to honour His name against those who taunted the Only God mantra.
Moreso, he prayed for the peaceful election, echoing the words similar to that of former President Goodluck Johnathan that “his ambition and that of any politician was not worth the blood of any innocent person”. The result was that the “mercenaries and militants investors” brought in from Edo and Rivers states by the opposition were either arrested or retreated from the state without firing a shot.
Today, just about a year after that, the Governor is again called to the task of managing yet another crisis of a different dimension that has already sent over 95000 persons to their early graves in places like the United States alone and over three million worldwide.
Though no one planned for the pandemic of this magnitude, Governor Emmanuel, as usual, has shown himself ready to confront the pandemic headlong. Recalled that while others trembled out of fear and reacted to the pandemic by intuition, the Governor, like that waiter, studied the situation, exuded confidence and took appropriate steps that have paid off.
Rather than reacting to issues or playing to the gallery by jumping in front of a moving truck, talking tough or sending his exco members and aides to keep vigil at the motor parks and boundaries, the governor adopted a digital approach to checking influx of people into the state.
Knowing that the dissemination of accurate and factual information is key to crisis management the governor ensures that this is done for the citizens and residents to be kept abreast of measures the government have taken to contain the pandemic.
Within the last two months, the governor in a bit to updating the people on the progress made in the fight against the pandemic has had at least three statewide special broadcasts, three media live interactions beaming across all social networks, radio and television as well as two press conferences. These are besides the frequent briefings through his Secretary to the State Government and Chairman of the Incident Management Committee Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem.
Perhaps, to show that those infected are still humans and should not be treated like animals by keeping them in makeshift canopies, caravans and tents at playing grounds, the governor ensured that there is a well-furnished isolation centre at the Ibom Specialty Hospital as well as initiated and completed a state-of-the-art 300-bed isolation centre in Ituk Mbang in just about 30 days awaiting commissioning.
Besides, the governor has taken steps to ensure a quick recovery of the state from the pangs of Covid-19 by setting up a committee for the economic reconstruction of the state, the Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery Committee, headed by renowned economists Prof Akpan Ekpo.
Mindful of the fact that times may be difficult and no volume of palliatives would be sufficient to satisfy the over six million Akwa Ibom people, the governor, in a statewide radio and television broadcast empathized that he also feels the pain and he is together as always with the people.
There are no magical words that could be so soothing and reassuring than hearing Governor Emmanuel say “you have entrusted me with the responsibility of leading you and on this issue as with all other issues, I will continue to lead you from the front”, adding “I can promise you that we will leave no stone unturned in the fight against this pandemic”.
“We may have been bruised but we will not be broken, while hoping for the best, we will prepare for the worst but rest assured that whatever that worst may be, it will not break us.
“I am hopeful that with God on our side, this pandemic shall pass and we will be able to say that we have been counted and not one of us is missing”, he enthused.
Macauley, a journalist writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State
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