In a political era where even the highest office holders have adopted ‘there is no money in the system as a slogan, Mr. Emmanuel Nicholas, a former musician and now the special assistant to the governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has built six houses for widows and less privileged persons among other charity works within the Uruan community where he hails from.
In this interview, Nicholas told UDEME UTIP why he has chosen to undergo works of charity.
Can we meet you please?
My name is Emmanuel Nicholas, from Uruan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. I am the S.A to the governor on research and documentation.
In an administration where political office holders are complaining of paucity of funds, you are deep into charity. Are you trying to score political goals?
I am not going into charity to score political goals. I am doing it because I came from a very low background. Growing up, I went through hardship and now looking back to what God has done for me, I have a reason to give back to my society. It is my way of saying thank you to God for all he has done for me. The fact that I’m here today is the Lord’s doing.When I visit my community and see the people’s standard of living, I feel duty bound to alleviate their suffering by providing basic amenities. I also draw my inspiration from the governor’s wife, Dr.Mrs Martha Udom Emmanuel who has done so much for the less privileged.
How many houses have you built so far in Shelter of Hope project and how many more are you hoping to build?
So far, I have completed four building projects which have all been commissioned by the governor’s wife. Two others are currently on-going. All of them are bungalows with three bedrooms and complete borehole system. I have rebuilt two palaces; those of the village head of Nnaenin and Anekpa. Both were razed during the crisis between Anekpa and Nnaenin. I am doing all these to thank God for bringing me this far.
Do you have any sponsor or counterpart funding anywhere?
If you look around, since I started working with the governor, I have not built one house for myself. All my earnings have been used in building houses for the needy. I have also bought four mini buses and 12 motorcycles for youths in my community. I have awarded scholarships to some people. There are about 10 of them in the tertiary institutions and many more in the primary and secondary institutions who I help with school fees and other necessary educational tools. I have attracted three classroom blocks, renovation of four classrooms and two new classroom blocks with four classrooms in each to Idaha Secondary School, which is my alma mater.
It isn’t just about building houses for the less privileged. My mission was to take that shelter of hope to the four clans of Uruan. Today, it is accomplished. I have built two in my clan, one in the south east and south south. Altogether, I have about six structures for the less privileged in this dispensation. I don’t have a sponsor. I don’t take money from anyone.
All I do is take the little I’m earning and give it back. At times it takes me 6-10 months to finish a building. As I get money, I give little by little. My work is self sponsored. Apart from that, I ensure that I give rice and wrappers to my community women during festive periods like Christmas and Easter. I can say that for the past 13 years, I have been doing that for the women of my ward especially the aged. My ward consists of eight villages and sometimes it overflows to other wards around us. On my birthday, the 25th of December, I celebrate with them and they prayed for me.
Are you saying that any S.A to the Governor who is willing can do what you are doing?
This office is a platform. The governor has provided a platform for us and it all depends on how we use it. I produce a magazine called ‘Superior Performance Digest’. The advert rate of the magazine is between #500,000 to #1,500,000. I have produced up to 10 editions of the magazine and earn nothing less than ten million naira from each edition, mostly from adverts and people who want to showcase their projects. I project what the governor has done; roads, education, industries, etc. Apart from my salary, that is another source of income for me.
As an aid to the governor, if you’re creative you could make more money from your office without going to the government for sponsorship. I have not collected any money from the government to produce that magazine. I haven’t written any memo to the governor for financial assistance to produce that magazine. I produce it from the proceeds of the publications. When the present Chief of staff to the governor was the commissioner, Ministry of Works, he was always very supportive. Most times we projected his Ministry and he paid for it. What I’m saying is, the income from the magazine has really helped me to achieve all that I have achieved today.
Recently, you were on the news for negative reasons; would you like to talk about that?
I wouldn’t want to say anything about that because the report is with the police. You can only get the report from the police but I assure you that 99.9 per centof those publications are false.
What is your political ambition in the near future?
The future belongs to God. He alone can see the future and so he makes the decision. Whatever God has predestined me to be is what I will be.
Every man has ambition but if it is not the will of God it cannot come to pass. My future is hidden in the grace of God. That is my belief.
You were a musician. How did you get to where you are politically?
Just a few days ago, a musician in Uganda stood election against a man that everybody was running away from . From BBC reports and all the reports from the western media, the musician is reported to have scored higher votes in the election, though it was rigged in favour of the incumbent. Even with the official report that was published, Bobby Wine had obviously tried. That shows that anybody can become a leader from any profession. The major requirements are the qualities of a leader. In 2002, I produced a jingle for Peter Odili, during the flag off of his south-south campaign, I was invited by Hilda Dokubo to perform.
I was introduced as an Akwa Ibom musician based in Lagos and as the producer of the jingle. I was invited by Obong Victor Attah, then the governor of the state, to come over to Akwa Ibom and so I came over. I worked with him, produced a lot of jingles and did many other things. While working with him, I was also writing. Writing has been part of me from my childhood. I remember writing a love letter for my friend who couldn’t write one for his girlfriend in class 3. My Fine Arts teacher, now late; Mr Ukut, got hold of the letter. After reading it, he was sure that my friend hadn’t written the letter. He demanded that the original writer be produced and I was mentioned.
Writing has always been part of me. While in Lagos, I worked with Charley Boy and I was writing lines for his shows. I was also writing for Amen Magazine Purely Entertainment. When I came to Akwa Ibom, I was writing political features with Update Newspaper. That gave me the first opportunity and I started writing for The Pioneer. People like Charles Etim Ette encouraged me, edited my stories to conform with Pioneer House style. I grew from there. I read science before, so I decided to go back to school to study law to acquire a better platform in my writing. I did Law in Open University. I am currently doing my Masters in legal drafting. That is in fact, how I got to where I am now.
Given an opportunity, where would you want to be in the political sphere?
One of the reasons I went back to school to study law is that, I see myself as a parliamentarian. I see myself as someone who can advocate for the people, attract good developmental projects to my people. I would like to be a parliamentarian.