By Osondu Ahirika
Yesterday, it dawned on me that, I have been mute since the immediate past Commissioner for Works, Akwa Ibom State, Mr Ephraim Inyangeyen fully resumed at his new station as Chief of Staff, COS, to Governor Udom Emmanuel.
My close pal, Unyime Henry, had earlier prodded me to write about Mr Inyangeyen as COS, and I said I would.
Truth is, in that ‘reclining’ Office, the occupant is more often, seen and not heard, or rarely seen nor heard from, because of the enormous task of working strenuously behind the scenes, to help stabilize the Government and ensure his boss succeeds.
When again, Mr Henry popped up with that challenge yesterday, Sunday, August 30, I realized how much people are beginning to miss the hitherto ubiquitous presence and constant resonation of the workaholic Mr Inyangeyen.
Before the elevation came on June 19, 2020, designating him substantive COS to the Governor, Mr Inyangeyen had a stellar five years as Works Commissioner. A very large part of those years saw Ephraim Inyangeyen lead his team of Ministry of Works top Management Staff, Engineers and the Press crew, touring the many construction sites across the entire State.
There were days we trekked 15km or more, under rain or scorching sun, verifying structures marked for compensation and demolition and ensuring detailed assessment of work done on contracts awarded. Beginning early in the morning and retiring late at dusk, he never compromised with contractors on standards.
Alas, since July, when he finally stepped aside as Supervising Commissioner for Works, it now looks like a decade of inactivity to me, of missing the delightful engagement of watching and understudying a proactive, patriotic, perfectionist; render wholehearted public service, to meet the expectations of God, his immediate Boss and the society at large.
Alas, that everyday circulation came with its collaterals. He was vehemently abused by some just as he enjoyed the conspicuous adulation of many more. He was called names, from the good, the bad, to the ugly. Lots of tales, with truths, half truths and untruths were endlessly spun around him. And yes! Very well so, he suffered an overdose of blackmail from the hawks in the system.
Let me however assure my friend Henry, and others, who like him, share those thoughts, that, Mr Ephraim Inyangeyen is not out of sight or mind. His reach looms large.
In his new station as COS, Mr Inyangeyen reminds me of the Ancient Chinese Parables, Yu Hsiu Sen, on the Five Virtues of the Cock. Permit that I recast it hereunder
“While serving under the Duke Ai of Lu, T’ien Jao, resenting his obscure position, said tto his master, “I am going to wander far away like a snow goose.”
“What do you mean by that?” inquired the Duke. “Do you see the cock?” said T’ien Jao in reply, its crest is a symbol of civility; its powerful talons suggest strength; its daring to fight any enemy denotes courage; its instinct to invite others whenever food is obtained shows benevolence; and last but not least, its punctuality in keeping the time through the night gives us an example of veracity. In spite, however, of these five virtues, the cock is daily killed to fill a dish on your table. Why? The reason is that it is found within our reach.
On the other hand, the snow goose traverses in one flight a thousand. Resting in your garden, it preys on your fishes and turtles and pecks your millet. Though devoid of any of the cock’s five virtues, yet you prize this bird for the sake of its scarcity. This being so, I shall fly far like a snow goose.
Currently, I believe the prize of Mr Inyangeyen is soaring away like the snow goose. He hovers above and in the hearts of the people. The absence of his unequivocal public commentaries now inflames our want for a public officer unafraid to speak his mind in unwavering defense of his convictions.
As the Completion Agenda winds down with barely 2 years and six months to go, we will continue to keep Inyangeyen with an eagle eyes view in our minds.