SAMPSON IDIONG: The Unassuming Grand Commander of Akwa Ibom Youths

Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.

-John C. Maxwell

In life, it is not easy to command followership and keep them for long. People tend to follow others for varied reasons.

While some do so based on monetary gains, others do it to so their lives can be better for it. One youth and Akwa Ibomite who has had great influence in the lives of youths in the state is Prince Sampson Idiong, younger brother to Her Excellency, Deaconess Martha Udom Emmanuel, Wife of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State and SSA to the Governor on Inter-ministerial and Direct Labour Projects. Anywhere you see Prince Idiong, you will see scores of youths chanting commander, commander, commander, commander and thronging behind him like flock of sheep following the shepherd.

I barely know much about Prince Idiong but the few times I have seen him around campaign grounds both in Oruk Anam and Ukanafun has left a lasting impression on me. Here is a man who chooses his words when he talks and appears simplistic in life, always thinking of what he would do to make life better for others. He is a man who does not hold back his support and encouragement from those who need them especially those who does not have the capacity to live for themselves. Here is a man who knows that what he owns he received from the Supreme Being and is only a custodian. Little wonder, youths throng around him as practically worships the ground he stands or walks. In each instance, it appears he is the one contesting the elections.

The way he conversed with me though for the first time threw me off-balance. I was expecting to see an officious and stern looking man. Alas I was wrong because there was no barrier or demarcation as some of our political leaders would behave. He was free with me and contributed intelligently while our talk lasted. I came to realize that we learn the meaning of life when we meet someone who gives our lives a whole new meaning.

I appreciated this gesture inwardly because in the course of my 12 years sojourn in Akwa Ibom State, I have had close interactions with prominent politicians and personalities, only few of them thinks and act like Sampson. Our discussion veered into other areas of interest; I was encouraged at the grasp with which Prince Sampson expatiated on issues. In fact, he know a little of everything. He told me of his love for His Excellency Mr Udom Emmanuel, his in-law and how he intends to ensure that the governor succeeds in his avowed commitment to leave Akwa Ibo better than he met it. He also told me that one of the ways he intends to support the governor is to be raising disciples and followers for His Excellency. When I inquired to know why he said, ‘You know Akwa Ibom state is PDP. My plan is to use available resources and assist my people in Oruk Anam and beyond to earn a living and take care of their needs. My intention is to raise the next generation of entrepreneurs who would train others and become committed to the ideals of Dakkada. When they are supported to stand on their own, they will not forget who helped them when they needed fresh air.’

The aim of Sampson is to ensure that Oruk Anam is secure and locked down for Udom Emmanuel come 2019 and that no single vote will go to another political party except the PDP. He even told me that he will spend much of his time talking to his people to get their PVCs and vote for Udom Emmanuel come 2019. To achieve this, he has gone round planting trees not knowing who would sit on them. He has also assisted scores of his people own mini buses and Motor bikes to earn a living. He has also assisted a lot others to start-up businesses of their choice, groomed and transformed boys to men, paid school fees for indigent students, settle hospital bills for several others, help secure employment for many more and attributes same to His Excellency. He knows that democracy cannot succeed if the people are hungry; so he has to first of all provide for their needs before telling them about the good works of Mr Udom Emmanuel. As a politician, he would have gone to the press to blow his trumpet as the doer of the deed. Na na, he chose to give the credit to His Excellency Mr Udom Emmanuel. This for me is exemplary and worthy of emulation.
What marvelled me the most was the conviction, passion and patriotism with which Sampson spoke about Akwa Ibom state and Mr Udom Emmanuel, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State. Truly, this man has a heart of service and he loves the state even more than he loves his own life. The way he spoke about Udom Gabriel Emmanuel and his administration points to one fact; Sampson is one man whose loyalty and commitment to a course is never in doubt. If he stands by you in a fight; go to sleep because he has what it takes to stand by you. His desire is to see Akwa Ibom an egalitarian state where there will be milk and honey for all inhabitants to share and be merry. His preference for state exigency over private and parochial considerations has made very many refer to him as a statesman. Statesmanship involves having a community heart; a philanthropic and humanitarian disposition. This is lesson number one I learnt from my meeting with him.

Nothing is ever said of a man who lay dead on the tomb except of the good deeds he wroth while alive. Even when family members render funeral oration of the departed, you often hear them say, “My father was a good man and he lived for others”. I said the same thing when I buried my late father few years gone (May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace). I paid glowing tribute to my Dad on how accommodating he was and was willing to share with others. This goes to underscore the importance of being kind to others no matter how small the kindness was. It speaks volume of the level of greed in us and the ability in us to share the little we have with others. J.R Miller it was who notes that, “The only thing that walks back from the tomb with the mourners and refuses to be buried is the character of a man. This is true. What a man is survives him for it can never be buried”.

Prince Sampson radiates kindness. He speaks the language of kindness to the letter; a philanthropist to the core and carrier of peoples’ burden. He has been kind to one and to many. Based on my personal assessment, Sampson remains one Akwa Ibomite whose existential humanism is unequal. Let the truth be told; charity is more than giving money to the poor. It is the giving of our hearts, time, talents and energies to lighten the lives of others rich or poor. I do hear people say: Oh if I were only rich, I would do great things to help people. But we all can be rich in love and generosity like Sampson Idiong. If we give with care, find out the exact wants of those who need our help most, we are giving our own loving interest and concern which is worth more than all the money in the world. Nowadays we think of philanthropists as those who donate big sums of money, yet the word is derived from two Greek words – philos (loving) and anthropos (man) meaning loving man. All of us are capable of being philanthropists by giving of ourselves. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.

Sampson knows that nothing is more liberating than fighting a cause larger than life; something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone. He wants it said of him by those who knew him best, that he always plucked a thistle and planted flower where he thought a flower would grow. He is also aware that he will pass this life once; therefore any kindness he could show to any fellow creature, he wants to do it now instead of deferring or neglecting it for he shall not pass this way again. He also knows that what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.

It was the late Steve Jobs who said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michel Angelo painted, Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say here lived a great sweeper who did his job well”. Sampson has not only done well in helping to push the human race forward but has left a lasting legacy on the sands of time. His meaning of excellence is simply that whatever he tries to do in life, he tries it with all his heart to do well; that whatever he devotes himself to do, he completely gives himself to it; that in great aims and in small, he has always been thoroughly earnest. If we have the likes of Prince Sampson Idiong spread across the 31 local government areas of the state, the rate of anti-social vices would have reduced to the barest modicum.

Like my friend and Prophet Torobong Ekpo said of Sampson Idiong, You are so quiet and humble. You are a good listener and one who count his words. You are a free, detribalized and should I say one who doesn’t take political party affiliations and relationship with the powers that be as a religion. I long to be like you because you have separated politics from relationship, thus the reason your philanthropist gesture flows equally to everyone. We’ve witnessed in this state where cousins to governors behave like god showcasing all manner of arrogance, ego, waywardness and sometimes juvenile delinquency on the same electorates that voted the cousin to power. Today you are a brother to the First lady and In-law to Governor Udom Emmanuel yet many couldn’t SIGHT you in an occasion and recognize (in the cadre of those self-imposed gods) as your simplicity knows no bound. Keep up your good name as it’s far better than all the riches of this world. Your good name not your wealth will likely secure your generation maybe in the same manner that of your fore- father did.

My take on the personage of Prince Sampson Idiong is that he is a maker of men; change agent and transformational leader who transcends his own needs. Sampson is light in place of darkness; model and not a critic, healer and not a carrier, channel through which the needy are satisfied in times of hunger and an ever trusted shoulder that the people can lean on for succour in period of disaster. Surely when the trumpet shall sound, he will be told well-done faithful servant and his abode in heaven will be replete with gold and all the goodies he provided others with while on earth and even more. He is truly Grand Commander of the Youths in the State and Man of the people.

Deacon Aluu Vincent,

Social Commentator, Policy Scientist and Media/HR Consultant writes in from Uyo

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