Extra: What is Udom Inoyo doing right?
By John Ntekim
One would wonder why the name of the Vice Chairman of Exxon Mobil affiliates in Nigeria, Mr. Udom Inoyo has been used frequently, particularly in the media for several years, yet, has never been mentioned in a scandalous circumstance, in a country where high-profile personalities in the public and private sectors, especially those who contribute to the political system in their home states like Inoyo has been doing since in the 90s, are often accused, indicted and sometimes convicted in cases of impropriety, usually underscored by greed and craze for flamboyance.
It is either he is doing what most people are not doing, or he is doing what most people are doing differently. Whichever way, the implication here is that he must be paying attention to his reputation and he knows contentment.
Exxon Mobil, one of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world, is known for high level of discipline and strict supervision its personnel are faced with. This gives insight into the amount of prudence and self regulation expected of persons in the upper echelon of such a reputable firm. Obviously, the Nsit Ubium born lawyer, Inoyo is making good representation of his state and country.
Also, in our space which is occupied largely by many rich or/and successful people who display overbearing arrogance and huffiness, live lavishly and extravagantly, Mr. Udom Inoyo appears a complete departure from the par. Those who know him closely describe him as one honest, levelheaded, deeply intelligent, soft-spoken and courageous individual, who exhibits unfeigned humility and simplicity. Moreso, a senior citizen of his local government area of origin recently explained that Udom’s social status does not account for the respect he commands, rather his modesty and contagious sense of morality do.
A young university student who had a phone conversation with him for the first time has narrated how Udom Inoyo’s sense of humour and attentiveness suddenly made him confident enough to sustain a long phone conversation, notwithstanding unfamiliarity, age and class difference.
From my evaluation, Mr. Udom Inoyo shares a few personal attributes like Kennet Kaunda, including calmness and humility with another Akwa Ibom born billionaire oil and gas entrepreneur, Mr. Akanimo Udofia, who always turns out in well-cut suits like Mr. Inoyo. ‘AK47’ as fondly called is CEO/Managing Director of Desicon Engineering Ltd. Both men have had their names endlessly reoccur in public domain for decades, without being involved in derogatory nor scandalous reports. This is suggestive of an affinity between pride and infamy. Thus, their lifestyles keep them above the fray of image management in the media, for they have got no question marks added to their nomenclatures.
Udofia and Inoyo are like two peas in a pod. The duo have shown that their personal achievements and financial strengths are not licences for them to recede from the virtues of integrity, modesty and simplicity.
Inoyo it is who has through his brainchild, the Inoyo Toro Foundation, invested unceasingly in the education of Akwa Ibom children, made orphans and widows smile, sponsored human resource development programmes for hundreds of young people and encouraged growth of SMEs to eradicate poverty, without the usual noisy fanfare, hype and self-glorification often adopted by attention seekers in this clime. Story of his contributions to community and humanitarian services would make topic for subsequent examination and publication.
However, it is heartening sometimes to recall that men in the mould of Udom Inoyo still exist, mixing excellence with humanness and opulence with simplicity, in a world where luxury, self-esteem and flamboyance seem overwhelming.
Pride goes before a fall and meekness often results in exaltation. Nature is so rigid that nothing can defy its ravages, not money, not fame. In the words of Mother Teresa, “If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”
Verged on less attention to self importance, Mr. Inoyo’s modesty is a lesson to other ‘big men’, on the moderateness associated with fortune and the gentility and that comes with real strength. Maybe this is where Barr. Udom Inoyo is getting it right. Little wonder he always has his name and fame going ahead of him.
By the way, could it be that Inoyo’s undented name and image have lasted this long only because he has never ran for a public office in Nigeria? Is it conspicuously true that even good men loose their reputations to politics of mudslinging and character assassination in Nigeria, following the desperation of their opponents? Could this be why many successful professionals and entrepreneurs shy away from the game of politics? If this impression about our polity is anything to go by, to whose advantage and at whose expense is such detestable practice? Can there ever be an end to it? Maybe we should answer these questions individually and keep the responses to ourselves.
My interest in this literary communion is to remind readers that good men still exist silently.
John Ntekim is an Uyo based public affairs analyst.