May 18, 2021

Umoh Eno: A Switch From Entrepreneurship to Public Service

Umoh Eno

“I think there’s no higher calling in terms of a career than public service, which is a chance to make a difference in people’s lives and improve the world”. Jack Lew

Aluu Vincent and Patrick Reuben

It is a given that the role of entrepreneurship in the development of any society and the progress of any economy cannot be overstressed. It is also not in doubt that it takes men and women with entrepreneurial acumen and business savvy to stimulate economic activities of any given enclave.

The absence of such entrepreneurially minded persons spells doom for any society and they are the risk-takers and shock absorbers that make life worth living for others. They are also the ones that support the wheel of governance of a nation. From the US to the UK, to Asia and down to Africa, the story is rife with the impact of entrepreneurs in governance, politics, economy and even religion.

God’s own state, Akwa Ibom, is replete with top businessmen who have risen from crass poverty to sheer prosperity; those who have parlayed influence into affluence and those who fell off a cliff and built a plane on their way down. They are energetic and enthusiastic, uncompromising, yet realistic; impossibility has no space in their lexicons. With just tenacity of purpose and a strong devotion to their dreams, they bestride, successfully, the gap between creativity and commerce.

Also read: Gov Emmanuel says conventional method still best in tackling insecurity

One of such personages who rings a bell as an entrepreneur of no mean repute is the founder of Royalty Group and Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, Pastor Umoh Eno. As far as business ideas and innovations are concerned, the fair-skinned and handsome gangling dude turns nothing down, except the collar of his shirt. Simply put, Pastor Umoh has a reputation for good judgment, fair dealing, exactness, and rectitude – which jointly constitute the essence of his good fortune.

From hospitality, property and real estate, to clean water provision, dry cleaning, oil and gas, Umoh’s protean productivity and impeccable business acumen, spotting goldmine where many see landmines, have set him apart from the crowd. He embodies so much of what makes perfection an onerous yet enviable trait. He is a very savvy entrepreneur and imaginative visionary. But none of that influences his personal estimation of his competence and self-worth; despite his competency and acclaim, he affects a humble poise.

What has become Royalty Group today actually started as Royalty Hotels and Recreations Limited in 1997? Pastor Umoh has moulded the brand into a conglomerate with strategic business interests spanning manufacturing, eatery, beverages, laundry and dry cleaning, material management and industrial catering in the oil and gas sector. His firms include Royalty Hotels, Signature by Royalty, Royalty Apartments, Akwa Fresh Portable Water, Royalty Economy Lodge, Big Daddy Coffee, Laundry Pro and Dry cleaning, providing means of livelihood to more than 1000 Akwa Ibomites and indirect jobs to several other thousands.

Pastor Umoh is a humble fellow and this reflects in all his dealing and daily affairs. He believes that the first test of a truly great man is in his humility. He is a very unassuming gentleman who considers all as equals and never segregates. His doors both home and office are always accessible to all. I have been privileged to have a brief rapport with Pastor Umoh at the Political Science Department of the University of Uyo. While he was pursuing a PhD, yours sincerely was pursuing a now rested MSc in Public Administration. We have had a couple of discussions on the Akwa Ibom project, entrepreneurship, youth empowerment and the way forward for Nigeria. His status never barred him from sharing coffee with me not offered his input on topical issues not minding the fact that our social incline differs. He is a great guy and a resource to be with round the clock.

Our revered Pastor is a God-fearing gentleman knowing that his first duty in life is to serve God and then humanity. He is a visionary Christian leader, an ordained Apostle in the Body of Christ and the Under Shepherd of All Nations Christian Ministry Int’l, a church called to build a community of Christian believers that transcends race, tribe, colour into a kingdom-focused church.

Like Jack Lew enthused, “I think there’s no higher calling in terms of a career than public service, which is a chance to make a difference in people’s lives and improve the world”. Having a fair knowledge of the import of service to humanity, Umoh was to switch over to public service, one of the highest callings, any living can attain in a bid to serve his fellow human.

Only recently he was appointed Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Lands and Water Resources.

While taking over as Commissioner, the accomplished Entrepreneur, and turnaround management consultant with over 2000 employees, said, “Ministry of Lands is very strategic in the development of any society as every development effort involves land. I want to thank His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel for the privilege he has given to us to serve and to be part of his completion agenda. My mission is to coordinate what everybody does, by working with the Permanent Secretary and all of us in a way that we can render very quick, smart service to the state”

The impact of Umoh Eno in Akwa Ibom State cannot be over-emphasised. Like a colossus, he bestrides the hospitality sector and has to his name one of the very best in terms of hotels and service apartments thus helping to boost the state economy, create employment and wealth for the people. Through his business indulgences, he has contributed to transforming the state known for its civil service nomenclature to a commercial hub in Nigeria. He has created thousands of direct and indirect jobs thus helping to improve the living standard of Akwa Ibomites.

In specific terms and frankly speaking, it would not be a profanation to say that Pastor Umoh is not a run-of-the-mill successful Entrepreneur fixated on lining his pocket and thriving on cronyism. He thrives rather on giving back to society more than he has ever made from it without recourse to tokenism.

There are strong rumours from king maker’s grapevine that Pastor Umoh may be favourably disposed to the Number One Seat at Hilltop Mansion come 2023. Let me add that should he think towards such, it is within his constitutional right to vie for any office of the land. It will indeed be a blessing to have such an accomplished entrepreneur, consummate producer and manager of money, material, man and other resources, pilot the affairs of the state. It is trite to also aver that whoever will take over from Udom Emmanuel must not only key into the industrialisation agenda of the governor but must have been one who has pioneered job and wealth creation efforts, tested, and assisted in driving industrialization. That way, continuity and further improvement of the economy and lives of the people can be guaranteed.

Those urging Umoh to throw his hat into the ring acknowledges his astute business demeanour and believes that he will use his wealth of experience, pedigree, exposure and connections to ensure that they get the very best of democratic dividend. It goes without saying that when a man accomplishes much as a corporate player, he should be admitted into the public office so that his successes and accomplishments will rub off on those he wants to lead. Should Umoh accede to their demands, it will largely be because of his resolve to add his quota to the service of the Akwa Ibom people.

In all, Umoh brings clarity of purpose to his work; he is a good listener who comes to the table, not with some preset notion of distrust but an open mind; he asks all the tough questions and tries to find the solutions. His process is simple: Umoh who has paid his dues in the business world has built a career on combining daring, dexterous and largely inspirational initiatives with diligent application that incorporates everything from snatches of dependable formulae to the most improbable exploits.

He is no overnight sensation. In fact, he achieved success the old-fashioned way: he earned it. He worked hard and stayed humble. He lives the right way; he plays the right way. But however, you choose to see him, the story of Umoh remains the stuff gallant dreams are made of. Unlike many of his peers, his rise to eminence is as much a product of unrelenting will and his astounding ability to pirouette himself from obscurity to entrepreneurial acclaim by the jockstraps and now heading towards an unblemished public service.

Like the leader of the branded Gang. Patrick Reuben told me, the slogan for 2023 will be Akwa Ubok Abasi meaning the mighty hand of God in the similitude of Only God. He said it will be an era for grooming, celebrating, educating and refreshing more people in the tilt towards God’s heart; depicting a new norm, policy direction and continuous transformation in governance narrative and inculcation in the people that government can indeed work depending on who is on the saddle. Pastor Umoh Eno no doubt aptly fits into the Akwa Ibok Abasi philosophy as propagated by Patrick Reuben and will ensure that God’s mighty hand rests on God’s own state should he become the numero uno of the state.

Pastor Umoh’s thriving career began in 1982 when he joined the banking industry, working with Union Bank of Nigeria, and later ventured into the private business working with Bertola Machine Tools between 1985 to 1990. He was later headhunted to Norman Holdings Limited from 1990 to 1997 where he left as the Group General Manager (GGM), Commercial Services to establish Royalty Hotels and Recreations Limited in 1997. He has served as Chairman of Akwa Ibom Hotels and Tourism Board from 2004-2007. He’s the two (2) Star Paul Haris Fellow of Rotary Club of Eket District 9140 and has received several awards for his public-spirited life. An alumnus of Pan-African University’s Lagos Business School (LBS) and a recipient of the National Productivity Award is a Fellow of Nigerian Catering & Hotel Institute (FNCHI). He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Uyo is currently pursuing a PhD programme in the same university.

He is a good social mixer who believes in hard work, integrity and strong character. He is the author of several books including, Wealth Creation – God’s Way, Break Forth, Exercising Your Dominion Mandate, Dream Again and Marks of a Disciple. He is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Hospitality Connect and The Appetizer Magazines and a regular contributor to Christian journals and is in high demand as Speaker in many public forums. He is married to Pastor (Mrs.) Patience Eno; they are blessed with children and grandchildren.