Kingsley Emu: Technocrat versed in policy and economics by Toni Kan Onwordi

A few days after the announcement of Dr. Kingsley Emu as the substantive Secretary to the State Government of Delta state, a fellow member of a WhatsApp group made up of Delta state professionals of various stripes had asked in wonder – Na who be dis Kingsley Emu sef?

The question had elicited many answers with many describing him as a technocrat, a former banker, successful businessman, an experienced corporate mandarin and brilliant manager of men and resources.

Later that evening, away from WhatsApp and ruminating over my day, the question roiled my mind and has ultimately become the trigger for this piece. Who is Kingsley Emu and why was he among the first principal officers to be announced by Delta state Governor, His Excellency Rt. Honourable Sheriff Francis Orohwedor Oborevwori.

A quick disclaimer; Kingsley Emu was my boss at Continental Trust Bank, which morphed from MBCOMM and was promoted by Ike Nwabuoku and Tony Elumelu. That was where I first met him and became acquainted.

In the intervening yawn of time, Kingsley Emu the banker would berth at different financial institutions before taking his intellectual know-how and financial wizardry to the corridors of power at Delta state.

A native of Owanta in Ika North Local Government Area, Kingsley Emu graduated with a first degree in sociology from the University of Ibadan. He would return to his alma mater to pick up two more degrees, first a Masters in Industrial Sociology and another in Managerial Psychology (MMP).

In his continuing quest for academic excellence, Kingsley Emu became part of the pioneer cohort of the ESUT Business School Lagos from where he obtained a Masters in Business Administration (Marketing) in 1997.

He would go on to crown his academic endeavours with a doctorate in Management, with specialisation in Organisational Leadership from the University of Phoenix, Arizona, USA in 2012.

After over two decades in banking which began at the apex bank and evolved over time with stints in merchant, commercial and investment banking, Kingsley Emu pivoted to the public sector as a key figure in the Delta state government.

As a technocrat Emu has served at various times and held portfolios as the Honourable Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Commissioner for Commerce and Industry and Chief Economic Adviser to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa before his appointment as Secretary to the State Government in the present administration.

And it is his present appointment as Secretary to the State Government that elicited the question which triggered this piece. What does an SSG do?

The SSG is the right-hand man to the chief executive of a state; most often a technocrat and subject matter expert in one or more fields, he or she is key to policy interpretation, formulation and implementation. The SSG is also integral to the coordination of the multifarious activities of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) in line with the aspiration and policies and agenda of the administration.

To borrow an Italian American term, the SSG is the governor’s Consigliere, his sounding board, adviser and counselor.

So, what qualifies Kingsley Emu for this position? To answer this question we must consider both physical and intellectual attributes. Kingsley Emu is a physical and intellectual giant. Physically imposing, he is the kind of man you describe as being “head and shoulders” above equals. Friendly and personable, he is the kind of man who steps into a room and owns it.

He is fluent in the language of policy, finance and economy having parlayed insights and experiences gained from his various stints in leadership positions in banking into his own personal businesses. His hospitality business continues to boom in Asaba despite the sprouting of new hotels almost on a daily basis.

As a sociologist and psychologist, Emu is a keen student of human behavior with a firm handle on human motivation and action. As a business and marketing expert, he understands how markets evolve and how policies can impact those markets for good or for ill.

Governance and policy formulation demand intellection, so his PhD in organisational leadership places him in pole position to coordinate the disparate strands of government while remaining on message policy wise.

His previous incarnations in government with remits running the gamut from commerce to budget and economic planning means that Kingsley Emu as SSG, will possess historical insights that would be invaluable to the economic team of Sheriff Oborevwori especially as the governor proceeds to implement his M.O.R.E agenda which hopes to impact areas that include job Creation, high GDP & IGR Generation, Capital Inflow, export of raw and processed agricultural products, improved economy and infrastructural facilities, as well as improved educational and healthcare systems amongst others.

Achieving these lofty ambitions requires commitment and resolve as well as the contribution of technocrats and key actors with a keen understanding not just of policy formulation but how those policies affect the citizenry in the short and long terms.

As immediate past head of the Delta State Economic Management Team (EMT), Kingsley Emu will face no hurdles in working with or coordinating the work of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and the Technical Working Group (TWG) which were instrumental in putting together the Medium Term Development Plan II (DSMDP II) (2020 – 2023) which will no doubt be used as reference material for the implementation of Governor Oborevwori’s M.O.R.E agenda.

Developed as a successor Plan to the first plan (2016-2019), the DSMDP II sought to “consolidate the gains made under the ”S.M.A.R.T” Agenda and build on the State’s strength” based on a theory of change (ToC) focused on identifying “the challenges hindering socio-economic growth and development, the opportunities to be harnessed in addressing these challenges, as well as strategies, interventions and programmes that will enable the achievement of the desired outcomes.”

The focus of the ToC that has informed the DSMDP II is in sync with the M.O.R.E agenda and so already has a key driver who is no stranger to the policy premise and direction.

In answering that question posed on WhatsApp, one can then say that Kingsley Emu is the SSG of Delta state, a technocrat versed in policy, leadership and finance.

         Toni Kan Onwordi, writer and PR and Developmental expert writes from London

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