Onofiok Luke’s Unique Constituency Briefing


Let the man who would be grateful, think of repaying a Kindness, even while receiving it -SENECA. If the word “unique” admitted of comparatives, I would have described Hon. Onofiok Luke’s constituency briefing of Friday 13th December, 2013 at Ikot Edibon, headquarters of Nsit Ubuim LGA, as “most unique”, but this would be more than tautology.

A thing that is unique is unique and this is the aptest  description of this event. On this day, virtually all of Nsit and Ubium of Nsit Ubium LGA of all age brackets and political persuasions emptied themselves into Government Field, Ikot Edibon.

A journalist sitting nearby quipped about Jesus the Christ chiding the multitude whether they came following Him because the other day he had fed them from five loaves and two fish.

Photo credit: Naijaleaks.org

I chipped in that the major cause of the following was His down-to-earth simple message. “come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest”. Under different imperial masters through generations, the Jews had been carrying a yoke, waiting for who would unburden them.
Law number 32 of The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene states that “life is so harsh, so distressing that people who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the desert: everyone flocks to them.

There is great gain in tapping into the fantasies of the masses. Have no doubt that there is hunger and poverty in the land.
Hon. Onofiok Luke was neither manufacturing romance nor conjuring fantasy. His invitation received great response because of his unparalleled affability.

The people of Nsit Ubium love and cherish him; this I have found in more than one occasion that I have attended an event in which he was associated in that local government.

Photo credit: Naijaleaks.org

I remember too, that in the 2011 elections, Etinan Federal Constituency recorded some presence of the All Progressives Grand Alliance through an Ubium young man who aimed to challenge the incumbent Representative of the district, but found he had merely gone to the ocean instead of the village spring to learn how to swim.

Of course, they had sought and obtained my assistance my own way for, what else am I if not a progressive! On this day of Hon Luke in Ikot Edibon, APGA was visibly there.

What also stands out clearly from this event is that taking everything into account, from the souvenir programme right down to the pallets of the guests, Hon. Luke must be expending every bit of what he gets as constituency projects allowance all on the constituency he represents.
This is more or less an indictment if not a model for his colleagues to emulate at both state and federal levels.

Happily, many of them were at Ikot Edibon and their consciences must have tortured them to go and do likewise rather than store up everything to fight for further terms or some higher legislative calling. Only one good turn deserves another.
Hon. Onofiok Luke has added a touch of class to the art of legislative representation at any level, His internship  programme which I had qualified recently as an idea whose time has come, if fully appreciated by his colleagues, not only in Akwa Ibom State but also nationwide, could revolutionize legislation in a manner hitherto  out thought of.
Permit my immodesty if I describe myself as a veteran, career legislative manager to say that the term “empowerment” started gaining currency only recently.

As defined by Hon Luke, the three duties of a legislator are to legislate, to oversee and to represent.These too, are the duties that I had gotten used to in my years of servicing legislators and legislatures.
“Empowerment” was not one of them. Since life itself is dynamic, empowerment has been added quite conveniently and this is the juiciest and most palpable, since it touches life directly.

Only the elite and aware constituents care a hoot about the quality of representation; how many private Member’s Bills he has sponsored and seen through; how many Motions he has moved, or how eloquently, intelligently and effectively he contributes to debates.

Most of these constituents may never have set eyes on a document called Hansard, the Official Report of Debates and Proceedings of the House. Says the Earl of Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, “Knowledge may give weight, but accomplishments give luster, and many more people see than weigh”.

What matters to the average constituent is how their Member has “empowered” them. Political office, whether elective of appointive, is not for the niggardly anymore Especially in this dispensation when their leader, Gov. Godswill Akpabio has amply, demonstrably proved this, who does not emulate him is on his own, to his own detriment. Back to the event itself after the sermonizing.
This crowd-pulling event was not all empowerment which came by way of “Seed Fund for Business Stand-up Phase II. In these a total of 15 women, 10 widows, 10 physically challenged, 34 men, 91 youth benefited.

Constituency Transport Scheme was the largess of 10 young men each from the ten wards of Ubium State Constituency. The traditional rulers, the National Youth Council of Nsit Ubium CAN,  Nsit Ubium and NANS Nsit Ubium also smiled home with buses.

How has Hon. Onofiok Luke fared in the first half of his tenure in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly?
Says he: “In the little over two years that I have been in the House, the legislative impact of Nsit Ubium State Constituency has been strongly felt. I have sponsored five Bills on the floor of the House. Two of these Bills have been passed into Law…Considering that Nsit Ubium is one of the several local government areas in the state which are strongly affected by the activities of sand miners, I sponsored a Bill to regulate sand mining and dredging in the state. This Bill is also undergoing legislative scrutiny.”

The more that he stated in his copious address under the sub-title: “Law-making” may be published in detail sometime, for it is a road map to affective representation which his colleagues should emulate.

In the area of Representation, the honourable Member had this to say: “Through the Finance and Appropriations Committee of the House, a critical committee, I am privileged to be Chairman, I have overseen the appropriation of funds to the state by the House of Assembly. With the spirited contributions of other members of that committee, the 2012 and 2013 appropriation and supplementary appropriation Bills were passed and in time too”.
The Hon. Member has also injected some radical novelty into the process of budgeting known as “participatory budgeting system, in which the Appropriation and Finance committee. “invited stakeholders including traditional rulers, women, the youth, students and the civil societies to a public hearing. This was the first ever public briefing organized by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. The stakeholders made contributions to the 2013 Appropriation Bill that was presented by His Excellency the Governor”.
Those versed with the committee system of the House of Assembly will find that Hon. Onofiok Luke has his fingers in virtually all the major Committees of the House, including Committee on Information of which he is Vice Chairman. This informs his cozy relationship with members of the press in the state.
In the area of representation he said that his campaign promises have been the bedrock of his representation.
To authenticate this statement he has six visible development projects to show. These are spread almost evenly between Nsit and Ubium segments of his constituency and include a town hall, market stalls, primary school block and a water project In co-operation with his other colleague in the Federal Constituency, government attention has been attracted to the dualization of Etinan-Eket road which work has since commenced.

The Onofiok Luke Legislative Internship Programme which I have already made reference to is also relavant to governance generally, as “TOLLIP Interns also receive training in community development and volunteerism, entrepreneurship, talent discovery, peace building and conflict resolution”.
As would normally be expected, Hon. Luke drummed support for Gov. Godswill Akpabio in the final lap of his tenure in these words; “So, my brothers and sisters, no matter the distractions coming from all quarters today, I implore you to continue to join hands with us… to support our amiable governor, Chief (Dr.) Godswill Akpabio, to succeed in berthing the ship of state in 2015.”
He also assured the people that Nsit Ubium will not be left behind “when the rest of Akwa Ibom will be making that all- important decision of who leads the state in 2015” The people will also decide who represents them at other levels of representation both at state and federal levels.
The least that can be said about the level of response to Hon. Onofiok Luke’s invitation is that a cross section of who is who in Akwa Ibom State was present to mention a few, the Hon Speaker of the state Assembly, Rt. Hon Sam Ikon, the State Chairman of the PDP, Obong Paul Ekpo, Commissioners, Assembly colleagues, Council Chairmen, Councilors and all.

Special mention must be made of the fact that the Rt. Hon Senator of the Federal Republic and Chairman, Governing Council of University of Benin, Sen. Effiong Bob, chaired the occasion while the Secretary to the state government, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, flagged off presentations. Sen. Effiong Bob’s controversial statement a while ago on the raging issue of zoning which he extended to Nsit Ubium state constituency is still fresh in memory.

However he fetched and gyrated around the fact of his presence at this occasion as Chairman, he kept referring to Hon. Onofiok Luke as Rt. Hon., and that settles it.

Sen Effiong Bob, Obong Umana Okon Umana, Hon Onofiok Luke – Photo credit: Naijaleaks.org

Then came the solemn interlude, the crowning moment as many saw it, when at the instance of the celebrator, both Sen. Effiong Bob and Obong Umana Okon Umana, immediate past SSG who walked in to a tumultuous applause in the course of the address by the celebrator, Hon Onofiok Luke, knelt down for prayer of reconciliation and brotherliness.

The prayer was offered by Apostle Isaiah Isong, Bishop of Believers Assembly. Hon. Luke had said quite plaintively: “I want peace in this land even if I become the sacrificial lamb. I don’t care what I will be tomorrow.

If the desired peace comes, then shall it be said that in the day that Hon. Onofiok Luke held his Constituency Briefing in Ikot Edibon, Sen. Effiong Bob and Obong Umana Okon Umana were reconciled.
So may it be.

[Eno Ikpe]


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