I had long decided that in this buildup to 2023, I’ll only respond to intelligent arguments on who is bringing what approach to governance, and more as it concerns the plans and preparedness of my principal for the collective good of Akwa Ibom state. At the same time, I’d vowed to ignore the low-thinking fellows who think mudslinging is the easiest way to getting attention, or the Jacobs whose hands are being hired by Esaus to act as supporters while throwing mud at a target they’re pretending to support.
Or what else would make one cynically ignore the glaring records OAL has set in public service, and concoct some agbo-like tasting lies? A mere typing Onofiok Luke on google will lead you to scores of reports of one record or the other.
For the sake of rational minds, I have taken time to bring some of those records here. This way, they can clearly separate truth from lies, especially such from busybodies.
To start with, OAL has never sponsored any bill that sought favours for the already privileged. It’s either his bill targeted the underprivileged or sought amenity for the generality of citizens. Examples in this regard are: bill to prohibit discrimination of persons living with HIV/AIDS; Primary Healthcare bill which aimed at getting Akwa Ibom to adopt the Universal Health Coverage Scheme; the social housing bill, etc.
Oversighting? As chairman of appropriation and finance, the man introduced participatory budgeting in the state (getting Akwa Ibom into record as one of the first, if not the first government[s] in the country), where citizens could contribute and shape budgeting processes in the state. It was his scrutiny, still as chairman of same committee, that discovered a certain N1bn aviation fund that was unaccounted for. I don’t want to go into details of what he suffered for having that audacity to confront the powers. As Speaker, he advanced that participatory system to an open door policy, where every bill presented before the house was subjected to the public, to have citizens’ inputs in the legislative process. That was reason for the many public hearings that held during his reign.
Representation? Of course, no one would doubt that Nsit Ubium state constituency had a voice, and a very loud, vibrant one at that, in the house of assembly between 2011 and 2019. In terms of the Nigerian language of representation (constituency briefings and empowerment, it was Luke setting the pace for others to follow. In case you’re partially briefed, know for free that Onofiok Luke’s first constituency briefing and empowerment was in his first 8/9 months in office (June 2011 and March 2012 – you can do the calculation yourself.) At this event, he gave BRAND NEW CARS (not direct tokunbo) to his constituents. His second constituency briefing in the same tenure came about 18 months after, during which, 175 women were given startup fund of 100k each (totalling N17.5m) among other packages for the youths, etc, as well as cars and other business support equipments.
In his second term as speaker, Onofiok Luke, on two occasions, risked his seat to take the floor of the chamber to present the primary healthcare and social housing scheme bills. Whoever knows the politics of the legislature knows that at the points of dissolving into the COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE or SUPPLY(in the case of financial matters) or stepping down to present a bill, a speaker can be easily impeached. In fact, a friend of his was even scared for him and had to advise him against it. But he was never deterred because he could not protect his seat at the expense of collective good. He knew the advantage those bills (when implemented) will bring to the collective of Akwa Ibomites and that was worth risking his seat for.
It was testimonies from this depth of representation that Nsit Ibom and Etinan heard and rooted for him to also represent them in the national assembly.
That’s for the state legislature.
Forward to the national assembly. Most of his bills here have sought reforms in the judiciary and justice system in the country. You can follow the link below to have a more details.
(Wherever this link takes you, kindly pay attention to paragraph number 3)
Also recently, Inibehe Effiong, the human rights lawyer, while on Arise TV, raised issues about a certain constitutional provision that demands an approval from the attorney general before a court ruling against a government is executed. Several ither lawyers have also complained about that very bottleneck, as they confessed to how the AGs have been frustrating their clients from enjoying the cases they won. This is one of the reforms Onofiok Luke had long sought through a motion currently under process in the house of reps. The said motion seeks amendment of that part of the constitution to relieve the AG of such powers as it is needless, so that once a person pays for legal services and the lawyer suffers to get victory for his client, they can enjoy their victory. Moreover, such provision is equal to giving the loser of a case the power to decide when the winner will enjoy their victory.
Oversighting, the federal judiciary will rightly give you testimonies of having Onofiok heading that committee. Is it about advocating for the welfare of judges and judiciary staff? Advocating for more security for judges in other to have them dispense justice rightly without fear for their lives? In one of his legislative acts, the man advocated for a raise in salary of judges. His reason being that, if judges are being prohibited from doing business and socializing, hence restricting their source of income to only one source, providing better remuneration packages for them will be the best way of ensuring they don’t accept bribes or sell justice. I see you asking how the judges’ packages affect the common man… yes it does because the judiciary is supposed to be the last hope of the common man. Now if a powerful or rich man forcefully take a land belonging to a common farmer, where would he run to? And if the judges are not prevented from possibly selling justice, what hope would there be for the farmer in this case?
Stop asking about Onofiok’s businesses and who he is employing. Man has said severally that his calling to public service had pre-told him he won’t be wealthy while in service. Onofiok is not the first to enter and leave public service without making wealth. Ex governor Victor Attah for instance was governor for 8 years, where are his businesses? But are we still feeling impacts of his administration? If Onofiok has chosen to help other startup businesses instead of himself, let him be. That is his conviction.
Lastly, we understand that Onofiok Akpan Luke failed by disappointing some benighted minds who think an activist should have no other approach to dealing with issues other than fighting. Onofiok Luke disappointed them by not being the childish speaker who runs to social media to disagree with the governor. They will probably never know that Onofiok is never a coward and will rather drive to the government house to confront/disagree with the governor, unlike their paymaster(s) who do ALL CORRECT SIR around the governor but be grumbling in complaints behind him. He has failed them by not leading youths on street protests and risking their lives in desperation for power. He has disappointed them by finding better approaches to seeking the mandate of the people without exposing the children of others to harms way. But there is only one disappointment left… the disappointment of letting them know in practical terms that no one has the monopoly of mudslinging.
Ubong Sampson writes from the Altar of Christ Methodist Church.