Hon Onofiok Akpan Luke is the member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/ Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State in the House of Representatives.
Hon Luke is the House Committee Chairman on Judiciary.
A member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he was a former Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and pioneer Speaker of the Nigeria Youth Parliament.
On Friday, November 27, 2020, the federal lawmaker was guest at the November congress meeting of the Akwa Ibom State council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Uyo, the capital city of the state.
In his address to members of the fourth estate of the realm in that state, the fiery politician gave a swift rundown of his political life, ideology and accomplishments as a lawmaker and representative of his constituents.
One of the cardinal points he made in his presentation was the fact that critical issues of national development always require dispassionate and non-partisan approach from representatives across party lines to resolve.
He said for the country to make progress, matters of national development required bipartisan approach and expressed regrets that his critics expect him, as a PDP member, to oppose every issue introduced in the House by APC lawmakers.
The trained lawyer submitted that such critics do not mean well for the wellbeing of the country and the generality of the citizenry who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the business of the lawmakers.
“What my critics don’t understand is that, at the national level, bipartisan approach to governance is essential, if not pivotal.
“Your ability to coalesce the inputs of various stakeholders, regardless of party affiliations to drive home the interest of your constituency is a necessary survival instinct.
“You cannot be defining PDP/APC when there are pressing topical national issues seeking attention and legislations. Acknowledging this should not suddenly make you disloyal to your party,” he said, arguing that “Today, with this bipartisan approach to politics, I have advocated the granting of licence for the operation of Ibom Deep Seaport, reviving of Aluminum Smelter Company in Ikot Abasi, and the creation of a division of the Court of Appeal in Uyo”.
For all intents and purposes, representative Luke’s philosophy is as much needed at the national level as it is required at other levels of government, including the state and local councils, and by all political office holders for the benefit and over all development of the people on whose behalf they are in office.
Especially for some Rivers State politicians and political office holders, this is particularly instructive and one cannot but urge them to let the interest of the people’s wellbeing and welfare override their personal, sectional, party and sundry considerations.
The recent refusal by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi to be part of the South-South stakeholders meeting with the presidential delegation at Government House in Port Harcourt is one case in point of how not to behave as a political leader and a representative of the people even in appointive position, many people think.
Reacting to that unfortunate development, a faction of his own party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State, expressed disappointment at the Minister’s boycott of the meeting and called on him to render an unreserved apology to Rivers people (whom he represents as Minister) and the APC (over which he reigns as political godfather and leader in the zone).
In a release issued by the Igo Aguma-led faction of the APC in Port Harcourt, the party disclosed that Amaechi received the presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Amb Ibrahim Gambari at the Port Harcourt International Airport, but later “disappeared”.
The statement reads in part, “Information available to the APC in the state is that the Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi was at the airport in Port Harcourt to receive the presidential delegation, escorted them to the venue of the meeting, disappeared and was never part of such a critical stakeholders meeting that has to do with the South-South geo-political zone.
“The absence of the Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, who is supposed to be the minister representing Rivers State in the Federal Cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari, is most unfortunate, as there can be no justification for his non-participation.
“This is because there can be no plausible reason for his disappearance from such an important meeting of the leadership of the South-South and the Presidency aimed at discussing issues affecting our region.
“The action of the godfather of the APC in Rivers State, Rt Hon Rotimi Amaechi is an evidence of the type of leadership he is giving the APC in the state, which is solely aimed at destroying the party at all cost for his personal gain in keeping with his vows”.
While the bold and courageous stance of the APC in Rivers State in pointing out the grievous error of their leader is worthy of commendation, the message must be taken to all other politicians in the state who have continued to equate their private interest with the interest of the state in general. There are yet many politicians who see service to themselves as service to the state and have continued to wage a war with the present administration in the state only because their private interests are not being served.
Politics, they say, is a game of interest. While this may be true, the question is: whose interest is politics meant to serve, public or private? The point remains that while politics may serve private interest as well, the private interests that politics is meant to serve are only those that align and fully given to the benefit, promotion and furtherance of the public good.
It is against this backdrop that Rivers people must begin to take notice of those who ride on their back to office, only to leave them in the lurch and relegate issues concerning their welfare and wellbeing to the background.
The point cannot be overstressed that continued bickering and bitter political rivalry after elections have been lost and won and a government legitimately put in place to run the affairs of the state amount not only to a disservice to the people but also a declaration of a position of enmity against the people and the state.
As Hon Luke noted, all political office holders and indeed politicians worthy of the enterprise, whether elected or appointed, and at all levels, must purge themselves of selfishness, pride, arrogance, undue partisanship and such other debilitating tendencies in order to qualify as leaders in name and in fact.
Going forward, the only consideration that ought to confer legitimacy on any political leader in Rivers State should be what they have to show as their contributions to the overall development of the state through the instrumentality of their previously held political offices and not how loudly they criticised, how stoutly they antagonised or how bitterly they fought the governor and government of the day because indeed the state is bigger and greater than any one person, section or political party.
By: Opaka Dokubo
APC, PDP Bandy Words Over Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request
The ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have argued over President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval to borrow $4 billion and €710 million to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.
Recall that the president made the request in a letter he addressed to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in reaction to the development, cautioned the NASS against approving the request, saying it could set the country’s debt profile skyrocketing without a feasible repayment plan.
With the approval to borrow $8.3 billion and €490 million loans by its legislative body barely two months ago, Nigeria’s debt profile risks reaching over N40 trillion.
“More alarming is that the debts that APC is hanging on Nigerians are for nebulous projects whose scopes, utilities, locations and contractors are largely vague; a development that validates apprehensions of a huge swindle on our nation at the expense of innocent Nigerians, including generation yet unborn.
“Our party holds it as an act of wickedness that individuals who know that they will be leaving office in less than two years will be accumulating debts instead of seeking ways to reduce the liability they have brought upon our nation.
“The APC knows it will not be around after May 29, 2023. That is why it is pushing our nation into a deeper economic quagmire with foreign loans, which are largely diverted to the personal pockets of their corrupt leaders,” the opposition PDP said in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Tuesday.
But responding to the PDP’s criticism, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday, said the loans are for “the good of the country” and well-being of the citizenry.
The ruling party also accused the opposition party of looting foreign loans obtained during its 16 years rule rather than spending on infrastructure and economic growth as, according to it, Mr Buhari-led government is doing.
“It was in PDP’s era that loans to fund power generation, purchase arms and ammunition to fight a raging insurgency were misappropriated and diverted to fund PDP activities; and the borrowed money ultimately found its way to the pockets of cronies, friends and family members of administration officials. Nigeria is still servicing a $460 million loan taken from China to fund a phoney Abuja Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) contract awarded in August 2010.
“Nigerians should also reflect and recall that the PDP had in its 16 years of misrule pushed the country into a dark ditch of insolvency, and a period in which most state governments could not pay workers salaries, not even the minimum wage, or settle contractors’ bills and cater for patients in hospitals, to name a few,” the APC interim National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, said.
A’Ibom Gov Signs Anti-Open Grazing Law
Akwa lbom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has signed into law a bill to prohibit open rearing and grazing of livestock and provide for the establishment of ranches in the state.
The Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, with the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uko Udom (SAN), presented the bill for signing on Wednesday at the State Executive Chambers, in the Governor’s Office, Uyo.
The governor, after signing the bill into law, stated that the new law was no respecter of persons irrespective of status or calibre.
He instructed relevant authorities of government to ensure that the law was implemented and enforced to the letter with strict compliance, stressing that, culprits must be brought to book accordingly.
The new law will promote modern techniques in animal husbandry, prevent the destruction of farms by wandering cattle while reducing clashes and killings between herders and farmers in the state.
It will also promote international best practices in livestock administration, regulation and control in the state, among other things.
The state Assembly passed the bill on Tuesday, and the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey, directed the Clerk of the House, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to communicate the decision of the House to the Governor for his assent.
Also at the Executive Chambers, the Speaker who was accompanied by the Leader of the House, Udo Kierian Akpan, and the Clerk of the Assembly, Mrs Mandu Umoren, to the signing ceremony witnessed the inauguration of two C\committees by the Governor.
The committees are the Akwa Ibom State Gender Based Violence Management Committee, chaired by the First Lady, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, and Akwa Ibom State Road Safety Management Committee, chaired by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo.
NASS S’East Caucus Moves To Reconstruct Federal System
Members of the South East Caucus of the National Assembly have resolved to join hands with other patriotic Nigerians across regional, religious, political, and ethnic divides to reconstruct a federal system where the rights, happiness, and prosperity and those of unborn generations are guaranteed.
Making their feelings known in a communique issued at the end of an extraordinary meeting held at the Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja last Wednesday, the law makers said the topic of the meeting centered on review of developments in the South East, particularly the security situation in the region vis-à-vis the sit-at-home orders by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and the detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“We expressed solidarity with our people of the South East over the marginalisation of the region in the scheme of things within the Nigerian commonwealth. The Caucus feels the pains of our people and their quest for equity, justice, and protection of their lives and property in every part of the country. The Caucus, therefore, resolved to continue to fight for a level-playing ground and an enabling federal system where Ndigbo are able to develop their homeland at their own pace and equally pursue their happiness and actaulise their enormous potentials in every part of the country, unmolested.
Reviewing the sit-at-home orders by the IPOB and the mayhem some nefarious elements have seized the opportunity to visit on the lives, properties, and psyche of the people, the Caucus equally reviewed and rued the incalculable economic losses and hardships these have brought upon the region.
They, however, condemned in strongest terms the disruption of the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in some parts of the South East, particularly the incident at Comprehensive Secondary School, Nkume, Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State, where the English examination organised by the West Africa Examination Council, WAEC, on Monday, September 13, 2021, was ruthlessly scuttled by armed men, who chased away the students, teachers, and examiners before setting ablaze motorcycles belonging to the teachers.
“This is certainly not who we are as a people. On the contrary, we are a people, who have always cherished and encouraged learning from the ages. We are a people that fully appreciate the place of education in the liberation and enlightenment of the human mind and the socio-economic and political emancipation of a people”.
The South East legislators equally condemned in strongest terms the incessant killings in the South East, adding “This must stop immediately. We call on the security agencies to unravel the culprits behind these wicked acts and ensure that they are brought to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
“ Noted with delight that IPOB has called off the Monday sit-at-home order and resolved to ensure that nobody uses them as façades to bring ruination on Igbo land.
“ Call on our people to go about their lawful businesses and enjoin our governors and the security agencies to rebuild confidence in our people by not only ensuring the security of their lives and properties, but also ensuring that our people feel safe as they undertake their legitimate businesses.
”Elaborately discussed the issue of Mazi Nnamdi and resolved to intervene. To this end we resolved to set up a committee to constructively interface with relevant stakeholders, the Federal Government and its relevant agencies towards finding a political solution. We will keep Ndigbo abreast of developments in regard.
“Appeal to our people not to allow anyone to destroy the South East region. The post-war South East was not built through government patronage, but largely by the sheer determination and sacrifices of our people, who refused to resign to fate or bow their heads in defeat.
“It is in Igbo land that you easily find hospitals, schools, roads, and other social amenities built by individual or communal efforts of the people, home and abroad, through the instruments of the town unions and other community organisations such as the age grades, Umuada, etc.
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