Onofiok Luke attends former legislators’ meeting
…shares thoughts on next leadership of Akwa Ibom
By Itoro Bassey
The member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium federal constituency in the National Assembly, Barr. Onofiok Luke , on Thursday, last week, attended a meeting of the Conference of Former Legislators in Akwa Ibom State where the progress and major concerns of the state were discussed.
The meeting which held in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, had over 50 former lawmakers in attendance, including the Chairman of the forum, Hon. Saturday Akpan; former Speakers Chief Peter Linus Umoh, Hon Barr. Nse Ekanem, Rt. Hon. Anietie Etuk, and a host of others including Hon. Barr. Usenobong Akpabio, former Uyo lawmaker, Hon. Edwin Joseph; Obong Aniedi Ndem, Obong Thomas Akpan, and Obong JJ Inyangeno.
Addressing the meeting, Barr. Luke, who is warming up for the 2023 governorship race in the state, said that the gathering was an intervention to jointly brainstorm on the future of the state and how the congress can play a prominent role in that regard.
Luke, among other things, said that 2023 would be a good time for the legislative arm of government to prayerfully and dutifully push an agenda towards producing the next governor of the state, having played key roles in the development and progress of the state over the years.
“The legislature has always given the greatest support to the executive and other arms of government to succeed. But unfortunately, we are always the losers in the power dynamics, whether at the local government level or at the state level” he said.
Luke who noted that the executive produced Godswill Akpabio, a former commissioner, as governor in 2007, and Mr Udom Emmanuel, a former Secretary as governor in 2015, urged the conference to work towards the emergence of a legislator as the next governor of the state.
“We have seen the challenges of this state in all nooks and crannies. God has equipped all of us with the intellectual capacity and the leadership qualities, and then God guided us in that in all responsibilities we were given, we were not found wanting.
“We have first hand knowledge of the development issues around our state through the budgeting process and through the performance of our oversight functions”.
“We discharged all those responsibilities whether as a member of the house of assembly, or a member of leadership, or the Speaker.
“I have had the opportunity to closely, with a matured perspective, observe three successive administrations in this state under this Fourth Republic, have also played one role or the other towards their success and most importantly learnt great and valuable leadership lessons from them
“And by that, we have been positioned to know the success stories of those administrations, the modus operandi of those success stories and equally the challenges that has faced those administrations”, he said.
Going forward, Luke maintained that the next leadership of the state would need to enhance and expand the development strides already recorded in every sector of Akwa Ibom State.
He said it would be necessary to key into the current vision of the government in aviation development for the state to become a regional hub, in lieu that the construction of the international terminal is ongoing.
In the area of agriculture, Luke said that the next leadership of the state would need to push massive investment in the agricultural agenda that Governor Udom Emmanuel inherited from his predecessors in ensuring access to inputs and facilities by the real farmers and also make provision for storage and processing that will make for agro-value chain. He made case for the establishment of commodities hub in the local area, which will serve as take off points.
Speaking on infrastructure, the former Speaker, made case for the opening up of the state further by looking at the dualization of major roads like Abak through Ekparakwa to terminate at the East West Road in Ikot Abasi.
Other roads he said would need urgent attention by the next administration are the road from Okobo to Ibaka in Mbo local government area, the Urua naira-Nkwot-Ikot Nseyen Road in Ikono local government area and many other roads across the State to enhance movement of people, goods and agricultural produce to available markets.
He posited that this would be done only in addition to the completion of other road projects that have already been initiated under the completion agenda of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
He said it would be necessary to partner the federal government and federal government agencies to dualize the road from Okopedi – Uya Oron Rd to Oron main town, Ikot Ekpene through Ikot Umo Essien to Aba in Abia state, as well as the road from Ikot Ekpene to Umuahia through Nto Edino in Obot Akara local government area preparatory to the coming of the Ibom Deep Seaport.
While acknowledging the investment Governor Emmanuel’s has done in the healthcare sector, particularly the development and upgrading of secondary facilities such as the general hospitals in Etinan, Oron, Ikono, Eket and others; Luke noted that the next investment in the health sector would be at the primary level.
“Some of our people in the local areas are dying of avoidable diseases because our primary healthcare and comprehensive health centres have personnel and equipment challenges.
“The people to man the primary healthcare centres, whether community health extension workers, midwives, maternity attendants, and the rest need to have a minimum qualification of diploma, and it can only be colleges of health and science technology that can do this training.
“That was why we were at the forefront of trying to upgrade the School of Health Technology in Etinan, School of Nursing and Midwifery in Ikot Ekpene and Anua, and School of Psychiatric Nursing in Eket to colleges. We passed the law, it was not assented to. That has to be attended to.
“They cannot upgrade without infrastructure. That is why I have a block in my constituency projects for School of Health Technology, Etinan so that when the accreditation team come, they will see something on ground to do that accreditation”, he said.
Luke furthered that there would be need to provide incentives for students who will be studying in the health institutions in order to encourage them, while advocating adequate power supply in the primary healthcare centres, security for personnel and facilities, as well as continuation of the training of medical officers to becoming registrars, Senior registrars and climaxing as consultants.
“These are the things I have observed closely working with the leaders of this state. Since 1999, I have made my humble contributions to the success of the leadership in the state, right from my days as Students leader, youth leader, through my years in the House of Assembly, climaxing in my time as the Speaker of the House of Assembly and today I’m still making my contributions from Abuja.
“By the Grace and mercies of God we have never been found wanting in the different level of leadership that has ever been entrusted on our shoulders”.