AKHA @ 25: ‘We Are Positioned To Face Tomorrow’s Development Challenges’ – Ime Okon



Distinguished gentlemen of the press, I welcome all of you to the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly, the People’s Assembly. It is my privilege to be honoured with your esteemed presence here today for this press briefing. It is celebration time, time to roll out the drums to celebrate excellence. You have therefore been invited to be formally informed of preparations which we have put in place to mark the Silver Jubilee of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly.

The Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly was proclaimed in 1992 by the then executive governor of the state, HE, Obong Akpan Isemin. On January 20 of that year, a 48-member parliament was inaugurated as the first assembly of the Akwa Ibom state legislature. Although punctuated by various military interventions, the state legislature has had a rich 25-year run. With 6 assemblies led by 11 Speakers so far, the house has since 1992 presented many bills several of which comprise the laws of Akwa Ibom today. It has also passed several motions which have helped to strengthen governance in our state.
More than 170 Akwa Ibom sons and daughters have had the opportunity to serve in the state legislature as members since the first assembly was inaugurated in 1992. Eleven of them have been privileged to be Speakers at various times in the 6 assemblies. Late Hon. Jimmy Jimmy Ntuen, Hon. (Barr) Nse Ben Ekanem and late Hon. (Barr) Henry Affang were speakers in the first assembly. Hon. (Barr) Bassey Essien and Rt. Hon. Chief Peter Linus Umoh were speakers in the second assembly. The third assembly had Rt. Hon. Chief Nelson Effiong as speaker while the 4th assembly followed with Rt. Hon. Ignatius Edet and later, Rt. Hon. Anietie Etuk as speakers. The fifth assembly had Rt. Hon. Elder Samuel Ikon as Speaker while the 6th assembly started off with Hon. Aniekan Uko as speaker before a change in leadership that saw to the emergence of the current speaker, Rt. Hon. (Barr) Onofiok Luke. Within the democratic dispensations of the past 25 years, these gentlemen successfully led an assembly of statesmen who proved their legislative mettle. They left the milestones which define the 30 years history of the development of Akwa Ibom state.

It is in view of these achievements, gentlemen of the press, that we have chosen the period of the celebration of our state’s 30th anniversary to commemorate, in a weeklong event, the contributions of this honourable house to the development of our state. The theme of the celebration is A Milestone of Legislative Excellence. Activities to mark the Silver Jubilee of the Akwa Ibom state legislature will commence with a Staff Day celebration to be observed tomorrow by members of staff of the assembly. Invited guests are expected to arrive the state on Wednesday 18th to participate in, or observe as the case may be, a joint-sitting of the Akwa Ibom and Cross River States Houses of Assembly which will take place on Thursday, October 19, 2017. Leading proceedings at the sitting will be the host speaker, the Rt. Hon. (Barr) Onofiok Luke and the speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, the Rt. Hon. (Barr) John Gaul Lebo. The sitting will commence at 11am on the floor of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly. The joint sitting of the House will be a significant reminder of the historical ties which the two states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River are proud to share. This historic sitting will be aired live on the Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation TV service channel 45.

Following the Thursday joint sitting will be a public lecture on Friday, 20th October, 2017. The Guest lecturer, the Distinguished Senator Effiong Dickson Bob, will be speaking on The Role of the Legislature in the Development of Akwa Ibom state in the past 25 years. Sen. Bob was a deputy Speaker of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly in the first assembly between 1992 and 1993, and a two-term senator of the federal republic of Nigeria. The public lecture will take place at the House of Assembly Lobby at 11am. The Akwa Ibom Legislative Internship Programme (AKILIP) will be formally launched immediately after the public lecture, after which the midterm report of the 6th assembly, the current assembly, will be presented. Activities of Friday will be rounded off with a gala and award night at Emerald Event centre, Edet Akpan Avenue, Uyo, at 6pm.

The two events scheduled for Saturday 21st October, 2017 are a visit to select orphanages in the state by members of the Akwa Ibom chapter of Legislators Wives’ Association (LEWA), and a novelty football match between members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and members of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON). Activities to mark the silver jubilee of the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly will end on Sunday after a thanksgiving service at Full Life Christian Centre, Nsikak Eduok, Uyo.

Distinguished members of the forth estate, you would agree that the Akwa Ibom state legislature has played a pivotal role in the meteoric rise of Akwa Ibom since 1992. As the clearing house of government, this honourable house since inception has, for instance, seen to the successful hatching of every single development agenda of successive governments. One interesting feature worthy of note is that each successive assembly has always appreciated the need to collaborate and synergise with the executive in the interest of the people and for the accelerated development of the state while jealously guarding the independence and constitutional oversight role of the legislature. They believe, and rightly so, that no meaningful achievements can be made in an atmosphere of antagonism and rancour. From the foundation building efforts of His Excellency Arch. Obong Victor Attah to the Uncommon Transformation wave of the Chief Godswill Akpabio administration and to the ongoing Sustainable Development exploits of His Excellency Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, the state legislature has built a record of inspiring, fecund, and focused leadership in our great state. As you know, three things sit at the heart of every well thought out sustainable development agenda. They are infrastructural development, security and sound legislation. The last 5 assemblies and the current one have proven the courage and competence of the state legislature with regards to the making of sound legislations which have made our state one of Nigeria’s most preferred investor destinations today.

Permit me to give special tributes and recognitions to all past and present Governors of the state as well as House of Assembly members, past and present, for their outstanding statesmanship in steering the ship of the state through the years. The press also deserve our commendation and appreciation for their unfailing editorial commentaries, reports and analysis all of which have helped to strengthen this institution over the years.

Gentlemen, there is everything to celebrate as we clock 25. The weeklong celebration will grant us the opportunity to both glance back and leap forward. We will be looking back at our contributions to the development of Akwa Ibom state in the last 25 years, while recharging ourselves for the development challenges ahead.

Let me use this opportunity on behalf of the Rt. Hon. Speaker of the 6th assembly, Barr Onofiok Luke, to congratulate members and staff of the assembly, the Congress of Former Legislators, and Akwa Ibom people whose mandate has kept the state legislature alive for 25 years. We welcome the press community to join in this celebration, amplify its essence and editorialise issues which can help this assembly move our state to a more enviable height.

I thank you