When Will This Romance End?

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By UbongAbasi Ise

“An Elective despotism was not the government we fought for” – Thomas Jefferson

 

The transition committees in Itu and Ukanafun local government areas have been sacked by the state government, and this has generated another round of discussions in different quarters.

Amongst the miscellany of absurdities characterizing Mr. Udom Emmanuel’s government, one that profoundly corrodes exacting standard of democracy and stall generalities of development in Akwa Ibom remains these illegal structures implanted in the local government councils to operate in permanent transition. When Governor Udom Emmanuel first swore in transition committee chairmen into various local government councils on July 13th 2015, not the least suspicion was nurtured. We did not see the event as a subterfuge inauguration of undemocratic machinery that would soon be employed in high wire politics surrounding the second term agenda.

Indeed, Udom’s re-election bid has inspired copious interests in the power class thus engendering insobriety, in that, none of the power interests care a hoot if Udom’s actions and inactions augur well with the common masses. Particularly, the manifestation of this could easily be discerned in Barr. Onofiok Luke’s infatuation with the executive governor. Onofiok, the speaker of the state House of Assembly, has practically appointed himself as a campaign director in chief for Udom’s second term electioneering. It is therefore not surprising to see Speaker Luke joining Governor Udom in the delectation of raping the third tier of government, and sacrificing it on the altar of second term ambition.

It is pertinent to demand to know why the duo of Udom and Onofiok are hell-bent on precluding the conduct of elections at the local government level. Are they afraid of local government elections? Are they anticipating that if elections are conducted  then APC may equally produce local government officials that would serve as insulations to manipulative control, siphoning and stashing away of local government allocations for the 2019 campaigns and electioneering? How practicable would the PDP government in the state think it would control the local government areas to benefit Udom’s tenure extension when APC juggernauts are within the system?  Won’t it be a political miscalculation and suicidal error to allow local government elections to hold?

With Udom Emmanuel on the saddle beyond 2019, Onofiok Luke’s political ambitions are probably realizable. The speaking Speaker knows this. His fixations in Udom and his second term agenda always play out each time Barr. Luke is given slightest opportunity to speak at any function even if it is a burial event as it happened when he led the members of 6th House of Assembly to a condolence visit at late Akwa Edidem Akpabio Udo Ukpa’s compound in Onna on Wednesday April 5th, 2017.  He said that the way to sustain the legacies of Akwa Edidem Akpabio Udo Ukpa is for the 6th Assembly to continue to root for his performing son, Governor Udom Emmanuel.

Of course as the heated romance between the state executive and the legislature lasts, Onofiok would not realize that as he is dancing, his backside is at an awkward position.

But who is Onofiok Luke? Where did he gain work experience, that is, in private capacity, before venturing into government? Things like these count.

Let’s give it to Luke that he is just an enfant terrible that enjoy meteoric rise to power. He is one person, in the parlance of Chinua Achebe, whose palm kernel has been broken for him by a benevolence spirit. He completed his first degree in law in 2005, and after three years, he was admitted into Nigerian Law School. In 2010 he graduated and subsequently called to the Nigerian Bar. Onofiok is claimed to have a flimsy few months’ legal practice experience with a certain Shepherd and Fortress Law Firm in Uyo immediately after leaving the Law School.  But what most are fully aware of is that he was hand-picked by Chief Godswill Akpabio to serve as his Personal Assistant on Protocol Matters between 2007 and 2011. He had also functioned as a Youth Parliament Speaker on a platform put in place by the Federal Ministry of Youths in collaboration with the National Assembly. It was in 2011 that Onofiok Luke was first elected into Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to represent Nsit Ubium State Constituency.

The above summary of Mr. Luke’s profile indicates, significantly, that tangible work experience is absolutely lacking; that he is not like an average Nigerian youth who has tested real life in the streets trying to rationalize how to eke out a living each day. To Onofiok, government is a measure of all human survival, and he does not fancy any kind of living outside the government circle. That is why Onofiok has the propensity to indulge in any incongruous practices that could ensure him power acquisition, retention and expansion.  That is why Onofiok could not rekindle his school days’ aluta spirit and radicalism to inspire his 6th Assembly to pass a resolution compelling the executive to conduct local government elections in order to deepen democracy at the grassroot level. Maybe this would not augur well with his political interest. All Mr. Luke cares most is systematic mobilization of youths in order to feather his own nest for his clandestine political agenda.

Onofiok Luke belongs to “Akwa Ibom Youth Caucus Mentality” brought forth by Akpabio administration where money-sharing was emphasized over hard-work.

His deification of Governor Udom Emmanuel too is one thing that prevents him from questioning viability and productivity of Udom’s political, economic, social and cultural programmes.

It does not bother the voluble Speaker to provide timely, earnest response to the plight of 478 school staff from six community schools absorbed by the state government since 2013.

In the same vein, the 5000 teachers’ saga does not border our speaker.

While the Speaker is assisting his cronies in Nigerian Law Schools, he cannot advise the governor to also assist other Akwa Ibom citizens in the same institution. Not to talk of paying bursary to others in Nigerian universities and polytechnics.

The combination of Udom Emmanuel and Onofiok Luke is a bad mix. Instead of healthy separation of power, there is power fusion which is instrumental in undermining people’s right to choose their leader at the grassroot level. This, in no small measures, has killed Akwa Ibom democracy at its most basic level.

Because of autocratic manner of foisting unpopular structure on the people at the grassroot level, we now hear hilarious stories in Itu such that local government funds were allegedly used by transition chairman, Mrs. Elsie Esara in paying hotel bills for Senator Anietie Okon as well as settling other stakeholders in the area. We are also stunned by narratives of exchange of human head and blood in Ukanafun LGA over the tussle of leadership in the council. But what would the recent dissolution of the transition committees in Itu and Ukanafun local government areas stand to change?

The maladroit way of ingraining transition committees in our local government system for almost two years now is highly condemnable and unacceptable in accordance with democratic practices. Even though there is economic recession, the excuse of dearth of funds to conduct elections is not only spurious but a hoax. It remains so until Udom Emmanuel gives Akwa Ibom people proper accounts on how much he met in the state’s treasury when he came in as the state governor including how much the state has been generating internally on annual basis. Period.

 

Yes I am UbongAbasi Ise. For Comment, send SMS to 08189914609

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