Humbled by the overwhelming requests of the people of INI and Ikono Local Government Areas to have him represent them at the Green Chambers of the National Assembly, Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo has said his “aspiration has become a solemn opportunity, through the grace of God, to satisfy the yearnings of his people as 2019 beckons.”

Sharing his thoughts recently with journalists on topical national issues, Obong Ukpong-Udo said “What then is spectacular about 2019? It is an election year and elections are one of the greatest underpinning or pillars of democracy. So, it is a good year for us to look again at our democracy, consider the best means to get at good governance and its good implications.”

When asked about the political reality in Nigeria and Akwa Ibom, Obong Ukpong-Udo said “Though the feelings in some climbs might be that Nigeria is not practicing democracy, I want to disagree with that. My focus and drive for my people is to bring political reality and people-centered democracy to them through my representation, if elected to represent them in the House of Representatives. What is this reality? The United Nations has listed 19 prerequisites to qualify a society as being democratic enough to give good governance which is the ultimate expectations of the governed from the government.

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This include Popular Participation; Democratic Sustenance; Government Legitimacy and Acceptance by the people; Transparency; Promotion of equity and equality; Ability to develop the resources and methods of governance; Promotion of gender balance; Tolerance and Acceptance of diverse perspectives; Ability to mobilize resources for social purposes; Strengthening of indigenous mechanism; Observance of the rule of law; Efficiency and effectiveness in the use of resources; Ability to engender and command respect and trust; Accountability; Ability to define and take ownership of natural solutions; Enabling and facilitative governance; Ability to deal with temporary issues and A service-oriented governance.”

“Our behaviours as voters, lobbyists, supporters, contestants, aspirants, candidates and politicians are a broad banner under which the reality we face assumes its cover. The attitudes, beliefs and values which underpin the operation of our political system have a lot to do with the reality we face. How do we carry ourselves as a people? What is our value system? Why is our value system debased? Why is it no longer fashionable to have straightforward, honest people with integrity? Why is there no longer morality in our daily living and in our political life? Why do we see corruption as a norm rather than an exception in our polity? These are some of the things I intend to look into as a national assemblyman,” he said.

Explaining further, Obong Ukpong-Udo said “Unless we return to appropriate political behaviours that will engender peace, stability, unity, dialogue, tolerance, diversity and progress, our democratic experience will remain where it is today. The question is: where are we today? We are still in a democracy that grapples with bad and opportunistic leadership, crime, disunity, hate and under development.”

He appealed to journalists, whom he described as agenda setters and gate keepers, to play by the rules and ethics of the profession in their reportage of the 2019 elections. In his words: “I sincerely want to appeal to all of you seated before me today to play by the rules and adhere to the ethics of your profession as the politicking for 2019 gears up. You people, journalists, have contributed immensely to our political development. Aside the nobility, however, lies the ignoble. You people are on a dangerous ground when you indulge in character creation, but you can get into as much trouble when you let your imaginations outpace your reporting. Admittedly, plot creation is an inescapable part of journalism. You are offered fragments of information, often buried in a mass of irrelevances, and you have to render a comprehensible, plausible scenario from these fragments. In the end, some of the plots you described end up not bearing any resemblance to reality. So, you have a very big role to play. Play by the rule and play it right.”

Speaking further, the National Assembly hopeful said “Some of the criticisms that come your way as media practitioners, I will agree, are unwarranted. For example, the notion that you do not love government if you expose government wrong doings in order to beat it back to the line of proper conduct and great performance. But you have earned some of the criticisms by sins of commission and of omission; by errors of reporting and of judgment; by invasion of privacy and by insensitivity to people’s feelings. You have earned some distrust by being vague, murky and occasionally misleading. We sometimes show arrogance in our response to criticisms. You can dish it out but most of you do not have the thick skin to take it when the reverse is the case.”

“As a people trying to get our democracy right within the realities of our socio-political and economic environment, we need the help of journalists to achieve this. We need your help to deal with biases, prejudices and presuppositions that mirror our different interpretations of the reality. For the sake of our fledgling democracy, let us behave like patriots, nationalists, and like priest on a godly vocation with the mission to foster discussion and good judgments so essential to the dialogue for a democratic and progressive society,” he added.

Written by Akwaibom Daily
Akwaibom Daily emanated from the idea of Mfreke Udonkang, a graduate of Civil and Water Resources Engineering from the prestigious Federal University of Technology Yola. He also acquired a certificate in Journalism from Norwich University. He is a Media Consultant, Strategist, Online PR Manager, Social media Influencer, Activist and a professional Civil Engineer.