By Ubong Sampson_

About last night, I read one poorly written communique from the quarters of Essien Udim APC which carried the signatories of some purported elders and stakeholders of the party in the area. The said piece of trash aimed to counter an earlier taken position by notable and renowned stakeholders and elders of the area who in their integrity, had chosen the path of political consistency by staying put in the PDP – the party they have known since the advent of democracy in 1999, which has been and still offering them a platform for political participation, against the inconsistency dance of a former governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio, who hails from the same area.

Reading through the lines of their spewed lies and twisted facts (being what their party, APC is known for), in their struggling attempt to justify the shameless, antidemocratic venture of their former representative in the Akwa Ibom legislature, Nse Ntuen who was recently sacked by the law of defection (as provided for in the Nigerian constitution), the unpopular so called elders, made a futile attempt to discredit the Speaker of the Legislature, Barr. Onofiok Luke and his reign, since taking over the leadership of the Akwa Ibom 6th House of Assembly since December 2015.

Being so unfortunate to have had a representative like Nse Ntuen who has spent the last three and a half years in the legislature without anything to show to Essien Udim people as scorecard, one would expect that these so called elders and stakeholders had long joined the rest of Essien Udim people to lick their wounds of a wasted four years, while impatiently awaiting the next election to correct such error, but how they found the courage to put him up for comparison, worse of it, with a character like Onofiok Luke, remains a mystery that may take till forever to unravel.

Well, it is more than public knowledge that it is to the disappointment of the opposition forces in the state that Onofiok Luke has refused to grant one of their greatest desires of setting the legislature at war with the executive so as to impede the developmental plans of the state government and further give them genuine grounds to discredit the governor and his led administration. On this, Onofiok Luke owes them no apology whatsoever. This further explains their resort to discrediting the speaker as attempts to blackmail him into doing their bid. This, we may understand as part of what typically characterizes opposition politics in this part of the world. However, attempting to sell to Akwa Ibom people, Nse Ntuen as an alternative to Onofiok Luke is one magic that the best marketing brands of this world will confess impossible to perform.

To have anything near Onofiok Luke’s scorecard between 2011 and 2015, a Nse Ntuen will need a full four years of intensive legislative training classes with at least four examination sessions to test his grasp of knowledge in the three cardinal functions of a lawmaker namely, Lawmaking, Representation and Oversight Functions. And must take some very compulsory courses like bill and motion drafting and presentation, constituency briefing and constituent empowerment, among others.

It is only after surviving the rigours of such training that he will have the capacity to match the kind of records that were set by Onofiok Luke in his first term in office. Even if Onofiok Luke had lost the chance to return to the house of assembly, he would have been sure of being remembered even in many years to come, as the initiator of participatory budgeting in the state in his reign as Appropriation and Finance Committee Chairman. What will Nse Ntuen be remembered for? Whenever there will be any review of oversight functions performed by the Akwa Ibom 5th Assembly, Onofiok Luke will have a mention where a certain one billion naira was discovered unaccounted for in the special duties ministry and a serious alarm raised, which turned out to be one of the “sins” that fought against his reelection bid. Aside leading the house of comedy, where in the 6th Assembly history will Nse Ntuen be remembered?

Even when there was a plot to scheme out a former deputy governor of the state who is now the APC flag bearer for next year’s gubernatorial elections from Akpabio’s proposed pension bill for ex governors and their deputies, it was only the lone voice of Onofiok Luke that rose to oppose the clause that only those who served for at least two years could benefit. Has Nse Ntuen found such a voice yet? I will spare him the embarrassment of raising the question of bills sponsoring, as that will be like digging into Arsenal FC’s trophy records in the last 13 years.

Pray tell, which sane and sound mind will think of comparing an Onofiok Luke who in the space of 18 months, held two pace setting and mind blowing constituency briefings with very thick empowerment packages that beneficiaries are still enjoying and counting the gains till date, to a Nse Ntuen who could only manage to fix a date to hold one, but later canceled it, even after same was announced in the chamber during plenary, on the pretext that the one done by Godswill Akpabio had covered him? Who does that?

As for the speakership seat, the world knows Nse Ntuen is being pushed by a certain self acclaimed god who, more than three years after leaving power, is yet to settle with the reality. Well, I am only feeling pity for the poor former lawmaker because ordinarily, even if the speakership seat was vacant and be calling his name to sit on it, the Nse Ntuen we know will run far away from such attempt to lure him into an obvious public embarrassment. Hence, by dumping their integrity in the mullocks to celebrate a legislative failure like Nse Ntuen, those so called elders and stakeholders have only gone a step further to circumstantiate the public perception that the APC can accept and celebrate anything that comes to it, as long it counts into its numbers. Indeed, a drowning man never hesitates to clutch at a straw.

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