By Imo-owo Mbede

The word empowerment has become very significant in Nigeria’s political lexicon. In various contexts, to “empower” to could mean to “permit,” “license,” “delegate” or “commission.” Nigeria’s political parlance, however, prefers empowerment to “enable,” “equip,” “unshackle,” and “liberate” the people.

According to Scottish historian, satirical writer, and one of the most important social commentators of the Victorian era, Thomas Carlyle, unknown work done is “like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green.”
The modus operandi of Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-udo, the Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency Representative at the National Assembly, with regards to empowerment, is captured briefly in these words.

The Lawmaker went to the Green Chambers of the National Assembly with a resolve to “bring to Ikono-Ini people what is rightfully theirs.” Aside his core mandate of people-centric representation, he promised empowerment and human capacity development. And this, he is dishing out, without pomp and pageantry, to his very blessed constituents.

Aside his personal efforts to create opportunities for his constituents, the House Member makes it a habit to inform his constituents of opportunities for personal, career and capacity development! Many who know him, and even many who have only heard of him, have testimonies of these.

Mr. Anyanya Ikono from Ikot Abia Nkwot in Ikono Local Government Area, recently paid a visit to Hon. Ukpong-udo to thank and present his appointment letter into the Federal Civil Service. This is one of four such appointments which have come through the instrumentality of the House Member – all from people he (Ukpong-udo) has never met before!

True to his nature before being sent to serve his people, Ukpong-udo has similarly recommended over 30 of his constituents for employment opportunities across public and private sectors. Many of these have already been empowered with employment on merit, while several others are at various stages of pre-employment screenings, tests and interviews.

In October, screening tests and selection of eligible undergraduates for the ‘Macaire 2019 Children’s Day Scholarship’ were concluded, under the aegis of ‘Macaire Student Support Scheme.’ The official announcement of beneficiaries, who will enjoy free tuition for the duration of the undergraduate programmes, is being awaited.

More recently, plans were concluded for the take-off of the ‘Macaire Mother and Child Care Program;’ an initiative that aims at reducing maternal and infant mortality through safer childbirth. The program, which holds exclusively at the General Hospital, Ibiaku Ntok Okpo in Ikono Local Government Area, has among its benefits, the encouragement of women to embrace antenatal counsel and to undertake child delivery in hospitals, as against the unorthodox patronage of traditional birth attendants.
It will also see to the empowerment of pregnant women from the constituency with basic pre- and post-childbirth supplies and other medical consumables.

With a representative who silently strives to empower then by addressing crucial individual and collective needs, Ikono and Ini people are indeed a blessed lot.