By Kufre Etuk
One of the marks of good leadership is the ability to create innovations that can drive the leader’s vision and ideas into reality.
However, it is not everyone who occupies a position of leadership that has such self-discipline to create, invent, or innovate ideas that are good enough to be emulated by others or stir positive change within a system.
When leadership and legislative innovations are discussed in Nigeria, Barr. Onofiok Luke, the member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium federal constituency, a young, promising lawmaker, would be among top performers because of his distinct ability to create and invent changes in the way the legislature operates.
Luke has created ideas and programmes in the legislature both in his State, Akwa Ibom where he once served as speaker, and in the National Assembly, that have stimulated the thinking of other lawmakers and change legislative procedures making them more efficiency, participatory, and people-oriented.
His latest innovation, the Leadership Masterclass Training for councillors, like his other super interventions, has been emulated.
Last year, Barr. Luke enrolled 31 councillors, drawn from Etinan, Nsit Ubium and Nsit Ibom Local Government Areas in Akwa Ibom State and enrolled them at the GOTNI leadership centre, Abuja, to build their leadership and legislative capacity as representatives of the people at the third tier of government.
The Leadership Masterclass Training received resounding commendations from Akwa Ibomites and Nigerians at large.
It was the first of such masterclass for local government lawmakers sponsored by a federal lawmaker.
At the event, the Chairman of the occasion, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, spoke passionately about how thoughtful Luke’s initiative was, particularly at a time local government administration in Nigeria was at a crossroads, and said that he would replicate the training for his people.
“When my colleague, Hon. Onofiok Luke, called me that he needed me to be the chairman, I asked him what he was doing today, and he told me he was bringing his people. I became very jealous.
“Jealous that he has beaten me by bringing councillors from his state for this leadership programme. This is something that is highly commendable. For me it’s also a challenge that some of us that have been elected into offices should show dividends and I will do same,” he said.
Few weeks ago, Hon. Elumelu followed the path founded by Barr. Luke. He took councillors from his Federal Constituency, Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency, for the Leadership Masterclass Training.
Barr. Luke has left legacies of innovation wherever he holds a position of responsibility. For instance, at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, he was the vanguard for the inclusion of public hearing as part of legislative process for a Bill to be passed into law by the House of Assembly. That innovation is now a norm in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
While at the House of Assembly as a first-time lawmaker, Barr. Onofiok Luke distinguished himself among his contemporaries and seniors and pioneered the organization of an elaborate, annual constituency briefing in Nsit Ubium, his state constituency.
The open-air constituency briefing which Barr. Luke started opened a feedback loop for individuals and communities to make contributions to lawmaking and policy implementation.
It also opened a vista for constituents to demand and receive ’empowerment’ from their representatives. Constituency briefing has now become a norm in Akwa Ibom State, and constituents now assess performance of their representatives by the number of times he or she calls for such briefing within a tenure.
Barr. Onofiok Luke, is a public officer who passed through rigorous terrains to become the admirable model of youth leadership that he is today.
At the time he was the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Barr. Luke introduced and sponsored the first ever stipendiary legislative internship programme, Onofiok Luke Legislative Internship Programme (TOLIP) which later metamorphosed into what is called Akwa Ibom State Legislative Internship Programme, AKILIP.
Interns for the programme, who were selected across the state, were taught Bill drafting, legislative report writing, leadership, ICT and entrepreneurship.
That programme presented a rare opportunity for the young interns to learn first-hand about the workings of the legislature, thus preparing them for the future.
Barr. Onofiok Luke is unique in his innovativeness. His little-by-little, step-by-step inventive interventions might just be the fuel that would make our lamp glow again.