Today, June 11, 2021, makes Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Onofiok Akpan Luke two years in office as member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
Luke’s ascension to the Federal House did not come like a sudden flight.
He was massively elected by the people of Etinan, Nsit Ibom and Nsit Ubium local government areas in March, 2019, to represent them; to be a voice so vocal in striking the cord of their challenges and very firm in bringing the government closer to them.
Interestingly, within the two years of his stay as federal lawmaker, Barr Luke has drawn rounds of applauses for his representation.
Here are some of the achievements he is noted for:
Barr. Luke has sponsored a total of 21 bills and moved over five motions in the current 9th National Assembly.
One of such bills is the bill which seeks alteration of the Nigerian Constitution “to set time within which civil and criminal cases and matters are heard and determined at trial and Appellate Courts in order to eliminate unnecessary delay in justice administration and delivery, and for related matters”.
This important legislation passed through the second reading in December, 2020, and is now at the Special Ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review undergoing further legislative work.
Other bills which have passed through second reading, and sponsored by him include an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria “to enable the National Judicial Council to effectively discharge it’s constitutional functions, and for related matters”.
The Amendment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (Establishment) Act, National Institute for Electoral Studies (Establishment) Bill, and the Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (Establishment) Act (Amendment) Bill are among other bills sponsored by Barr Luke.
Akwa Ibomites have praised Barr. Luke for his motion on the need for the federal government to make the defunct Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON), in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State, functional.
They appealed to the National Assembly to hasten hearing on the motion to bring relief to the public, especially job seekers and Ikot Abasi residents.
- PROJECTS EXECUTED AND COMPLETED
Passionate lawmakers know that the electorate or body of voting masses look up to their representatives for democracy dividends.
Barr Onofiok Luke, in response to the yearnings of his constituents for development, partnered with the School of Dental Technology and Therapy, Enugu, to organize free medical outreach and health education for his constituents.
Within the same period, Luke made provision and supplied laptops to select youths of the federal constituency to aid their educational training and enterprise development.
Luke also bankrolled the construction of the Constituency Community Center in Etinan, even as he partnered with SMEDAN to organise vocational skill training for women and youth in Nsit Ubium, after which he procured and supplied hairdressing equipment, sewing machines and generators to the beneficiaries.
The lawmaker, again, sponsored the construction of an ICT Knowledge Centres in Nsit People’s Grammar School in Afaha Offiong, Nsit Ibom Local Government Area, and Community Comprehensive Secondary School, Ikot Okobo, Nsit Ubium Local Government Area.
Today, students from both schools have their own centre for learning and innovation where they can access various online services such as examination results of schools and universities or colleges, online admissions, etc. without necessarily travelling to any nearby town or city.
On December 11,2019, Barr Luke held his maiden town hall meeting at the Etinan Local Government Secretariat.
The meeting offered the federal lawmaker the opportunity for interaction and gathering of first hand information concerning the yearnings and aspirations of his constituents.
The meeting, organised in collaboration with YIAGA Africa and Centre for Legislative Engagement, was tagged “Constituency Parley for Robust Legislative Representation”.
Because of his passion for regular interactions and promise to represent his constituents’ preferences in matters pertaining to legislations at the National Assembly, Barr. Luke, within the period under review, met with critical stakeholders in the constituency for consultation on two bills at the National Assembly: Petroleum Industry Bill, 2020, and National Water Resources Bill, 2020, which generated public interest at the time.
Those who attended the meeting – state lawmakers, local government chairmen, leaders of local government legislative councils and others from the three local government areas making up the federal constituency – said Barr Luke was working tirelessly to make representative government work, like he did during his tenure as Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
To them, Barr Luke has endowed his seat in parliament with honour and visibility. Others who spoke at the occasion noted that Luke’s presence in the Federal House of Representatives has been qualitative, adding depth and sagacity to the business of legislation.
Aniefiok Dennis Akpan, the member representing Etinan in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, who spoke on behalf of the lawmakers, praised Barr. Luke for providing uncommon representation at the National Assembly.
He said Barr. Luke, as a member of the lower chamber of the National Assembly, was offering quality representation to Etinan/Nsit Ubium/Nsit Ibom federal constituency, and making the people proud by raising and tackling fundamental issues that are germane to their welfare and progress.
Without doubt, one innovation which received resounding commendations from Akwaibomites and Nigerians at large was the Barr. Luke’s Leadership Masterclass Training for councillors drawn from Etinan, Nsit Ibom and Nsit Ubium Local Government Areas organized in 2020.
At the programme, Luke enrolled all the 31 councillors from the three local government areas at the GOTNI Leadership Centre, Abuja, for the purpose of building their leadership and legislative capacity as representatives of the people at the third tier of government.
Pundits say it was the first of such programme for local government lawmakers sponsored by a federal lawmaker.
At the conclusion of the three-day programme, encomiums poured in for Barr. Luke from around the country and beyond.
The outpouring of those encomiums came not only because of the novelty of the initiative, but also for the impacts the programme has continued to have.
Ndudi Elumelu, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives who chaired the programme, spoke passionately about how thoughtful the initiative was, and said he would replicate the training for his constituents in Delta State.
In all of these strides very phenomenal and narratives so astronomical of a man who knows so much about effective representation; so much about constituency mobilisation and so much more in bridging legislature -constituency gap, Luke remains one legislator set out for history.
In fact, Luke, indeed, is the history; the history of performance Akwa Ibomites are yearning to see play out in the state in 2023.
- Itoro Bassey writes from Uyo, Akwa Ibom State