By Ndifreke Jacob
Barr. Onofiok Luke, member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium federal constituency in the House of Representatives, has identified capacity development, security, industrialization and investment in health care as areas that should define the next phase of leadership in the state.
The lawmaker explained that successive governments did their best in a bid to tackle challenges in those highlighted sectors, but opined that what have been achieved over the years are not enough to warrant relaxation.
He, therefore, charged former lawmakers in the state to push a collective agenda towards producing the next governor since they understand the language and brunt felt by the people.
Luke, who is the immediate past Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, bared his mind in a meeting with former state legislators in Uyo, last week Thursday where he shared his thoughts on the preliminary approaches Akwa Ibom people must take particularly as the state warms up to producing next helmsman in 2023.
On future projections and roadmap for the state to keep going forward, Luke emphasised that the next state’s governor will need to expand the frontiers of development of the present and previous governments by ensuring that more roads are opened for investment.
He also dwelt that the next administration should continue with the present government’s development plan in the aviation sector, prioritization and consolidation on agriculture, healthcare and ensuring economic empowerment of entrepreneurs and infrastructures.
Speaking specifically on agriculture, he said, “the governor understands that we have untapped natural resources, hence channeling his energy towards that areas which is the reason we grow the things we thought could never grow in our land.
“The only thing we need to do is how to push the agricultural agenda like injecting so much money in that agenda, so much money into that industrial revolution that our governor has made by continuing on what our founding fathers made.”
On manpower development and security, Luke pointed out that urgent attention needs to be focused towards tackling the security issues by working with security apparatus and investing in manpower development and resource of the people.
In what appears to be his bullet point on road infrastructure to boost industrialization, he said that the next phase of road infrastructural development that could open up the state for investment would be construction of roads in Nsit Atai, Okobo leading to Ibaka, Urua Nnaira-Nkwot-Ikot Nseyen in Ikono LGA, Abak-Ekparakwa to East West road in Ikot Abasi.
He stressed the need to partner federal government and its agencies to ensure federal roads linking the state with other nearby states are constructed to aid mobility of inter-state transaction and produce.
Some of the roads he spotted for urgent attention for incoming government include, Ikot Ekpene-Umuahia road through Nto Edino in Obot Akara, Ikot Umo Essien linking Abia State and Okopedi-Uya Oron road to Oron main town, noting that construction and dualization of these roads will form a base for expansion to the state as the rail line project is ongoing and in preparedness to the seaport and international terminal construction.
Speaking further on why a legislator should be the best helmsman for the hilltop mansion job in next dispensation, the former Speaker said, ”God has equipped all of us with the intellectual capacity and the leadership qualities, and then God guided us in that in all responsibilities we were given, we were not found wanting.
“We have first-hand knowledge of the development issues around our state through the budgeting process and through the performance of our oversight functions. We discharged all those responsibilities whether as a member of the House of Assembly, or a member of leadership, or the Speaker.”
Onofiok Luke unequivocally declared his intention to contest for the Hilltop Mansion seat in 2023.