Fostering Good Leadership


Onofiok Luke, a member of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is bringing to his work the lessons he has learnt as a fellow of the Nigerian Leadership Initiative, writes Ojo M. Maduekwe.

Among those who sat in a serene environment somewhere in Lagos a few years ago to listen to lessons on leadership, drawing knowledge from examples of leadership by former leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela and many others, who achieved greatness was Onofiok Akpan Luke. That single attention paid to lessons on leadership organised by Nigerian Leadership Initiative (NLI) is helping Luke to be an example to others in his home state of Akwa Ibom, where he’s now a legislator.

So when in 2011, during his campaign, Hon. Luke pledged to honourably represent the people of Nsit Ubium constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly , he did it with an insight of who should be called a leader.

And though, many people must have rated him as just one of the politicians and his words as the rhetoric rambling of the usual politician jostling for the peoples vote, Luke has changed all that.

Two years down the line, it is obvious that this NLI Associate who was inducted in October 2009 and has previously served as past Speaker of the Nigeria Youth Parliament, meant every word he said about ably representing and delivering the dividends of democracy to his constituents.

On Friday December 13, 2013, stakeholders comprising of the political and business-class, the media along with the residents of Nsit Ubium Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State gathered at the Nsit Ubium Council Secretariat field, for the second time, for the constituency briefing of Hon. Luke.

The event which was attended by the Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Hon. Sam Ikon; past Secretary to the State Government, Obong Umana Umana; the State Peoples Democratic Party chairman, Obong Paul Ekpo, and a host of others, was almost marred by heavy downpour.

After the rain had quieted down and praise singing which were done in their native language amidst resounding cheers from the crowd were ended, Hon. Luke took to the podium to deliver his prepared address, titled, ‘Consolidating on the Gains of Robust Legislative Engagement: a Mid-term Report.’

In the course of speaking, Hon. Luke highlighted his achievements in the areas of law making, oversight and representation, to an attentive gathering. From what he listed as part of his successes in a little over two years, and the reaction he got from those in attendance, one can call Hon. Luke an achiever.

A man of the people, Hon. Luke has empowered his constituents and created jobs for them through several infrastructural and human empowerment projects such as a Town Hall at Ikot Etobo, Market Stalls in Ikot Akpan, Market Stalls in Nnung Obong, Primary School Block in Afia Nsit, Market Stalls in Ikot Eyo and Water Project in Ikot Enwana.

There have also been road constructions. But, Hon. Luke only doesn’t see all of these as having achieved and so, he’s made plans for new projects, which includes water projects in Ikot Ede in Itreto ward, Obio Ekid in Ubium South; Atiamkpat in Ubium North and Ikot Akpaotu in Ibiakpan Obotim. There’s also going to be a Civic Centre sited in Ntit Oton, Ibiakpan Obotim; while market stalls would be constructed in Ikot Ubo, Ubium South.

In the area of law-making, Hon Luke said that, “I have sponsored five bills on the floor of the House. Two of these bills have been passed into Law.” One of the bills is the ‘Law to Provide for the Establishment of the Akwa Ibom State HIV/AIDS Control Agency, Functions of the Agency and for Connected Matters.’ The other is the ‘Law to Amend the Magistrate Court Laws 2000 and for Matters Connected Therewith.’

Other bills still waiting to be passed into law, according to Hon. Luke are, “the bill for laws to provide for the safety of employees in the construction companies and industries in Akwa Ibom, and the bill for the law to protect the physically challenged against discrimination are some of my private member bills which are at various legislative stages in the House.”

Perhaps, the hallmark of his actions that underscores Hon. Luke as a man of the people is in his making the House budgeting system a participatory one. He is the Chairman of the Committee on Finance and Appropriation, which he successfully headed along with the contributions of other members to pass the 2012 and 2013 appropriation and supplementary appropriation bills.

“Along with members of my committee, the Committee on Finance and Appropriation, I invited stakeholders including traditional rulers, women, the youths, students, and the civil societies to a public hearing.” According to Hon. Luke, “this was the first ever budget briefing organised in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.

“The stakeholders made contributions to the 2013 appropriation bill that was presented by His Excellency the Governor. The stakeholder’s collective position on the budget was what informed the State House of Assembly’s ultimate approval of about N470billion for the 2013 fiscal year.”

At the second constituency briefing, a total of 170 Nsit Ubium people benefited from Hon. Luke’s two empowerment schemes – the Constituent Transport Scheme (CTS) and the Seed Fund for Business Start-up (SFBS) and partook of the 10 brand new vehicles that were distributed to beneficiaries.

Also, 10 widows, 15 other women, 10 physically challenged persons and 34 men were each given the sum of N100, 000 each as seed fund to assist them in their business start-ups. Still under this financial empowerment scheme, 91 youths were each given N100, 000 to start a business.

In his appraisal of Hon. Luke’s achievement within two years, the state chairman of the PDP, Obong Paul Ekpo, said, “It is two years after we made a good choice in Onofiok Luke. The right choice was made by my party, the PDP. In Onofiok we have good representation. Onofiok has shown his people that he can represent them and that is why we are all gathered here.”

As the event came to an end at about 3pm, the journalists who had attended the briefing left Akwa Ibom back to Port Harcourt to catch the next available flight to Lagos. In the car, an aide to Hon. Luke, Mr. Chidi conducted what you can call a second briefing, answering all their questions.

According to Chidi, “This is his second constituency briefing. The first was in 2012, a year after he was massively elected by the people into the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in 2011. From that time until now, it is clear how much the people love him. Even among his co-lawmakers, he is loved and well respected. He can be rightly described as having the governor’s ears.”

Continuing, Chidi said, “He is a grassroot politician, a man of the people.” From the crowd that attended the event and the outpouring of encomium, it is beyond arguing that Chidi was more than an overzealous aide trying to sell his paymaster to the media. Hon. Luke can be said to be loved indeed.

Earlier, when the journalists had arrived the Port Harcourt international airport from Lagos, Chidi, along with a Chauffer, had gone to pick them. Before they got to the venue of the ceremony, it began to rain heavily. While most of the crowd had sat under the canopy and some others docked inside the secretariat building, a large number, in total defiance braved the rain and were drenched.

Sitting in the car, they were reluctant to step into the dripping water, which had by now begun to reduce. On sighting a man on suit being escorted by a group of policemen, Chidi highlighted from the vehicle and ran towards them. In few minutes, he returned in the company of the man, who held an umbrella over his head while being surrounded by security. Chidi tapped on the window vehicle and motioned for the two journalists to step out of the vehicle.

They got down and together stood under the light shower, facing this man that from guesswork shouldn’t be more than 35years old. His suit was crisp blue, with a nice finishing. “My name is Onofiok Luke and you’re welcome,” he said and went ahead to hand them the umbrella and walking away under the light showers and in the company of strong build policemen.

If this was not a glaring show of true leadership, one that every citizen craves that all politicians should portray, only God knows what is. It takes a caring leader, one who is selfless to instead be drenched in the rain while the people he’s been called to lead find succour under his umbrella.

“Honourable Onofiok Luke, I must tell you, is a man of the people. At least you saw the kind of love and followership he enjoys from his people,” said Chidi as they journey progressed. Chidi continued to mesmerize them with more local tales of a man who had just proven to them that it’s possible to be a politician with all the glitz and glamour but yet still stay in touch with your roots.

Exemplifying the vision of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative, as “a platform for credible, accomplished and uniquely patriotic Nigerians to develop and express values-based leadership skills with the aim of assuming a transformative role in the continuous development of Nigeria,” Hon. Luke can be said to be a true leader and a patriotic representative of his people.

Source: ThisDayLive