Onofiok Akpan Luke’s public declaration on his 44th birthday to run for the office of Akwa Ibom State governor in 2023 general elections, which he later scaled up by purchasing PDP’s nomination forms, is a consolidation of his earlier disassociation from Governor Udom Emmanuel-led cabal that anointed a pastor for a coveted political post of the state governor. He was among select individuals that attended a higgledy-piggledy packaged meeting purported to be Akwa Ibom stakeholders that produced one Umo Eno to succeed Udom
Apart from former Senator Effiong Bob, who was hitherto seen as a pretender among contenders for next governorship position, Onofiok was the only one among gubernatorial hopefuls present at the meeting. While the former has proven to be a perfect person pliable for goading, as he sheepishly and immediately jumped on the bandwagon, singing songs for a man who never indicated interest on his own to vie for any elective post, the latter has shown to the world that there is distinction in dissension, especially when done to illuminate truth amidst darkness of falsehood orchestrated by majority.
The event of that that January 30 at the prestigious Akwa Ibom State Governor’s Lodge was a sham spewed with speciousness, machinated with maladroit and taken to showroom by senior citizens and supposed democrats. By immediately distancing himself from the charade, Onofiok took the lead in opposing oligarchy and theocracy in democracy.
Onofiok was the only naysayer among the “stakeholders” but because the meeting was programmed to have spurious unanimity, the negligible minority was not even allowed to have a say. It may not be far from fact that since his name flied beyond school register and started ringing bell in the public even in his undergraduate years, situating every thought and action of Onofiok within prism of amateurishness has become veritable pastime to dismissing his ideas and deeds by his critics and those discomfiture with his meteoric rising profile in politics. When Onofiok wanted to have his say before the anointing oil was poured on the anointed politician he was asked to shut up on the ground that he was not in a “classroom”.
Again, given that remnant seeds of imperialism have grown and sprouted branches everywhere in our country, disagreeing with position hold by the older ones or those in authority is ignorantly considered insulting; and the misconstrued recalcitrant are often treated as rebels deserving punishment of extermination.
Also, the youths of today hardly believe in their mates. Even as there is no record of his ever pretending in any contest, bookmakers in Akwa Ibom, including those he has been “growing together”, had long written him off as one person looking for something else on the guise of gubernatorial ambition. Fortunate for Onofiok, his trajectory of being a cat with nine lives in the course of squaring up with establishments at different spheres and eras has become inbuilt fountain of his inspiration.
Examples abound. Though a sword of expulsion was dangerously dangled on his neck because the then authorities of the University of Uyo was peeved by his populist stance in defending the interest of his fellow students whom he presided over their affairs under the school’s Students’ Union Government, he is a lawyer today and even the president of the alumni of the school. The same establishment that he had robustly serviced relationship with by rubbing each other’s back was bent on stopping him from going for a second term in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly yet he defeated his godfather and godmother even at time no one else won in any game they played.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, when former Governor Victor Attah kept him among other youths of like-minds on fringes for low hanging fruits from politics, Onofiok has been one of the instruments used in advancing certain causes for successive leadership in the state. In fact, the establishment was only comfortable allowing him to become the speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly so he could advance PDP’s interest in event of Supreme Court nullification of Udom’s first term’s election.
In recent days, our politics especially at the local levels has been bereft of ideas, as instant materialism now rules the ruse. Though Onofiok is not immune from the infection of cupidity, he has been able at all times to carve distinguishable niche of originality and intellectual advancement at every given time he rolls out his own Father Christmas-like empowerment to his own segment of people. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, he was the first legislator that initiated constituency briefing in the current democratic dispensation in Akwa Ibom.
Since I am a man that savours intellectualism with all the veins in my body, I am thrilled whenever he speaks off the cuff and laced his advocacies with lucidity and practical logic, and not sophistry. I assume that apart from his flagpole-like physique that makes him appealing to people in private and public whenever he decides to stand erect, the contents of his intelligence on a number of counts and versatility might have been the allurements that made the ever girlish Uduak to grasp opportunity of being the queen in Onofiok’s “other room” with immediate ayes and alacrity.
His voices, along the likes of Senator Bassey Albert and Representative Unyime Idem, have incontrovertibly filled the vacuum of voices of representation for the Akwa Ibom people caused by the non-return of Ita Enang to the National Assembly in 2015. But it is this unique selling point of his in advocacy that makes a number of people in Akwa Ibom to consider that his returning to the National Assembly in 2023 will be better off for him and the people of the State than being the helmsman of the resource-rich state.
But Onofiok, who told me in 2015 that he is dreaming of attaining the legislative height and prowess of Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) and Enang, had since rescinded, hence bidding to call the shot in the executive in Akwa Ibom. Though it takes the mandate of the people for one to be in power, wanting a person by compulsion to occupy a certain office against the wishes of the person is a conspiracy of conscription, which is characteristic of military fiat against democratic freedom.
Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, who warmed himself to the hearts of vast American populace through speeches, was Illinois State lawmaker for three years, federal senator for seven years before moving up to make history as the first black person to lead the most powerful country in the world.
Onofiok has been criticized of a number of things, including being erratic and infantile. I believe those assumed foibles of his hold truism only on the lane perceptions, in that an erratic person in one man’s eyes may be unpredictable person in the eyes of another, just like an infantile person may be down-to-earth to some other people. Even so, though there is the likelihood that he would plead not-guilty, I doubt Onofiok getting easy discharge and acquittal in the court of public opinion on charges bordering on non-respond to mails and calls, lack of time-consciousness and inability to keep faith with personal appointments and schedules. Time-keeping, honouring of personal schedules, treatment of mails as well as calls are prima facie barometers of gauging one’s personal integrity. Indeed, integrity is a panacea for functional and fruitful leadership at any echelon of life.
However, for fully and formally indicating interest to run for Akwa Ibom 2023 governorship, Onofiok has not only taken bold step to actualizing his dream, but has made a mark of integrity in that particular regards. He is not the youngest person ever vying for governorship position in Akwa Ibom; and if he wins he will not be the youngest governor to have governed a state in Nigeria. But in a number of indications, Onofiok is a poster-boy for not-too-young to lead Akwa Ibom people.
Good or bad governance is not really tight to the age of the leader in question. From antiquity to contemporary history, the young, the not-too-young and the old have been in leadership across the globe. But when youths indicate active interest in vying for leadership at any level it is heartening to humanity because the younger generations are the beacons of hope for continuous advancement of human development.
Let Onofiok and his co-contenders be judged at the polls by the content of their ideas, character, antecedent and capacity; and not at Governor’s lodge reserved for servicing frontiers of good governance, but misused by Udom for fallacious politics of anointment.
- Nsikak Ekanem, a journalist sent this piece from Lagos through [email protected]