By Itoro Bassey
As Akwa Ibom Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, moves closer to the end of his second term in 2023, the member representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium federal constituency and Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, recently, said Akwa Ibom needs a governor with ideas to bridge the gap between the people and development of the state
Luke, who is one of prominent Akwa Ibom politicians eyeing the governorship seat of the state in 2023, equally noted that the next governor must be one who is humble, who understands that the best way to fight poverty in the state is by subscribing to human capacity building.
The federal lawmaker disclosed this at the University of Uyo where he was honoured by the institution’s Senior Staff Club with an Award of Excellence for his immense contributions to the growth and development of the club.
Speaking at the occasion, Luke maintained that Akwa Ibom needs a governor who is in tune with the people, one who will interface with them to share in their yearnings, aspirations and challenges, and not a Leader who will come with rhetorics and utopian ideas that cannot be executed.
The former Akwa Ibom Speaker emphasized that the state needs a leader who will pull the people out of poverty. He said such a leader will be rated by the impact his administration would have created in the lives of people, but not one who would be rated by the skyscrapers they built at the end of the tenure.
According to him, “Akwa Ibom, as a state, has been developed and it is still developing. But unfortunately, the development of Akwa Ibom has left the people behind.
“We’ve done the big ticket things and the lives of the people have been left unattended to. And so, what we need in the next leadership of the state is, how do we close the gap between the people and the development of Akwa Ibom State. And the answer lies in human capacity building”.
Giving a brief insight into the programmes of the past three administrations in the state, Luke said: “There are two sets of people that intentionally go to a place to take development to such places.They are investors and tourists.
“Obong Victor Attah understood the fact that we needed to bring these people here, and that they could only come by land, sea and air. And so, starting by air, he had the concept of the Ibom Airport.
“And by sea, he conceptualized the Ibom deep seaport. By land, he brought the Mother Cat and Zeroc (construction companies) of this world to open up Uyo for us to have infrastructural renaissance.
“After that, he understood the fact that we are going to need power if we are going to grow as an economic base. So, he conceptualized and partnered under the NIPP programme of the federal government to bring the Ibom Power Plant.
“He knew that these people (investors and tourists) would need a place to sleep, and so he conceptualized the Le’ Meridien Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort.
“Obong Attah knew that as the development of the state was going, the people might not be empowered enough to play a catch-up. And so, he needed to put monies in the hands of Akwa Ibom people. Obong Attah came with the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour coordinating jobs.
“Obong Attah knew that our resources does not only lie in crude oil, but it lied also in agriculture. And what did he do? He had the Integrated Farmers’ Scheme so that why we are looking at the big ticket things, monies could be kept in the hands of the people to play along with the development of the state.
“Then came Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio. No matter the political disagreement he might have had with Obong Attah, he never disagreed with Obong Attah’s plans and programmes.
“That was why he could complete the airport and land the first plane. That was why he could buy the second turbine for Ibom Power Plant. That was why he could complete the Le’ Meridien Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort.
“That was why he went a step further and brought Julius Berger and CCECC, and continued with the master plan Obong Attah drew for Uyo; and sought to link the entire local government capitals to each other.
“He knew that monies needed to be in the pockets of people, he continued with the inter-ministerial direct labour jobs, Integrated Farmers’ Scheme and opened the doors for young men and women to be in government which I am a beneficiary.
“The came Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel. As a chief executive officer and executive director of a bank, he has always supported growth of businesses, and funding big businesses in oil and gas.
“With that idea, he came with the Industrialization Agenda of government which is quite nice and good. If we have had one industry per year in the last 30 years, probably, we would have gone a step further.
“What Governor Udom has done is to teach you how to invest the little money that you have so that it can generate finances. And he has continued with the development agenda. That is why we have the Ring Road 3.
“In the aviation sector, he has continued with the idea of Obong Attah that was continued by Godswill Akpabio, and he has gone a step further for us to have an airline.
“There’s no way we could have had a functional MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) facility in the Ibom Airport without us having our state as a hub. And you cannot have a hub if you don’t have an airline of your own”.
Speaking further, Luke insisted that in 2023 Akwa Ibom would need a governor who has been incubated in the leadership womb of the state.
“You cannot sit to solve a people’s problems if you don’t know it. You can’t know a people’s problems if you don’t interact with them.
“You can’t interact with them if you don’t come down to their level to share in their yearnings, aspirations and challenges”, Luke stressed.
He reasoned that such a governor would need to be on the streets to see the challenges of the people so that he would be able to solve them.
The federal lawmaker therefore, observed that finding such a governor was a task for all and challenged Akwa Ibom people to find and support such a governor in 2023 so that the state can begin the long walk back to prosperity for all her citizens.
Luke further cautioned Akwa Ibom people to be conscious of aspirants who would come and read what had been written for them as blueprints, pointing out that they should look out for people who would talk from the heart.
Although he is yet to declare his intention to vie for the governorship seat, Luke is regarded as a grassroots politician by virtue of his interventions in his constituency and humanitarian gestures to people.
Pundits believe that he is top among those who are likely to succeed Governor Udom Emmanuel in 2023.