Stakeholders harp on constituency consultations for empowerment
Stakeholders, including Governor Udom Emmanuel, Senator Bassey Albert and chairman of the Speakers’ Conference, Abdulmumuni Kamba, have identified constituency briefings as a veritable way of empowering citizens.
The politicians spoke during the third constituency consultation ceremony organised by the Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke at Nsit Ubium in Uyo Central Senatorial district of Akwa Ibom State. The occasion attracted other public office holders from the state, 14 speakers of other states’ Houses of Assembly.
Emmanuel said elected representatives, particularly lawmakers, “must identify with the people. If all of us identify with our people like Luke is doing, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will not struggle for votes. Let us cultivate our constituents like it is being done here.”
He enjoined other politicians to emulate Luke’s legislative style, by ensuring that they cultivate grassroots people, noting that leaders could only make lasting impacts by winning the confidence of the people they represent.
While promising to partner the Speaker to support his constituency, the governor urged those who benefited from the empowerment programmes to utilize the opportunity to improve their lives. “In Luke, I find a reliable partnership. We have a lot of shared interests,” he declared.
Kamba, who is also the Speaker of Kebbi State House of Assembly, enjoined other lawmakers to toe the path of his Akwa Ibom counterpart, even as he described Onofiok as one of the most vibrant speakers in the country.
He noted that for the speaker to have sustained his constituency consultation programme for four years is a proof that he was not false, adding: “Luke, unlike a biblical proverb, is not a prophet without honour in his home.”
Speaking at the occasion, which coincided with a thanksgiving service to mark his first anniversary as Speaker, Luke said his return to the House of Assembly was divine, pointing out that “my name was not among those selected to return to the state assembly. I was already planning to start building my chamber. That was after I had spoken with everybody I knew and it was clear that I would not be allowed to return.”
Itemising the progress of his constituency consultations, the lawmaker disclosed that in the maiden edition in 2012, he gave out 11 saloon cars to his constituents for intra-city transport scheme, adding that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Nsit Ubium Chapter and the Nigerian Youth Council were also given 18-seater bus each, while 40 women, youths and physically-challenged people got between N50, 000 and N100,000 for business start-ups.
Luke disclosed that during the second edition in 2013, he gave 10 brand new cars to rural dwellers to boost intra-town commuting and increased the number of beneficiaries of start-up funding: “A total of N9.1m went to youths to start small businesses, while 10 widows, 15 other women, 10 physically-challenged individuals and 34 men were given a seed fund of N100, 000. Two 18-seater buses were also given to relevant interest groups.”
Remarkably, in the recent and third exercise, despite the harrowing economic recession in the country, Luke increased the budget for his constituency programmes. 140 individuals benefited from business support scheme, 10 mini-busses and six salon cars were given to 16 women, with as 10 motorbikes were given to 10 young people.
The Speaker also introduced skill promotion and education support programme in the third edition. Under the skill promotion programme, 10, sewing machines, 10 vulcanising machines, 10 welding machines, 10 sets of hairdressing equipment and 10 power generating sets were given to deserving constituents.
On the education support programme, 130 students secured various scholarships and bursaries, while five selected secondary schools in Nsit Ubium Local Government were given hundreds of specialised textbooks.
He added: “The latest that has been passed into law is the bill for the protection of the physically challenged persons against all forms of abuses and discrimination. For me, every child who suffers physical impairment of any form should enjoy same rights and privileges as any other person.
Onofiok, who became Speaker following the nullification of the election of his predecessor, Aniekan Uko, expressed the belief that true representation could only emerge when those in leadership are in constant touch with those they lead.
The Deputy Speaker, Mrs. Felicia Bassey, described Luke as a “reliable and real” politician in whom the state’s parliament had found genuine leadership.
“Luke is not fake,” she added, “he is real, strong and reliable. He is a power broker. We are proud of him. Giving is a spirit, and Luke has it. By the thanksgiving and constituency briefing, the speaker has told us the way we should go. And we will go back and do what he has told us.”
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