The jinx breaker and two-term member of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Uduak Odudoh, represents the people of Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo. He is a stakeholder in the Akwa Ibom Project and Chairman of the House Committee on Finance and Appropriation. He shares his thoughts with the Managing Editor of Ibom Telegraph, Darlington UDOBONG, on the 32nd Anniversary celebration of the state, prospects before the 7th Assembly and sundry matters. Excerpts:
Akwa Ibom State is celebrating 32 years of statehood. As a stakeholder in the Akwa Ibom Project, do you think the state has fared well?
Yes, Akwa Ibom State has fared so well. In terms of political, economic and infrastructural development, yes. Today, Akwa Ibom is the most peaceful state in Nigeria, made possible by the sterling leadership of our dear Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel. Today, Akwa Ibom cannot be compared with so many states that were created before her and the one created on the same day with her. Our infrastructures are superb, our political development and consciousness, educational exposure, and so on, are unprecedented and incomparable. Best of all is that we have been having peaceful transitions of government from inception till date. And if you also ask me if our leaders have been implementing the dreams and aspirations of our forebears, I will say yes. At 32, looking at the landmark achievements of all our leaders, which are currently being consolidated by Deacon Udom Emmanuel, Akwa Ibom has done well.
As a member that represents Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo State Constituency, one that broke the jinx to return for a second term by the shear benevolence of the people, I sincerely appeal to my people, my colleagues and the entire people of Akwa Ibom State to partner with government and continue to support the State Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel, to deliver on his core mandate for progress and development of the state.
I wish to also use this opportunity to advise all detractors to refrain from their antics of disunity and disharmony. In my State Constituency, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) preached violence free elections, we kept to it and today the verdict of the Election Tribunal is a clear testament to that act, it is a total confirmation of what happened during the elections. I want to also advise our brother on the other divide to come to term with the fact that politics is a game of interest. They should play politics with the spirit of sportsmanship. They should join hands with Governor Udom Emmanuel and work for the progress and development of the state because we can only have one Governor at a time, not two.
How has it been representing two Local Government Areas, unlike your colleagues that represent just one Local Government Area in the State House of Assembly?
In life, there are certain things one cannot change or run away from. You cannot change or run away from the family you are born into. You cannot change or run away from the community you come from. They are God’s design. Your responsibility is to contribute your quota and move on. Incidentally, I am from a State Constituency that is made up of two Local Government Areas, Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo. And the unfortunate thing is that I go back home with the same take-home package as my colleagues that represent one Local Government Area do. It is a big challenge though, but it gives me more energy and reason to work harder to achieve more.
My prayer is that whenever the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wants to do delineation, we should be considered. This will ensure that each of the Local Government Area is made a State Constituency. Constitutionally, the law says each State House of Assembly must have a minimum of 24 members and a maximum of 40 members. We have seen states with lesser local government areas than Akwa Ibom State having more State Constituencies. So, why can’t Akwa Ibom State with 31 Local Government Areas have more State Constituencies?
I have been relating with my people, the people of Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo, and that has been my success. I want to consolidate on this relationship even in this my second term. My second term is a rare privilege given me by my people and so I want to consolidate on the leadership empowerment and live-touching projects of my first term. It might interest you to know that the election that threw me up was the freest and peaceful in the history of Ikot Abasi Local Government Area. Ikot Abasi was written off by certain persons because the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Obong Nsima Ekere, is from the area. Before and during the elections, when you talk about APC, you are talking about NDDC (Niger Delta Development Commission). When you talk about NDDC, you are talking about the Managing Director of NDDC. And when you talk about the Managing Director of NDDC, you are talking about Obong Nsima Ekere who was a candidate of the APC.
Before then, I told people that money will not play much role in 2019 elections in Ikot Abasi but relationship and goodwill. And that was exactly what happened. Relationship and goodwill gave us, the PDP, the landslide victory. People came with so much money and logistics and tried to buy over the electorates but the people had abiding faith in Deacon Udom Emmanuel and the PDP. They exercised their franchise holistically and the will of the people prevailed. We defeated the opposition party in all the elections to confirm that PDP is a religion in Ikot Abasi.
You are Chairman of the House Committee on Finance and Appropriation, how has the tasks been so far?
I want to sincerely thank the Speaker of the 7th Assembly, Rt. Hon Aniekan Bassey, and by extension, the leadership, for finding me worthy to serve in this capacity. I also thank and appreciate the State Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel, for his support all the way. House Committee on Finance and Appropriation is an old terrain for me. In the 6th Assembly, I was privilege to serve as a member of the Committee and I know the workings of the Committee. So, when I assumed as Chairman of the Committee, the first thing I did was to embark on the appraisal of the 2019 Budget, especially on the projects Ministries. I did that to have an insight and background of what is to come as regards Budget. Within that work frame, I also emphasized on the need for Ministries, Departments and Parastatals (MDAs) to have a sizeable and implementable Budget. I want to assure the people of Akwa Ibom State that I will discharge my given responsibilities as Chairman of the Committee effectively.
What are your plans and prospects in the 7th Assembly, having served in the 6th Assembly?
When I joined the 6th Assembly, the first thing I did was to understudy the ranking members. I learned from them and I discovered that the cardinal responsibilities of a lawmaker are oversight function, law making and representation. In the area of law making and oversight, by the benevolence of the then leadership, I did well and was given the opportunity to serve as Chairman of the House Committee on Public Account; Chairman of the House Committee on Labour and Productivity, and members of various Committees among others. In the area of representation, which is giving back to your constituency, I touched lives. In the 7th Assembly, I want to improve on all the achievements of my first term.
What advice do you have for your colleagues and constituents?
For my colleagues, they should always go back to the grassroots because the power lies with the people. Failing to show gratitude and interface with the people are the grassroot is the worst thing that can happen to an elected or political office holder. It is a mark of ingratitude and God in Heaven condemns it. For my constituents, let’s keep the support alive.