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HomeEditorialOpinionTHE RETURN OF ANIEKAN UKO: MATTERS ARISING

THE RETURN OF ANIEKAN UKO: MATTERS ARISING

aniekan uko..3By Ifiok Ekong

The raging debate on the return of the immediate past Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Elder Aniekan Uko to his former position, when he resumes as Member representing Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency is very interesting and a welcome development.

The problem is the abusive language, insults and smear campaign some opponents have employed to attack the innocent gentleman of the ‘Iboroakam’ fame since the debate started. I have heard people call Rt. Hon. Aniekan Uko names and that really is annoying, childish and smacks of mediocrity.

The point to make is that, none of these people have set an instance where as speaker, Rt. Hon. Uko messed up. As far as I know, throughout his stay as Speaker, he led a delegation of Legislators to international tours, represented the State in the Speakers Forum and even got elected into an Executive position. He renovated the office of the Speaker, and that of members, initiated some reforms in the AKHA and set up standing committees of the House, and maintained a cordial and healthy relationship with the Executive and Judiciary arms of government.

Uko with other 25 members gave the Department of State Services seven days within which to tender a public apology for invading the official residence of the state governor or face a legal action. Uko also dared the Service to make public what it found and took away from the official quarters, describing the invasion carried out on Thursday, September 3, 2015 as an “assault on the very essence of our democracy and freedom.”

Some of the major highlights of Uko’s six months tenure as Speaker are approval of commissioners and special advisers for the executive arm; motion for the rehabilitation of Calabar-Itu highway; dissolution of the 31 local government councils in the state; motion to stop establishment of nuclear plant in the state; urging the federal government to explore other available and harmless sources of power in the state, including increasing the capacity of Ibom Power Plant, and motion frowning at indiscriminate traditional injunctions by village heads.

I challenge all his detractors to mention where he went wrong or fought the governor, His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel, the party or put the spanner in the wheels of progress of the state.

The effort of some people to cause problems for Rt. Hon. Uko started when some news mediums alleged that his successor, as Speaker and member representing Nsit Ubium State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke was working to frustrate Elder Uko in the rerun election. Thereafter, Aniekan Uko who was not distracted won convincingly. The mandate which his people gave him was reaffirmed.

The next development was not unexpected. Interest and socio-political groups, began to agitate that on his return, the right thing to do was to restore the privileges and position of Rt. Hon. Elder Uko as Speaker of the AKHA to continue the good work he started and also maintain equity and fairness in the distribution of political offices among the geo-political units of the state. For this particular case, the agitators noted justifiably that, Uyo Federal Constituency has been schemed out completely from the power set up in the state. When Rt. Hon. Uko was speaker, that was not the case.

Even when the former Speaker has not said a word on the matter and is still awaiting his certificate of return, some disgruntled people started attacking him making me wonder when it became a sin to make agitation in a democracy.

What is evil in the people of Uyo Federal constituency asking for their rightful position? I recall that, the Political Leader of Uyo Federal Constituency, Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, is always the Prophet whose voice is ignored at first, then everyone will see the light and join his position as the truth unfolds.

He was the one who had the courage to speak out and insist on power shift to Eket Senatorial District when then Secretary to the State Government, Obong Umana Okon Umana was the most powerful man in Akwa Ibom state and began to coerce people to support his ill-timed Governorship project, with then Commissioner for Finance, Obong Bassey Albert. It seemed confrontational then. But soon after, the entire state saw the light that for justice and equity, zoning should be maintained and that’s why we have peace in the state today.

Prince Uwem Ita Etuk has again spoken as a lone voice that come 2019, the Senate position will revert to Uyo Federal Constituency as the incumbent, Senator Albert is serving a second term for Itu Federal Constituency, whereas, Senator Effiong Bob had served two terms for Etinan Federal Constituency and some uninformed people are already cursing him.

It is clear to lovers of truth that what Prince Uwem Etuk said is correct and will come to pass. It is nothing personal but in the overriding interest of the people of Uyo Federal constituency and for inclusiveness, fairness, justice and equity so that the people of Uyo federal constituency should have a sense of belonging and not marginalized in the political structure of the state.

I now make my position on the issue of Rt. Hon Aniekan Uko unequivocally clear, first as one who contested the primaries for the PDP ticket with him and lost out gracefully. Then as a youth leader in Ibesikpo Ward 1 where he hails from and a bonafide son of Ibesikpo Asutan and Uyo federal Constituency by extension.

I completely support the agitation to have Rt. Hon. Elder Aniekan Uko back as speaker of the AKHA when he returns to the House. I have nothing against my brother and friend, Rt. Hon. Luke. But in all good conscience I have asked myself, what if it was Onofiok Luke that was in Aniekan Uko’s position and suffered that unfortunate and questionable act of having his election annulled and being subsequently removed as Speaker for no just cause. Wouldn’t he agree to a proposal that he should be restored to the seat he occupied and the right thing done?

“Udo Uko” as he is fondly called by his numerous admirers and supporters is a disciplined man that always pitches his tent on the side of truth, justice, equity, while defending the cause of the downtrodden, the oppressed and the marginalized.

As a detribalized Nigerian, a humanitarian to a fault and a man destined to tower wherever he finds himself, he has in the last six months proved himself to be a friend of the less-privileged and an emerging leader who is committed to the yearning and aspirations of his people.

When in June 2015 Rt. Honourable Aniekan Uko with other Honourable members of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly took oath of office as members of the AKHA, he promised not to disappoint the electorate, defend their interests and represent them adequately. Before I rest my case, have we once stopped to ask ourselves why we are always creating unnecessary tension within the polity at the slightest opportunity? Note that Aniekan Uko was not impeached! In Bayelsa and Taraba States for instance, the elections of these two speakers were annuled by the Appeal Courts: a re-run was rescheduled and both were returned as House members. Immediately they were given their Certificates of Return by INEC, the PDP structures in those States simply moved into action and they were again sworn-in as Speakers of their respective States.

Why are we beating war drums and crossing swords on an issue that is as simple as ABC. Afterall we all used the party as a vehicle to get to where we are today.

I therefore call on all concerned to look at this issue without sentiments and that the PDP as a party should do the right thing and give back to Uyo Federal constituency what is rightfully theirs going by the zoning arrangement. Failure to do so will rubbish the equity and justice credentials with which the current administration came to power and will have implications for the party on the long run. As a loyal party man, I wish to align with my aggrieved people of Uyo federal constituency on this issue. (Culled from Sensor Newspaper).

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