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HomeEditorialOpinionONOFIOK LUKE AND THE HISTORICAL SEED OF GREATNESS

ONOFIOK LUKE AND THE HISTORICAL SEED OF GREATNESS

BY Ubong SAMPSON

Spending time to read about great men in ages past, especially those who originated from the western world can bring an inexplicable kind of self satisfaction. Do not get it twisted, the writer is not an advocate of euro-centric history, he is only being naturally attracted to the strong will which, according to historical records, constituted part of their disposition. You may wish to join in this short drive down history lane for clarity.

Despite the arguments by the afro-centric historians that Africa had an unwritten history before the 14th/15th century expedition of European explorers to the Mediterranean World in search of cheap labour in form of black slaves that could replace the West Indians, truth is, there is yet to be a record of any African who stood out in world-shaking exploits as renowned as what we had in the western world.

From George Washington, who took up the task of mobilizing unskilled and inexperienced militia men in America into a strong fighting force that was to challenge the then most dreaded British army in their quest for independence, to one time American President, Woodrow Wilson who looked beyond the economic and territorial gains which, his led-America, like other world powers (France, Britain, Italy), could have derived from the Versailles’ Peace Conference treaty of 1919, as compensation from Germany which was to be punished for its aggressor role in the first world war, and rather sued for what was referred to as the “peace of justice” by seeking the establishment of the League of Nations; these men and their exploits just have a unique way of inspiring anyone.

Even the French philosophers who won a pride of place in the history of France, especially where the French revolution context comes to play, are equally worthy of mention in this regard. When we talk about the factors that incited the French citizens against the rule of King Louis (xvi)- the events that led to the French revolution, philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his “Social Contract or Principles of Political Rights” work made very impactful contributions.

Talking about the Social Contract, Rousseau’s long discuss and analysis was summed to a brief conclusion that, “the purpose of the Government and law is to uphold and protect the natural rights of men. So long as the Government fulfils this purpose, the laws given by it are valid and binding but, when it ceases to fulfill it, then the laws would have no validity and the Government can be thrown out of power”.

Put differently and simply, Rousseau was of the position that every government has obligations owed the citizens and which it must meet, just as it demands the citizens to respect its sovereignty and remain law abiding. This brings to bear the Judaism inspired Latin maxim- “pacta sunt servanda”, meaning that all terms of agreements must be met by the parties that go into it. Hence, a reason why every government must be conscious of the yearnings of the people, as well as their reactions to the policies and laws it makes.

Following the US policy towards Africa which focused mainly on the decolonization of Africa, some renowned Africans began to embrace western education, even up to a point of seeking higher learning in foreign land. This saw to the rise of renowned nationalists who took up the course of nationalism which led to the freedom of African states from the colonial masters. From the earliest independence of Liberia, Nigeria, in 1960, followed suit. This was following the rise of nationalists like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, etc. And with this seed of greatness sown, the country has, since then, produced calibres of great men and women from various parts of the country who stood out in diverse fields.

While modern history (especially of the political angle) will acknowledge these great men in numbers who originated from the Akwa Ibom part of the country, this piece seeks to focus on one of them who came into existence about eighteen (18) years after the Nigerian independence, and has so far spent 38 years of his life keeping the exploits of the fore bearers of greatness alive.

Just like Africa before the arrival of the Europeans, there may be no historical trace as to who planted the seed of greatness from which he sprung forth, but apparently, the last 14 years of his life is a stark proof that indeed, there was a seed of greatness planted somewhere in Ikot Etobo in the Nsit Ubium area of Akwa Ibom State from which he originated.

Needless going into his story and journey to greatness, as it is now as common and easily recited as the “twinkle-twinkle little star” nursery rhyme; but then, this man leads a kind of life that keeps creating newer versions to his story and history.

Trained as a lawyer, he took an expedition to public service, and his records so far can be best described with words synonymous with exceptional and superlative. Leading a life defined by very strict and uncompromising principles, his few years in public service has placed more focus in raising the stakes and showing examples.

If the world had ever thought that the height of regard for humanity was reached by the Abolitionists Movement in Britain which made the first move against slavery and slave trade on humanitarian grounds, then here is another abolitionist whose everyday life and human relationship shows that he would have made a perfect match with the likes of William Wilberforce, Thomas Claxson, etc, were he to be in existence in the 19th century.

Again, if the world ever thought that the pro-decolonization part of US’ policy towards Africa was the height of liberalism, then here is another liberalist who does not only advocate programmes and policies that will encourage the freedom and liberation of the minds of people, especially of the younger generation towards greatness, but also takes exemplary steps towards it.

Yet again, while the world may have thought that the European capitalists, in their imperial quest for external outlets to invest their surplus capital and acquire more wealth, had affected the entire universe with greed, exploitative tendencies and insatiable disposition, here is a man whose habit of sharing nature’s benevolence, as well as strong advocacy on the spread of commonwealth among the populace remains and indirect, yet, firm antagonist of imperialism which seed was sown many years ago.

Like Jean Rousseau, John Locke and Thomas Jefferson had postulated in their respective “social contract” theories, this same man steers his part of the public service ship always with the consciousness of this contract, bearing in mind the obligations he owes the very people from which he got the mandate of representation.

Barely eight months into his first major public office, he took the lead in the Sam Ikon-led 5th House of Assembly by hosting constituents in a pacesetting briefing and empowerment programme. On that very day of March 2012, a number of constituents and groups had their electoral votes returned to them in form of cars, while several others had theirs in form of business grants.

Still on that same mandate, this same man, on December 13, 2013, gathered his constituents yet again, and, before the witnessing eyes of the public, converted votes into more cars and over 170 business grants of N100,000 each for another set of constituents.

This and many more factors documented and not, were later converted into multiple votes with which he sailed his way to securing a second term mandate, not just as a representative, but with a higher mandate of leadership among equals. With a year so far spent, the bells are sounding once again in every farm, trade and stream routes of Nsit Ubium, calling on constituents to gather yet again come December 21st, as the Rt. Hon (Barr) Onofiok Akpan Luke, who, in 2015, received their mandate for a second term representation, but was later found worthy to lead his colleagues as Speaker of the Akwa Ibom 6th Assembly, will be home to report progress.

 

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