By Ukpong UKPONG
Business of legislation has never been any easy one. Several centuries ago, Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), the famous Prussian statesman and architect of German unification, quipped that making law is like making sausage, a messy job not for the naive.
Sadly, in recent times, nepotism and godfatherism continue to promote mediocrity above merit, allowing naive politicians to represent Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency, to its detriment.
A notable kingmaker from the area, Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, is alleged to have explained away the decline in quality of its state representation by retorting, “EBEN ETOK EBOT EKE FOT YAK ATA IKIM!”
Consecutively, their choice of lawmakers has affected quality of state legislators and overall performance of government in the state. No doubt, many view that sham election which threw up Mr. Aniekan Uko as State House Representative as another retrogressive leap.
Well the courts ruled that he emerged against known rules of election in a democracy as electorate were denied right to freely vote a candidate of their choice.
Uko claims he could have won creditably had his ‘helpers’ not rigged that election.
He will soon prove this claim as the Appeal Court verdict has given Ibesikpo Asutan people another chance to send a quality candidate of their choice to represent them.
While doing so, they should be aware that the yarn about reclaiming Speakership is DOA, Death on Arrival. So, electorate shouldn’t be deceived that Uko will resume as Speaker, if voted for. As it were, voters should understand that he had seven whole months to prove himself. They should then decide if he met their requirement for effective representation or not?
Was he accessible, accomodating and ready to come down from the high horse of officialdom to interact with constituents? Beside recent emergency measure of doling out cash and cars to few supporters, does he understand their needs and is he willing to articulate same at plenary and lobby for their benefit?
The coming rerun election isn’t time to give another ‘ETOK EBOT’ opportunity to feed fat, forgetting why he was mandated to represent his people.
This time, critical issues must be weighed, keeping sentiments and percuniary enticements aside. The people should know what they want, whether the candidate is credible for the job or not.
In addition, Ibesikpo Asutan people owe the state a burden because apart from representing them, their candidate should be competent to serve the generality of Akwa Ibom people, if the need arises.
Going back memory lane, in 1999, Ibesikpo Asutan graciously gave Obong Victor Adiaha Attah to Akwa Ibom State, who fought gallantly to ensure we regain control of our God given resources.
Without contention, after Attah’s eight years in office, a comprehensive master plan for Akwa Ibom state development has been laid such that subsequent administrations can only build on what he started.
The same cannot be said of recent crop of lawmakers, Ibesikpo Asutan sent to Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. Yes, their constituencies may not have recalled them for poor performance, but they found their way into very sensitive areas of state legislature such as Finance and Appropriation and leadership of state legislature respectively. Without mincing words, effect of their dismal outing will affect the entire state for generations to come.
Throughout their short controversial stay in these exalted positions, the state recorded remarkable rise in extra-budgetary spending, unchallenged by the legislature. As a matter of fact, the State House of Assembly reportedly endorsed an avalanche of outrageous borrowing for ‘uncommon’ projects that has crippled the state financially, leaving undisclose amounts in debt for our generations yet unborn to pay. Even Governor Udom is afriad to give actual figure but claims it will take us over 20 years to repay.
Some of those projects, including Ibom Tropicana, Etebi-Enwang road with bridge, Etinan-Eket dual carriage, Eket-Ibeno dual carriage, Uyo-Ikot Ekpene dual carriage etc., are ongoing yet tens of billions borrowed were purportedly to ensure their completion before expiration of the last administration.
Aniekan Uko, as Speaker, beat an abysmal record set by his ‘rubber stamp’ predecessor, when he led the state legislature to approve the governor’s request to borrow over N11Billion within 14 days. He asked not a single question, completely ignoring the fact that these monies could have easily been misappropriated while the governor was neck deep in a legal battle, challenging his legitimacy!
That said, a legislator must know his job. Aside primarily making laws, he must check excesses of the executive. He or she must seperate personal loyalty to a god father from duty to state.
An apt example is the recent faulty 2016 National Budget erroneously presented by Mr. President before the National Assembly