Rt. Hon. Elder Aniekan Uko is the member representing Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency in Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly.
Rt. Hon. Uko whose popular campaign slogan is “IBOROAKAM” is a former Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
In this interview with the Polity Magazine crew recently, he bares his mind on the 6th Assembly and the victory of Governor Udom Emmanuel as well…
MAY WE KNOW YOU?
I am Aniekan Nyong Uko, an elder in the vineyard of God, but by virtue of my position in the society politically I have been accorded the title “Rt. Hon.”
I am an administrator by profession, a political scientist and a Fellow, Chartered Institute of Administration in Nigeria.
I have been a strong supporter of my party (PDP) before I was first appointed Special Adviser Information, Protocol and Culture in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Council in 2003.
In 2004, I resigned to contest election as a councillor based on the popular demand of my people and by God’s grace I emerged the councillor representing Ibesikpo Ward 1, the urban ward in Ibesikpo Asutan Legislative council.
I emerged as the majority leader of the legislature and thereafter, I was appointed supervisor for Works and Transport .
Soon after, my people nominated me to represent them in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) State Working Committee which I served as the State Organizing Secretary of the party.
In 2014, I resigned based on the popular demand of my people again to contest and represent them in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. My party gave me the ticket and I was nominated and I won the election as member elect to represent Ibesikpo Asutan .
On the day of swearing – in, I saw the mantle of leadership fell on me and I was unanimously elected by my colleagues to be the first among equals for the purpose of leadership that’s how I became the 10th speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
But as God would like it, 6 months after, the appellate court nullified my election on the grounds that my election for fraudulent and marred by irregularities, my people kicked against it and later re-elected me again during the rerun, I lost the speakership position which God gave to me through my colleagues, currently I am serving as a member of the 6th Assembly and the Chairman House Committee on Rules Business, Ethics and Privileges in the house. I represent Ibesikpo Asutan state constituency, my story will not be complete if I do not tell you that I am a choirmaster and also an organist in my church still serving God. I am married to a banker(Ememobong) we are blessed with 2 kids, first son “Emaemek” and the second “AmekiidAbasi”.
HAVING GONE THIS FAR IN THE 6TH ASSEMBLY OF AKWA IBOM STATE , HOW HAS IT BEEN MAKING CRITICAL LAWS?
First I must return glory to God because without Him we would not be able to achieve what we did in the past 4 years in the 6th Assembly, I think am in the right position to give the number of bills passed into law and resolutions taken in the Assembly, I can say Akwa Ibom has not had these crop of lawmakers before. The 6th Assembly led by the speaker Barr. Onofiok Luke is so focused and does not take any matter that concerns the state for a joke knowing too well that we are to serve as a bridge between the government and the governed, we are the ones to connect the people with the government, and we have been doing that efficiently. Looking at the Assembly we have been supportive to the executive which is why you have seen the result, anything that the executive brings that is at the interest of the people we ensure that legislation is made to serve the people and deliver the good dividends to Akwa Ibom state.
IN THE 6TH ASSEMBLY THERE HAS BEEN LEGISLATURE AND EXECUTIVE HARMONY, HOW WAS THIS ACHIEVED?
On the 8th day of June, 2015 when I became the speaker of the House of Assembly, in my inaugural speech I said that the Assembly is going to be the people’s Assembly, where we will not take decisions that will be to the detriment of the people that elected us because they gave us the mandate on trust to represent them. Again anything the executive sends to the legislature we consult with the people, which is why all the bills passed into law pass through public hearings for Akwa Ibom people to bring in their input, this is where success comes from, if we object or agree on anything that comes from the executive that is a true reflection of the people’s voice and this has been a key to the success of the 6th Assembly.
RECENTLY THE STATE WITNESSED A TURNING POINT DURING ELECTIONS WHERE GOVERNOR UDOM EMMANUEL WAS DECLARED WINNER AMIDST THE ACCLAIMED FEDERAL MIGHT, WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS VICTORY MEANS FOR AKWA IBOM PEOPLE?
Well, Governor Udom Emmanuel’s re-election is a true position of Akwa Ibom people, this is because Akwa Ibom is a PDP state and it will take more than 16 years to change the orientation of the people otherwise, a typical woman in the village understands and knows nothing except the umbrella, even with campaigns from other parties, the people Will still stand for PDP because the party has been part of the people. That is what happened to the former governor, most of the people never knew he left PDP, it is on that background that Senator Goodwill Akpabio became governor and Governor Udom Emmanuel succeeded on that platform where peace has been unprecedented, this Peace we are all enjoying is not something anyone would want to toil with, and so the people believe in good governance and visionary leadership of His Excellency Governor Udom Emmanuel who is bringing in industries, turning Akwa Ibom into Small Dubai these are the basis that Akwa Ibom people say they cannot sacrifice such leadership because of sentiments, so they all went out en mass to tell him continue we enjoy the peace, the peaceful co-existence between an Annang man and Ibibio, so you will not hear of Oron and Eastern Obolo what you hear is the Akwa Ibom project, today no one wants to go for what they are not sure of, that is position of the people, they say they will defend this mandate in any court of law that truly Akwa Ibom people gave him that mandate, before now some of us were unable to attend tarry night in church because of the state of insecurity, some of our brothers leaving abroad were unable to visit home for fear of being kidnapped, now people come in here, enjoy, walk freely, for some of us in government carrying police, we do so as paraphernalia of office, not because there is insecurity, I pray it remains so and God will give Governor Emmanuel a successor in 2023.
AS A VIBRANT MEMBER IN THE HOUSE, THE ASSEMBLY RECEIVED A LOT OF REQUEST FOR LOANS, OF PARTICULAR INTEREST IS THE LOAN FOR CCTV WHICH WILL BE LIMITED TO UYO METROPOLIS, TO WHAT EXTENT WILL THIS PROJECT AFFECT THE PEOPLE AND WHY NOW?
Talking about the close circuit television (CCTV)and positioning it in Uyo, Uyo is the centre of galaxy, everything that happens in Akwa Ibom happens in Uyo first, we use to say if the head is sick then the body is dead, so if we allow the security in Uyo to be porous then it will degenerate to other local government areas like Ibesikpo Asutan which is the closest to Uyo, Uruan, Nsit Atai, Itu, Ibiono Ibom, so Uyo must be fully secured, and our Governor being a visionary leader will in the next 4 years ensure that the project is extended to other satellite towns like Eket, Ikot Ekpene, Oron and Ikot Abasi, but because of paucity of funds the Assembly approved this one as a kind of test run, if it does not work then funds will not be approved for the project in other areas in the state, but we believe it will work, because our Governor as a prudent financial manager cannot invest in a fruitless venture. So this is not about Ibesikpo man it is about Akwa Ibom state and where is the center ? Uyo, from there we will now move into Ibesikpo Asutan and other areas where you can boldly request for it, so that is the simple logic which we should applaud the Governor.
The project will impact the people in the state positively, the close circuit cameras will be used to detect crime in the metropolis because any crime to hit Akwa Ibom will target the capital before it degenerate to other local government areas, starting with Uyo I think it is very good for Akwa Ibom state.
Concerning the issue of embarking on the CCTV project when other needs are still pending, you mentioned the issue of power, what has Governor Udom Emmanuel not done in the power sector? He has built injection power station in 4 lanes to boost power supply in Uyo, one at Ekim to serve the people of Mkpat Enin, Ikot Abasi and Eastern Obolo and he promised to build one power station here along Champion breweries and the park to serve the people of Ibesikpo Asutan, Nsit Ibom/Ubium and Nsit Atai, so you see government is a continuum, you cannot wait until you finish on power generation before moving to something else. Let me give an example, like Jesus Christ, with the miracles He performed when he gets to the closet, He will ask his disciples who do they say I am? So if you want to listen to what the people are saying that means you may not do anything for your people, again if you want to listen to critics you will not do anything. As a secondary school student, if you wear a White uniform and it is always clean they will give you a name ‘Sanitary Prefect’ , my mother was a primary school teacher, gentle woman who never punished students, but they still gave her a name “Mma usuk- usuk” so there is nothing you will do which the people will not criticize, another instance was during construction of our international stadium by the former Governor, don’t you remember what the people said? some spoke against it, but today they jump into the stadium clapping oh!…. Our International Stadium.This is because there are some things the people will not see as an idea that will benefit the state as their leader will see it, your ability to see beyond others make you a visionary leader which Governor Udom Emmanuel has done. Being on the saddle of Leadership as the chief security officer of the state he knows that this project is absolutely necessary for the State.
BACK TO YOUR ROLE IN THE 6TH ASSEMBLY, WHAT WERE YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS AND WHAT SHOULD THE PEOPLE EXPECT IN THE 7TH ASSEMBLY
Every bill I have sponsored on the floor of he House has been people oriented, and it is not something that has to do with only Ibesikpo Asutan, I am not a legislator in that House of Assembly that will stand up to say my people are suffering, we don’t have a good road or bridge because I have a way of going about that, If I want to achieve that for my people, I will consult with the executive and will liaise with the committee on Finance and Appropriation to see how to insert those projects for the executive to also consider.
I sponsored a motion to prohibit the proliferation of filling stations in residential or public places, which if we don’t address that, God forbid the state could be thrown into crisis, I sponsored a bill on the use of our indigenous language in schools, this bill emanated from the necessity of the fact that we are at the verge of extinction of our language in this generation.
This is because language is very important, it brings people together and it is a means of identification.
Another motion I sponsored was on private hospitals, but I noticed that the bill was killed because of certain interest I also sponsored a motion on road interjections and traffic light, but the bill that made me renowned was the Real Property Charge Bill, I told my colleagues that if we are representing the people and such a bill comes and we are saying nothing, then it is wrong because there were areas in the bill that was not necessary , So I see myself as a state lawmaker and not only Ibesikpo Asutan lawmaker, all my contributions in the house represents Akwa Ibom people, and if it will not favour the people, I will oppose it even if I will be the only voice.
Now coming to my second term in office by the grace of God, as my people have re-elected me, I will still try my best, I will not sit down here to say this is what I will do, because a lawmaker is like a watchdog what you see in the society is what forms the basis of the bill or motion you want to sponsor on the floor of the house just like a journalist who is the watchdog of he society you can not say that this is what I will write tomorrow, your article will be based on what you have noticed in the society. By the grace of God, the things I will see in the nearest future when I return to the floor of the house will form the basis of my legislation in the 7th Assembly.
WE ARE AWARE THAT THE 6TH ASSEMBLY IS WINDING DOWN AND THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BARR.ONOFIOK LUKE IS SOON LEAVING TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, THERE ARE SIDE TALKS OF WHO WILL EMERGE AS THE NEW SPEAKER WHICH YOUR NAME SEEMS TO FEATURE PROMINENTLY AMONG OTHERS, WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THIS?
Well, if I must comment on that, anyone who would sit in the four corners of his house talking about the speakership of the House of Assembly on the social media or on front page of newspapers, then I think that person has misfired, reasons are, there are factors, first is God factor, next is the party PDP, and who is the leader of the party here? it is the Governor, and the 26 members of the house can only decide, anything outside that then you don’t know what you are doing, let’s leave that to God, but when we get to he bridge we will cross it.