THE SUNDAY ARTICLE: EFC 2019: Onofiok Luke, Sam Ikon, and the rest of us.
The 2019 general elections will be an interesting one; more interesting will it be in Etinan Federal Constituency (EFC) where the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Onofiok Luke hopes to slug it out with a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly and member representing Etinan Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. (Elder) Sam Ikon.
Truth is, Onofiok Luke’s 2019 National Assembly ambition has introduced an interesting dimension to Etinan Federal Constituency politics. Onofiok represents the new order; an ideological movement where values and principles supersede materialism. He runs an issue based advocacy and epitomizes youthfulness, positive energy, steadfastness, loyalty, and determination. How he has been able to assert himself in a system where money politics, materialism, and other practices which are alien to his principles hold sway remains a research for another day. Indeed, Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Onofiok Luke is a phenomenon worth studying as his meteoric rise is worthy of emulation.
However, his National Assembly aspiration came both as a surprise and shock to many. This to them is because it was the same Onofiok who in 2015 worked assiduously with other key players to ensure Sam Ikon’s victory at the polls. This writer recalls the tough opposition against Elder Sam Ikon’s National Assembly bid back then and the superior argument that Sam was the best man for the job. Incidentally, one of the thundering voices who echoed that line was that of Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Onofiok Luke. One would therefore not believe that Speaker Luke would contest against the same man whom he supported in 2015. This thought generated controversies and led to speculations that he will not run against his former boss and elder brother. Interestingly, these speculations were laid to rest weeks ago when the Rt. Hon. Speaker consulted the State Party Chairman, Obong Paul Ekpo at his palatial country home in Nkana Iman.
Will Onofiok Luke defeat Sam Ikon in the forthcoming PDP primaries? This is the question on the minds of political observers and discerning minds as activities unfold. Barr. Onofiok Luke’s conduct as a Legislator has been legendary. He has discharged his duties both on the floor of the house and to his constituents with candor and finesse. His sterling attributes and superlative performance has endeared him to many but made him an unintended threat to some. Elder Sam Ikon on the other hand has been described as a quiet strategist, one who says little and does more, one who having spent eight years in the State House of Assembly and is about completing his first term in the National Assembly possesses an enviable wealth of experience.
In the mouths of many of his constituents, Elder Ikon has been mentioned oftentimes for both the good and not so good reasons. As chairman of the House Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations, he has recorded a strong representation at the International Scene, has made outstanding deliberations during plenary and also has Bills and motions to his credit. He has also executed some programs which have been beneficial to his constituents. However, his opponents say he is up and doing because he feels threatened by Onofiok’s ambition hence he has awoken from his usual slumber which makes him disappear immediately after receiving the mandate only to return four years after when he is seeking reelection. They say he is stingy, thrifty, and self-centered. They argue that he does not deserve another term in the National Assembly as he has fallen short of expectations. They call him “Mr. Use and Dump”. As a matter of fact, they have described him in uncomplimentary terms which this writer chooses not to bring to the fore.
This argument is not going down well with Elder Ikon’s supporters, who seem to be decreasing as the day goes by. They argue that the Etinan born lawmaker is not stingy, thrifty, or self-centered but suffers from these accusations because people who have benefitted from his philanthropy keep mute about it or deny when asked because he does not publicize his philanthropic gestures.
They say that he is a silent giver and boasts of an impenetrable political network that Onofiok Luke cannot overcome. They describe the Nsit Ubium born lawmaker as a spendthrift who will either run out of resources very soon or get tired of feeding the insatiable greed of some of his supporters who were with Sam before now.
They lament that some of such supporters left Elder Ikon’s camp because of some outrageous demands which they made as conditions for support in 2019 despite being beneficiaries of his continuous goodwill; demands which the lawmaker refused to grant.
This according to Ikon’s loyalists irked them and they left to Speaker Onofiok’s camp to spite Ikon. According to them, these same set of people will milk the former student leader dry in less than no time and move on to the next victim as their greed is insatiable.
They further stated that some people who accompanied speaker Luke on his Nkana consultation did so because of monetary and other material gains and are not his true followers as they will turn against him very soon.
Away from Onofiok and Sam for now. Let’s take a look at their supporters. It is pertinent to note that on a closer look, one would not fail to observe that most of the opposition against Sam Ikon’s second term bid comes from his Local Government Area, Etinan. As a matter of fact, anytime you hear something negative being said about Elder Sam Ikon look closely and you may see an Etinan person right there. Why is there so much negativity against him especially amongst his constituents from Etinan? This no doubt stems from his previous political engagements with his people. As a matter of fact, opinions are divided as regards Sam Ikon’s engagements with Etinan people. On one hand, some argue that his eight years in the State House of Assembly was a colossal waste, especially the years he served as Speaker. On the other hand, others opine that he served creditably well thereby earning himself a seat in the National Assembly as the reward for good work is more work. Will delegates from Etinan vote against one of their own in the party primaries? Opinions are divided on this as well as there is an adage in Etinan that says that “owo iman atie owo iman uduk uduk” translated to mean that an Etinan man always has sympathy on his fellow Etinan man. Ikon’s supporters are of the opinion that he will sweep all the votes from Etinan delegates as those of them supporting Speaker Luke will vote for the federal lawmaker when the time comes as “owo Iman atie owo Iman uduk uduk”.
This writer has noted with dismay that most of the political discourse on who occupies the Federal Constituency seat in 2019 is centered on who is a giver and who is not a giver. While not disregarding the importance of giving, it is his opinion that if we dwell on such issues alone we would be missing out of the essence of legislative representation. He therefore appeals that political discourse as regards EFC 2019 should be centered on cerebral issues as it would be a better parameter for support.
Who amongst Barr. Onofiok Luke and Elder Sam Ikon possesses the cerebral prowess needed for the arduous task of legislation in a democracy such as ours? This is a serious question that should be answered after careful scrutiny of both gentlemen.
Who amongst them will be quick to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people? Who amongst them will be the most accessible? Who amongst them possesses oratorical skills needed to sustain debates and push legislative agenda during plenary? Who amongst them will be in touch with the people? Who amongst them will feel the pulse of his constituents to know where it irks them to most?
There are issues worth considering; issues which this writer strongly believes that Rt. Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke is best suited to handle. As a matter of fact, it is the firm belief this writer that on a free and fair turf, Rt. Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke will gather more votes than Rt. Hon. (Elder) Sam Ikon. With the party’s assurance of free and fair primaries as is usually the case, it is that Onofiok Luke will win “on ground” and coast to victory for a fruitful tenure of legislative engagement in Abuja.
Will this happen? I’m sure it will.
Thank you for reading.
By Comrade Ubon Marcus.
July 23, 2018.
(Ubon Marcus writes from Ikot Udoabia, Etinan.)