By Osondu Ahirika
On January 11, 2007, POTUS George Bush Jnr presented the highest Medal, the United States bestows on a citizen -The Medal of Honour to the parents of Late Corporal Jason Dunhan.
Cpl. Dunhan was a Marine of the third battalion deployed to Iraq for the declared War on terrorists. On April 14, 2004, he was part of a squad on a reconnaissance mission in thetown of Karabilah, Iraq, which accosted a column of seven vehicles and stopped them for a search for weapons.
Suddenly, one insurgent leapt out of the truck in the convoy and attacked the team with a grenade. Dunhan who wrestled with him saw the explosive and using his helmet covered it and then wrapped himself on top the helmet. The grenade exploded, but rather than inflict maximum destruction of the entire American squad, Dunhan bore the brunt of the detonation, thus shielding his compatriots from harm. That ultimate act of self sacrifice and bravery, in giving his life that the rest may survive, singled him out for honour.
The world over, especially in the free Nation’s, people who live lives that, through their service, advance the cause and commonwealth of humanity are usually honoured like Dunhan was. I wager that, that’s what Rt. Hon. Barrister Onofiok Luke deserves as he bows out as the outgoing Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and Member representing Nsit Ubium State Constituency.
Believe me if you will, Rt. Hon. Luke has literally laid down his life, not just for his constituents, but for his people, political convictions and in the last General elections, his Party and his governor. His consistency, focus, fair but firm leadership style, recommends him for adulation, accolades and due honour.
On Wednesday, June 6, 2019, Luke set a new record by becoming the first Legislator, State or National, to hold a Thank You Constituency briefing in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria. It is unheard of before today. Hear how he capped that outing: “Today, we will be launching the Special Education Intervention Programme and the Start-up Expansion Grant. For the education programme ten students will be getting a total sum of One million Naira at 100,000 Naira each. Under the start-up category, we are offering 500,000 Naira to ten widows at 50,000 Naira each, while there is One Million Naira for 20 enterprising youths at 50,000 Naira each. Ten women will receive 500,000 Naira at 50,000 Naira per woman, and another 500,000 Naira will be given to 10 physically persons at 50,000 Naira per person.”
He promised to inject funds into this new flagship Empowerment Programme in order to continue accelerating growth in economy and skills acquisition among his constituents. This gesture is a feat that doesn’t amount to saving the proverbial best wine for the end. No! Onofiok Luke had served good wine from the onset and finished as strong.
Revert to December 13, 2013, Luke consolidated on what he became a pacesetter doing – adding Empowerment Packages to routine Constituency briefing, when he held his Midterm Report at the Nsit Ubium Local Government Council premises, Ikot Edibon.
On that day, before our eyes, 176 Constituents recieved 100,000 Naira each, amounting to N17.6 million, to start small scale businesses. That yuletide convocation also witnessed 10 lucky constituents drive away brand new Kia Rio Saloon cars under his Constituency Transportation Scheme.
Back in 2012, Luke gave out 11 Kia Rio vehicles to constituents with two buses, one for the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Nsit Ubium Chapter and National Youth Council of Nigeria, of the same chapter. Two more buses was given to the Nsit Ubium Traditional Rulers Council and Nsit Ubium students Association. That year(2012) also, 10 widows, 15 young women, 10 physically challenged persons, 34 men and 91 youths received cash gift of N100, 000 each as start-up capital for business purposes.
Add to these, the Onofiok Luke Legislative Internship Programme, TOLLIP, which platform, gave several youths across the state, opportuned training in Community development, leadership and legislative nuances and conflict resolution among others. As at Press time, over 50 interns, fully sponsored by Luke had graduated from the programme.
Luke bows out of office having sacrificed more than 80% of his earnings by my estimation in ploughing back to the society. Many more of his private kind outreaches goes unrecorded but not unrecognized. I am an eternally grateful beneficiary of his humanization of politics with a testimony to share as countless others.
As he bows out to his new engagement as Member representing Etinan Federal Constituency, he wrapped it up in style and commences his new journey with a sense of mission. A study of his winding down activities speaks volumes.
On June 3, 2019, a colourful valedictory Thanksgiving service of the 6th Assembly held at the AKHA Chapel, Udo Udoma Avenue, Uyo.
Barrister Luke also played host to all living former Speakers of the AKHA, namely, Rt. Hon. Nse Ekanem,Rt. Hon. Peter Linus Umoh,Rt. Hon. Ignatius Edet,Rt. Hon. Anietie Etuk and Rt. Hon. Sam Ikon. Another unprecedented act.
That evening, he met minds with the Councillors from Etinan Federal Constituency, his new station from June 8, at the Speaker’s Lodge Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo. Another historic turn to prepare him for the task ahead as he felt their pulse.
Then, Luke, before the Thank You briefing, joined his people to attend the regular monthly Constituency at the Ebednezzer Chapel at his country home, Ikot-Etopo in Nsit-Ubium LGA.
He used the occasion to thank God for seeing him through in the State House of Assembly for the past 8 years, where he served in the fifth and sixth Assembly from 2011 to 2019 as a Lawmaker and eventually, Speaker of the Sixth Assembly.
Luke has thanked everybody, stakeholders, his Party, political associates, friends, youth organizations and women groups ,traditional and religious leaders/institutions, indeed everything thanks-worthy. We should also give him a warm hug, decorate him with a Medal of Honour and say Thank You for a job excellently delivered.