The election of a new speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly may not be a game changer for the opposition, but it reshuffles the deck in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Some say it is the hand of God

By Chioma Onuegbu

Oniofiok Luke representing Nsit Ubium State Constituency had aspired to the position of speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on the inauguration of the legislative body last June, but powerful forces in the state stopped him.

Among those said to have stood against him at that time was the immediate past governor of the state and now Senate Minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

Oniofiok Luke
Oniofiok Luke

In the face of the alleged opposition, Aniekan Uko was elected speaker to the dismay of enthusiasts of Luke. Uko’s chapter, however, ended last week when the Court of Appeal voided his election as a member of the State House of Assembly.

Promptly, last Monday, the state legislators rediscovered themselves and to the dismay of many elected Luke as speaker.

Luke, who was a onetime speaker of the Nigeria Youth Parliament comes on board as the 11th Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.

Akwa Ibom people view the development as most deserving, and the best thing to happen to the sixth assembly and by extension an asset to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in view of the current political situation in the state PDP where the party is strategizing to ensure it does not lose the state to the opposition party.

Besides his track records during the immediate past administration as a member of the state House, the public impression about the election of Luke as speaker is that he will be a committed leader with independent mind and who will be able to carry his colleagues along in the course of discharging his legislative duties.

A former Minister for Land, Housing and Urban Development, and one time member in the House of Representative (Eket Federal Constituency) Chief Nduesse Essien commended the state lawmakers over the decision to elect Luke as their Speaker, even as he noted that Akwa Ibom people initially expected it but for some reasons it was scuttled.

Essien’s words: “It is a very good decision.   That actually was the initial expectation but it was scuttled somehow. Onofiok Luke is articulate, he flows very well with the youths, and he has had the experience in presiding over such forum, so we believe that he will be an effective speaker. Also he is a highly principled person that looks to a brighter future. So we salute the house of assembly for taking that step to elect him as speaker of Akwa Ibom state house”.

The failure of the house to elect him then as the Speaker following the stiff opposition and alleged interference on June 8, 2015 from key political players in the state did not sit well with the indigenes of the state.

That, however, explained why some people in the state still appear baffled over his recent election into the same position without any interference even as some legislators said the election of the speaker of the house is not a situation where an individual decides rather that it is the popular wish of the members of the house to decide who should be in the position.

But a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who did not want his name mentioned described the election of the new speaker as a welcome development noting that the members did well by election someone who will not be stooge to the Executive.

“I think the election of Onofiok Luke is actually what the sixth assembly needed. They need some one that will carry them along; someone who is independent minded that will work in their interest and not always relying on every decision of the Executive. It is the best step and decision and a welcome development in Akwa Ibom state house of assembly” he said.

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