BY UMO ROBINSON
When members of the 8th Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly voted Elder Udeme Otong, member representing Abak State Constituency, as Speaker, over and above other competent contenders, one would have attributed the choice to mere political horse-trading.
No. Sure-footed and decisive since coming on board, the Speaker has demonstrated leadership qualities hitherto known only by his colleagues in the House who had worked with him in the 7th Assembly, and had obviously voted for him on the basis of these qualities.
Amongst the qualities are Otong’s ease of adaptation to roles; depth of approach and spontaneous simplicity in his human relations. Having been divinely thrown up by a collusion of electoral circumstances, to the position of the highest state political office-holder in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District in the People’s Democratic Party, it has been admirable how Otong has steadily morphed into that role without the airs that would ordinarily characterize such elevation if we were dealing with an arrogant and self-conscious personality.
Little wonder that the Speaker has easily enjoyed the cooperation of the political bigwigs in the Senatorial District in the various interfaces he has had with stakeholders for a buy-in on the Arise Agenda of Governor Umo Eno.
At the recent unveiling of the Arise Agenda at the Ibom Icon and Golf Resorts, Nwaniba-Uyo, the Speaker’s goodwill message reflected strategic familiarity of the House of Assembly with the subject-matter. This was because as Otong himself explained, “as part of preparation for this ceremony, my colleagues and I had spared some time to again look at the Arise Agenda; and even in outline, the well- considered opinion of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly is that the Agenda represents the long-awaited road-map that will take the state out of the woods economically and otherwise.”
He added: “The Arise Agenda promises Agricultural Revolution; Rural Development; Infrastructure Maintenance/ Advancement; Security Management and Educational Advancement.” The Speaker stressed that “as a people massively endowed agriculturally, a farm-based revolution is the way to go if we must develop our rural communities, make enough money to maintain and advance existing infrastructure, manage our security and advance educationally.”
With such strong belief in the Arise Agenda, it was easy for the Speaker on behalf of his colleagues to take full ownership of the scheme: “As we withdraw from here at the end of the day, our role as a legislature will be to return to our Chamber and fashion out the necessary laws for the implementation of the Arise Agenda. This way, we will be doing our part in supporting the Agenda and speeding up the arrival of our people at the Akwa Ibom Promise Land.”
True to this commitment, the Speaker has since run with preachments about the Arise Agenda, taking the message of the scheme wherever he has gone lately.
The Speaker has since run with preachments about the Arise Agenda, taking the message of the scheme wherever he has gone lately
In his remarks at the recent graduation/maiden career day celebration for the 2021/2022 & 2022/2023 graduands of Ritman College, Otong described the Ritman dream as the “precursor of the Arise Agenda.”
He said, “Ritman has truly established itself as a platform for the experimentation of the can-do spirit of the Akwa Ibom person.”
Otong’s disarming leadership acumen showed very succinctly yet again during the recent brush with the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists over the alleged appointment of a non-journalist as Press Secretary to the Speaker.
Even though Otong was not part of that appointment in the first place, and would ordinarily have resorted to grandstanding against the NUJ for sanctioning the Assembly on the basis of rumours, he towed the part of peace and resolved the matter amicably. His eyes firmly fixed on the higher gains of a cordial relationship with the media community in the state, going forward.
As we are all aware, the legislature is the heart and soul of democracy. The disposition and mien of legislative dramatis personae hugely accounts for democratic good governance.
Conventionally, 100 days is the time-frame for assessment of performance in government. But for Otong, “the morning tells day,” not necessarily the 100th Day.
He has therefore served an earlier notice that the 8th Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly under his watch is the ready, mature and trust-worthy partner which Governor Eno needs to coast home in peace and superlative success with the Arise Agenda.
Indeed, Otong is holding his own as the legislative anchorage and new face of Ikot Ekpene senatorial district politics in the golden era.
Robinson is the Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.