Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Ever Dependable, Ever Reliable Democrat BY UBONG SAMPSON

Without mincing words, I put it that this man has proven being the dependable and reliable kind of leader- such which many progress-minded fellows would not help wishing to have at the helm of their affairs. His reliability is one of the exceptional kinds rarely seen in this part of the world, and his people have never spared any opportunity to show gratitude to the Almighty whose grace is sustaining him in this path.

Sometime ago, precisely in 2010, while he was still nursing the dream of taking the lone seat meant for anyone chosen by his area to be its representative in the state lawmaking chambers, this man had gone on his knees and had asked God to choose between him and his rivals, whoever He (God) knew to have the best of progressive and transformational intentions towards the people. Eventually, he was chosen; and this means he was seen with the best. Now, the lesson to be learnt from this shore is that, from inception, he was not after what he stood to gain holding the office- the prestige, the fame, and what have you, of being addressed as a Honourable Member; but was all out to ensure his people, at least virtually, if not all of them had the best of democratic dividends before the end-of-tenure bell sounds from the electoral coordinating body, INEC.

This is indeed one man among the handful of true democrats in the country whose actions have saved Nigerians the stress of being coerced by situations to an unwilling relaxation on the sofas of constant despondency and a resulting disbelief that anything good in terms of leadership will ever emanate from the democratic angle. And with more of his likes springing up from all works of life into the political field which remains indispensable to democracy, Nigeria, I believe, will someday call on leaders from other nations, moreso, from developed and genuinely developing ones to look their way and emulate the disposition of their own very products who then will be a pride to the nation. If this dream of mine eventually manifests, I bet Hon (Barr) Onofiok Luke to be one of them.

To those who were at the consultation visit of the current chief scribe of the state, Udom Emmanuel to NsitUbiumLocal Government Area about a fortnight ago, permit me to take you back to what transpired after Udom's departure; and to those who were not privileged to be witnesses, a good opportunity here, you will accede, to gain full knowledge of it all. For I was fixed at a spot, watching how the pioneer youth parliament speaker would disperse a crowd of that magnitude which Udom and company had left behind, and who were all looking up to their Ono OwoMkpo, as they call him, for at least a meal ticket for the evening. He was forced into a state of inconvenience by the crowd who had encircled him like an angry mob would do to its victim, but he obviously gave no notice to the inconvenience, as he relaxingly instructed the crowd to gather according to their groups for easy identification and demobilization. Surprisingly, he sorted everyone out through their respective groups, one after the other, until he found himself only in the company of his aides, and of course, that was a palpable sign from the people that he finally had their permission to leave.

Now, that was not much of a surprise to me because I had, in previous occasions, seen him deal satisfactorily with even more complicated situations of similar nature. The surprise of the day, to me, was a statement I overheard one of the indigenes making while the lawmaker was busy moving up and down to ensure a dispersing package for his people. Like he was expecting his message to be delivered, this fellow, whom I presumed, was anxious of his 'meal ticket' fate had told one other fellow closest to him that the lawmaker should stop bothering himself but should come bid them goodbye through an address if there was no package for them; adding that no one of them would feel bad because they know him to be someone who feels no pity for money when he finds himself in the midst of people. And his words, “ase'dadakanam; idohoakemfinkeib'itang”; really got me wondering how this man was able to get this far in winning such level of confidence and trust from the people.

This also reminds me of an incident that took place one Saturday evening. Hon Luke had actually stopped by my office on the said evening and, just before I could get downstairs to welcome him, a crowd of people in the neighbourhood had gathered around the periphery of my office, with their gazes, all fixed on the lawmaker. Their reasons for the non-prearranged convention, I still can't figure out. All I can recall is that despite the eloquently written hopes on their faces, they all kept a dignified distance from the centre of the show. After a short moment of pleasantries with my boss, Hon Luke had left, with only a promise of a special visit to the office to the members of staff. Now the intriguing thing about this is not that the boys who had gathered in expectation were disappointed, but that they were all wondering why their stars refused to shine that day, such that, Hon Luke of all people, left a group of boys without any non-empty handshake. As humourous as their lamentations sounded, I really had my fill with laughter.

Now, understanding their plights, as well as shortcomings, the words of one of the boys kept re-sounding in my mind. “Onofiok of all people”, as a matter of quoting him verbatim. But what could he have meant by that? I kept asking myself rhetorically. Truth is, irrespective of one's approach towards giving meaning(s) to this, truth remains that each of the given meanings would definitely attribute the whole drama to history.History that the Onofiok they have been hearing of is a man with a large compassionate heart, who does not joke with the boys, especially when they are in large numbers. History that from the days when he had very little in his stock, without even being enough for his personal use, he had always believed in, and lived a communal life, touching the lives of everyone whose path intercrossed his.

Sometimes, I do try to imagine how this NsitUbium people feel seeing their own representative being a man of the people, who hardly recognizes the boundaries of his constituency when it comes to empowerments and giving of assistance to people. But be that as it may, I must have to commend them for the understanding they have shown through allowing this man continue in what he enjoys doing- giving without conditions. Another word of commendation from me to same NsitUbium people for the support they have shown this man, and for helping him get the conviction that indeed, he has been on the right path all these years. And as a matter of finality, I also want to commend them for their anticipated support to this man in the course of the future. Truly, they have proven to other areas of the country's political circle, and even beyond that a treasure is worth being accorded due value.

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