Opposition not strong in Akwa Ibom – Okon | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Opposition not strong in Akwa Ibom – Okon

Posted: Apr 1, 2015 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
• Okon

• Okon

Barr. Ime Okon is the member representing Ibiono Ibom state constituency. He is the Chairman, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Rules and Business and the PDP State candidate for his constituency. In this interview with CORRESPONDENT, IDONGESIT ASHAMERI, he speaks on his party’s preparedness for the polls, the fifth assembly and it’s performance, among other issues. Excerpts…

Nigerians are divided on the issue of the card reader, while some believe it might help check malpractices, others feel it will slow down the process or even disenfranchise a lot of people, what is your position on this?

Well, it is not even a question of which side you are, my position is that anything that INEC wants to do it will ensure that the elections are credible as long as, I emphasize, it dose disenfranchise anybody. As long as using the card reader will be effective and does not delay the process, everybody will be accredited to vote.  Not a situation that one will be with the PVC and unable to vote because of the card reader. If INEC is very sure that the card reader will not disenfranchise anyone, why not? There is no problem, so that at the end of the day the result of the election could be more credible.

Your party, PDP, is really going to have a tough fight at all levels, especially in Akwa Ibom where it has over the years reign without strong opposition, how is your party preparing to combat this?

Well, we have all heard that the PDP has been campaigning, the PDP have had the opportunity to lead this state since 1999. Now as a party, you should let the people know why you want them to continue to support you. As far as Akwa Ibom state is concerned, the PDP has things on ground to show that we have performed during the period we have been leading the state. And if there is any individual who would want to see things with their eyes that this party has been here and they have been able to achieve these, we could enumerate all these things.  Maybe they want to talk about the next party which I believe is APC. Even the APC candidate has been a member of PDP and he could not get nomination in PDP that was why he crossed over to APC. So if the PDP was not performing then maybe he could have left even before then but he vied under the PDP until he could not get the ticket, because the ticket was given to some other person and of cause only one person can lead at a time.

That is almost the point we are saying, PDP watched its members fly out like birds, no serious effort was made to reconcile with aggrieved members, now they have forged a strong opposition. Are you not scared? 

Well, as far as am concerned, I do not see the picture as you are seeing, I do not think the opposition is as strong (in Akwa Ibom) as you think, and those who are not members of PDP may not know the effort that has been made to settle those issues and sort out the differences, but the aggrieved seemed to have been dissatisfied. Now the point is that any nomination we need is just for one person, for instance someone has won nomination for the position of the governor, some persons were not happy about it and effort has been made to appease them but somehow it’s not been possible to appease all of them, some of them have been appeased, but the important thing is that those who remain in the party, those who are loyal to the party, the number far exceeds those who have left, so I don’t see how it will affect the party in the election.

You seem to be very calm in your second term bid, don’t you have strong opponents?

Well, I think we have candidates in Accord party, Labor party and PDP and I don’t want to look at them as opponents, I want to look at them as fellow candidates. Maybe the edge over them is that I have the opportunity to serve my people for four years now. And my people are in the better position to access what I have done, to access my representation and to see if they can send me back and I think Ibiono Ibom have agreed and have resolved that Ime Okon has done well and has represented them well and Ime Okon should go back for another term.

Could you briefly enumerate some of these things you     wthink may present you favourably before your people?

We have said these many time over and I will like to start from the fact that the duty of a legislator is to make laws, that is his primary duty, but in doing so, u must also ensure that your people enjoys some dividend of democracy because they also have a duty to draw Governments attention to the challenges of their people with the view of getting Government to come in to solve those problems. Well, through me, through constituency projects provision made available to my constituency, I have been able to renovate many schools, I have provided water to many communities and I have been able to empower women, the youth, giving them starter packs to start up some businesses. As we are talking, I do know that close to 100 persons from Ibiono Ibom have completed a sponsored skills acquisition program to learn trade and some of them are qualified, some are still in training. I have also assisted some of my people with scholarship, some with bursary and the rest, but generally, what I consider to be my best achievement is that I have ensure the reign of peace in Ibiono Ibom during my period, it was not so before now and the people could attest to that.  Again, your people will want to be seeing you all the time, so I try to be accessible to them, and I live within the community. Am not living in Ewet housing, am not living in shelter afrique, I live within my people and I am very very accessible so that they can reach you easily to let you know their problems, the one you could solve, you solve them, the one you could not you explain to them why you can’t solve them.so generally, I think we have tried and if am given another chance, I think I will improve upon my performance.

Now, let’s talk about the present administration of Governor Akpabio. While some applaud him for infrastructural development, many others complain of high level poverty in the state. How do you assess this administration?

I know that we all agree that in terms of infrastructural development in the state, the Government has done well, some people have been empowered like someone was saying, ok if the Government provided infrastructure then the next Government can take over empowerment. Because of the competing interests, the government may not be able to carry on everything at the same time. But the picture is not as bad as it is painted. The picture of poverty is not as bad as they paint it because the infrastructures were carried out by companies, people did some work, people were employed to do one thing or the other, people supplied one thing or the other in the process, some money changing hands.

What have been the major achievements of the fifth Assembly and, given another chance, what would you want the House to improve upon?

What we have done which I will take as an achievement is that we have always intervened on the side of the people, we have always related with the people, we have accepted the people, that’s why we are here to represent the interest of the people in terms of the bills that have been passed into law, in terms of resolutions, we have always been guided by the interest of our people. Well experience in any endeavor is very important, extremely important and some people ask me to come back to the house of Assembly and ensure that we surpass the achievement of the fifth assembly in terms of relating with the people, in terms of the quality of bills that will be passed into law. But most importantly what I think the next assembly to take very seriously is the issue of oversight functions, that is very important so that we can make sure that everybody is doing what he should do. There should be a follow up to ensure that budgets are implemented according to the bills passed. The next Assembly will also improve on being more accessible to the people.