The Member representing Etinan State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Barr. Aniefiok Dennis Akpan has declared his interest in the 2023 governorship of the state.
The Chairman of the 7th Assembly’s House Committee on Information made his interest known at his Shelter Afrique home in Uyo on Friday, June 12, when members of the Conference of Online Publishers in Akwa Ibom State (COOPA) sought his audience on Nigeria’s democracy on the occasion of their annual Democracy Day Social Media Convo.
The two-time member of the State House who stated with confidence that Uyo Senatorial District will produce the next governor, announced: “I’m interested in governorship and nobody can stop me. Uyo will produce the next governor”.
While appraising Nigeria’s democracy at 21, Barr. Dennis averred that the country had come of age, with the legislature, doing well to ensure that people-oriented laws are made. “I thank those who have been fighting to ensure that democracy is sustained in Nigeria.”
He observed that Akwa Ibom state especially has fared well enough with minimal assistance coming from the federal government coffers. “The question we should ask is, do we have federal government presence in Akwa Ibom State? We are entitled to federal government projects”, he maintained and called on the Federal Government to reciprocate the state’s support during elections.
Speaking on COVID-19 and its impact on the legislature, the Lawmaker stated that the Akwa Ibom State House “has been very proactive” before and after the onset of the virus. “There was a Motion and one of the prayers was that the Ministry of Health should be proactive. That was when we didn’t even have a case of COVID-19 in Nigeria. Nobody really saw COVID-19 coming but Akwa Ibom State was very proactive. The legislature in particular started campaigning and early enough, compared to other States”.
He informed that under one year, the State House has undergone a lot of people-oriented transformation and has so far received 58 reports on rape.
On whether the House would adopt e-legislature, the Etinan representative opined that they have been adhering to the precautionary measures prescribed by the World Health organization (WHO) and would not need such.
“For now, we’ve not considered e-legislation. Kudos must be given to Obong Victor Attah for building that premises the way it is. Considering how spacious the Assembly is, we can manage at that level. We conduct ourselves properly and we maintain order at all times. The 26 of us have been sitting at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and we’re very conscious of the precautionary measures. No Member speaks without a nose mask and we have also insisted that other people do the proper thing.”
He however advocated for virtual hearing, buttressing that no one knows when the pandemic will end and where it will lead. “We have to embrace virtual hearing because we don’t know where the COVID is taking us to. We must learn to live with it”.
Bearing his mind on legislative matters, the legal luminary expressed that “there is a mutual relationship between the Legislature and the Executive. We appropriate for them to do certain things and it’s our duty to monitor and ask questions where necessary. That power comes under Order 9 sub rule 1-20. We have a very cordial relationship with the Executive and any day we have issues, we won’t hesitate to invite the Governor because we have those powers”, he noted.
Responding to the rationale behind the House’s decision against the suspended Uyo and Nsit Atai Lawmakers, Dennis explained that the House of Assembly acted in compliance with the law. “The issues of suspended Chairmen of Uyo and Nsit Atai LGAs are before relevant Committees of the House. We will come up with the result of the investigation at the appropriate time. If there are issues with the LGAs pending the report of the Assembly, they are going to be settled. Just give us time.”
He however advised Chairpersons of Local Government Councils to be wary of how they deal and relate with their constituents. “If you are a Local Government Chairman and you allow an outsider to muddle you up, then you are not fit to be a Chairman. You don’t even need a Councilor to petition a Chairman, a single individual can do that, he warned.
Touching on the Governors and Deputy Governor Pension Law, he explained: “we are waiting on the Court of Appeal to rule on the matter concerning the Governors and Deputy Governor Pension law before we take action in AKHA…Obong Attah came in and worked very hard, I don’t think he made so much money. So if we say, let’s be giving them something as pension, at least, for medical purposes, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.”
He commended Governor Udom Emmanuel for his contributions so far in the state and in Etinan, recalling how the General Hospital which he said used to be a small missionary-managed structure has become a huge health centre. “Whether you like Governor Udom Emmanuel or not, he has done very well”, he said.
The Lawmaker also gave kudos to his Local Government Chairman, for being responsible and true to the ideals of government. “The Chairman of Etinan LGA is doing well. He has been fantastic. He gave out cars to the Vice Chairman and others even before the Executive mandated them to do so, and pays Councilors on time”.
While advising leaders at all levels to consider the interest of the masses in their dealings, Barr. Dennis asked those uncomfortable with the local government admin law to challenge it.
“Nobody has challenged the local government admin law, the law is still an extant law, if you are not comfortable with it, you can challenge it”, he submitted.