A’Ibom Speaker Condemns Call For Igbos To Vacate North
By Mfonobong Ukpong
The Speaker, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly (AKHA), Rt. Hon. (Barr.) Onofiok Luke, has described as “a high level of insult” the recent call by some northern youths on members of the Igbo community residing in the northern parts of the country to vacate the region.
He said the call insults the sensibilities of not just the people of the South-Eastern region of the country but Nigerians in other parts of the country.
Condemning the October 1 ultimatum on Thursday in Uyo while receiving in audience a delegation from a foremost socio-political group in the state, the ‘1 for 8 Initiative’, the Speaker said Nigeria had gone past the stage where people should be holding tenaciously to tribal differences.
The ‘1 for 8 Initiative’ has a membership cuts across the major tribes in the country.
Barr. Luke who is the Vice – Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Houses of Assembly in the South-South Zone of the country and a former Speaker of the Nigeria Youth Parliament, challenged leaders of thought from the North to rise and condemn the action of their youths.
He said that Nigeria’s unity should be encouraged rather than sabotaged by an group of persons.
“Let me use this opportunity to condemn in totality the call by some youths in Northern Nigeria asking the Igbos to vacate that part of the country. If we have been preaching unity, if we have contributed our quota in this part of the region to build infrastructure in the entire country, the North inclusive, we take it as high level of insult on our collective sensibilities for anyone to call on fellow Nigerians to vacate their region.
“We must all call on the leaders of the North to please rise and condemn this in totality, because we have only one country and that is in the country called Nigeria. And we will work assiduously to make for the unity, love, progress, prosperity and peace of this country.”
The Akwa Ibom Speaker commended One for Eight Initiative for incorporating other ethnic groups in the organisation without discriminating on the basis of ethnicity, religion and gender.
“I appreciate what the group (1 for 8 Initiative) has done, and i urge others across the country the different state of the country to emulate this initiative by 1 for 8 by incorporating all not discriminating on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and gender, being able to bring all on board to be able to make us have a sense of belonging so this is quite commendable”.
He hailed the group for its steadfastness and support to the Peoples Democratic Party-led government in the state. He restated the resolve of the House of Assembly to give the executive and the judiciary arms of government the necessary support to enable the government meet the needs of the people.
Earlier, the Prime Minister of the organisation, Rt. Hon. Elder Friday Iwok, said members of the group were in the Assembly complex to pledge solidarity with the Speaker, saying the group was satisfied with the remarkable strides recorded by the 6th assembly. Iwok named Barr. Luke as a Patron of the organisation.
“Sir, we are here today to celebrate you and express our solidarity for you. We congratulate you for your elections as the Honourable Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, and the Vice Chairman of Conference of Honourable Speakers of the state Houses of Assembly South-South Geo-political Zone.
We acknowledge that since you took over the leadership of the state House of Assembly, Akwa Ibom State legislature has enjoyed peace, and members are very committed and dedicated to their legislative duties. Under your watch, many private member bills, most importantly, those that touch the lives of the people and our communities have been passed by our Honorable House of Assembly.
The is a great tribute to the present Assembly under your leadership when compared to those of the past”.
Among those in attendance during the courtesy call include, the Clerk of the House, Mrs. Mandu Umoren, Prime Minister of 1 for 8 Initiative, Rt. Hon. Friday Iwok, Secretary of the group, Mr. Killian Thompson, former House of Assembly member, Mrs. Sarah Esitikot, Hon. Joe Offong, Dr. Ini Adiakpan, ACP Udo Uma Ekpenyong, rtd, Mrs. Atim Ekpa, leader of Hausa community in Akwa Ibom State, Alhaji Hassan, and Leader of igbo community Ezendigbo Nick Okpara, leader of the yoruba community, Alhaji Kayode Ojegunle,(stood in for Dr. Ayandele who is currently working with the governor of Osun State on political appointment ).
Others were, Barr. Ekpa Ekpa, Mr. Peter Eshiet, Bishop Enu Isaiah, Elder Friday Ubeh, Obongawan Felicitas Usoro, Cordinator of the organisation in Nsit Atai, Mr. Umana Umana, and Dr. Mrs. Comfort Ekpotu, and Rt. Hon. Jude Edem. among others.
Some prominent members group who could not make it to the venue including, Akwa Ibom Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, Prof Ahaziah Umanah (who is currently outside the country) and former Deputy Governor, Lady Valerie Ebe owing to other engagements of State importance and other pressing matters, sent in their regrets through the Leader of the organisation, Elder Iwok, and he informed the gathering.