Like Mahatma Karamchand Gandhi a former preeminent leader of the Indian nationalism, who is reputed for outstanding leadership qualities, with a reputation of putting smiles on the lips of over 2billion estimated Indian throughout his reign, Nigeria and indeed Akwa Ibom State is blessed with leaders whose qualities are akin to Gandhi in Godswill Obot Akpabio and his godson, Nse Effiong Ntuen, just to mention few.
Although our focus is on Ntuen’s leadership qualities since his foray into the political scene of Akwa Ibom, especially at the grassroots, it is pertinent to mention the man whose overriding influence made it possible for Ntuen to traverse the political landscape in the first place – Godswill Akpabio. Like Obong Ntuen would always say; “Let me first and foremost thank my leader Obong Sen. Godswill Akpabio, who stood his ground and say ‘this is one man that will lead the people of Essien Udim…” Ntuen’s loyalty at all times to the former governor has never been in doubt. His loyalty is total, resolute, firm and unwavering.
Maybe one wouldn’t be wrong to say loyalty permeates the marrow of an average Essien Udim man or woman, as even Akpabio himself demonstrated his loyalty to his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 general elections where the PDP eventually lost to the All Progressive Congress (APC). Akpabio’s loyalty to Jonathan just like Nse Ntuen, was total, resolute, firm and unwavering throughout Jonathan’s trying moment.
What Gandhi was to India and Akpabio to Akwa Ibom, Nse Ntuen is to Essien Udim. This three outstanding personalities are pragmatic, innovative resourceful, dynamic in perspective and equal to any task or challenge. Their history, pedigree and achievements are monumental and have found a place in history books. The threesome are admired and loved by their people for their humility, kindness, greatness and motivation which they exhibit willingly without any strings attached. They have loyalists and disciples across ethnic and political divide and are accepted by nature.
No doubt, one very huge thought or ambition of every aspiring leader is to first assuage the hunger and alleviate the suffering of his people by providing the basic necessities of live – food, shelter and clothing. Secondly, every aspiring leader wants to make sure that he fulfils section 14 (2b) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, which provides that; ‘security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’, and by so doing, leave a mark in history books as the best leader ever elected to serve his people.
Again, when asked before being elected into office, most aspiring leaders would tell you without hesitation that they are seeking elective office to develop physical and human capacity, transform the public and private sector and improve on the general wellbeing of their people by bringing home the gains of democracy. Peradventure asked what he or she stands to gain if elected into office, their response is always; ‘this is not about my personal ambition, rather it is a call to serve my people; this is a call to service’.
History is replete with aspiring leaders who made promises to improve on the lives of their people during campaigns but failed to keep any of such promises immediately they are sworn into office. However, few who made little or no promise to their people, more often leave great legacies behind for the people to savour.
Essien Udim people are blessed with such leaders who leave legacies for their people to savour. One of such leaders that bring honour back home to his people is Rt. Hon. (Sir) Nse Effiong Ntuen, the immediate past Executive Chairman of Essien Udim Local Government Area and National Vice Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON). Ntuen is at present the Member representing Essien Udim State Constituency in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, where he joins 25 other members to make laws for the unity, progress and prosperity of the state.
In 2008 Sir Nse ntuen stood election and was voted for to steer the ship of Essien Udim LGA. In his first term, many never gave him the chance of making any meaningful impact. In fact, some critics felt his tenor as the council boss would be a disaster. The prediction was not because he was not academically qualified or psychologically ready for such an office, no, far from it! Their prediction was predicated upon the fact that, Ntuen met a totally empty treasury upon assumption of office. He had no fund to start up his administration with, and to further add to his woes, he met a council with inadequate and poorly-furnished offices, and staff that were psychologically drained. He was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
But in just a span of three year, his leadership ingenuity and inventiveness took the entire local government area by storm. It was a breathtaking three years, for in just one sweeping action Ntuen virtually transformed the length and breadth of Essien Udim through life-touching programmes and projects.
Hear him: “I was in a hurry to develop the local government area despite the lean resources that were accruable to the council. We had to be prudent and modest in the management of every dime that came into the council treasury, and the result of our good sense of management are the developments you are seeing everywhere in Essien Udim”.
In his first term, Ntuen completed a state- of- the- art unity hall named after the then governor, Godswill Akpabio. His administration embarked on 46 life-touching projects in all the wards in the local government area with at least 2 boreholes in each ward. The administration also took upon itself to renovate many primary school blocks and health centres. He then proceeded to building houses for some widows who were almost homeless and couldn’t afford to pay for accommodation.
Still under his first term, his administration also started a scholarship scheme for some outstanding and less-privileged students in the locality, where huge sums were channelled to assuage the academic worries of families who could not afford paying their wards’ fees in the higher institutions. Various families were thrown into ecstasy following this singular magnanimity shown by Ntuen.
The high point of his first tenor in office was his direct empowerment programmes, where over 46 vehicles and over 600 motorcycles were bought and distributed to indigenes of Essien Udim. These and other goodwill enjoyed by the people of Essien Udim under the stewardship of Rt. Hon. Nse Ntuen made the people to unanimously prevailed on the then governor to allow for a second term, the man they described as ‘Eti akama ukara’. And so it was, Ntuen was re-elected for a second term in 2011, making him the only person in the history of Essien Udim to return as a chairman at least for now.
In his second term in office, his administration commenced the construction of a 46-room complex secretariat to accommodate staff of the council. Many felt this would be a near impossible feat to achieve given the obvious lack of funds everywhere in the country at the time. Again, Ntuen proved book makers wrong, when few months to the expiration of his second term his Excellency the then governor, joined thousands of Akwa Ibom people to commission a project described by many as the best council secretariat built anywhere in Nigerian by a local government administrator.
Akpabio, who could not hide his emotions, said he was so proud and happy to have come from Essien Udim and to have had Nse Ntuen as his chairman. He thanked Ntuen and his lieutenants for bringing honour to the locality. He promised that with such quality leadership anchored on truth and objectivity witnessed throughout the 6 year reign of Ntuen, it was only logical to have him assume more responsibilities.
On December 11, 2015, Nse Ntuen was elected to represent Essien Udim state constituency in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, following a unanimous call by his people to represent them at that level. Although his mandate was challenged at the Election Tribunal, he however had his mandate judicially confirmed by the court of Appeal, following months of legal battle.
Despite the distraction as a result of the legal tussle, Ntuen brought honour to his constituents through robust contributions, deliberations, point of orders and motions on the floor of the House. He and his colleagues in the 6th assembly have had a smooth run and peaceful deliberations in the last over 365 days, where collaboration with the executive for the smooth run of the state was uppermost in their agenda.
Speaking on his one year in office, Ntuen noted: “The last one year in office has been very eventful. As a house, we have been able to assist in making good laws for the smooth running of the state. We have cooperated with the executive to make sure that its policies and programmes are achieved. Remember, our primary function is to make laws for the state and that we have been doing, including other oversight functions.
“We had a rough start due to the court cases that most members of the house were facing in Abuja. We couldn’t concentrate on our legislative function, but soon as our mandates were judicially confirmed, we swung into full legislative activities and one year after, we can look back and say, indeed as a house we have made remarkable success.
“In the last one year, we also consider the period a learning process for some of us who came in from the executive arm of government. We have learnt the rudiment of law making, so going forward, since we haven’t really done much for our constituents, it is time for us to take back home to them the gains of democracy. We have to report progress to our constituents in addition to law making.”