Home / Editorials / "LIKE ONOFIOK LIKE WHO?”- By Ewa Okpo


We are at the heat of the season again, that period when every Tom, Dick, and Harry is wont to woo other Toms, Dicks and Harrys to take up arms, follow them and possibly lay down their lives for them to win the game of thrones. Interestingly, the level of
socialization and awareness has
transmogrified impressively over the years from what it use to be having Akwa Ibom State lead the trend evidenced with the fact
that while the Sarakis, Adedibus, Tinubus, Donald Dukes etc had their whims at a wand the set that brought Governor Godswil Obot Akpabio to light was rather
recherché; crewed by progressives wired with radical orientation for aggressive

In reminisce in sounds simple but a replay now seems impossible. Young men distinguished themselves in their little capacity attracted investors were willing to work with them in return for their ability to
work for them. These lots stuck to their guns, traded their stakes for a defined interest of a common good and changed the game for good. That was then.

Now, how noble are the players this season? Is the question fore-grounded in the recently concluded round table/awards luncheon organized by my good friend and brother Compare Ubon Marcus through his good
office as Vice President (Special Duties) of The National Association Of Nigerian
Students (NANS) where seasoned speakers lectured the participants on critical electoral issues like voters rights, security
and the proverbial role of students.

In his admonishment Hon.Barr Onofiok Akpan Luke the lawmaker representing the
good people of Nsit Ubium State
Constituency (and by extension the street) in Akwa Ibom State House of Assemble sagaciously alluded to his time and colleagues as students and youth leaders seven years ago to underscore the need for a defined political interest, purpose, stakes
and common ground by the students-youth constituency to without the vanity of stipends nor profanity of ethnic romanticism take a noble stand, fight a good and worthy fight of faith and niche a pedigree invincible to snares and
blackmails. This, incidentally, reminds me of an event organised by the University of Calabar Chapter of National Association of Economic Students some four years back to address the critical issues in our nation’s economy and the way forward having one
of Nigeria’s finest economist and Professor Emeritus Eskor Toyo as the key speaker. The Marxist in whose name you could cast a
spell on capitalism commended the young minds for the initiative and the crowd that overflowed the Unical Hotel Conference
Hall then proceeded to apologize for having to disappoint everyone present by not speaking that night because they were
actually the wrong audience for his lecture.

The right audience, according, to him were those in the political position to execute whatever information he had to give not
the students who would just retire home after the event and even if they grow to become leaders tomorrow they would need a different approach to address the issues then. When he finished his surprise homily
clad in his white brocade he simply retired with a standing ovation and nothing was
felt wrong by the crowd who were rather over awed to have the Oro man honour their invitation. Applying this to our
situation one begins to wonder whether Hon. Onofiok’s breath was not just another whiff in the atmosphere owing to the inter-
flux of visionless juveniles and mission-less elders in our society.
What we have as student structure is already becoming a
notorious patch of old and new piece of clothing. This is because some aspect of the leadership is plagued with both moral and
legal questionability. Some have already mortgaged their integrity and interest in exchange for promised portfolios should
their principal emerge as Governor at the 2015 pools, some have drawn a battle line based on ethnic complex – superior and
inferior alike, some have taken the scam business of pledging loyalty in every possible camp.

Meanwhile most of them
are not recognized or wholly accepted by their constituents as leaders, some cannot even set foot in their units, many of them
have never contributed in any election, some who ventured lost woefully in their units or sold out and just a few really have something to offer as leaders when the time comes. In all, what we have are mere “letter headed” leaders, some faction leaders and a few true leaders floating
without purpose let alone sincerity of it.

The elders have done well in their divide and rule politics. They hope to use the various divisions against themselves as contingency agenda when the chips are down. And the students are busy clowning around in blind loyalty and false leadership.
Even the ones with clarity of purpose seem to have devised for themselves the ingenuity of “diversified loyalty.” But one
thing seem to be constant about these lots called student leaders. They all hope to be like their father Hon Barr Onofiok Luke and his colleagues. They dream of occupying the positions of Personal Assistants, Special Advisers, Commissioners, House Members, Chairmen of Councils etc come next administration. I dream too with them. But dreams are wishes. If they were horses even blind men would ride on one. My fear is that if these divisions are not settled, if the moral and legal questions are not
answered, if the interests are not defined and purpose clarified then the students I am afraid are in for a lose-lose catharsis. A good comrade once said that the student structure is a peer group cum activism structure not a partisan arm of a political party because if the candidate loses the
students will not have a right of place in the administration of the winner whom they had rejected or if their candidate wins will
not have the morality to face themselves when his administration eventually fails.

Permissible exception to this would be if a comrade were to be in the race but so far we are yet to spot one in this scrambling
and partitioning episode. Like Hon Barr Luke’s counsel for the need to guide against things and misconceptions that could be
used as blackmail in the future like the ones he has successfully waded off himself I am beginning to wonder if he knows that we
are actually the cause and agents of our own blackmail. Already some are saying he can afford to say the things he does or take
the stand he has taken because he has some fat accounts in banks breathing in and out, some grand shelter over his head and family’s, some array of automobiles to
convey him to wherever he so wishes and
enough connections to secure his safety and insure his welfare. But we seem to forget so soon that he wore this very same attitude as garment years ago when he was
as some now paint it “in the gutter” leading students and youths, directing stakeholders
and strategizing for elders with the insight, intelligence and influence he possessed in such abundance too valuable for price.
Even today we still have people far more well to do than “that boy from the gutter” who are lacking the balls of integrity. And
today that we are like that Onofiok of yesterday we cannot act like he did then before we seek to covert for ourselves tomorrow what he is today. Alas comrades do we not know that the taste of the pudding is in the eating?
It beats me when I stoop to wonder “If this Onofiok Luke is the father of all these student leaders how many of them can he
confidently brag “like father like son” about in the current trend of political realities in the state? Cor, if I were to face this test
myself I am glad I have a genuine reason to be excused… “I have long graduated.”



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