Editor's note: Godwin Edoho, a legal practitioner and a freelance writer, writes on the ambition of Rt. Hon. Okpolupm Etteh who is running for a House of Representatives seat in Akwa Ibom, arguing that he is qualified in terms of zoning, experience, equity, equality, and intelligence.
The recent approval of zoning processes in respect of political offices in Akwa Ibom state People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has continued to exert commendations and applause for the party and the governor of Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Udom Emmanuel. This is because the zoning process is not only in conformity with the principles of equity, equality, and fairness but also aligns with the constitutional principles of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The preamble to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution states, inter alia, that the Constitution aims at promoting equality and justice for the purpose of consolidating the unity of the Nigerian people. In furtherance to these, sections 14 (3), (4) and 15(2) of the same Constitution provide and allow the participation of all people in their government at different levels to reflect federal character and ensure that there is no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in the government. The provisions also provide that the composition of government at all levels should recognize and ensure diversity of the people within that area of governance to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Nigerian federation. These constitutional provisions equally prohibit discrimination on grounds of place of origin, ethnic or linguistic association or ties.
The introduction of these federal character principles into the Nigeria Constitution was based on the recommendations of Sir Henry Willink who headed the Willink Commission of Enquiry of 1957. In the report of the Commission, these principles were introduced as a means to allay the fears of the minority groups. Nigeria is a combination of several of such groups. The purpose of the recommendation was to create a sense of belonging amongst all the various ethnic groups that make up the country Nigeria.
The principles of equity, equality, and fairness imply the treatment of all persons equally and fairly. One of the ways of achieving these includes providing and allowing equal access for persons to opportunities and resources. It is an economic postulate that resources and opportunities are scarce in comparison with the wants and needs of the people.
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It is important to ensure that advocacy for equal opportunities for all persons should not be upheld at the detriment of enthroning mediocrity, myopic, tribalistic, and inexperienced persons at positions of leadership. This is because the leadership quality of persons that pilot the affairs of a country determines the direction of such country, whether to greatness or to doom stead. Thus, the need to ensure at all times that experienced, intelligent and people-oriented leaders are elected at all times even in the quest to promote equality and equitable distribution of opportunities.
The Eket Federal Constituency comprises of 4 quality local government areas of Eket, Onna, Esit Eket and Ibeno. All these 4 local government areas except Ibeno have had a fair share of participation at this level of leadership. In fact, the 3 local government areas of Eket, Esit Eket, and Onna have had 2 terms at the helms of affairs of the Eket Federal House of Representatives. Equitably, it becomes fair and right to allow Ibeno Local Government Area to also participate at this level of governance to create a sense of belonging, among others, to the people of the area. This in essence will align with the constitutional principles of ensuring equality and fairness to all without discrimination. This is the reason why the recent zoning of the Eket Federal House of Representative to Ibeno by the Akwa Ibom State PDP and His Excellency the Governor is widely accepted and commended by the elders and all the good people of Eket Federal Constituency.
The concerns of most sceptics and critics of the political zoning process have been that the process may not allow intelligent, experienced and people-oriented personalities into political offices. These concerns are not applicable in the case of Eket Federal Constituency because of the candidature of Rt. Hon. Okpolupm Etteh, the immediate past commissioner for special duties in Akwa Ibom state.
Rt. Hon. Etteh has gathered enough experience as a former legislator representing the Esit Eket/Ibeno state House of Assembly and also as a commissioner in charge of the ministry of special duties. His tenure as a state legislator was greeted with superlative representation to the people of his constituency without being tribalistic in his representative and human and capital development of the area that make up his constituency. His time as a commissioner in the ministry of special duties was so impactful that when news of his resignation got to the staff of the ministry, they were sad but still roll out the drums to sing and dance and give him a rousing and befitting valediction from the ministry. This is significant because it portrays the quality of leadership of Rt. Hon. Etteh.
The conglomeration of the above indicates that Rt. Hon. Etteh has ticked all the right boxes by his candidacy for the Eket Federal House of Representative. He possesses the required experience, intelligence, and quality needed to pilot the affairs of Eket Federal Constituency at the National Assembly. Therefore, the respected delegates of the upcoming PDP primaries for Eket Federal House of Representatives have a date with history to write their names in gold by giving the good people of Eket Federal Constituency a man that can be described as a round peg in a round hole. Rt. Hon. Okpolupm Etteh’s candidacy allows for a rich mix of equity, equality, and fairness in addition to experience, intelligence, and people-oriented representation.
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