Dignitaries accompanying Akwa Ibom Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel to Hiltop Mansion in Uyo were caught unawares, Tuesday, as he stopped on the busy Eket-Etinan Road in the state to connect with the poor masses.
The governor who returned from the second phase of constituency briefing and empowerment programne organised by Owoidighe Ekpoattai, the member representing Eket Federal Constituency, held at Eket local government secretariat grounds, Eket, disembarked from his official car.
The long convoy stopped at the junction of Ikot Etobo in Nsit Ubium local government area and vehicular movement on the road ceased. As he strolled along the road, fear gripped the stunned roadside traders. The governor haggled pears sold by a woman on the roadside.
Baffled security men gazed as the governor bought pears from the haggard-looking woman and some onlookers seeing how friendly the governor connected with the masses rushed and had handshake with the August visitor.
Luck shone on the poor woman who never expected the governor’s suprise visit. As Emmanuel zoomed off to Uyo, the onlookers waved and wished that a similar golden opportunity be availed them to curry the governor’s warm embrace.
Before now, the governor had visited market women in Akpan Andem Market and Mbiabong Market in Uyo local government area and bought some articles of trade from some of the women, parting huge sums of money to the sellers.
Analysts see the governor’s attitude as a way of empathising with the masses.
Meanwhile, the governor has stressed the need for the electorates to actively engage in the ongoing voters’ registration across the country.
Emmanuel stated that possession of Permanent Voters’ Card, PVC, would ensure that only candidates accepted by the majority are voted into offices for effective representation and called on the people to remain poised on carrying out their civic responsibilities as the registration attracts no monetary commitments.
He pointed out that if the electorate are armed with the PVC, it would not be easy to replace political office holders who are not living up to the mandate given to them by the people, adding that the figures obtained from the registration exercise could also serve as yardstick for rolling out people-oriented programmes in each state of the federation.
The State Chief Executive who congratulated Ekpoattai for regularly presenting her record of achievements to her constituents, commended people of the federal constituency for lending support to their representative which culminated in her showing appreciation through the empowerment programme.
Emmanuel used the occasion to call for support for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to ensure more democratic dividends, reteirating his administration’s commitment to the zoning principles, cautioning those aspiring for elective positions against attempting to distort the process in order to maintain harmony in the political system.
Similarly, Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, maintained that it is the responsibility of the electorate to ensure that they have effective representation at different levels, noting that such desire could only be fulfilled by duly registered voters and encouraged massive participation in the exercise.
Dogara, who was represented by Binta Bello, the Deputy Minority Whip in the House of Representatives, applauded the legislator, Ekpoattai, for giving back dividends of her representation to her constituents and advocated for more opportunities of political positions for women at different levels of government.
Earlier, Chief Nduese Essien, the Chairman on the occasion and Leader, Eket Senatorial District Elders Forum, had lauded the initiative of the lawmaker in organizing the event, indicating that it was in fulfilment of expectations of tendering progress report by the people’s representatives to their constituents, and advised against recycling of beneficiaries to accommodate more people in the empowerment programmes.
In his goodwill message, Obong Paul Ekpo, the State Chairman of the PDP, expressed satisfaction that the party has produced representatives who have performed to justify the mandate given them by their constituents at the state and federal levels, assuring that the PDP would not relent at ensuring that effective leaders are vested with the responsibility of protecting the interest of the grassroot people.
Ekpo reteirated that the PDP would continue to be transparent in the processes leading to the emergence of political office holders from the Party, he solicited support for the present administration beyond 2019.
Presenting her scorecard, Ekpottai, the organizer of the empowerment programme, expressed delight at the unity of the people of the federal constituency, saying that it was the manifestation of the Will of God and thanked them for their continuous support, which, she said, enabled her to remain focused while discharging her oversight functions.
Describing her constituents as the collective owners of her mandate, the federal lawmaker intimated that sponsoring of about five motions, initiating of six bills, renovation of civic centres and classroom blocks, sponsoring of skills acquisition programmes for constituents and electrification projects, were some of the achievements from her representation at the Green Chambers.
Goodwill messages were also presented by the Chairman, Eket Local Government Area, Hon. Frank Archibong, the member representing Onna State Constituency at the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Nse Essien and Dr. Samuel Udonsak.
In an exhortation, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Religious Matters, Rev. Daniel Akwatang, stressed the importance of extending assistance to the less privileged in the society, adding that the world would be a better place if such values are adhered to, by individuals who are rightly disposed to such opportunities.
Reading from Proverbs 11: 24-34, the cleric said that Christians are mandated to bless indigent members of the society with their means, indicating that giving to the poor attracts divine blessings and appreciated the legislator for empowering some of her constituents.
Highpoint of the event was the presentation of empowerment items comprising cars, mini buses, motorcycles, generators, sewing machines, hair dressing equipment and other empowerment packages donated by the federal legislator, Ekpoattai, to beneficiaries in her constituency which comprises Eket, Ibeno, Onna and Esit Eket local government areas.
The event was witnessed by, Mr. Moses Ekpo, the State Deputy Governor, members of the National and State Legislature, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, Secretary to the State Government, SSG, some members of the State Executive Council, the political class, women and youth groups, among others.