Barr. Onofiok Luke

By Benjamin Jimmy

As the political climate in Akwa Ibom State thickens like a cloud ready to bless the earth with rains, almost all the non- pretentious contenders vying for the office of the governor of the state have unveiled their blueprint to the people. Interestingly, each of these blueprints has not fallen short of standards typical of a roadmap in the Nigerian polity, and has also not disappointed human eagerness towards addressing challenges that appear to defy just ordinary statements of intention, without deliberate policies and practicalities.

However, one blueprint that so many Akwa Ibom people have refused rest ever since it came to the public space is the nine-point agenda of Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke, one of the leading aspirants in the governorship race in 2023. The reason this is so, many believe, is that Luke’s blueprint is like a human being – having feelings akin to those of Akwa Ibomites yearning for human-centred leadership and holding solutions also to the myriads of aged-long human capacity development deficits which have tremendously dogged our steps beyond just a simple remedy.

Of the Luke’s nine-point agenda is the second which practically and holistically addresses education as it were. One thing about this very item of education that has set tongues on fire in the last few days is the fact that it understands, surprisingly, the present state of the education sector in the state. It can see like human eyes, the heavy burden on the shoulders of very insufficient teachers teaching legions of Akwa Ibom children in an environment Luke alone has carefully grasped as unconducive.

One would wonder if Luke is currently teaching in a public school, because the details of this blueprint on education capture the very depth, like pictures that cannot lie, the plights of both the primary and secondary school teachers in public schools in the state and the systematic approaches to addressing these abnormalities for a more functional and self-regulated system.

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No! Luke is not a teacher in any school, but he knows all, apparently because he interfaces with teachers in his village and his federal constituency as well. Luke knows it all because he goes to public schools for his constituency projects and also gives support to the teachers, pupils and students as usual of him.

A typical case in point is his recent visit to his alma mater, Lutheran High School, Obot Idim, Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area. This very visit, interestingly, is one out of other previous visits that he has made just to familiarise himself with turn of events there – essentially to render some support and try to study what to present at plenary on the floor of the House as a member of the House of Representatives, either as a bill or matters of urgent public importance. Any wonder he has so many motions and bills to his credit.

Apart from his regular visits to schools, Luke is a product of all public, that is, he attended public primary and secondary schools, as well as a public university. For someone who has gone through these stages that are completely rural, understanding what it is like for the system to do well is the easiest of assignments.

Perhaps it is this wealth of knowledge that has given him the understanding to clinically dissect the deficit in education into three pillars: infrastructure, faculty and curriculum.

Coincidentally, the three pillars of quality education Luke has captured in his agenda are the same areas scholars have said hold the key to a new paradigm for education that is 21st Century responsive. This simply gives one the understanding that in addition to his direct experience, Luke must have done thorough research like a scholar would do before daring to speak on matters of education.

Another trailblazing thing Luke’s agenda on education has captured is the establishment of Teaching Service Commission, (TSC). For many, this is not only unprecedented, but also an end itself to the tales of woes of teachers in the state. A commission such as intended by Luke will serve as a midwife for the delivery of the three pillars of quality education in the state. This commission will also supervise the very novel merit-based scholarship in sports, music, arts and other related areas that Luke has discovered as holding huge future potentials for the state in particular, and the nation in general. One would say that coming up with this lofty vision must have drained this intellectual of Luke of every knowledge in him.

The education blueprint has not failed to factor the interest of university students regarding the payment of bursary. Luke, a beneficiary of bursary in those old good days, believes this should come back, this time, with adequate policy in place to make it a right for all the Akwa Ibom students in any tertiary institution the world over. This is will come as a financial burden lifter; to ameliorate any perceived hardship students of Akwa Ibom extraction may face in the course of studying. It will be like a study made easy.

Still building for the future of the Akwa Ibom students is the standard mechanic village which will serve as a training hub; the first ever to be conceptualized and planned for. Luke believes in exchange of programmes among universities across the globe, and for this to happen, an initiative such as this has to evolve from a ready-to-make -a -change individual like him.

Obviously, one would know where Onofiok is coming from, looking at the merits of his roadmap and their refinement. He is coming from a background well read. He is a lawyer with a Master’s Degree, an alumnus of the Harvard Business School Executive Education Programme, London Business School Executive Education and Yale University, in partnership the Nigerian Leadership Initiative. Currently, Luke is a student of School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG). With all these, one wouldn’t wonder again if one had wondered before how he came about his nine-point agenda of “Building Together; Growing Together”.

Luke, like many have said, especially the youths, is the man who will berth new developmental paradigms that can respond to the current realities of the Akwa Ibom people. The taste of the pudding is in the eating.