On June 24, 2016, I awoke to a mail. It read;
My dear brother Osondu
SPECIAL INVITATION: COMMISSIONING AND HANDING OVER OF A MODERN AND EQUIPPED SKILL ACQUISITION CENTRE; SOLAR POWERED PIGGERY/POULTRY INFRASTRUCTURE
Recall several interventionist efforts of the Federal Government at retooling the youths and creating safety nets for the empowerment of the greater population of our people. I was persuaded by these collaborations to facilitate the construction and equipping of a modern skill acquisition centre and three solar powered piggery/poultry agricultural infrastructure in Eket (Eket, Onna, Esit Eket, Ibeno) Federal Constituency.
Sir, Cross River Basin Development Authority as the implementation Agency has demonstrated commitment to its core mandate, created a diligent and process driven capacity in the execution of these projects.
Consequent upon the aforesaid, I have the honour, most respectfully to specially invite your esteemed professional company and presence in the commissioning and handing over ceremony thus:-
DATE: THURSDAY JUNE 30, 2016
VENUE: SKILL ACQUISITION CENTRE, BY HOPE POWER SCHOOL, IKOT NSIDIBE, OKON CLAN, EKET
TIME: 10.00 AM
Hon Eseme Eyiboh
I recall that, on the heels of the 2015 General Election, when Rt. Hon. Eyiboh also indicated interest to run for the Eket Federal Constituency Seat, in the House of Representatives, he had invited newsmen(among which was yours sincerely) to a facility tour of this project, then at its inception stages. This was in November, 2014.
When I looked at the project site and the skeletal work ongoing, I, as human, had my doubts. When he made the lofty projections of how the project, when complete, will become a world class vocational centre to train people on modern trends in agricultural husbandry, poultry, fashion designing, ICT technology, catering services and lots more, I had my sights on his electoral ambition. I thought it was one of those gimmicks politicians simulate, just to hoodwink or woo would-be voters in the constituency for the Election Season.
Alas! Hon(Mrs) Owoidighe Ime Ekpoatai was presented by the Peoples Democratic Party, after their Primaries as the winner and she currently represents the Federal Constituency.
Ironically, Eyiboh is the one making all the waves for the right reasons. It all dates back to his stellar tenure in the National Assembly.
His odyssey in the Federal House of Representatives started in 2007. After a brilliant stint that has been unmatched ever since, as the Chairman, Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation Commission (EARCOM), Akwa Ibom State, under former Governor Victor Attah, he was elected to represent his constituents at the Green Chamber of the National Assembly.
His skill, sheer articulation, fecundity and communication skills soon propped him up as a stand-out performer. Among his first-time colleagues, he was to burst onto the stage as a supremo. He was appointed, Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs. An office that was apparently customized, as it has ceased to exist ever after. He functioned as the public face of the House and its chief spokesman for the duration of that tenure.
Characteristically pro-active and innovative, he founded what became the most vibrant Pressure group in the House known as The Initiatives. A league of some lawmakers in the House of Representatives who are committed to the ideals of good governance and the realization of vision 2020.
As the Dean, on May 27, 2010, Eyiboh caused to be inaugurated, The Governing Board of The Initiatives. Heavyweights attracted to the vision gave credence to its impact. A former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mohammed Uwais (rtd) serves as Chairman of the Board, while former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, is the vice chairman. Other members of the board are Chief Emem Akpabio, a former staff of Shell Nigeria; Dr Ifueko Omogui- Okauru, chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Senator Mohammed Daggash, former minister of works and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) among others.
Its Faculty Board parades a no less impressive resume. Whereas Eyiboh is the Dean, the equally star studded cast includes: Hon. Nasiru Sule, Deputy Dean; Hon. Kamil Akinlabi, Secretary; Hon. Nelson Alapa, Leadership Council; Hon.Mikail Bmitosahi, Treasurer; Hon. Chris Etta, Concept/Program Coordinator, and Hon. Lanre Agoro, Research Capacity Development.
Eyiboh disclosed that, The Initiatives, is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC/IT/NO34989) and seeks to achieve a generational shift in the country’s legislative processes and outcome. He described the venture as, “…a selfless, non partisan project that aims to achieve good governance through informed, proactive and response legislation towards a better Nigeria. ”
As history reflects, The Initiatives was very influential in ensuring balance, stability, and processes in the House. Some of her members have gone ahead to become Senators, governors and Principal officers of the National Assembly.
By 2011, Eyiboh returned to the House for a second term in office to continue his excellent representation, which made Akwa ibom people proud. Alongside Senator Ita Enang(who was then in the House), only few Lawmakers could measure up to their rare standards. His dream of a second term was however abridged and became aborted.
On July 6, 2012 The Supreme Court removed Hon. Eyiboh as member representing Eket, Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom from the House of Representatives and returned Mr Dan Abia, also of PDP, who had challenged his stay in the House, as the representative of the constituency.
Delivering judgment on an Appeal filed by Eyiboh against an earlier judgment vacating his seat , Justice Rodes Vivour held that the respondent (Abia) was the rightful candidate of the party.
That was how a fairy tale representation with a Midas touch was truncated. In a piece I wrote then, I lamented that judgment and feared, Eket Federal Constituency has lost its momentum. I have been proved right, given the lacklustre service subsequent claimants to that office have so far put up.
But that Letter of July 24, afforestated rekindled my hope. Eyiboh did not let his dream die. When he was in the House, while others were giving out hair dryers, generators, motorcycles and in rare cases, cars as Constituency Empowerment schemes, Eyiboh had a different idea. Adhering to the thematic Chinese maxim, he wanted to teach the people how to fish. Thus, the idea of retooling the Youths was conceived. Eyiboh networked to facilitate the construction and equipping of a modern skill acquisition centre and three solar powered piggery/poultry agricultural infrastructure in Eket (Eket, Onna, Esit Eket, Ibeno) Federal Constituency.
With the Cross River Basin Development Authority as the implementation Agency, and the willing/ready support of International donor agencies, Eyiboh has set the stage for countless youths under the aegis of Amalgamated Co-operatives spread across the four council areas of Eket, Esit Eket, Onna and Ibeno to begin vocational training as well as access soft loans and grants to begin small scale and medium scale business ventures and interventions in Agriculture.
To reinforce the huge success story, this project has become, International Development Partners have adopted their Cooperative model with a conditional N50m grant, and additional 10 Green Houses for for nurture of tomatoes, Cucumber,spices etc. Already, the President and Vice President of the Amalgamated Cooperative, namely, Mr Itiat Christopher and Mrs Helen Umanah, have just finished training in New Town /Urban upgrade and Vocational /Skill education in Korea, thus advancing organizational goal.
This dream as conceptualized by Eyiboh, is more poignant in its visionary impetus, given the failing gains from the crisis ridden oil sector of the economy and the dwindling fortunes of its deriving incomes, which now compels diversification into other areas, with emphasis on agriculture. Out of the election Season, Eyiboh has done what the average Politician does only for election purposes. Beholding the eye-catching modern structure that is put in place, I was left with no doubt that, the facilitator isn’t just focused, but a stickler for excellence.
Besides , one thing strikes every onlooker to his politics. His bipartisan approach to issues of development. Although he is now of the APC, the beneficiaries are drawn from society with no political bias. That leads me to recall that, on Friday January 8, 2016, Eyiboh ended his franchise in the PDP. Bowing out gracefully, he ported in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
According to Eyiboh, in his ‘valedictory’ speech, “… the PDP has lost the visionary philosophy of its founding fathers and empowered a crop of political dealers deficient in inspirational leadership. Eyiboh who once served as the financial secretary of the Akwa Ibom state chapter of the PDP, said the party, “… had thrown up economic choristers who had converted the commonwealth into private franchise.”
His political views notwithstanding, Eyiboh’s efforts at working harder even out of office, is worthy of emulation by all active and aspiring politicians. One can serve his people not only by holding political office, but by having their interest at heart and leveraging on his reach, abilities and contacts for the betterment of society. I congratulate Eyiboh on the successful completion of this project, even when he left office and wish him Godspeed in all his humanitarian endeavours.