When John Maxwell said “Leaders become great not because of their power, but the ability to empower others” many in our clime had seen western figures like Lincoln and Churchill as modules to rely on in this regard, until God blessed us with a man who has changed the entire narrative of power, people and leadership.
Truth in all sense, Onofiok Luke; the oak figure of the 21st century leadership requires no introduction, as he has constantly approached every sphere of leadership with the patriotism of a statesman, who cares more about the people regardless of tribe, creed and disposition.
Not many gave him a chance; roundly referring to him as a green horn, while others spared no thought in seeing him as only good enough for students’ advocacy, having in the past led a stout resistance against draconian policies that sought to perpetually keep the youths as leaders of a tomorrow that would never come.
Years down the drain, even those who never gave him a chance have come to realize the rungs their resistance added to his elevation, because it prepared him for the task ahead, which was empathic and humane disposition towards those who may never be able to repay his numerous acts of kindness.
Today no one is left in doubt that the long expected future is here, youths are no more leaders of tomorrow, but engendering a paradigm shift that showcases the birth of an era that seeks to retrace us to the paths of greatness; re-engineering the Nigerian nation devoid of biases and clannish inclinations, that future is here and now.
Working on all sides to give impetus to the struggle to bridge the generational gap neglect, over-dependence and complacence foisted on our young generation, Onofiok Luke, like a loose lion is leading the vanguard to liberate the next frontiers from negativities that sought to make a doom of the future, by presenting the past as “good old days”.
Daring the unthinkable, he has constantly led the crusade of grabbing the youths out of the shackles of servitude and mindless manipulations from those who saw youth re-orientation as theirs to lose, availing the voice that is in clear departure to roles of living on the disposal of those who see nothing good in the younger generation.
Everywhere he traverses, he leaves indelible prints; not on the sands but in hearts of the people, where no prejudices and mechanics can reverse the timeless impression he has created in his bid to demystify leadership and get the people involved in how they are led, wholly agreeing to the age long norm of democracy as government of the people, for the people, and by the people.
Proving himself a product of the people, having felt the brunt of a failing system he religiously served the follower role, he lives and feels the pulse of his people, and this has stirred him to the furious aspiration that has engendered a social, class and mental rebirth in leadership.
Ascending the leadership rungs, he ensured he was aided by the people to climb and has at no time attained a position without the people’s nod. Far from him is the culture of imposition, he has repeatedly shown faith with the people and has at all times waited on their approvals, conscious of the fact that leadership requires the consent of the led.
Always standing for the people has been a defining hallmark for Luke as far back as when he premiered the spheres of leadership, he has braved more odds than anyone in our clime ever attempted, at living for the people and has never been found wanting on advocacies that seek to better the society. In this regard, he has shown how important the people are by always putting them first in all his undertakings.
A chronicle of his landmark performances in the various leadership positions he has mounted may amount to putting a record on auto replay, since none in our entire political turf can pointedly controvert his achievements and agenda setting stewardship, which has continually produced a better and unabridged version of him at every given assignment.
Howbeit, worthy of mention, has been his emergence as Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, a development that gave the entire state reason to go to bed with their eyes closed, because a capable hand had ascended the throne divinity prepared for him, as humans watched in amazement and gratitude that at last the people had triumphed.
His tenure as Speaker in the hallowed chambers has been everything but boring, as he has jointly and severally stirred the assembly to attain a leading example in robust legislative engagement in the Nigerian political space, giving everyone reasons than few, to repose more confidence in the 6th assembly than anyone ever braved.
It is a truism that a legislature that has been as coherent as the sixth Akwa Ibom Assembly is a testimony to the leadership’s commitment to making the people feel the warmth and dividends of the mandate they freely gave him, when the entire state through their representatives queued behind the urbane; serene; cheerful and people centered Luke, who has done so much at 39, to prove that capacity and wisdom are no functions of age.
Giving leadership a human face has been his greatest achievement, as humility, meek; mien and candour are proven as unmistakable parts of his every day. He does not only stoop to conquer; he also stoops to concede when human interests are threatened, little wonder why he has become both a fulcrum for leadership evolution and a module upon which others are measured.
The infrastructural facelift the assembly complex has received under Luke’s watch may seem more like nothing except one had visited the complex before the complete overhaul he brought to bear on his emergence as speaker. It is now common to find lawmakers spend extra man-hours in their offices, carrying out legislative and oversight functions, because the assembly has been remodeled to a work compliant space.
Assembly staff would not say any less of the goodwill that have kissed their fortunes, remembering how poor a working condition they were hitherto subjected to, which was an affront to dignity of labour and convenience of their work environment. The facility assessment tour this scion of the Luke’s dynasty took on assumption, did not take long to bear fruits.
It was William Skaespeare in his book, Julius Ceasar, that said, “there is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads to fortune, omitted, all the voyage of their lives are bound in shallows and in misery”. The choice of Onofiok Luke has repeatedly paid off as the best bet that has greeted our endeavour as a people, judging by the templates he has set in human empowerment, which requires no emphasis. Simply put, in human empowerment, Uduak-Daisy’s husband and the people’s speaker has continually set and broken his records.
Having his natality a day after the great Julius Ceasar died in 44BC avers to the rebirth of greatness, the resurgence of a force that has come to dwell with humanity and a bold statement that agrees Akwa Ibom has found the rave to drive her greatness with Onofiok Luke, as Ceasar brought the Roman empire acclaim and fame.
There is not much we can wish him at 39 than pray the rest years of his life would continually serve the purpose of his call, which has incontrovertibly been people, people, people and people; as we dwell in the persuasion that governance and politics does not sway him from his inherent culture of humane-centered dispositions and kindness.
In Shakespeare’s flowery lines, “his life was gentle; and the elements so mixed in him, that nature might stand up and say to the world, this was a man”. Onofiok Luke has in the last 39 years proven himself the man whose existence has all of life’s element mixed in the right proportion. A hundred more years would only see a better version of this man our generation will stand still to celebrate.
Happy birthday the people’s Speaker, Rt. Hon. Barr. Onofiok Akpan Luke.
Samuel Ayara writes from Ibong Otoro, in Abak Local Government Area.