By Akan Emah
“My dear people of Eket Senatorial District, you know my credentials, antecedents and character. I assure you that when I represent you at the Senate, I shall offer you a Better Deal.”
The above promise expressed by Senator Akon Eyakenyi during her electioneering campaigns was the dream she had for the people of her Senatorial District, if given the mandate to represent them at the Red Chambers of the National Assembly.
On February 23, 2019 , the people of Eket Senatorial District identified with her vision and gave her an overwhelming mandate through their votes for the Better Deal contract. Of all the National Assembly Members from the State, her election was one of the two, that was not challenged in the tribunal.
On June 11, 2019 , the National Assembly Member-elect was sworn into office along with her colleagues. The field was now open to work the talk. A year has now passed. Are there really footprints of representation that offers an indication that the people of the Senatorial District are in for a Better Deal?
In our clime, a lawmaker is expected to play the key role of legislative business while also paying attention to the material needs of her constituents. How then has the Senator fared in these expectations?
Understanding the need to carry out legislative duties that will impact significantly on the lives of her constituents and the country, Senator Akon Eyakenyi has sponsored a bill, two motions, and cosponsored eight motions and petitions which are undergoing various legislative processes.
Few months into office, the Senator sponsored “A Bill To Repeal the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron Act And To Establish The University of Maritime Studies, Oron And Related Matters”.
This bill when passed into law and accented to by the President will upgrade Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron to a full-fledged University of Maritime Studies.
The Bill having been referred to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and Tetfund. Interestingly, a public hearing was scheduled for stakeholders to give inputs towards making the bill an acceptable and implementable law.
Although the public hearing was affected by the lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, fillers have it that the public hearing will hold soon.
What is more, the Senator has not only focused on bills. She has sponsored and cosponsored several motions to her credit and benefit of the country.
It could be recalled that in less than one month in the Red Chambers of the National Assembly, Senator Eyakenyi established her presence vocally and intelligently.
On July 2, 2019, the ebullient Senator presented her first motion on:
“Urgent Need to Address the Sorry State of Computer Education by Providing Training for Teachers and Basic Computer Facilities in Public Schools.”
The motion which was well received and deferred till the setting up of Senate Committees was eventually referred to Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education upon the setting up of Standing Committees of the Senate.
The committee went to work and subsequently presented a comprehensive report which was adopted and forwarded to the relevant ministry, departments and agencies of government for implementation.
The Senator was poised to build on the good foundation she laid, she further sponsored a motion on:
“Urgent Need to Address The Menace of Banditry In The Gulf of Guinea And Nigerian Waters.”
Considering the richness and timeliness of the motion, the attention of the Senate was courted and It received a unanimous support across political divides and geopolitical spread. The motion which was referred to the Senate Committee on Maritime Transport, produced a comprehensive report which was adopted and resolutions taken.
Interestingly, since legislative business demands partnership in most cases, the Senator has cultivated robust relationship which has led to her cosponsoring motions.
Among the motions she has cosponsored are: 1. Motion On The Need To Increase Funding To Primary Health-Care Centres; 2. Urgent Need To Ascertain The Status of Nigeria’s Extended Continental Shelf Project And The Constitution Of An Ocean Advisory Committee; 3. The Deplorable Conditions Of Ikot Ekpene-Umuahia Highway Linking Akwa Ibom State and Abia State; 4. Existing Petroleum Subsidy, Ensuring Self-Sufficiency In Domestic Refining of Petroleum Products; 5. Urgent Need To Look Into Incessant Loss of Commuter Lives on Our Waterways; 6. The Urgent Need To Establish A Medical School At Modibbo Adam University of Technology, Yola And To Upgrade The Federal Medical Centre, Yola, To A University Teaching Hospital; 7. Urgent Need To Review And Recover Additional Revenue Accruable To The Government of the Federation From Sharing Contracts Pursuant To Section 16 Of The Deep Offshore And Inland Basin Production Sharing Act Cap D3 LFN 2004; and
8. Urgent Need To Perform The Housing Mortgage Financing In Nigeria To Meet The Escalating Housing Demand In The Country.
Moreover, the Akwa Ibom South Senator has been outstanding in her oversight role. As the Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, she is reputable in the collaborative role of her committee to ensure the MDAs of our educational sector implement policies that will lift the sector to a height worthy to be reckoned with.
On top of that, the Distinguished Senator has not only been visible during plenaries but also vocal and passionate in her contributions on the floor of the Senate.
Nigerians will always remember her topnotch presentation on the floor of the Senate in October 2019, when she expressed disappointment with the 1.5 percent Allocation to Education in the 2020 national budget proposal.
With courage, she expressly spoke truth to powers insisting that Nigeria requires a State of Emergency or revolution in Education to address its present status as the country with the highest school dropouts in the world.
The Senator pointed out that with meagre allocation to this critical sector when over 10million young people are yet to access basic education, the infrastructure in a sorry state, inadequate teachers, and poor emoluments, there must be an immediate change.
Her submission that “Any country that wants to grow and develop must invest in Education and Manpower”, will continue to resonate in the minds of Nigerians for a long time.
At the same time, the Senator is always alert to issues that affect her constituents. Recently, when ExxonMobil sacked numerous Akwa Ibom indigenes which left her constituents mostly affected, she rose to the occasion and sent a strong-worded statement to the Oil Giant calling for their reinstatement.
Interestingly, Senator Eyakenyi’s performance in legislative business has earned her induction into Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians and commendation from stakeholders of her constituency and beyond.
Nevertheless, despite an excellent performance on the floor of the Senate, how has the Senator related with the home front?
ATTENTION TO HOME FRONT
In order to be abreast of the dynamic needs and yearnings of her constituents thus sustain the relationship she had created, the Senator built a strong channel of communication and access between her and her constituents. Just a few months into office, Senator Eyakenyi opened a Constituency Office so that Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District constituents could have unrestricted access to her.
Here, she has engaged over 60 staff. While some work in the Constituency Office, others are serving within their respective Federal Constituencies as nexus between the constituents and the constituency office.
As part of her community development gesture in complementing the effort of Governor Udom Emmanuel in human capacity development, the Senator has been remarkable in the aspect of Entrepreneurial and Human Resource Development.
In her 100 days in the Senate, Senator Eyakenyi launched her first Youth Skills Acquisition Training Scheme which started off from Oron Federal Constituency in August 2019 while Eket and Ikot Abasi Federal Constituencies took their turns in September and October respectively. Consequently, over 400 youths of Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District were trained in Scaffolding, Industrial Safety, Rigging, among other skills needed for the Oil and Gas sector.
In addition to this, Senator Eyakenyi has reached out to students with grants, extended empowerment packages to women and the physically challenged within Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District. Many students have been supported, while many more are still drawing regular support from the Senator to further their education.
More so, in just one year in the Senate, the Senator has utilized effectively her experience and connections in government service to facilitate the employment of some of the trained youths of the Senatorial District. Others have equally been assisted to secure employments in State and Federal Government agencies, departments and institutions. She has helped many to get enlisted in several paramilitary services, while many are awaiting enlistment. Equally, she has assisted over 500 of her constituents to get enlisted into the Federal Government Social Investment Schemes like N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer and the likes.
Yet, the Senator is far from resting on her wings of performance.
Concerned about the health status of her constituents, in November 2019 she co-sponsored free medical services for the people of Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District where several persons were treated. Over 600 eyeglasses were given out to people coupled with free medication given to many. Lots of surgeries (major and minor) were performed during the outreach that lasted for more than 10 days.
Moved with her known empathy for people with a special condition, Senator Eyakenyi sponsored a Football Tournament for inmates of Eket Correctional Centre and made donations to the Centre’s Management for the upkeep of the inmates.
Furthermore, while commemorating her 60th birthday on February 24, 2020, the Senator celebrated with 250 widows selected from across the State. Each of them retired home with empowerment packages from the Distinguished Senator.
It is also on record that the Senator has sponsored burials for many, taken care of medical bills of scores, paid rents for several persons who were at the verge of being thrown out by their landlords, and empowered several individuals to start-up businesses. During the last Christmas and Easter Celebrations, Senator Eyakenyi reached out to hundreds individually and in groups.
Interestingly, the Senator has not tired out in her humanitarian acts. In the face of COVID-19 which has caused many homes untold hardship, Senator Eyakenyi has lived up to expectations.
During the lockdown, she had supported more than 300 individuals with cash to help them cushion the adverse effects of the lockdown. As the pandemic lingers with its negative consequences, she has not relent with the gesture.
SUSTENANCE OF THE LIVING DREAM
The rich educational background of the Senator as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Education, experience in government service as the Chairman Governing Council of the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua from where she resigned in 2018 to contest for the Akwa Ibom South Senatorial election will continue to play a fortifying role by equipping the Senator for her committee responsibility.
As a former Minister of the Federal Republic and now a Senator, she has an enriched background to attract opportunities down-home.
Her robust connection with the leadership of the Senate evidenced in how Nigerian Senate President , His Excellency, Ahmad Lawan, led a powerful delegation of Senators including the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo -Agege, Senate Chief Whip – Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, Senate Minority Leader Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, Senator Robert Boroffice, Senator Danjuma Goje, Senator Abba Moro, Senator Shuaibu Lau, Senator Betty Apiafi, Senator Uche Ekunife, Senator Obinna Ogba, Senator Francis Faduansi, Senator Michael Opeyemi, Senator Aisha Binani, Senator Lekan Mustapha, Senator Kola Balagun, Senator Olobumi Adetumbi, Senator Thompson Sekibo, Senator Rochas Okorocha, Senator Elisha Abbo, Senator Gershom Bassey, Senator Bassey Albert (OBA) and Senator Chris Ekpeyong to Uyo to attend the 60th Birthday Celebration/Thanksgiving Service of the Senator in March 2020 speaks volume of how rightly placed she is to push for the interest of her people.
It is also on record that , in addition to these mentioned Senators, the Clerk of the Senate – Mr Nelson Ayewoh , the SA Political to the Senate President – Alhaji Abdullahi Gumel, the DG NILDS – Prof Abubakar Sulaiman and many other staffers from the National Assembly were also in Uyo for that celebration.
Her cordial relationship with the State government is also a plus that will continue to foster synergy of development to her constituents thus provide to them a Better Deal in representation.
Distinguished Senator Akon Eyakenyi is a round peg in a round hole. As a transformational leader , she has served her Local Government Area then as a Supervisor for Education, Youth & Sports and as the Executive Chapter President – Better Life for Nigerian Women. She has also served the State as a Board Member of the State Secondary Education Board before being elevated to the position of a Commissioner in the State. She is a former Minister of the Federal Republic.
Senator Eyakenyi notes that she has included projects across the district in the budget. She assures that as soon as there are releases, those projects will be executed.
How heartwarming it is to note that the Senator representing Akwa Ibom South has pledged to continue living the Dreams of her mandate.
“I am unreservedly committed to the service of my people and shall continue to do all within my capabilities to offer our people a Better Deal.
” I sincerely thank the owners of the mandate for the support and cooperation I have enjoyed this past year and look forward to have greater dose of same in the years ahead. I promise to continue to serve with utmost sense of humility and devotion”.
Akan Emah is Rotarian, a Media / Public Relations Practitioner.
- Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN Recruitment 2021 ) of Independent Infrastructure Asset Manager
- NGO Jobs in Nigeria for Finance Manager at FHI 360
- Latest Job Vacancies at Marriott International
- NGO Jobs in Nigeria for Program Officer at Catholic Relief Services
- Latest Career Opportunities at Interswitch Group