It was Martin Luther King Jnr. Who said that “A leader is not one who searches for consensus, but one who moulds consensus”. One can actually attest to the veracity of the above quote in the personality of Rt. Hon. Dr. Henry Archibong as the people of Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal Constituency voted massively on March 23, 2019 for the return of the medical practitioner cum politician to the House of Representatives for a second term in office. The victory, pundits have said was not one given on a platter of gold, but one that was well earned.
Dr. Archibong’s 2019 electoral success was not devoid of political sentiment arising from the crave for zoning and rotation of the federal constituency seat among the two sister Local Government Areas that makes up the federal constituency. Heightened propaganda and blackmail featured prominently during the electioneering process by the opposition, but the five-star record of achievements of the quintessential lawmaker during his first term in office defied those seeming blockades and bred fresh air of persuasion, conviction and belief among the teeming majority of the two local government areas to vote for the silent achiever to return to the Green Chambers to consolidate on the gains made in his first term. The achievements of his first term is akin to the first servant in the Biblical parable of the “Talent”, who being given five talents by the master, worked diligently to make a profit of five more talents.
Shortly after his inauguration as member of the 8th National Assembly on June 9, 2015, Dr. Archibong set a legislative and representative agenda for himself to run with great pace. With a blend of wisdom, acumen, determination, passion, resourcefulness and patriotism, the Mbak Obio Itam born federal lawmaker overcame the obstacles of fear and timidity that usually characterize first time members of the House to ensure that he brought to the table, one of the very best representation ever witnessed by Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal Constituency at the Green Chambers. Since then, the lawmaker has endeavored to show that the mandate given him was truly deserving. He has built strategic alliances with the young and older generations to remain politically relevant. His unwavering commitment to his constituents has become the hallmark of his representation. His humility, a virtue that is very uncommon among politicians is charming. He is always accessible and remains unaffected by his rising political profile. The scorecard therefore of this unassuming member of the Nigerian Parliament is expectedly rich.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Dr. Archibong is a legislative firebrand, a bundle of talents and a blessing to the House of Representatives. This is evident in the quality of his debates and contributions on the floor of the House. He has already carved out a niche for himself in the business of lawmaking. In the last four years he has sponsored the following bills, motions, matters of urgent public importance and petitions.
1. Motion on the “Urgent need for the Federal Government to Rehabilitate and Construct Calabar-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Highway particularly Enen Atai-Mbak-Oku Iboku section to avoid it being cut off from the rest of Nigeria”. After a good debate, the motion was adopted and referred to the House Committee on works. The result of the investigation of the Joint Senate and House Committee on Works made it possible for N6B to be appropriated for Rehabilitation work on the road in the 2016 budget. In 2017, the Federal Government awarded N52B contract for construction and dualization of the said road spanning from Aba through Ikot Ekpene to Itu and down to Odukpani in Cross River State.
2. Motion on the “Urgent need to mandate the Federal Ministry of Aviation to carry out screening on the Operational Reliability of all Domestic Airplanes Operating within the Airspace of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”. Having been adopted and referred to the House Committee on Aviation, the motion received so much accolades and commendations from Nigerians across party lines, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives and has led to more stringent measures being adopted for airline safety in Nigeria.
3. Motion on the “Urgent Need for the Federal Government to Take-over the Nigerian Newsprint Manufacturing Company (NNMC), now Oku Iboku Pulp and Paper Limited in Oku Iboku, Akwa Ibom State, over Seven years after Privatization”. It can be recalled that the NNMC was one of the largest employers of labour in the state during its functional days. The Federal Government under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had sold the company to a private investor under the “guided liquidation” principle which stated that after five years the agreement will be revoked if the company is not revived. Dr. Archibong therefore took the matter to the House when he discovered that the guided liquidation agreement was breached by the investor. After a good debate, the motion was adopted and referred to the House Committee on Privatization for further legislative action. Dr. Archibong also brought the Committee on Industrialization to Oku Iboku to have an on-the-spot assessment of the NNMC.
4. Motion on the “Need to Urge Manufacturers of Cell Phones, Electronics and Electrical Appliances to set up their Plants and factories in Nigeria to Assist the Nation in Technology Transfer, Job Creation and reduction of Capital Flights”. Again, the motion was adopted and referred to the House Committee on Commerce and Industry for further legislative action.
5. Motion on “Urgent Need to Investigate the Unwholesome Practices involving the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) with Respect to the Ongoing Recruitment Exercise Announced by the Commission”. The matter generated a lot of concern from members of the House condemning the actions of the commission. The matter was promptly adopted and investigated. The result of the investigation led to the opening of the FCSC portal and extension of time for the application to be submitted by Nigerians.
6. Matter of Urgent Public Importance on “Urgent Need for the Federal Government’s Intervention on the Recent and Ongoing Killings, Maiming, and Wanton Destruction of Properties in Oku Iboku in Itu LGA of Akwa Ibom State by Assailants from Ikot Offiong in Odukpani LGA of Cross River State”. In presenting the matter, Dr. Archibong elucidated the historical background behind the communal war and prayed among other things, for Government to send relief materials to the people of Oku Iboku to help cushion the effect of the war, describing them as ‘internally displaced persons’. Accordingly, the matter received attention of the House, and was duly adopted. The resultant is the heavy presence of the military in the area and setting up of a high-powered committee with representatives from both communities to look into the matter. His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel also visited the area to provide succor to the affected communities.
7. Motion to “Investigate the deplorable condition of the State House Clinic and Alleged Deductions from the Salaries and Allowances of the Medical Staff Despite Huge Budgetary Allocations to the Clinic over the years”. In moving the motion, Dr. Archibong thanked the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari for speaking out about the state of the Clinic. The motion was well debated and the prayers adopted and resolutions made thereto. The resultant of the motion is that the State House Clinic is now well equipped, the unauthorized deductions seized and the in-house doctors sent on routine training.
1. A Bill for “An Act to Establish the National Farm Settlement and Empowerment Agency and for Matters Connected Therewith”.
2. A bill for “An Act to Establish the Maritime University, Oron to make Comprehensive Provisions for Due Management and Administration and for Related Matters”. A public hearing was conducted after the bill passed second reading. The public hearing attracted eminent sons and daughters of Akwa Ibom State, experts and other critical stakeholders of the maritime industry all over the country. The bill has so far been referred to a Technical Committee for further actions. The lawmaker is sure to continue lobbying on the issue to make sure that Akwa Ibom State gets a Maritime University.
3. A bill for “An Act to Establish the Mining Areas Development Commission to have Organized Management and Administrative Structure for More Effectiveness and Development and for Connected Matters”.
4. A bill for “An Act to Amend the Nigerian Children Trust Fund Act Cap N93, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to Harmonize the Functions of the Nigeria Children Trust Fund; and for Related Matters”.
1. Petition on behalf of Etubom Ita Oku (Obong Itam) titled “Unjust Termination of Appointment and Deprivation of Entitlements from Somotex Nigeria Limited: An Appeal for Review”. After a brilliant presentation, the petition was laid and referred to the House Committee on Public Petitions. The committee after inviting both parties for hearing and debates on the matter, found out that Etubom Ita Oku was unjustly removed from office by Somotex Nigeria Limited and immediately granted the prayers of the petitioner which included payments of his salaries and entitlements from 2004 till date and re-absorption back into the company.
2. Petition on behalf of Sgt. Augustine Effiong (Ikot Usen, Ibiono) titled “Wrongful withdrawal from ASP Promotion Course 2, 2006, Wrongful Prosecution for Impersonation, De-Kitting and Non-Payment of Salaries and other Entitlements by the Nigeria Police Force since October 2006”. The petition was laid and referred to the House Committee on Public Petitions. The committee having sat on the matter and satisfied by the evidences and claims made by the petitioner found that the Nigerian Police was wrong in their actions, and ruled that the petitioner be reinstated and promoted accordingly with all outstanding salaries and entitlements paid.
3. Petition on behalf of Major Hogan Okon Ene (Mbiatok Itam) titled “Wrongful Retirement, Failure to Treat a Wounded Soldier, Discrimination, Intimidation and Gross Violation of Human Rights by the Nigerian Army” has since been listed and awaiting commencement of hearing by the House Committee on Public Petitions.
It is worthy of note that none of Dr. Archibong’s motions, bills, petitions or even matters of urgent public importance has suffered rejection from the House. This is evident of a man who understands the system, the place value of his people to key in properly in order to address their problems and issues in the most constructive and legitimate manner.
CONSTITUENCY EMPOWERMENT INITIATIVES
Dr. Henry Archibong’s constituency reach out and empowerment initiatives have so far been strategic with a view to putting enduring smiles on the faces of his constituents. The following items have been distributed:
– Seventy-four (74) tricycles
– Twenty-one (21) sewing machines and accessories
– Twenty-one (21) hair dryers and accessories
– Twenty (20) motor bikes
– One (1) cassava processing machine
– Fifty (50) electricity generating sets
SKILLS DEVELOPMENT SCHEMES & EMPOWERMENT
– Training and empowerment of 380 youths (male & female) in marketable skills, poultry and fishery production
– Facilitated employment of his constituents in;
(1) The University of Uyo
(2) The University of Uyo Teaching Hospital
(3) Military & Paramilitary Agencies
(4) Federal Civil Service etc.
– Training and empowerment of thirty-three (33) youths in cosmetology, hair dressing, fashion and designs etc.
– Facilitated donation of various sports equipment from the National Lottery Commission to fifty-six (56) primary schools across Akwa Ibom State including schools in his federal constituency.
– Training and empowerment of constituents in the making of leather shoes, bags and belts.
EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT PROGRAMME
The lawmaker, through his foundation, Henry Archibong Foundation for Creative Excellence (HAFCE) has achieved the following in educational empowerment of his constituents:
– Payment of N25,000 education support each for one hundred and fifty (150) students of tertiary institutions.
– Facilitated post graduate scholarships for twenty-two (22) constituents in the United Kingdom.
– Facilitated Japanese Government Scholarship for eleven (11) undergraduates to study technology and engineering based courses
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT FUNDS
– N50,000 each to fifty (50) women to boost their businesses
– N20,000 each to one hundred (100) rural market women to support their petty trading.
– Facilitated the construction of 1KM Atan-Ekoi-Ikot Awa Roads in Mbak Obio Itam
– Facilitated the construction of a Spur, 500 meters off Calabar-Itu Road in Itu LGA by FERMA
– Facilitated the construction of 4kM Ikot Andem-Ikot Uso Akpan-Efi Itam Roads by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (Road designs completed)
– Construction of a 3-Classroom block in Primary School, Ikot Obong in Ibiono Ibom
– Construction of an Ultra-modern ICT Center in Mbak Obio Itam
– Building of a standard 3-bedroom house for a constituent in Enen Atai Itam, Itu LGA
– Drilling of Borehole in Government School, Afaha Ubeh Itam, Itu LGA
– Drilling of Borehole in Government Primary School, Obio Ibiono, Ibiono Ibom LGA
– Drilling of Motorized Borehole at Ntan Ekere, Ibiono Ibom LGA
LIVE SAVING INITIATIVES
In ways inscrutable to many, Dr. Archibong has been very passionate about the lives of his constituents. For instance, he organizes a yearly free medical intervention and outreach for his constituents to include provision of free medical tests, drugs and operations of all sorts totally free of charge. There is no medical case reported to him that has been left unhandled. He has facilitated medical surgery of over thirty (30) constituents including hernia and appendicectomies. He has also successfully rescued a constituent with gangrenous diabetic leg ulcer from amputation.
His workaholic nature as a medical doctor has certainly rubbed off on his extra legislative and oversight functions. For instance, Dr. Archibong is a member of many standing committees in the House. He is a member of committees on;
(1.) Niger Delta Affairs;
(2.) Constitutional Review (a special committee where he is representing Akwa Ibom State);
(3.) Federal Capital Territory;
(4.) Federal Road Safety Commission;
(5.) Diaspora Matters;
(6.) Agricultural Institutions;
(7.) Health Care Services;
(8.) HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria; and
(9) Water Resources.
He is also a member of Ad-Hoc Committees including;
(1.) Committee to investigate the Accounting Procedures of Federal Inland Revenue Service;
(2.) Committee on Deadline of Digital Broadcasting;
(3.) Committee on Effects of Illegal Lumbering and Deforestation in Nigeria;
(4.) Committee to Investigate the FG Bailout Funds to State Governments;
(5.) Committee on Investigation of the Harmful Effects of Coca Cola drinks and very recently, he has been appointed Chairman of the Sub-Committee on the Need to Re-Evaluate the Health Infrastructure of the Federal Capital Territory to Ensure that Communities and Districts are Duly Served.
As a development oriented lawmaker with political and administrative sagacity, Dr. Henry Archibong going into the 9th National Assembly as ranking member of the House of Representatives is poised to raise the bar of legislative representation. There is absolutely no reason to doubt the capability of this great and silent achiever, after all he already has a well laid down plan and strategy for empowerment and development of his constituents having gone round the nooks and crannies of his Federal Constituency during his electioneering campaigns to identify the peculiarities of their needs.
As the second term of another four years of his pro people representation in the National Assembly beckons as a ranking member, the stakes are high and the people are optimistic that his second term achievements shall dwarf those of his first term. It shall be another term of UBOKUTOM ABASI
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!