Two eventful years have gone by since Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-udo was unanimously chosen by the people of Ikono and Ini Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State to represent them at the National Assembly. Despite what has been one of the most tortuous times in recent history, the people of Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency can still look back at the last year, and indeed the last two, with relish.
When canvassing for their support for his aspiration to represent them, Ukpong-udo made several promises. He promised to represent them robustly by bringing to the fore, as well as speaking out on, issues that affect or could affect them. He promised he would see to their welfare by empowering them to create wealth and to develop their capacity, attitudes and mindset. He promised he would support the student body and that, where possible, he would ensure that qualified indigenes are given a fair employment opportunity. He also promised physical development in terms of infrastructure in the area.
Overall, he promised he would “bring back to Ikono-Ini people what is rightfully theirs.” During the second of these two years, the entire world was brought to its knees by a pandemic of epic proportions, with shocks still resonating to this day. This was followed by local and international protests over racial injustice and police brutality. Things further escalated to far-reaching cases of insecurity occasioned by religious extremism, ethnic intolerance and banditry across the national landscape.
In the face of these challenges, however, one of the more heart-warming features of these times has been a wide gamut of completed, ongoing and nascent people-oriented programmes and projects within Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency in the last 24 months.In line with his promises, Ukpong-udo has stayed true to his colour of selfless dedication to the common good. He triggered a prompt response by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to address an incident of a landslide in Odoro Ikpe and Ibam Edet communities of his constituency. He has also drawn the attention of the Federal Government to the need to complete Nkari Dam in Ini Local Government Area which will help with flood control, energy generation, irrigation as well as human and livestock water supply.
These have been followed by a massive infrastructural facelift in the constituency, with a focus on communal utilities; a sequel to Ukpong-udo’s promise of “…provision and rehabilitation of social amenities and basic infrastructure in needy communities.” Several new market stalls have been completed and are now in use at Edet Ukpom Market. Within the two local government areas of the constituency, multipurpose Civic and Entrepreneurship centres, in the place of regular town halls, have been constructed at Itak Ikot Obio Ise, Ini Local Government Area, for example, while some are still under construction. Similarly, council halls for Traditional Rulers have also been either completed or are ongoing.
Road infrastructure has remained in the pipeline due to the multiplicity of stakeholders involved in their execution, especially post-covid. However, propositions for the construction of several roads within the constituency, including the Uyo Afaha Nkan-Urua Naira-Ikot Nseyen-Ibiaku Ntok Okpo road, the Nkara Obio-Ediene Atai-Osuk Ediene-Udok Atai road, and very recently, the Uduo Ndiad Road, Ikot Akpa- Edet Ndiya road have been appropriated and provided for in the 2021 Budget.On the contrary, Health and Educational infrastructure have enjoyed increasing patronage by Obong Ukpong-udo in the last couple of months. Classroom blocks have been constructed and completed in various schools like Comprehensive Secondary School, Obotme, in Ini Local Government Area and Comprehensive Secondary School, Ndiya, Ikono Local Government Area, while renovation work has been proposed to commence at the Lutheran Senior Science Secondary School, Ibakachi.
Among the health facilities in the area, work is ongoing at the Primary Healthcare Centre, Nkari, as well as a Healthcare Delivery facility at Ndiya.Rep. Emmanuel Ukpong-udo’s dedication to healthcare has been further expressed in his unprecedented attention to pregnant women and newborn babies, courtesy of the ‘Macaire Mother and Child Care Programme.’ This novel initiative has been geared towards lowering maternal and infant mortality in the state by providing incentives to encourage pregnant women to submit to professional medical care. Following Ukpong-udo’s financial input to the programme, the constituency at large has taken delivery of 146 newborn babies with no fatalities since its inception in 2019.
The welfare of every indigene of Ikono/Ini has been something of a personal enterprise for Rep. Emmanuel Ukpong-udo. He has ensured to leave an imprint of benevolence on every single family in the constituency – directly or indirectly – by tactfully spreading welfare programmes and packages across the social divide throughout Ikono and Ini Local Government Areas. From miscellaneous, spontaneous and distress gifting, to structured empowerment and wealth-creation initiatives, he has indeed brought to the people what is due to them like he promised before office. From miscellaneous and consistent financial grants for well over 800 individuals and families and counting to instituting an ongoing monthly alternative income scheme in the aftermath of Covid-19 – the U-Martha Ambassadors Scheme – for about 200 families. From providing about 11 motorcars and motorcycles, in addition to various other household items (like power-generating sets, deep freezers) for countless indigenes, to identifying with and supporting a Trust Fund for members of his constituency under the aegis of Ikono-Ini development Association (IIDA), Abuja, and even to facilitating the disbursement of cash relief from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management for 30 women in the constituency. A wise leader knows not only to give his people fish but to point them towards financial independence by encouraging them to fish for themselves. Ukpong-udo has provided platforms for business and entrepreneurial development via his ‘Macaire Enterprise Development Scheme’ – a wealth creation programme to which over N100 million worth of support for start-ups and pre-existing entrepreneurial ventures was allotted. Courtesy of this empowerment programme, well over 100 members of the constituency received between N500,000 and N1million in cash grants. The Lawmaker has also facilitated the registration of about 50 indigenes to benefit from the Federal Government’s N-Power Programme.In furtherance of this drive towards sustainable financial freedom for his people, Ukpong-udo has encouraged and empowered indigenes to leverage and access employment opportunities locally and nationally. In two years under his watch, over 109 new employment opportunities have been made available to his people within the public and private sectors, as he communicates employment opportunities, offers recommendations where required, not to mention creating the Macaire “I earn, You earn” Scheme, which cumulatively had 62 persons under his direct employ, drawing monthly wages from his personal earnings.
Rep. Ukpong-udo’s pledge to develop human capacity has seen fulfilment in the lives of Ikono-Ini indigenes, especially the youths. At the secondary level, educational materials have been providing in schools like Comprehensive Secondary School, Obotme, in Ini Local Government Area, while there is a proposition to equip the Science Laboratory at Lutheran Senior Science Secondary School, Ibakachi in Ikono. Ukpong-udo also bankrolled free UTME Registration for 150 indigenes, many of whom have commenced undergraduate studies in tertiary institutions across the country. He has provided full undergraduate Scholarships for five undergraduates, while also bankrolling two educational Tours/Excursions for undergraduates from the constituency. The development of human capital has been extended to a wider cross-section with the facilitation of a training Workshop on Peace and conflict resolution for over 800 indigenes comprising Traditional Rulers, men women and youths.
Despite his tight itinerary, Ukpong-udo has exemplified humaneness in leadership; making it an obligation to identify personally with his constituents – offering a handshake and thumbs up in times of celebration, or offering a shoulder in times of crisis. The last 24 months have therefore seen a bountiful rain of unprecedented and deliberate people-centred developmental milestones which have impacted the elderly, the men, the women, the youth and the children – including the babies and the yet unborn – in Ikono-Ini Federal Constituency. The pulse of the Ikono-Ini people resonates with happiness with Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-udo for his stewardship at this mid-term mark. With two further years to go this term, the people have every reason to look forward with satisfaction and belief.
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