2023, Bobby Onofiok and the Bullets in his Cartridge

"When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge". - Tuli Kupferberg

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The year 2023 is gently approaching. It has in its dangling womb, strange manifestations of the times. Like history always happens every eight years, next year would come with fresh history. The blooming thorns shall dangle like a pendulum, oozing Fresh Air in the political fragmentation. Nigeria is a great country, not only in size, nor is it for being multi-ethnic and multilingual nation. The vast horizon of its plains, the texture of its smoky firmaments, the harshness of its weather, the fluidity of its waters, the undulating topography of its landed area, the tumultuous fabrication of its rocky mountains, and perhaps the predictable character distinctions of its citizens compound to make the country ‘great’. In all things, it is the human person that determines what value to place on each of the potential traits found in Nigeria.

One would perhaps not argue against the proposition that Nigeria is growing backwards, in some aspects of its progressive history. As days continue to wind out, the nation seems to be slipping off the periodic growth targets mapped out by its own leaders. In making projections for the future, short, medium and long term plans are being formulated. But hardly are there efforts to get them implemented. While a man sits on the mountain setting standards for Nigeria’s growth, another sits in the valley setting standards for Nigeria’s depreciation. Corruption has completely engulfed the nation. Only the flagging tail seems left in the mouth of these reptiles. Whether Nigeria can be rescued from this reptile remains hazy.

Oro Nation appears more dampened by the brazen failures of these leaders, over the years. Oro is the third largest ethnic nationality in Akwa Ibom State, after Ibibio and Annang tribes. Oro Nation is a separate federal constiuency of its own, having five local government areas of Òròn, Udung Uko, Mbo, Urue Offong Oruko and Okobo LGAs. But the nation hasn’t faired well in recent history. Political actors have been habitually heartless that nothing good seems to be happening in Nazareth. The economic potentials of the area gradually breaks. No recent leader has beheld Oro as a beautiful bride. Instead, they have despise the area as a retched and broken widow with no iota of attraction. Instead of taking actions that would yield growth on the land, they delight in actions that further decays the land.

Representative politics have dealt a huge blow on the people. Dark and polluted minds would sit from afar and stretch their talorns on the plough. They have no business doing so. But they feel fulfilled taking part in the dark history of creating confusion. Their intentions are to produce failure for the collective results of a dejected people.

Unfortunately, sons and daughters of the land are volunteer accomplices in the assignments of these enemies. They glorify mediocrity to the high heavens, singing sons of other lands. Whether imposed by alien forces, or self-inflicted, this brand of misfortune is regrettable as it is devastating. It is one regret too many and one so attractive to the forces of rebellion. Of course, such was captured in the philosophy of the son of God (Jesus) who acknowledged that “Since the days of John the Baptist, the kingdom of God sufferreth violence and the violent taketh it by force. This is perhaps the only hope for redemption of a people who have everything to resist the enemies. In accordance to the position of Albert Einstein that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, here comes one of the aspirants to the office of the political “Governor” of Oro Nation, Engr Bobby Onofiok. He seeks the office of the Member, Òròn Federal Constituency in the upcoming 2023 election. But what does he bring to the table. Does Bobby Onofiok seek to make a difference and stand out from the crowd? The next few paragraphs tell a better story.

It is not enough to seek to aspire for a representative office. The task for the political liberation of Oro People is so huge that it may take more than a generation or two, of discreet actions to achieve. Unfortunately, the last few years have clearly exposed the Oro race as having lost their core values of unity of purpose, dignity in ethnicity and forthrightness. Their Afangki philosophy seems to have been clearly stolen from their consciousness that no serving political office holder seems to remember that there was once a way things were done. They get so stuck to party politics that their sense of responsibility seems dried up. They pursue their selfish interests and would readily obey the oppressor by taking actions inimical to the growth of their People. Even if a deaf and dumb is imposed on them by their alien Lords, they accept such with two hands. Questions are, does Bobby Onofiok deserve a chance at the Green Chambers? Does he have the needed bullets in his cartridge to fire the shots that could aide the purgation of unwanted emotions from the minds of fraustrated Oro populace and get them persuaded to give him the benefit of the doubts? A short journey into his distinct personality is important here.

To achieve this, a few broad areas of his person are featured here. First is his birthplace, through his educational background and family life. The second is his professional engagements. The next is political perceptions. Next is his community service, followed by his capacity and then his popularity and acceptability. These are all broadly expounded in the following paragraphs to give a better portrait of his likelihood of acceptance in the race ahead.

Born in Oron some 45 years ago to Dr Otu E. Onofiok and Dr. Mrs Nkoyo Otu Onofiok of the Onofiok family, Engr Bobby Onofiok hails from Eyo Uwe Ukukim, Ward 2 in Udung Uko Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. His early education began at the prestigious University of Nigeria Primary School, Nsukka and then to the University of Nigeria Secondary School where he obtained his West African Senior Secondary Certificate. Bobby Onofiok holds two bachelor degrees: Computer Science from the University of Uyo, Nigeria and Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA. Imbibing the virtues of hardwork, honesty, respect and compassion from his childhood, Bobby Onofiok grew into full investment and philanthropic capital that has transformed many. Married to Mrs Kasang Onofiok, Engr Bobby is blessed with two lovely daughters.

Currently serving as the Managing Partner of Bokano Nigeria Limited, a reputable engineering company providing solutions to engineering, procurement and civil works (EPC) to the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry with offices in Warri, Delta State and Abuja, Bobby was a Process Engineer with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Memphis TN and Albany GA where he helped develop PID’s, Piping Instrumentation Diagrams and managed a peanuts processing plant with a 24/7 running capacity.

A gentleman and a very decent personality, Bobby Onofiok believes that politics should be a platform for service. Asked how he feels about coming into what is known in Nigeria as a dirty game and played by those who mostly appear not to have conscience, Engr Bobby says he is in politics to make a difference. “I’ve decided to be the change I so desire in our community. Instead of lamenting and pointing fingers, I’ve opted to get involved in the political process. Nobody remains in his comfort zone to change the status quo. As at today, an average Oron man believes that Oron nation has been short-changed in the Akwa Ibom political equation. The dust raised by the Ibaka/Ibom deep seaport project and the oil bearing status of Oro Nation have heightened the suspicion in recent times.”

Chatting with newsmen recently, Bobby Onofiok observed that it is time to sit at the table and have ‘honest’ conversations, especially with the Akwa Ibom State actors. He believes that people should even draw themselves to the negotiation table, even if they’re not invited. According to him, doing so will provide lasting solutions to the political doldrums that Oro has found itself. His words, “We must be intentional about this. As BoT Chair, AKISAN, I’ve been able to build bridges across all ethnic groups in our dear state. I also schooled here in Uyo and have lots of friends and acquaintances stretching the length and breadth of the state. We must first get our house (Oro) together. Let’s do a clean up and sensitize our folks on the need to always be united and re-invent the spirit of Afangki. If we re-learn to love ourselves and keep unity intact, we would be better served.”

Asked to unveil his political perception, especially about the Oro People whom he wants to represent, Bobby stated that it was time for Oro to have its first eleven in all representative capacities. He noted that there is currently a burning desire by the Òròn People towards having effective representation. He again believed that the level of political awareness in Akwa Ibom State was good for the era so the electorates would be able to make the right choices. He submitted that the generality of the electorates were the collective godfathers that are willing to enthrone him. “I’ve been asked who my Godfather is and I’ve responded by saying my Godfathers are the ordinary Oro folks, the youth, the women, the children. They are my Godfathers and God Almighty is my overall Godfather”.

Over the years, Engr Bobby Onofiok has habitually given support to community based organisations such as The Etim Akaduh’s Foundation, Secure The Future, Oro Next Generation, among others. This support has seen the supply of school uniforms, textbooks and other learning materials to primary school pupils and educational assistance to the under privileged. Bobby Onofiok is known for his yearly provision of scholarships for indigent students in tertiary institutions. He enjoys mentoring young men and women who are interested in studying or are studying science or engineering.

With the foregoing facts and figures, it is unarguable that Bobby Onofiok has the competence and capacity to deliver. A man with deep-seated love for his community, the intending member of parliament has his fingers in the plough, touching on virtually every community project across Oro Nation and beyond. No wonder he is the chairman, Board of Trustees of Akwa Ibom State Association of Nigeria (AKISAN), USA. He is also the National President, Oron Development Union (ODU), U.S.A. As Member, Board of Trustees of Oro Progressives Movement; Member, Oron Union Scholarship Committee; Member, Udung Uko Elders’ Council; Member, Board of Trustees of Oro Leadership Roundtable and Grandpatron, Oro Next Generation, Engr Onofiok has registered his imprints in the sands of time. The most recent of this is the award of scholarship grants to some Oro youths which he personally supervised on Thursday last week. The same Bobby Onofiok is a Member, King’s Table, a United States-based voluntary and humanitarian organization providing meals to homeless shelters in downtown Atlanta, USA on a weekly basis. Proudly the Eti Nkughó Óró, Bobby’s blessed fingers does not deny the juices that divine has showered on him.

As far as the race to the Federal House of Representatives is concerned, Bobby’s popularity and acceptability is automatic. Having executed several life-touching projects, his embrace to the people is incontestable. His impacts on numerous Oro youths have not only endeared him to them, but has registered his kind-hearted spirit, passion and magnanimity on them. This has been through the provision of several educational programmes, mentorships and entrepreneural support, stretching close to a decade. Imbued with the philosophy of Jesus Christ who warned that the left hand shouldn’t be aware of the service of the right hand, Bobby only has a few of his humanitarian services in the media space. But like men would always proclaim their benefits, people who have enjoyed Bobby’s goodwill over the years have been the ones proclaiming his goodness.

In inference therefore, one could safely say that Engr Bobby Onofiok has secured a good space in the hearts of the electorates. Apparently, the last nearly eight years have seen the worst form of representation at the Green Chambers. Oro has remained far behind because of the debasing partisanship of the majority of the electorates who should adopt drastic measures to dethrone abysmal performances of an imposed personality, especially on a conspicuously marginalized race like Oro. As Tuli Kupferberg maintains, “patterns, when broken berth new worlds”. Oro people can no longer fold their hands to watch the glorification of mediocrity. It is time to get things right so that weeping will not continue to endure. Fortunately for Bobby Onofiok, all the odds favour him. His comely background, educational and professional expertise, private and public engagements, coupled with his competence, capacity popularity and acceptability all add to his credentials.

Truth is, if Engr Bobby Onofiok could singlehandedly visit these aforementioned impacts as a private citizen, would he abandon his people in the core mandate of representation when given the opportunity for public service? The answer is obvious. Hence, one delightedly concludes that all the positive qualities and conditions stated in this article are apparent factors that support the possible emergence of Bobby Onofiok as the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the race ahead. The factors could meticulously become the bullets in his cartridge which should expectedly shoot him to the podium.

Joseph Atainyang is a journalist and public affairs commentator.

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