By Ofonime Honesty
Six years have elapsed since Rt. Hon. Barr. Aniefiok Dennis Akpan was entrusted with the mandate of representing Etinan State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
Unassuming but buoyed by a burning passion to serve, his representation has earned rife plaudits. Barr. Dennis – as fondly called by constituents – has so far demonstrated effectiveness and efficiency. He has greatly utilized his intellect, dexterity, versatility and interpersonal nous in the service of his constituents.
In 2015, the clamour for a people-oriented representative, who will consolidate the progress made by his predecessors, sufficed.
By popular demand, Barr. Dennis offered to serve. His profile, pedigree and excellent relationship with the public set him apart.
Like duck in water, Barr. Dennis instantly became a perfect fit for the hallowed chamber of the Assembly. He became a classical example of ‘preparation meeting opportunity.’
A peep into his profile reveal that the legislator, a member of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and International Bar Association (IBA), for over two decades, went to the Assembly, prepared.
He served as Legal Adviser in Etinan Local Government Council between 2000 and 2002, and was Coordinator of the 1999 Constitution Review Committee for Etinan LGA in 2001.
Realizing his competence, one of his predecessors in the House of Assembly, Hon. Enobong Eshiet of blessed memory appointed him as Special Adviser on Legislative Matters, between 2003 and 2007.
Even as he operated a full-fledged legal chambers (still in existence) with several Lawyers and non Lawyers in its employ, offers to serve in Government kept coming. Governor Godswill Akpabio appointed him as his Special Assistant on Legal Matters. He served from 2007 to 2013 when he was promoted on merit to the position of Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Legal Matters 2013.
His rich profile also highlight that he was Secretary, Implementation Committee, Akwa Ibom State Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) between 2012 and 2014.
The University of Cross River State (now University of Uyo) alumnus never allowed the annulment of his 2015 victory by the Appeal Court to deter him from serving the constituency. He returned to the polls weeks later as ordered by the court, and was again elected.
The fluency of his articulation, steepness of his contributions to discourses, composure and friendly mien draw admirers from far and near. He emerged as Deputy Leader of the House despite being a first term member.
In the three-pronged roles of Lawmaking, Representation and Oversight, Dennis scores high marks.
His Bills, Motions, Committee Engagements, Empowerment, Scholarship Programmes and other exploits remain a case study of effective representation. This writer’s opinion is borne out of verifiable records.
He has sponsored the following Bills:
A Bill for a Law to Establish Akwa Ibom State College of Health Technology for Training of Various Health Professionals in the State and for Other Matters Connected Therewith, a Bill for a Law to Eliminate Violence in Private and Public Life, Prohibit All Forms of Violence Against Persons and to Provide Maximum Protection and Effective Remedies for Victims and Punishment and for Related Matters, and the Akwa Ibom State Adminstration of Criminal Justice Bill.
The following Motions are also to his credit: Intensification of Akwa Ibom State Infectious Disease Preventive Measures as Nigeria Records First Confirmed Case of COVID19, Urgent Need to Arrest the Alarming Rate of Rape and Violence Against Women and Children in Akwa Ibom State, COVID-19: Imperative Need to Embrace Vaccination, Alarming Infrastructural Decay at the 100 Years Old Citadel of Learning, Etinan Institute, Etinan, Urgent Need to Reconstruct Collapsed Ikot Mfon/Ndiya Bridge, Proliferation of Liquified Petroleum Gas Sales Outlets Within Residential and Densely Populated Areas in Akwa Ibom State, and Motion on the need to curtail the resurgence of Lassa Fever in Akwa Ibom State.
Records show that he facilitated the renovation of a 4 classroom block at Etinan Institute and renovation of one hostel block with toilet facilities at Etinan Institute.
He also procured 600 dual school desks for 10 Primary Schools in his constituency and has provided pipe borne water in many communities including Ikot Ebo, Ikot Obio Inyang, Ikot Akata and Efa.
St. Theresa’s Secondary School, Edem Ekpat, has benefitted from his benevolence as he boosted the school’s computer laboratory with numerous sets of computers. Add that to donation of brand news buses to Etinan Students Association and the traditional institution, donation of commercial buses to constituents, business startups and equipment to entrepreneurs, renovation of schools and donation of befitting houses to constituents especially widows.
As a candle who lights other candles, Barr. Dennis has, for several years, bankrolled the studies of Law students from Etinan in Law Schools – a gesture that is unrivalled in this clime. Not only for Law students, he provides financial assistance to students in other disciplines.
Now serving as Chairman, House Committee on Information, he has ensured proper processing and dissemination of information bordering on the Assembly. The relative good press enjoyed by Assembly can be attributed to his excellent interpersonal nous.
The success story of Barr. Dennis’ representation is a feat made possible by commitment and competence.
A gifted grassroots mobilizer, admired across backgrounds and political lines, Barr. Dennis remains the man to watch.
(Ofonime Honesty hails from Ikot Udoabia in Etinan State Constituency. firstname.lastname@example.org)