Member representing Etinan Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke has expressed regret over his opposition on the emergence of Architect Otu Ita Toyo as the Akwa Ibom State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2005.
Barr Luke says the opposition was not deliberate as they (the youths in the party) did not know that Otu Ita Toyo was “a man of conviction, honour and integrity, who against all odds, inducement and intimidation, stood firm as the Party Chairman to defend the victory of Sen. Dr. Godswill Akpabio as the gubernatorial candidate of the Party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party.”
He added that as the youths who worked under the instruction of the then Youth Leader, Isantim Kenneth Okon, they were there to support the governor against anything contrary in the system.
Below are excerpts of his message to mark the 68th birthdate of Architect Otu Ita Toyo:
“As a member of Youth Caucus in 2005, we were aligned with the interest of HE Arc. Victor Attah in the party and we were always at the Party Secretariat to monitor activities and conduct surveillance. One day we were informed that Abuja front has brought a new State Chairman and that we should not accept that Chairman.
“Under the leadership of Isantim Kenneth Okon (Wayas) we opposed your Chairmanship, not because we had anything against you or your person but because we, like boys then followed the dictates of our then leaders without questioning (afterall man must survive). Thank God we learnt through these political experiences.
“About a year later, your true character came to bare as a man of conviction, honour and integrity when against all odds, inducement and intimidation you stood firm as the Party Chairman to defend the victory of Sen. Dr. Godswill Akpabio as the gubernatorial candidate of our great Party, Peoples’ Democratic Party, a victory we labored days and nights to secure at Ibom Hall; a victory the Youths would call theirs.
“You were then to earn my respect and admiration for your principled stands on that issue and many other issues (some of which will pitch you against the system then) in the course of that administration.
“Your character and personage made me fought on your side during the National Vice Chairmanship tussle in our party. Having learnt my lessons earlier (not to oppose anything my leaders oppose without a personal conviction, any longer), I openly questioned why the system would go against you in that contest upon your sacrifice and contributions in bringing in that same system.
“I disagreed with the head of the system then on the choice of the system for that position and that was the beginning of my problem as I was seen as being too independent-minded and audacious. I was emboldened by the fact that, had you succumbed as a party Chairman, we would not have had that government and the youths, myself inclusive, would not have been where we were then.
“Today as you clock another milestone in age, I celebrate you. I celebrate your forthrightness. I celebrate your intellectual prowess which is in short supply in our political horizon. I celebrate the grace of God upon your life.
“Since life is a perspective, I don’t know what others have to say about you but from my own perspective formed out of my personal experience and encounter with you, I celebrate you as a good and forthright man with conscience.
“I celebrate you as ete Ikor Mbakara
Today, onbehalf of the teaming youths beneficiaries of that your principled stand in 2006, we say a big thank you.
“We make a request on this day of your birth to once again stand with the youths of our State by galvanizing the wisdom and support of the Elders to grant us an opportunity in the leadership recruitment as we have the requisite experience and will count seriously on the wisdom and guidance of the Elders in governance.
“Happy birthday Total Chair
Happy birthday Arc. Otu Ita Toyo.”