IME OKON IN PUBLIC SERVICE MEMORIES
BY UBONG SAMPSON
Memories are well known to be associated with humans and things in the past. Barr. Ime Okon is yet to switch into memories but his appearance in public service has, at least for now. For mind refreshing purpose, Bar. Ime Okon (with a Bassey as middle name) is the immediate past representative of Ibiono Ibom State constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
Okon served the constituency for 8 years of two tenures counting from 2011 and ended each tenure being more popular than he was when elected. Okon may have missed making the five pillars of the 5th Assembly where he debuted his legislative career under under Sam Ikon’s speakership, but he wouldn’t have missed if the list was expanded to accommodate an additional two. Okon was that good, even as a legislative fresher. You may attribute it to his legal background if you so wish.
According to Barr. Ekong Sampson, his learned and legislative colleague, Okon is a gentleman as much as he was a team player and one of the intellectual banks of the then 5th Assembly. Of course, only a team player could have been considered capacitated to run the business, as well as manage the rules, ethics and privileges of the House. Reelected by his people to continue in the succeeding 6th Assembly, he brought his extensively garnered legislative experience to bear in discharging the three core mandates of legislative responsibilities, while also lending same experience to the coordination of the House’s leadership through his deputy leadership role. A House that had an Udo Kerian and an Ime Okon could not have been more organised in productivity than the Akwa Ibom State 6th Assembly.
At the information committee he led, Okon’s record was excellently impressive. That highscore, he earned from journalists and media practitioners across the state who confessed to his accessibility and proper management of information in the legislature.
In the aspect of lawmaking, his score was relatively equal as rated by colleagues, parliamentary staff and the public, especially the regular observers of plenary sessions, who all confessed to his solid articulations, as well as insightful and well informed contributions to legislative processes at plenary.
And on representation, a crowd of Ibiono Ibom constituents I’m sure will be handy to attest to his uncompromising stands on issues bothering on and concerning the constituency. His accessibility to those he represented was one of the best rated, while he made giving back to his people a core habit. His reign saw scores of car owners and sustainably empowered constituents -with all of these, jointly contributing to heighten the standards he had raised the bar of representation to. Reason his successors, especially in the near future, will have lots of preparations to do.
Like a well performed student, Okon’s National Assembly aspiration was greeted by the needed wide acceptability and support to accord him a victorious, but not smooth run through the polls, certainly not in this clime – convert reason his loss at the party’s preliminary was unconnected to any shortage of popularity from his end. Rather, it was one of such events that typically featurizes politics in the Nigerian context. Explicitly, his elective-way(ed) journey to the green chambers had relapsed to a labyrinthine dimension when the political sitch in the state was unsettled by a major defection, or one that was erroneously thought to be major, consequently making a situational sacred cow out of Bassey Albert (Senator) who was lustrously and unrepentantly against Okon…same Albert who hitherto was struggling with glaring uncertainties over his return ticket to the senate. Apparently and unfortunately, the governor and stakeholders of the party who would have insisted on allowing the Itu/Ibiono constituents have the best they deserve, became hands-tied, as their party needed to avoid any more crisis. One can hence say that Okon was a sacrificial lamb in the quest for peace.
Having contentment as a major trait in his political character, added with a high level of integrity that even made it quite easy for him to step over the temptation of seeking a third term in the state legislature, he took the epiphany, spiting its unpleasantness, as God’s will, dusted his bags and turning towards his private life. Like he once said, if he’ll ever return to public service, then the years that will take to happen will sure afford him the opportunity to gain more experiences in the legal practice and other spheres of life.
Like a lot of his admirers, myself inclusive, believe his sound legal background takes above half-of-a-hundred percentage of credit for the excellent mandate delivery he yielded while in service, taking more time out of public service to find at least a fair grip in one or a few more backgrounds will sure fire brand him and his capacity, which will make his next role more impacting, should fate lead him back to public service.
Ubong Sampson (08021419939) is a Public Affairs Analyst.