Effiong Bob: A True Legend of Akwa Ibom
Akwa Ibom state is unarguably blessed with men and women of valour who have at different times proven their mettle and worth as people of substantial value and results. As such, as the State strides gracefully to her 34th year of creation, the need to identify and celebrate these iconic legends cannot be swept under the carpet hence, the decision of the State Information Ministry to showcase 34 living legends of the State.
One of such legends is Sen. Effiong Bob, a thoroughbred legal emperor and full-fledged son of the soil.
The Nsit Ubium son from Ikot Ekwere Ubium and Pro Chancellor of the University of Benin was elected Senator for the Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District in 2003, and reelected in 2007, where he served till 2011, under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
An alumnus of the School of Arts and Science, Uyo and the University of Lagos where he obtained a bachelor’s degree (LLB) in Law, Bob proceeded to the Nigerian Law School in Victoria Island, Lagos and was called to Bar in 1984.
He started his political career from being a people’s advocate to a Councilor. He was Councilor for Works and Transport in Nsit Ubium Local Government Area in 1990, before being elected as Member of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly between 1992-1993 and later was appointed Deputy Speaker of the House. While in the State House of Assembly he served at different times in the House Committees on Public Accounts, Industries and Human Rights and Public Petitions.
Bob was also Chairman of Nsit Ubium Local Government Area from 1996-1997. Between 1999-2002, he served as the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Akwa Ibom State and on Nigeria’s return to democracy, he was appointed by the Victor Attah led government of Akwa Ibom State as Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice. During his four year term as Attorney General, he served as Member, Akwa Ibom State Judicial Commission; Director, Anchor Insurance Company Limited; and Director, Akwa Ibom Savings and Loans Limited.
As Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East constituency, served as Chairman to committees on Senate Services, Finance, Culture and Tourism, Power and Steel, and Local and Foreign Debts. He also served as Chairman, Ad hoc Committee on investigating illegal Withdrawals from the Excess Crude Fund without Authorization from the National Assembly and was a member of the delegation which witnessed the signing of the final exit of the Paris Club Debt in Paris, France.
Other committees he served on as member included: Committees on Appropriations, Air Force, Communications, Education, Privatization, Establishment and Public Services, Foreign Affairs, Christians Pilgrims Committee, and Committee on Information.
During his tenure as Senator, Sen. Bob served as Member representing Nigeria in the ECOWAS Parliament. He was as well Chairman of the National Assembly Caucus, Akwa Ibom State comprising all the Senators and House of Representative Members from the State and member of the South South Caucus in the Senate and a Member of the South Senators Forum. ThisDay Newspaper reported in May 2009 that the Akwa Ibom son of the soil had sponsored bills on amendment to the Energy Commission Act, Public Officers (Review of Cases) Panel, Fire Service (Inspection on Building), an Act to Prohibit Trading in Federal Highways in Nigeria and an Act to Prohibit Touting in Public Places.
Beyond the legislature, the sterling Nsit Ubium intellectual has been a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) since in 1984. He served in a law chamber as a Youth Corper and later established his law firm – Effiong Bob and Associates, on completion of his national youth service. During his time as Attorney General in Akwa Ibom State, from 1999-2002, he served as member of the Council of Legal Education (Nigerian Law School); Member, Committee on Recruitment and Discipline (Nigerian Law School); Member, Body of Attorneys General in the Federation; Member, Body of Benchers; and Member, Akwa Ibom State Judicial Commission. He is also a Member of the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association.
His unbeatable grasp of the legislature home and nationally led to the publication of his book: Independence of the Legislature in Nigeria: Matters Arising, in 2011 before he was appointed pro-chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the University of Benin, by the President Goodluck Jonathan led government in 2013.
Perhaps, Bob’s phenomenality lies in his transformation of the judiciary where his footprints attest in leaps and bounds to his ingenuity till date.
At the inception of the civil democratic rule in 1999, Bob who was appointed the State’s ninth Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice met with an industrial crisis (one similar to that of today) which eventually became the catalyst needed to engender the much-desired reform in the administration of justice, vis-a-viz the welfare of workers. Without delay, Effiong Bob took on the challenge and within 6 months, restored industrial harmony with motivating welfare packages ranging from pecuniary issues to educational, capacity building, skill-improvement and job-status enhancement.
A firm believer in the supremacy of the courts, as well as the sanctity of the law, he worked diligently to obtain approval not only for the establishment of the Federal High Court in Uyo, but also the sitting right for the holding of sessions in Uyo by the Court of Appeal. These two achievement, have brought great financial relief to litigants in the state whose cases might have been taken further to higher courts located elsewhere outside the state in the course of search for justice.
Prior to this time, such litigants were compelled to travel to Calabar, Port Harcourt or Enugu with the risks involved in cost, time and safety on the roads.
Sen. Bob was also the lead voice for the abrogation of the onshore-offshore dichotomy, a political argument which sought to restrict coastal states to onshore oil revenue and establish exclusive control over offshore income from oil and other natural resources. Since nothing goes to court without the knowledge and approval of the Attorney General, Bob mapped out the strategy to approach the fight and won it eventually.
Also worthy of note is the fact that it was Bob who enabled the purchase a piece of land for building of the NBA secretariat, as well as the expansion of the Association into three branches in the state. A former Chairman of the NBA, Mr. Goddy Umoh had in an interview informed that “when the other two branches (Ikot Ekpene and Eket) were to start, he (Effiong Bob) ensured that each of the two branches was given N500, 000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) take-off grant between 2001 and 2002.
The story of Bob’s tenure as Attorney General will not be complete without mention of the “landmark” he has bequeathed the judiciary and by extension the people of Akwa Ibom State. Considered the footprint of his achievements in the Judiciary, the serial collation and publication of Laws of Akwa Ibom State is the record legacy he has to his credit.
It is no wonder then when the state-owned tabloid, WEEKEND PIONEER in its tribute, described Bob as “a bureaucrat par excellence as he has demonstrated immense expertise in the administration of justice‘, through his dogged fight for equity to all Nigerians.
As a man of measured words, Effiong Bob prefers to be seen more in action through his works and less through his speeches. This is why he may be misunderstood at first encounter as probably boring and self-effacing. But as has been understood by friends and associates alike, beneath this veneer of tight lips is a brilliant mind working diligently with his reserve of intellectual energy focused for the upliftment of his community, state, country and humanity at large.
Without doubt, Sen. Effiong Bob is a legend and deserves to be celebrated for the high-class feats he has achieved for the State or immortalized as a mark of honour for making the judiciary what it is today.