By Dr. Eventus Edem
It was the late Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim 2nd Republic Presidential Candidate of defunct Great Nigeria’s People’s Party (GNPP) who gave Nigerians a strange political music. The Kanuri born politician who was not happy with the bitter rivalry between politicians from the then ruling NPN and opposition UPN and the winners takes all syndrome that characterized the politics of that era, told Nigerians to shun hatred and bad blood and embrace politics without bitterness.
Although Nigerians are yet to embrace this message in full 38 years after, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Etim Bassey, Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and Member representing Uruan State Constituency who was barely four years old when late Waziri Ibrahim made this advocacy to Nigerians, is at the threshold of history by embracing persons from all
political persuasions giving them a sense of belonging.
In the House of Assembly where he presides as the Speaker of 7th Assembly, he has carried all his colleagues along by according them certain privileges that are due to them. Same goes for the only member from the opposition APC and Member representing Mbo State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Effiong Johnson who also chairs a lucrative committee in the House plus other incentives irrespective of political or party differences.
But what really touches me and other discerning political observers is the style of politicking adopted as a template in Uruan by the Speaker since he assumes the supreme political cantata in Uruan Nation about two years ago. First and foremost, Aniekan Bassey himself a product of zoning engaged in regular dialogues with key stakeholders, youth, women
and traditional fathers etc to feel the pulse of the people and attempt to meet their needs within the limits of his powers and available resources.
During festive periods and during the last lockdown occasioned by Corona Virus Pandemic, the Speaker painstakingly drew a comprehensive list of party supporters from the ruling PDP and also included some members from the opposition parties in his largesse knowing that everyone from Uruan are his constituents and they also deserve a share of the “democracy dividends”. This you will agree with me is uncharacteristic of a typical Nigerian politician.
As a way of further ensuring that there is peace and tranquility in the political process, Aniekan Bassey in partnership with the Elders and other key stakeholders had agreed that zoning of the two key political offices (House of Assembly and Executive Chairman) should be shared by rotation amongst the four Clans – North, Central, South-East and South-South to give every section of Uruan Local Government Area a sense of belonging.
Apart from being a very simple and straightforward politician; Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey whose father the Late Chief Celestine Etim Bassey had traversed the political landscape in then Uruan Clan and old Uyo Local Government Area as an octopus. The Speaker exhibited great mastery of the political terrain and capacity when he assembled an assemblage of
politicians from different political parties and the traditional fathers and captains of industry at his country home at Ekim Enen Uruan strategically located along the new Anua, Issiet/Adadia Beach Road on Sunday, 20th June, 2021 during his Second Anniversary Thanksgiving Mass as Speaker of the Seventh Assembly and Member representing Uruan State Constituency.
During the Reception/Constituency Briefing, the working speaker who doubles as Chairman South-South Speakers Forum and Vice Chairman Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria reeled out some life touching projects he attracted to Uruan and also some empowerment or self sustaining programmes he initiated for his constituents for the
past 6 years.
One significant feature of his scorecard is the Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey Youth Entrepreneurship Support Scheme (RHAB-YESS), a scheme where youths from across the State have been supported between N500,000, N250,000 to N100,000 each to support or expand their businesses so as to check over-dependence on white collar jobs.
At that meeting, the Speaker, Aniekan Bassey supported by his wife Itohowo gave thanks to God, the people of Uruan and His Excellency, the Governor Mr. Udom Emmanuel and his wife Martha for the support and encouragement he has received in office and urged other political office holders in Uruan not to lament about “mkpo ibaha”, that they should share the little they have with the people especially those at the grassroot.
Speakers at that event such as Former Member, House of Assembly Uruan State Constituency, Obong Asuquo Nyong Essien, political leader of Northern Uruan Engr. Offiong Akpabio, Zonal Leader of South-East Prince Kingsley Orok and that of South-South Obong Augustine Efiong Chairman Board of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Mr. Okon Okon and Chairman of
Uruan Local Government Council, Surv. Iniobong Ekpenyong, all praised the Speaker for his effective representation and assured that Uruan will always stand by him when the need arises.
The people also commended the Governor for embarking on quality projects in the area especially the Anua-Issiet Beach Road and the Nung Ikono Ufok, Ituk Mbang Gully Erosion Control Project and they promised to support the Governor’s Completion Agenda.
Dr. Edem, a journalist, is a former Executive Chairman, Uruan Local Government Council and Senior Lecturer, Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU).