By Akparawa John Offiong
The Rt Honourable Aniekan Etim Bassey returned to the 7th Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in 2019 upon the trust, confidence, love and mandate bestowed on him by his constituents within the Uruan State Constituency following the 2019 general elections.
His success at that election made him a second termer in the house.
Returning as a two term member with no inkling as to what was in store for him, divine providence however smiled on the Uruan State Constituency member when his Honourable colleagues found him worthy to be saddled with the high office of the Speaker of the 7th Assembly on 10th June, 2019.
For the youthful, yet very confident, intelligent, selfless and dynamic law maker, he was humbled by the goodwill of his colleagues, hence from day one, he made a firm commitment never to betray their trust while serving as the 12th Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
And with such commitment, Rt Honourable Aniekan Bassey set off, driven in his stewardship by a six-point core values of Professionalism, Respect, Accountability, Inclusiveness, Integrity and Transparency, code named ”PRAIIT.”
The PRAIIT principle as it were, became his unwritten treaty with his colleagues which guided his actions or inactions throughout his years as Speaker of the 7th Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly.
To ensure the 7th Assembly becomes the very best in terms of robust Legislative engagements, he exposed Honourable members, management and other support staff of the Assembly to a series of tailor made professional capacity building programmes within and outside the Country.
The training sessions which were quite regular, evidently equipped his colleagues with the requisite skills in legislative engagements such that bills that were brought either to the floor of the house or at committee sessions were professionally and excellently deliberated upon with a people oriented mentality.
Perhaps, the depth of capacity of members of the 7th Assembly, their disposition to make a lasting impression while in the House and above all, their commitment to the well being of their constituents must have resulted in the over Seventy Nine (79) life touching and development oriented bills brought before the out going Assembly.
As at the he last count, twenty seven (27) of the bills have been passed into law and thirteen (13) of them assented to by His Excellency, the immediate past Governor, including the Appropriation Bills of 2020,2021,2022 and 2023.
While the other bills are presently at reasonable stages of legislation, it should be noted that distinguished members of the Rt Honourable Aniekan Bassey’s led House have equally moved over forty seven (47) motions and matters of urgent public importance on the floor of the Assembly.
Beyond his core legislative duties, the Speaker, with the support of his colleagues purchased and installed a 500KVA generating plant within the House of Assembly complex to ensure uninterrupted power supply to the Assembly.
Next, and in keeping with his resolve to preside over a technology driven house, he upgraded the Chambers of the Assembly to a globally competitive standard with the installation of a TAIDEN MCA- stream multi-channel Audio Digital Transmitting Technology equipment, supported by a 44 TAIDEN HCS 4800 series fully digital congress system and two high definition LED Television sets to beam live proceedings within the hallowed chambers of the Assembly.
Not done, Mr Speaker, through his personal Corporate Social Responsibility linked the Assembly Complex to the cyberspace to ensure unhindered access to any desired information by members and staff of the Assembly.
Still in furtherance of knowledge acquisition, upgrade and research, the Vice Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria and Chairman, South South Speakers forum set up and donated a well equipped ICT centre for use of members and staff of the Assembly.
Also during his tenure, the Speaker installed a borehole with complete reticulation facilities within the complex, alongside VIP conveniences in all Directors offices as well as linked the Assembly Complex to the National Grid.
As stated earlier, the 7th Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly under the Speakership of Rt.Honourable Aniekan Etim Bassey was people centric in its deliberations and for that reason, made concerted efforts to touch every sector of the State to bring succour to the people.
To this extent, the security of the State was given prime attention by the House which informed the sponsorship of the Akwa Ibom State Safety Commission
Bill, Akwa Ibom State Security Trust Fund Bill and the Akwa Ibom State Administration of Criminal Justice Law as well as the Violence Against Persons Law, all of which were speedily legislated upon by the House.
The 7th Assembly also ensured adequate budgetary provisions were made in all the appropriation bills passed during the life of the Assembly to empower our Security Agencies to effectively discharge their duties.
In the area of Education, the four years of Rt Honourable Aniekan Bassey’s speakership also witnessed increased budgetary allocation for the education sector in addition to the passage of the Akwa Ibom State College of Health Technology Law, the Akwa Ibom State College of Science and Technology Law as well as a Law establishing the Akwa Ibom State College of Nursing and Midwifery.
There is at present the Akwa Ibom State Education Trust Fund Bill, the Akwa Ibom State Education Development Bill and a Bill to establish the Akwa
Ibom State Digital Skills Development and Technology Agency at various stages of legislation in the House.
The 7th Assembly under the focussed and dynamic leadership of Rt Honourable Aniekan Bassey has indelible imprints in the areas of infrastructural development through the allocation of increased funding for rural and urban infrastrutural projects and programmes while also working on the Infrastrutural Development Bill.
Also, through the 7th Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, there is a law in place to ensure our children under five years, pregnant mothers and the elderly have free and unhindered access to quality health care at any government healthy facility while the Bill on Akwa Ibom State Sports Development Fund thoughtfully initiated by the Aniekan Bassey led Assembly is meant to boost funding for Sports as well as youth manpower and development programmes.
It is worthy of note that the Executive member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, African Region and Deputy National Coordinator, Maintain Peace Movement, throughout his years as Speaker endeared himself to his colleagues, management and staff of the Assembly particularly for his accommodating spirit, favourable disposition to their welfare and a holistic sense of inclusiveness in keeping with his PRAIIT principle.
Members and staffers of the Assembly were unanimous in their submissions that the Speaker, Right Honourable Aniekan Bassey carried everyone along, running a transparent, integrity based and accountable system while offering himself selflessly to the service of the House, his constituents and all others who came his way, even beyond party lines.
To the Working Speaker as he is popularly known, his word has always been his bond, because for those who know his humble background, his father, the Late Etubom Celestine Etim Bassey’s blood runs in his veins.
The deceased proud Leader of Uruan Inyang Atakpor was a special breed of a politician; frank, yet very principled. Surely Aniekan, one of his offsprings has not disappointed his Late father’s memory.
Outside the walls of the Assembly complex, the man, Aniekan Etim Bassey has indeed demonstrated his benevolent disposition by spreading dividends of Democracy to his constituents in Uruan, Uyo, his Senatorial District and all other Local Government Areas of the State right from his first term in office.
The birth of the Rt. Honourable Aniekan Bassey’s Youth Empowerment Support Scheme (RHAB-YESS), a special empowerment intervention programme fully funded by the Speaker offered opportunity for thousands of Akwa Ibom youths to draw substantial financial benefits and equipment support to grow their businesses.
Most Akwa Ibom youths have been empowered by the Scheme to acquire appropriate skills that will make them self sustaining and future employers of labour in the State.
Beyond cash donations, several supporters,friends, groups, organisations and loyal members of the party and even members have been appreciated with car gifts, tricycles and motorcycles, alongside cash for maintenance. Others have gotten hair dressing, tailoring, barbing and welding equipment with generating plants and cash to support their trade.
Yet, others have gotten scholarships, payment for JAMB examinations, educational support packages as well as the facilitation of employment and appointments within and outside the State for several other Akwa Ibom indigenes.
As noted, the list of beneficiaries of the Rt. Honourable Aniekan Bassey’s empowerment programmes are in their thousands.
One may therefore go on and on to unveil the laudable imprints of the Rt Honourable Aniekan Bassey’s years as Speaker of the State Assembly, but it will be safe to posit that the successes recorded within his eight years in the House of Assembly, particularly his last four years as the Honourable Speaker could not have been possible but for God’s endless grace, His faithfulness, guidance and unfailing help. And so to Him, we return the praise!
The then Head of the Executive Arm of Government while Aniekan served as Speaker, His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel, immediate past Governor of the State, played quite a significant role in the success story of the 7th Assembly.
His dealing with Mr Speaker in particular and due respect accorded the Legislature generally ensured a robust Legislative-Executive relationship which robbed off positively on the peace and development matrix of the State.
It is also worthy to place on record that as the Golden Era unfolds, the cordial Executive-Legislative relationship has continued with the incumbent Governor of the State, His Excellency Pastor Umo Eno.
To the 25 other members of the 7th Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, whom Mr Speaker usually refer to as ”my bosses”, their voices clearly resonated on the floor of the house and made significant differences which brought about the laudable landmarks the House collectively achieved for the overall good of Akwa Ibom people.
As the curtain therefore falls on the 7th Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and opens for the 8th, it is pertinent to humbly remind incoming members, especially the first timers that there is another election in the next four years.
Therefore, they should diligently commit themselves from day one to the sponsorship and passage of laws that will effectively connect them with the people such that when they return to their constituents by 2027, they would be welcomed with a warm embrace.
Most importantly, the in-coming 8th Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly should please cultivate a harmonious working relationship with the Executive arm of government for the continued peace, progress and development of our dear State.
For Right Honourable Aniekan Bassey, he worked the talk while in the House, serving above self and thus, won the trust and mandate of his people to take a shot at the echelon of our legislative heights in Abuja, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Therefore, to him, we say, ediyie eyen Uruan, the pride of Uyo Senatorial District, go ahead and make us proud as usual, our amiable Honourable Speaker turned Senator.
Congratulations for ending strong!!