BEHOLD, THE LAWMAKER WHO MAKES AKWA IBOM STAND TALL
By Victor Effik
Politics sometimes could be an unpredictable pastime. The imperative of zoning of political offices played a cruel one on his gubernatorial project. In 2014, after months of horse trading, his party, the PDP, bowed to the campaigners for the zoning of political offices. As a loyal party man, he respected the decision of the party to keep the peace. He was a front runner in the gubernatorial race. He was well connected to the grassroots and was a major player and catalyst in the transformational government of Obong Godswill Akpabio. His network of political influence was massive and cut across the three senatorial districts of the state. With a rich background in the corporate world and a seven years stint in government, many saw him as one well suited to do an effective job of taking the state to the next level.
But, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas Resources and senator representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District, Senator Obong Bassey Albert Akpan or OBA, as he is fondly called in political circles, is not a man given to greed. His gesture to obey the party decision was rewarded as he was by popular demand endorsed by party apparatchik at both the local, state and national levels to contest for the Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial seat for which he bought the nomination form, campaigned and contested the party primary alongside other aspirants in 2014. As expected he won the primary and went ahead to dust his opponents to emerge victorious at the senatorial elections to represent Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District in the 8th Senate, which held a special session to mark its two legislative calendar years, having been inaugurated on the 9th of June 2015.
Two years into his first term, OBA has surpassed all expectations in performance as a first time senator. He is today considered the first eleven in the 8th Senate on account of his five star performance.
We bring you a blow by blow account of his stewardship in the Senate in the last two years:
MOTIONS SPONSORED BY SENATOR ALBERT
1. Motion on urgent need to halt the dilapidated and disintegrated state of Ikot Ekpene-Itu-Calabar Federal Highway.
As a result of the motion, the Senate set up an ad-hoc committee to inspect all bad federal roads and made recommendations. The Senate also directed the Federal Government and the relevant ministries, agencies and departments to undertake an urgent intervention on the road. It was this directive that made the NDDC to undertake remedial measures on the road.
2. Motion on the need to curb the soaring rate of unemployment in Nigeria
The motion called on the government at all levels to take decisive steps to address the unemployment situation in the country. The motion generated intense debate in the Senate and eventually led the APC federal government to include in the 2016 Budget its election promise to pay the stipend of N5,000 to vulnerable groups in the country.
3. Motion on urgent need for effective implementation of the Joint Venture Cash Calls Obligations by NNPC
The motion was deliberated upon in the Senate on Wednesday, 13th April, 2016. The motion observed that although the National Assembly has been appropriating for the NNPC Joint Venture cash calls obligations in the past, it disclosed that the current outstanding cash call obligations in the oil and gas sector stands at over $6billion.
The Senate adopted the motion and mandated its Committees on Gas, Petroleum Upstream, Finance and Appropriation chaired by Senator Albert to carry out a holistic investigation into the matter.
The committee held its public hearing in November 2016 with major oil companies and the operator of NNPC Joint Venture stakeholders of the oil and gas industry and the general public in attendance. The report of the committee was submitted to the Senate by the Chairman, Senate Joint Committee on Joint Venture Cash Calls Obligations, Senator Bassey Albert on Thursday, April 27, 2017.
4. Motion on the urgent need to address the present economic state of the nation
The motion, which was presented on Wednesday, 25th May, 2016 drew the attention of the government to the nation’s economic scorecard, released by the National Bureau of Statistics which indicated that the economy had plunged into recession. Senators supported the motion that the Finance Minister and the CBN governor be invited to brief the Senate on the monetary and fiscal policies adopted to salvage the situation.
5. Motion on Urgent need to investigate the granting of concession of the western and Eastern rail lines to General Electric of USA.
The motion presented by Senator Albert on Tuesday, 8th November, 2016 indicated that the Federal Ministry of Transport had violated the provisions of the Public Enterprises (Privatization and Commercialization) Act, 1999 by unilaterally engaging the General Electric for the concessioning of the western and Eastern rail lines. The Senate then mandated the committee on privatization, land transport, finance, anti-corruption and financial crimes, special duties, trade and investment and judiciary to investigate the procedure adopted in the engagement of General Electric for the concession of the rail lines. Consequently, the minister of transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was summoned by the committee to answer questions on the matter.
MOTIONS CO-SPONSORED BY SENATOR ALBERT
1. Motion on the need to investigate pre-shipment inspection of Export Activities in Nigeria
The motion was presented by Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (Taraba Central) on 21st July 2016 with 13 other senators as co-sponsors among them Senator Albert.
2. Motion on Mounting Crisis in the North East
The motion was presented on Tuesday, 4th October, 2016. It was sponsored by Senator Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai (Borno Central) with 17 other senators as co-sponsors, among them Senator Albert.
3. Motion on unidentifiable sooty particulate in Rivers State and its environs
The motion presented on Tuesday, 28th February 2017 drew government’s attention to droppings of unidentifiable sooty particulates in Rivers State, which is suspected to be after effects of oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities in the state by multi-national companies. The motion was sponsored by Senator George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East) with 30 other senators as co-sponsors among them Senator Albert.
4. Motion on a call for the proper resettlement and compensation of the Bakassi people
The motion, which was presented on Tuesday, 28th February 2017 was sponsored by Senator Gershom Bassey (Cross River South) with 13 other senators as co-sponsors among them Senator Albert.
BILLS SPONSORED BY SENATOR ALBERT
1. The National Youth Employment and Development Bill 2017
The Bill seeks to repeal the National Directorate of Employment Act 2004, and in its place, establish the National Youth Employment and Development Agency Act to provide for the promotion, coordination and employment of youths in Nigeria. It also seeks to expand the scope of NDE to strengthen its operations for optimal performance. The Bill passed through second reading on Wednesday, 7th June, 2017.
2. The Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan Bill
The Bill, which was read the first time on the 14th October, 2015 seeks to establish a legal and institutional framework for the implementation of the industrial revolution plan and the National Enterprise Development Programme of the Federal Government to provide for their implementation, continuity and sustainability. It also seeks to ensure ownership of the processes, initiate activities for the industrial plan and the programme by relevant ministries, departments and agencies for the overall realization and delivery of the industrial plan and programmes.
The overall objective of the Bill is to accelerate the build up of industrial capacity within Nigeria; increase manufacturing contribution to Nigeria’s GDP; drive the process of intense industrialization based on sectors where Nigeria has comparative advantages. The Bill passed has already passed through second reading.
3. Gas Flaring (Prohibition and Punishment) Bill 2017
Senator Albert made yet another history when on Tuesday, November 3, 2016 he presented a Bill for an Act to prohibit flaring of natural gas in Nigeria. The Bill seeks to ensure that natural gas shall not be flared or vented in any oil and gas production operation, block or field, onshore or offshore, or gas facility which shall commence operations after the commencement of the Act. The Bill also seeks to ensure that no operator shall establish an oil and gas facility in Nigeria without obtaining authorization from the Minister under this Act for the design phase, the commissioning and the production phases.
The Senate referred the Bill to the Committee on Gas for further legislative action after it passed through the second reading . Based on this, the committee invited industry stakeholders, oil companies, governmental bodies and the general public to a public hearing on Wednesday, May 31, 2017.
PETITIONS SUBMITTED BY SENATOR ALBERT
1. Request for the re-instatement of dismissed police officer, Celestine Williams for undisclosed offence without trial in 1996, that is, about 21 years ago .The said officer was re-instated consequent upon a petition presented to the Senate by Senator Albert via a letter dated April 13, 2016. The petition was referred to the committee on ethics, privileges and public petition, which recommended his re-instatement, payment of his entitlements and promotion to the rank of ASP. Mr. Williams has since resumed duties.
2. The state of affairs in the Nigerian Newsprint Manufacturing Company (NNMC) Ltd, Oku Iboku. Senator Albert in a letter dated September 21, 2016 forwarded a petition on the state of affairs at NNMC, Oku Iboku in which NEGRIS, a company that won the bid to manage the company was alleged to be engaging in asset stripping. The petition was laid on Thursday, 29th September, 2016, and the matter referred to committee on ethics, privileges and public petition for legislative action.
3. Illegal conversion and diversion of salaries and allowances of Sgt. Peter John by the Nigerian Police and victimization of Mr. Aniekan Umoh by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria. Senator Albert laid the two petitions on Tuesday, 21st June, 2016 and was accordingly referred to the committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions.
4. Wrongful dismissal of Debongs Ndem Anietum from the services of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Port Harcourt. Senator Albert laid the petition on Wednesday, 19 October, 2016.
5. Victimization and premature retirement of Ntia Thompson from the service of Directorate of Technical Cooperation Africa (DTCA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs for exposing corruption. Senator Albert’s petition to the Senate is dated March 13, 2017. The committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions is currently investigating the matter.
OTHER LEGISLATIVE DUTIES
1. Member, Ad-hoc committee on Works
2. Member, Ad-hoc committee on the 2013 Audit Report of the Nigerian Extractive Industry
3. Member, Joint Committee on Petroleum Upstream and Gas to investigate the utilization of the Nigerian Content Development Fund.
4. Member, Committee on Legislative Compliance
5. Member, Ad-hoc Committee on Import Duty Waivers, Concessions and Grants
6. Member, Joint Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Petroleum Upstream and Gas on the 2016 Nudget of NNPC.
7. Member, Joint Committee on Health, Agriculture and Rural Development in respect of a motion on the ban on Nigerian Agricultural products by European Union
8. Member, Joint Committee on Petroleum Upstream, Petroleum Downstream and Gas on the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).
CONSTITUENCY EMPOWERMENT PROGRAMMES
1. OBA Under 20 Unity Cup
The constituency empowerment programme of Senator Bassey Albert commenced in December 2015 with the Under 20 Unity Cup involving the nine local government areas that make up the senatorial district. The winner of the competition received the sum of N1 million; the runners up N750, 000; the third place team got N500, 000. All the participating teams received the sum of N200, 000 each as participating fees. The Most Valuable Player (MVP), Highest Goal Scorer, Best Behaved Team, Best Goalkeeper and the Best Defender all received financial rewards.
2. Annual OBA Undergraduate Scholarship Scheme
Over 100 undergraduates from Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District studying in various institutions of higher learning across the country have so far benefitted from the Annual OBA Undergraduate Scholarship Scheme. The scheme is to run in the next four years. The beneficiaries were selected after a transparent and rigorous process. The cost of the scholarship scheme is put at over N10 million.
3. Skills and Human Capacity Development
Over 120 constituents have recently benefitted from the post seasonal intervention training facilitated by Senator Albert in partnership with Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). The training, which took place in Uyo from 22-25 March 2017 was meant to give capacity to those who received training in various skills to assist them become better entrepreneurs. The training offered were in the areas of agriculture branding and packaging of agricultural products. The trainees were given start-up capital to start their businesses.
4. Distribution of cooking gas to constituents
On 24th December 2015, as part of his Christmas gift to his constituents, Senator Albert brought large quantities of cooking gas to be distributed free to thousands of Akwa Ibom people irrespective of their political leanings. The senator went on air in planet 101.1 FM to invite people to be part of this largesse.
5. Construction and donation of a well furnished Event Hall to constituents
Senator Albert also constructed and donated a well furnished event hall at 7 E line, Ewet Housing Estate opposite Sun Centre to be at no cost by his constituents for events such as weddings and other social functions.
6. Construction of massive, multi-purpose event Centre at Ifa in Uyo
Senator Albert is presently constructing a massive, multi-purpose event Centre in Ifa in Uyo. When completed, the Centre will offer facilities like event hall, tutorial sections for UTME, WAEC, NECO as well as sports facilities and a relaxation Centre.
7. Donation of 15 units of desktop computers to UNIUYO
Senator Albert has magnanimously donated 15 units of desktop computers to the University of Uyo to enhance learning in the university.
8. Donation of life enhancing drugs to nine (9) health centers in Akwa Inom North East Senatorial District
To enhance provision of basic health care to his people, Senator Bassey Albert also donated life enhancing drugs to nine health Centre located in the nine local government areas that make up the senatorial district. The benefitting health Centre are: Primary Health Centre, Uyo Itam, Itu; Health Centre, Ikot Otoinye, Uruan; Primary Health Care Operational Base, Nsit Atai; Primary Health Centre, Oboetim, Nsit Ibom; Health Centre, Oko Ita, Ibiono Ibom; Cottage Hospital, Akai Ubium; Health Centre, Ikot Obio Inyang; Primary Health Centre, Uyo; and Primary Health Centre, Nung Udoe, Ibesikpo Asutan.
9. Christmas visits to Constituents
Last December (2016), Senator Albert went round the nine local government areas that make up the senatorial district to meet with elders, women and youths of the district to rejoice with them in the spirit of the yuletide. He also distributed gifts and cash to the people worth over N10 million.
CONSTITUENCY PROJECTS NOMINATED BY SENATOR ALBERT
NDDC Projects nominated by Senator Albert
Senator Albert has attracted two road projects for execution by the NDDC. The roads are:
1. Obong Itam-Ekit Itam- Mbiaya Uruan-Ikpa-Mbiakong-Idu Uruan Road (Phase 1). The road criss crosses both Uyo and Uruan Local Government Areas.
2. Ikpe Ikot Nkon-Ukpa Okon-Ikpanya Road located in Ini and Ibiono Ibom Local Government Areas.
2016 Zonal Intervention Projects
The following Zonal Intervention Projects have been nominated by Senator Albert for execution in Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District. The projects are under the supervision of the following agencies of government: Cross River Basin Development Authority (CRDBA), National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and Maritime Academy.
1. Flood and erosion control in Ibesikpo Asutan LGA (CRDBA)
2. Flood and erosion control in Nsit Atai LGA (CRDBA)
3. Flood and erosion control in Ibiono Ibom LGA (CRDBA)
4. Flood and erosion control in Nsit Ibom LGA (CRBDA)
5. Construction of village hall with fence and borehole plant in Ididep Usuk in Ibiono Ibom LGA (CRBDA)
6. Improvement of electricity in Mbiabong Ikot Udo Uwot in Uyo (CRBDA)
7. Construction of market stalls across 9 LGAs in Akwa Ibom North East (NDE)
8. Completion of comprehensive skills acquisition and recreation Centre for Akwa Ibom North East. (NDE)
9. Furnishing/equipping of skills acquisition and recreation Centre for Akwa Ibom North East (NDE)
10. Procurement of cassava/oil palm processing equipment for rural farmers in Ididep Usuk in Ibiono Ibom LGA (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development)
11. Training on fish fingerlings, production and hatchery management, catfish, tilapia breeding hormones/hatching troughs for fingerlings production and empowerment of the rural farmers of Akwa Ibom North East (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development)
12. Provision of motor cycles and tricycles (keke NAPEP) for rural farmers of Akwa Ibom North East. (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development)
13. Training and development of youths of Akwa Ibom North East on maritime related experience (Maritime Academy).
2017 Zonal Intervention Projects nominated by Senator Albert
Senator Albert has also nominated the following special intervention projects to be included in the 2017 Budget under the supervision of the following agencies – Broader Communities Development Agency (BCDA), Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), CRBDA and SMEDAN.
1. Flood and erosion control in Ibiono Ibom LGA (BCDA)
2. Construction/provision of recreational facility for Uyo Club (BCDA)
3. Improvement of electricity by providing 500 KVA transformer in Mbiabong Ikot Udo Uwot in Uyo LGA (SDG)
4. Provision of drugs to rural health centers across the 9 LGAs (BCDA)
5. Flood and erosion control in Nsit Atai LGA (CRBDA)
6. Provision of motorcycles to the rural communities in Akwa Ibom North East (BCDA)
7. Provision of school reading desks in schools across the Akwa Ibom North East (BCDA)
8. Provision of educational materials to College of Education, Afaha Nsit (BCDA)
9. Provision of educational materials to University of Uyo (BCDA)
10. Training and empowerment of women in Akwa Ibom North East in Agricultural skills (SMEDAN)
11. Training and empowerment of youths in Akwa Ibom North East in Agricultural skills (SMEDAN)
12. Provision of furniture and equipment for comprehensive skills acquisition and recreational Centre in Uyo (BCDA)
13. Provision of rural borehole water facilities across Akwa Ibom North East (BCDA)
14. Supply of 2 nos 18 seater bus high roof to aid transportation across Akwa Ibom North East (SDG)
15. Provision of 10 nos incubators to rural health centres across Akwa Ibom North East (SDG).