By Promise Etim
As the 2023 elections draw closer, one key factor that puts Senator Bassey Albert Akpan ahead of others for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial nomination race is the goodwill he enjoys from the vast majority of Akwa Ibom people. His political and social antecedent are qualities that also distinguish him from the crowd.
The facts speak for themselves, as OBA, as fondly called, has enjoyed wider acceptance by stakeholders of his party, the PDP, and beyond, as evident in his consultative visit to respective Local Government Areas.
It is common knowledge that the Akwa Ibom people are in dire need of a Governor with an impeccable track record of service in both the public and private sectors. In addition, someone who understands the peculiarities of each locality in the state and designs solutions that fit their challenges and bring some hope.
As Chairman, Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee, between 2007 and 2014, Senator Albert was directly involved in the planning, execution, monitoring, and control of over 6,000 projects under the then Governor Godswill Akpabio’s administration. These projects cover areas such as Health, Educational Infrastructure, Public Utilities, etc. There is hardly any village that did not feel the impact of his efficacy.
A case study of Senator Albert’s leadership strides was cited recently during a consultative visit of PDP stakeholders in Ika Local Government Area. A political stakeholder, Bishop James Ambrose highlighted the facelift schools within the locality, and Akwa Ibom, by extension, got through his pragmatic approach and supervision of Inter-Ministerial projects.
Communities hosting oil facilities in Akwa Ibom State have suffered untold hardship and continued neglect. International Oil Companies and even ones owned by Nigerians did not provide for them in terms of benefit from the production process, which impacts the locals. The passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and the reforms spearheaded by Senator Akpan in the 9th Senate has laid indelible marks in the sands of time.
At a consultative visit to Ibeno, PDP stakeholders told OBA he should not have been to the area seeking their support because he had won their hearts already. They jointly averred that his activities in the upper legislative chamber benefitted the people. They highlighted that the 3% of production cost of oil companies for the previous year facilitated through the PIA will massively transform the area.
Hon. Samuel Ita, a political stakeholder, reiterated that the gesture accorded the oil-bearing communities through Senator OBA’s push cannot be quantified. He lamented that oil-bearing communities in Akwa Ibom State are bereft of relevant social and infrastructural amenities that could give them a competitive edge.
The scholarship scheme facilitated for 481 indigenes of Akwa Ibom also stands Senator Albert Akpan out and commands tremendous goodwill from the people. The student community looks optimistic that the Governorship hopeful is the right man who will provide qualitative scholarships to students and revamp the sector through his love for the educational inclination of Akwa Ibom students. These facts are undisputed.
In addition, the lawmaker has facilitated post-graduate overseas scholarships to 14 Akwa Ibom indigenes in the fields of Engineering, Renewable Energy, and Environmental Sustainability to various institutions in the UK and beyond. According to the lawmaker, identifying and training Akwa Ibom people in areas of industrial interest is key to equipping our people with the required technology and skill set applicable to the 21st century.
In terms of his humane disposition, Senator Albert Akpan has carved a niche for himself, particularly the success he recorded in the petition he filed for the reinstatement of Celestine Williams, a Police Officer, dismissed for 21 years. The commendation that trailed this gesture has placed OBA in the hearts of many Akwa Ibom people as one with empathy for the plight of others.
As often said, one good turn deserves another. Without mincing words, this could be the reason why Dr. Vincent Iwunde, a lawyer, had weeks ago written Senator Akpan, informing him of the peculiar situation of five indigenes of Akwa Ibom: Sunday Okon, Anthony Ebong, Joseph Ede, Victor Ebe, and Uduak Sampson, all police officers, dismissed in 2007 on the ground of being illiterates.
In his charismatic approach, Senator Albert took up the matter and filed a petition before the Senate to seek redress for the dismissed officers. He told the Senate that the development brought untold hardship to the dismissed officers and their families for more than 15 years, pleading for the intervention of the upper legislative chamber to ensure justice.
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, referred the petition to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions. The committee will turn in its report in another two weeks. With the facts presented, the lawmaker is confident, just as in the case of Celestine, that respite will come the way of the five gentlemen who are currently facing the toughest of times of their existence on earth.
Also recall, another indigene of the State, Mr. Antia Thompson, an Assistant Director in the Servicom of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dismissed for exposing corruption in the Ministry, was re-instated in 2017, following a petition facilitated on his behalf by the Akwa Ibom North-East lawmaker.
Senator Albert Akpan has successfully built legacies that permeate the heart of the people so dearly and has never failed in standing for what is right and pleading for the cause of others, from the political, social, economic, and moral spheres. Undoubtedly, the sort of leader Akwa Ibom desires from 2023.