By Ofonime Honesty



The first year of the four years’ lifespan of the present Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has just elapsed. Inaugurated on June 11, 2019, the ninth Senate is membered by 109 Senators representing the respective 109 Senatorial Districts in the country.

In the foregoing legislative year, the Senate has had its fair share of challenges. The challenges notwithstanding, successes have been achieved with varied degrees in each of 109 Senatorial Districts. And now that first year scorecards have been submitted, applause or criticism or outright condemnation have been elicited.

In Akwa Ibom North East (Uyo) Senatorial District, Senator Obong Bassey Albert has presented the report card of the first year of his second missionary journey.

Interestingly, Senate President Ahmed Lawan was first to give Albert’s constituents a peep into the scorecard of their ranking representative.

In his first anniversary speech, read at the hallowed Red Chambers, Senator Lawan applauded Senator Albert, fondly christened OBA by admirers, for the successful amendment of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act which among other aims, was designed to boost Nigeria’s revenue garnered from crude oil sales.

The task was assigned to the Senator OBA headed Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream).

The vote-of-confidence by the Senate President apparently set the tone for what would later become an unveiling of a scorecard featuring salient exploits executed within 365 days.
Scorecard well delivered in Senator OBA’s beautifully packaged anniversary speech.

The timing, content, tone – all excellent.

OBA first paid homage to God for His “continuous faithfulness.”
He also appreciated “the tacit support and cooperation of the leader of the party (PDP) in the State, His Excellency, Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel as well as our teeming, overwhelming and ever supportive constituents.”

As his constituent with ample academic knowledge of legislative roles, yours truly keenly perused the speech to glean how OBA justified the confidence reposed in him by the electorates.

Guess what, he boldly declared: “Without equivocation, the last one year of legislative services have witnessed achievements and exploits.”

He continued satisfying my critical curiosity:
“As a mission that was well primed on service delivery, I have continuously stayed on the path of justifying the trust of you my constituents, and of course my State and the Nation – Nigeria.”

But how did he do it? I asked! The answers appeared as I perused further.
Hear him: “From the bills/motions presentations, committee assignments and all the proceedings of the 9th Senate nay the National Assembly as a whole, I am happy to report with all humility, modesty and thankfulness to the Almighty God, that my diligence is well felt and appreciated as a worthy representative of our people based on the judgement in the court of public opinion and to the best of my knowledge.”

He then delved into the highlights of the first year of his second missionary journey in the Senate. OBA offered insight into the successes recorded in the Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream).

Excerpts: “As a ranking member and as Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), an appointment which was made possible by the confidence of this Senate leadership, I have spared no effort in executing my task dutifully.

“The first test in this regard was the responsibility of championing the amendment of the Deep Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act, which by the special grace of God was executed perfectly and a job well done after over 30 years unattended as well as over $20 billion loss in oil revenue to the federation.

“Today, our nation is benefitting immensely from our little effort. I still remain ever grateful to my colleagues and leadership for their trust and confidence and promise never to betray same, God helping me.” End of quote.

The Senator did not hesitate to mention that it was in realization of his expertise in the discharge of his responsibilities that the Federal Republic of Nigeria, this year, through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) bestowed on him an Award of Excellence over his role in resolving “a decade old dispute between NNPC and Chevron Nigeria Limited over the Escravos Gas to Liquid (EGTL) Project.”

He added that the “breakthrough in negotiation led to the historic signing of the NNPC/Chevron EGTL Revised Agreement, which provided an instant leap for Nigeria in her energy sector and led to the reversal of the Joint Venture sharing ratio of 25:75 to 60:40 in favour of our dear country and Chevron Nigeria Limited respectively with a cost savings of over $6 Billion.”

OBA further explained that the issue had “dragged through the 6th and 7th Senate without success until the 8th Senate” where he had the opportunity as the then Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas Resources to work on it and ensured the eventual successes.
He duly dedicated the award to his constituents.

In the area of constituency programmes, the Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area born legislator said the tempo has not waned.

“All these programmes are coordinated by my constituency Liaison Office at Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo. Evidently, the 94 Wards in the nine (9) local government areas of my constituency form the focus in all of these primary empowerment programmes while our secondary phases cover institutions, bodies and indigent persons across the entire State”, he stated.

In the past one year, he said he has awarded scholarship to 381 students of Akwa Ibom State origin in universities across the country, where 100% of tuition fees are paid plus N20,000.00 upkeep stipends to each beneficiary annually.

“I am happy and excited to announce that over 120 students beneficiary have so far graduated from this scheme, some with the best grades and are currently adding value to themselves and society. This programme has cost us over N45 million from 2015 to date”, he revealed.

Referencing his epoch making Constituency Briefing and Empowerment in 2018 during his first term, he disclosed that the standard has now been “surpassed and doubled it through our regular empowerment as coordinated by the Senatorial Liaison Office.”

Furthermore, OBA promised that his exploits in “SMEs, Infrastructural development and intervention on roads, pipe borne water, electrification, employment placements, medical support, sports development, provision of transport and utility vehicles, amongst others shall be made public in due course.”

Yours truly observed that his Bills and Motions in the past one year were absent, that is, not listed in his anniversary speech. Distinguished Senator, Sir, some of us, your constituents are eager to be briefed in that regard.

Fast forward to the issue of COVID-19 in his constituency, OBA came across as not merely narrating other people’s pain but also expressing his own anguish. He acknowledged that the virus has wrought “great challenges and economic strains not limited to our clime but globally.”

However, to at least cushion the effect of the debilitating scourge, he explained that “We reached out with palliatives through cash transfers to constituents and beyond as well as followed up with supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to health workers, government and private offices, unions, socio-cultural bodies, market women, transporters, and medical institutions amongst others.” This was quite good.

He assured Governor Udom Emmanuel of his “loyalty and cooperation, and that of the Akwa Ibom Caucus in the National Assembly” under his leadership.

“That same love that ensued and kept me to stand by our great party, the PDP, even when I was the only one remaining out of the trinity in the Senate, is beyond compromise. Together, we shall continue to serve our people faithfully to the glory of God and to the best interest of our dear State”, he emphatically reiterated.

The Senator signed off with this message to his constituents: “For me, it is service above self. I am bonded to serve and justify your confidence. This is the pact and I shall continue with same zeal in all responsibilities bestowed upon me, trusting that that same God is capable of doing all things.”

From the beginning of the speech to the end, OBA presented a concise but studded one year report card that is easily decoded. The backgrounding, flow and diction so distinguished.

He emboldened his image as an impact-driven public servant.

Minus very few omissions (as per Bills and Motions and other activities of his committee apart from the amendment of Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Acts), the anniversary speech can be safely ranked as one of the best in recent times.

As the second legislative year rolls in, the constituents are expectant as usual. May the yield and gains of the second year outweigh that of the first year.

(Ofonime Honesty hails from Etinan LGA in Uyo Senatorial District. He is an Uyo based journalist.)

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