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THE COMRADE SENATOR

By Ofonime Honesty

In a clime where political office holders and the downtrodden are strange bedfellow, a man has defied the norm. Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, Senator representating Akwa Ibom North East (Uyo) Senatorial District in the National Assembly and Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), has given hope to the common man whose rights and privileges are always denied in an unjust society. He is ensuring that the common man has a voice that must be heard and attended to.

As a writer, I rarely praise political office holders. I often cringe when they are hailed to high heavens over some conventional deeds. However, in the case of OBA, his 6 year scorecard in the Senate should be treated as a case study of excellent legislative representation. The past six years have been a story of bravery and competence. This writer, who happens to be his constituent, is particularly wowed by the his many interventions in several human interest cases.

In February 2021, news of the reinstatement and promotion of Celestine Obot Williams, who was wrongfully dismissed from the Nigeria Police trended.

Senator Bassey Albert decorates Celestine Obot Williams with his new rank of ASP after his reabsorption by the Nigerian Police Force

For 21 long years, he was jobless. In 2016, Senator OBA submitted a petition to the Senate, demanding his reinstatement. He was reinstated in 2017 but not promoted.
OBA refused to rest on his oars, he followed the matter up to ensure that justice is fully served. After years of the case scaling bureaucratic hurdles, the needful was done in February 2021: He was promoted to the rank of an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP).

Related: President Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio Applauds Senator Albert For Reinstatement Of Wrongfully Dismissed Police Officer

The Senator while receiving the elated Williams, donated a car to him. OBA represents Uyo Senatorial District, while the beneficiary hails Ini Local Government Area which is in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District. He never spared a thought on that. That smacks of patriotism. It paints OBA as one who has Project Akwa Ibom at heart.

While that celebrated case is one which drew much attention, others also deserve mention in this piece, like the case of Ntia Thompson, an Assistant Director and Head of SERVICOM Unit in the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DCTA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was prematurely retired for exposing corruption acts in the agency. Again following a petition from OBA, he was reinstated.

It is also on record that he challenged the unlawful seizure and diversion of salaries and allowances of Sergeant Peter John by the Nigerian Police. The matter was duly rectified.

A journalist, Priscilla Christopher, brings forth another set of data on OBA’s human interest exploits in the Senate.

She wrote: “wrongful dismissals of one Mr. Peter Solomon Archibong by the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and Ex Cpl Imo Sunday by the Nigerian Police Force did not go unnoticed as the Senator had ensured that their cases were revisited and justice administered appropriately.

Related: Senator Bassey Albert Facilitates Recall Of Police Officer After 21 Years Of Wrongful Dismissal

“Recently, he forwarded a petition to the Senate on behalf of one Mr. Igantius Udom, against the Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC) over the unlawful termination of his employment. According to trusted sources, Udom was allegedly dismissed from the NMRC under the most spurious excuse that suggested his employment was embedded in the appointment of an erstwhile MD/CEO of the establishment, who retired in 2018.” End of quote.

On June 2, 2020, he presented a petition on behalf of the Akwa Ibom State Caucus in the Senate alleging marginilization of Akwa Ibom State in terms of Federal appointments and other privileges.

On June 8, 2020, upon discovering that the Victor Attah International Airport in Akwa Ibom State was excluded from the list of airports to be reopened on the heels of the COVID-induced lockdown, OBA approached the Senate, demanding that the airport be included on the list. He knew the economic implication the closure had on his home state.

In the past 6 years, out of 7 Petitions presented by him in the 8th Senate, two led to the reinstatement of two public servants whose appointments were wrongfully terminated.

A cursory analysis of his Bills and Motions also reveal his activist mindset. The Motions he has moved so far are: Motion on the urgent need to halt the dilapidated and disintegrated state of Ikot Ekpene-Itu-Calabar Federal Highway; Motion on the need to curb the soaring rate of unemployment in Nigeria; Motion on urgent need for effective implementation of the Joint Venture Cash Calls obligations by NNPC; Motion on the need to address the present economic state of the nation; Motion on urgent need to investigate the granting of concession of the Western and Eastern rail lines to General Electric of USA; and Motion on the need to save the 215 megawatt Kaduna Power Plant.

Bills sponsored by him include: the National Youth Employment and Development Bill, the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan Bill, Petroleum Industry Administration Bill, Bill for Amendment of Deep Offshore and Inland Basin PSC Act, Bill for an Act to amend the Public Complaints Commissions Act, Bill to amend the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Act, and The Gas Flaring Prohibition and Punishment Bill, touted as “the first legislative attempt since Nigeria’s independence to holistically seek an end to Gas Flaring in Nigeria through legislation.”

The salient Bills and Motions cover virtually every issue in the polity. Permit me to postpone dissecting all the Bills and Motions on this piece. Suffice to say that they are all germane to the nation and her citizens.

The Senate Committee Petroleum Resources (Upstream) headed by Senator OBA is making giant strides.

This is succinctly captured by a public affairs analyst, Victor Effik: “On Wednesday, October 9, 2019, Senator Albert rolled out the agenda of the committee to reposition the country’s petroleum sector. In an address delivered at the meeting, Senator Albert, while regretting that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has lingered over the years without passage into law, assured industry stakeholders that the 9th Senate will ensure an accelerated passage of the Bill.

“He also assured stakeholders of the determination of the Senate to conclude the process for the amendment of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, CAP D3 LFN 2004 to drive the country’s oil and gas sector, a promise he kept when he not only sponsored a Bill for the amendment of the Act but also spearheaded the conclusion of the legislative process on the bill leading to its signing into Law by President Muhammadu Buhari.”

Read Also: NNPC/Chevron EGTL Project Agreement: How Senator Bassey Albert Brokered The Deal For Nigeria

Effik continued: “One of the signature achievements of Senator Albert in the Senate is the pivotal role he played in the resolution of cost dispute between NNPC and Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) which had lingered on for over a decade and defied solution by previous sessions of the Senate. The intervention of the Senate Committee on Gas chaired by Senator Albert in the 8th Senate, and later Committee on Petroleum Resources Upstream in the 9th Senate also chaired by him led to the historic resolution of the long disputed NNPC/Chevron Escravos Gas to Liquid deal in favour of Nigeria. The deal raked in several billions of dollars into the country’s economy.” End of quote.

His antecedents are as hefty and towering as his (OBA) stature. The decibels of the plaudits keep increasing. The scope of his influence also keep increasing. How can I fail to mention his unmatched benevolence? The business grants, scholarships, jobs, vehicles, medical bills, and other forms of charitable engagements are well documented.

OBA is indeed on the dias for good. He has displayed comradeship with zest. He remains very much in touch with the people. He is a man to watch.

-Ofonime Honesty is a public affairs analyst and writes from Uyo

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