The story of the enigma called Distinguished Senator (Obong) Bassey Albert can be likened to that of the proverbial elephant and the blind men who described the elephant according to their limited knowledge and restricted perspectives.
Lots of folks have heard and talked about the phenomenal personality popularly called OBA but, are far from knowing who exactly he is and what he represents. Some can only talk of him in the light of his tenure as Akwa Ibom’s super performing Commissioner for Finance who re-engineered the operations of that all important ministry leading to tremendous improvement in the fortunes of Akwa (Abasi) Ibom State.
Others only know about his exploits at the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria yet, few know about his magnificent strides in the banking industry where he strode like a colossus. Fewer even are the number who know a thing about his religious, community, social and family life let alone his philanthropy.
While many try to make meaning of the many positives attending Distinguished Senator (Obong) Bassey Albert’s eventful life, a few, out of sheer ignorance and jealousy common to men, attempt some adventure at mischief. Interestingly, such misguided but tasteless gambles end up raising Senator OBA’s rating on the popularity gauge.
It is natural that some leaders are born while others are made. While leadership running in lineages are thrust on the laps of some ‘fortunate’ folks, others get through to the place of leadership by some good deal of hardwork, diligence, unbridled determination, devotion and tenacity of purpose. The subject matter of our curiosity in this narrative, Distinguished Senator OBA was born to conquer seeming protocols which transferred leadership through bloodlines. He worked his way through to the various platforms which afforded/afford him the liberty to render service for the greater good of any system he found/finds himself. Therefore, OBA is who he is today not because of mere inheritance but through the inexhaustible grace of God Almighty and rare force of brutal determination, hard work and consistency.
Distinguished Senator (Obong) Bassey Albert was born in no special circumstance of birth other than that which is common amongst men who being at the right place at the right time, do the right thing as a result of prayer. Through divine orchestration, this man with an appointment with destiny was ushered into the earthly care of Chief Albert Robert Akpan of Ididep Usuk village in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State on Saturday October 28, 1972. It is very important to note that, Senator OBA was subjected in early life, to the vagaries common to all born into the natural order of life. He like others had to serve and ply the streets carrying his articles of trade on the head at some point in his deliberate walk to appointment with destiny.
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He had the advantage of being molded at St. Patrick’s College, Calabar, Cross River State before he joined the University of Uyo for a degree in Economics and went further to the acclaimed University of Nigeria, Nsukka for Master of Business Administration (MBA). Senator OBA has attended diverse conferences, seminars, workshops and symposia locally and internationally. He has equally been severally sought after as resource person in similar events.
With BSc Economics, Senator OBA became a beautiful bride to the banking industry and began his flourishing banking career with United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) in 1997 where he started off at the International Operations and Consumer/Retail Banking desk. Senator OBA shone so bright within a short space of time that he attracted Continental Trust Bank which bought him off UBA in 1999 and handed him the coveted seat of Manager, Corporate Banking at its Victoria Island Head Office. His delightsome performance made him even more attractive in the industry as many banks fell over each other seeking his service. By 2003, First Inland Bank Plc secured his services and deployed him as Uyo Branch Manager. Within one year, Senator OBA injected new life into the bank and won two awards viz: Best Performing Branch Manager, South South and Best Performing Branch Manager Nationwide.
Impressed by his stellar performances and track record, Senator OBA secured a much more better offer from First City Monument Bank in 2005 and assumed the high office of Assistant Vice President. He got deployed as General Manager in charge of Akwa Ibom and Cross River States and, was responsible for the day to day operation of 15 branches of the bank within the zone. As the head of the zone, he had within his brief, the strategic positioning of the bank to capture more market shares.
True to the axiom that a goldfish has no hiding place, Senator OBA got appointed as Commissioner for Finance in 2007. In no time, he transformed the finance ministry, making it the cynosure of all eyes and coveted more than ever before. He, in 2009, mounted a Revenue Summit targeted at improving Akwa Ibom State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). This paid off by raising the state’s IGR to a whopping N15.6b in the last quarter of 2013. Impressed by his results, Senator OBA was appointed by the then governor as Chairman, Inter-ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee. With this special vehicle, Distinguished Senator (Obong) Bassey Albert working with other members of the committee, initiated and completed in the health, education, rural sectors etc., projects in excess of 6000. This impacted Akwa Ibom’s economy tremendously and gave jobs and income to thousands of Akwa Ibom youths and women.
Senator OBA as Akwa Ibom’s finance commissioner, negotiated and secured a loan of £325.24m from Standard Chartered Bank for the execution of game changing projects in the state. Importantly, Senator OBA empowered myriads of Akwa Ibom people and changed their lives significantly as Honorable Commissioner for Finance. He helped many to stand and, by God’s unending grace, most are still standing till today.
Having performed sufficiently well in his chosen career, banking and, in the state executive council as commissioner for finance, the good people of Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District in 2015, found in Senator OBA a capable but dependable hand, a loud and courageous voice and, a heart filled with passion to give service and large enough to carry the concerns of his people. They therefore took it upon themselves to persuade Senator OBA to vie for the senatorial seat. Being a man cut out for service to his people, the Senator yielded to the call of his people. OBA’s campaign became a mass movement which culminated in a landslide victory at the polls.
To be continued!
© Penz B.