‘Development commission answer to lingering Bakassi problem’
Essien Ekpenyong Ayi, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in House of Representatives representing Calabar South, Akpabuyo and Bakassi Federal Constituency. He spoke to ENO BASSEY on issues about the establishment of a Bakassi Development Commission, among others.
You represent one of the crucial constituencies in the country, how far have you gone to mainstream issues of development in the region?
I think I have tried my best, but it is for my constituents to say. They are my mirrors. However, the major milestones I can remember now include, facilitation of a N500million NDE entrepreneurship programme, where beneficiaries were trained in computer literacy, computer repairs, GSM Repairs, dress-making, catering, cosmetology, interior decoration among others. They were given starter packs and start ups financing up to N500, 000.
I also facilitated a N50million supply of support items to the physically challenged persons, motherless children and aged in Calabar South. The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs sponsored the project.
I facilitated another N500million skill acquisition /empowerment of the Displaced People and Returnees of Bakassi council in poultry, detergent making, and confectionary. The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs also sponsored this project.
Unemployed youths in Calabar South /Akpabuyo Llocal councils were given 150 tricycles worth N150million. The Niger Delta Affairs Ministry also sponsored it.
I also pay adequate attention to infrastructural development. The following are infrastructural projects facilitated through my capacity: N100 million electrification of Eneyo in Akpabuyo Local Council; Healthcare Centre in Ikot Ekpo, Akpabuyo; solar powered borehole in Ikot Ene Nya, Akpabuyo; N20 million motorised borehole in Ikot Ene Nya, Akpabuyo; N20 million motorised borehole in Ikot Eden Odo, Akpabuyo Local Council; N20 million solar street light in Ikot Nya Nya, Akpabuyo; N500 million Atimbo Road Rehabilitation, Akpabuyo; N 20 million primary school classroom block in Ifang Oyong in Bakassi ; a solar power borehole in Ikang; N 23 million road in Nsidung Ikot Inyang in Bakassi;
N 375million constituency project for the procurement of 32 slide CT Scan Machine, eight utility vehicles for the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. It was sponsored by the NDDC as captured in the 2017 National Budget.
In the area of legislation what have you done?
I have contributed to several bills, motions, and orders. The following are some of the outstanding issues that I have been able to put to national limelight due to my persistent advocacy: A Motion stopping the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula (2006); a motion for the conduct of referendum on the Bakassi Peninsul (2010); a call for resettlement and proper compensation of Bakassi people (2013); a call for the review of international court of justice judgment on Bakassi (2011); a Bill for an Act to establish chartered institute of entrepreneurs to regulate and control the practice of entrepreneurship and for related matters (2011); a Bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Aeronautic Search and Rescue Agency; a Motion for the proper funding of amnesty; a Bill for non-compliance to expatriate quota system by companies operating in Nigeria and a Bill seeking the establishment of the Bakassi Development Commission to cater for the people of Bakassi (2018).
You are one of the longest serving members of the House of Representatives, what is responsible for the feat?
It’s the Lord’s doing. God has been so good to me. He has made things to fall in pleasant lines for me. I have also found favour before my people. Somehow, I discovered that my people love me the way I love them. They trust me. That is why they keep sending me to represent them. I am their servant.
What are your plans for the future?
My future is in the hands of God. I believe l have given my best to my people. Looking back, I will say God has blessed me and I have the trust of the people I have represented thus far. I want to leave my people better. That is why I have spent so much time trying to pass through a bill for the establishment of the Bakassi Development Commission. When this bill is passed, it will put an end to the lingering sufferings and neglects suffered by the people of Bakassi, a people whose ancestral homeland, history, culture, and livelihood was taken away from them.
At the end, the Bakassi Development Commission will bring federal presence in Bakassi. It will establish a civil service structure that will employ indigenes and other ethnic nationalities around Nigeria. To see that this bill is not dropped into the legislative trashed can, I will be seeking for yet another term to see to it that this project that I have started is completed. I believe, too, that my people are going to stand behind me once again to achieve this. Thank you.