THERE IS NO CABAL IN 7TH AKWA IBOM ASSEMBLY – MARK ESSET
By Itoro BASSEY
Mark Esset, the member representing Nsit Atai in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, says no cabal exist in the 7th Assembly, contrary to insinuations making the rounds, but that the House is an assembly of fine gentlemen who are sincerely committed to protecting the interests of the people through diligent discharge of its legislative duties.
Rt. Hon. Esset said this last week during a chat with assembly correspondents on issues pertaining to the running of the legislature.
The two-term lawmaker noted that issues about power play and internal politicking in the 7th Assembly are normal attributes of every legislature, saying the fact that the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, maintains cordial relationship with some two-term lawmakers does not mean that a cabal us hijacked the state legislature.
The lawmaker added that he, like his colleagues in the state assembly, would strive to see a united legislature and that lawmakers would agree during debates on motions and bills when there is the need to do so, and disagree if there is need as well.
“For me to bring up a bill or motion now, I must play the internal politics. That is the beauty of the legislature. I must lobby my colleagues.
“If something affects my constituency, and I need the support of my colleagues to back up my presentation, there must be lobbying. That’s the politicking we are talking about. Without that, it may not pass through or see the light of day.
“In the 7th Assembly, I don’t think that there’s anything like a cabal. The man we have at the helm of affairs, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey is a man that is down to earth. He takes and treats everybody as the same. He does not segregate.
“He has been able to give us a united assembly. There are some persons who were friends with Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey before he became Speaker. They were not friends because he became Speaker. And you don’t expect Aniekan Bassey, someone with high moral to discard those friends because he is now Speaker.
“Since he became Speaker, people look at his friends around him and think that there is a cabal. So, I am telling such people that there is nothing like a cabal. I cannot discard my friends because God has blessed me.
“And that’s why I applaud the young man for remembering the friends he had even when he was not a Speaker. So, my duty is to make sure that I support the Speaker in all ramifications: physically, spiritually and otherwise for him to succeed in this 7th Assembly.
“My support, loyalty, and commitment is for him to succeed as our Speaker and to support other members also for us to work as a team so that at the end of this 7th Assembly when history will be written, those of us who, by the special grace of God, returned for a second term, our names will be written in gold”, he said.
Esset, who is the chairman of the assembly Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, said the focus of the current 7th Assembly was to ensure that it makes robust legislative engagements as the tenure progresses.
“You could see, from our debates, everybody answers to his or her father’s name. We can sit together as colleagues, wine and dine, and the next minute, someone brings something to the floor of the House.
“If it is not in tandem with the wishes and aspirations of my constituents who sent me here, I will oppose the person during the debate. That doesn’t mean we are fighting. We leave that place and we go and sit down together elsewhere. That’s the beauty of the legislature”, he said.
On the tour of the 31 local government areas of the state his committee made in 2019 to assess the level of administration at the councils, Esset said the measure was already yielding positive results by greatly boosting service delivery and giving back life to local government administration across the state.
“There is no council you go now and not see it work like a council. Staffers are now up and doing because they don’t know when next we will visit.
“I remember one of the radio programmes that I was a guest, a woman called and appreciated the efforts of our committee, saying she had been going to her local government council to get a common thing like certificate of origin and nobody was on ground to attend to her for more than one month of consistent visits.
“After she learned that we had visited, the woman said she went back immediately and was able to get her certificate of origin. These are some of the things that motivate some of us, in that the little efforts and contributions we are putting in the society, the people are appreciative of them. It encourages us to do more”, he said.
Esset urged Akwa Ibom people to desist from taking actions or making utterances that would heat up the polity, saying that what God has in stock for the state as regards different political positions in 2023 would surely come to pass at the appropriate time.