For Elder Sam Bassey, the governorship election slated for March 9 in his home state of AkwaIbom is a done deal. He says that his peoples trust in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is like a religion in his state.
In this interview with newstimesafrica,Bassey who is the special representative of Governor Udom Emmanuel in Lagos State speaks on the vision and mission of his principal, his thoughts about the loss of former governor GodswillAkpabio at the polls, the just concluded general elections among other interesting issues.
How has it been in the last four years of the UdomEmmanuel administration?
It has been quite challenging, interesting but more of expectations. When you come into governance which is a new level entirely, you have to adjust to that level which takes time. Challenges are there as life itself is full of challenges. It is only wrong if you face any challenge and you are not able to overcome it. We must always expect that. It is interesting in the sense that there is nothing as good as you plan and see the results. I must say that his Excellency planned for leadership and governance. He is such an orgainised person that he does not rush into things without adequate planning. What he has been able to achieve in almost four years, are things some people could not achieve in eight years. Why I still sometimes give kudos to former governor, GodswillAkpabio is that he was able to bring out the AkwaIbom people from docility and made every man and woman a proud son and daughter of that area. One thing Udom did when he came in was to launch what he called ‘Dakada Philosophy.’ It was a reorientation programme trying to make the AkwaIbom people to feel and know that they can make it; that it is not as if God created another person differently from them. And that spirit started getting into the people. It became a spirit of entrepreneurship, high level enterprise that positively affected their psyche.
Another thing Udom has done throughout this campaign period and got people talking about has been his ability to make the state peaceful. He has his vision of bringing in industries, foreign direct investments into the state so he started working on the people and now bringing in investments into the state.
All the result that has come out of that is what we are enjoying today and we will enjoy more in the next four years by the grace of God because I can say for a fact that whatever achievements we have right now is just a tip of the iceberg. If one is able to see a lot of transactions that are piling up and waiting for this second term to be pronounced, amazingly after four years I don’t know whether people will recognize AkwaIbomstatae again.
What do you make from the loss of Akpabio from going back to the senate?
There will be peace. Already there is peace. It is called AkwaAbasiIbom state. It is a state owned by God. Some of us are not surprised that the byword of divine mandate is ‘Only God.’Udom does not only talk about God, he does what God tells him to do. On the day of his inauguration, there was one significant thing he did in 2015, he called on all the heavy weights of all the religious body within and outside the state to lay hands on him. They put their hands on him and he declared victory on AkwaIbom in terms of handing over the state to God. And whatever you see in AkwaIbom is that God has taken control of the state. If you noticed, he has not said anything about Akpabio and he will never say anything about it. God used Akpabio to bring Udom to AkwaIbom. God is sustaining him and the indication of Akpabio losing election is also sending a message that ‘sir you brought me here, I handed over the state to God and God is in control.’ There will be absolute peace. God is taking Akpabio to another level. I don’t have doubt about that. I don’t rejoice when people seem to have issues of failures. He has not failed it is just God programming him for something else. People have given different interpretations that Akpabio has been disgraced, it is not true. Akpabio has done what God wants him to do in Akwaibom, even though I am not buying the idea of APC next level but take next level as the almighty God is taking him somewhere. Sometimes you fail to succeed. If I were him, I will not contest anything but leave it in the hands of God. God has been merciful to Akpabio. God brought him from nowhere to where God took him to. If there are few lessons he must learn let him learn because that same God is taking him to where he is taking him to.
What are your thoughts on the just concluded presidential election?
I will declare from here that I have been pro-AbubarkarAtiku and my statebelongs to the PDP. It is like a religion in our state and we must support who the flag bearer of that party is. I am making that declaration so it will not look as if I am biased but I always try to balance anything that I do. South south, south east, south west were in one accord to support Atiku. You would wonder why I added south west. If you can see the performance of Atiku, PDPin the south west it was unimaginable. Because we thought in 2015, former president, Goodluck Jonathan was all out to pick Lagos state the difference of 100,000 then was like everything was buried here but in 2019, it was about 130,000 differenceexcluding what would have entered which would not be more than 30,000 assuming everything went right. Then you look at what happened in places like at Okota and so on. If you noticed, people did not say anything but on that election day, they spoke. Go around the whole place, it is SanwoOlu everywhere. I have never seen this kind of media campaign all my life even a kid will know that there is somebody called JideSanwo -Olu. Where and where did you see Jimi Agbaje let alone Atiku,then compare that with the votes that we have seen. A statement has been made. South south,sout east, south west made a statement. The north also made a statemnt for Buhari. My question is; Atiku, why are your people not supporting you the way they should? He is my preferred presidential candidate but we need to talk about that. I don’t believe in those figures from the north. I will tell you the truth, if the real figures were out, Atiku would have won that election. I must say this,Mike Igini is the best electoral officer in Nigeria today. If every state electoral officer had behaved like Igini, this election wouldn’t have become like this. Though I did not believe in those figures but truly the northerners showed more support to Buhari than Atiku.
With the strength of the PDP in the South west, Southsouth and South east, would that be a reflection of what would happen in the gubernatorial election?
I don’t want to act like so many prophets that people are now accusingof making inaccurate prophesies. Let us wait and see what happens in the next two weeks. If we want to be fair to ourselves what Igini did as he has proven to be the hero of AkwaIbom state, was the decision he took on the local government that decided whether Akpabio should be senator or not. What happened there was that there were figures that came in and Igini said no, let us go back to the card reader, let us verify those who actually voted and out of the figure of 105,000, what he was able to bring out was 14,000. And from that 14,000, PDP got 5,907, APC got over 7,000. If Buhari want to prove to the world that he is a man of integrity, let him tell Professor MahmoodYakubu to do same in Katsina, Kano, Yobe, Bornoand let us see the results.I’m aware that Atiku had planned for this ahead of time by ensuring that all the pooling unit results are made available. I mean theresults that actually came out from the card reader. Sometimes, I get confused whether card reader is meant for the south and not for the north.
What is your projection should Udom wins in specific terms?
As we speak, there are things that are being listed. One is that within the next four years, some authentic modular refineries will be coming up but he has been careful with his own plan and said one of them will come up. I am aprivy to that. We have signed an MOU for a liquefied natural gas. What the federal government is enjoying from Bonny in Rivers State, we are going to have it in AkwaIbom. He has already been able to put up about 15 industries on ground. What we would see in the next four years would be activities that would come out in those industries because they are still being built. Akwaibom would have moved in the next four years from a civil service to a mix of industrialised state and gradually, we will become what we are going to become.
What about the issue of maintenance, for instance the state of the stadium and world class hospital?
Udom Emmanuel calls some of these projects, monuments but he decided to take them up so that people will not accuse him of not continuing on what have been started. Akpabio built a stadium that has given us recognition worldwide. There were already maintenance agreements for over 10 to 15 years which are still running. There is a maintenance agreement with Julius Berger to take care of the stadium. There might have been some issues of trying to review the maintenance but definitely, it is on. They may not be painting them at the regular time but there is a maintenance agreement that is in operation. For the hospital and the Four Point by Sheraton, I think there was arush to commission them when they were not prepared for commissioning. The slowness is that they are working on things that would have been done before now. It is very true that when you are a politician, you have to create impact by whatever means. That Four Point by Sheraton was not due for commissioning. But because our brother needed to showcase all that he needed to showcase, they rushed to commission it without going through the paper work. The management agreement by Four Point by Sheraton was signed recently with millions of dollars duly paid which has to come from Udom Emmanuel’s government.
What is going on under industrialization is not the issue of maintenance. For instance, Dangote refinery must be taken care of by Dangote. It is not the government that is putting its money but the investors and they will not allow their money to waste.
Ibom Air as it is today is 100 per cent owned by the government but the Udom that I know before he leaves that government that company would have been handed to the public to quote it on the stock exchange so that shares would be sold. A lot of people will gain ownership into the place. I don’t see government owning an airline 100 per cent for eternity. They are coming in now to do this because it became very important that we have an Ibom Air. For a while now we have been having issues of people getting stranded going in and coming out of AkwaIbom. But in an effort to build up the totality of an investment drive, the government had to go into it so that anytime you land in Nigeria, you move in easily and do your business. And it is going to be a hot spot. Very soon AkwaIbomwill be like Lagos. Udom is the most serious governor about the seaport issue. That sea port started from former governor Atta then Akpabio came tried his best but nothing happened but Udom has taken the issue of the sea port to a point of reality and by the grace of God as we have been told as we are entering 2020, the sea port would be ready for action. The port attracts a lot of money to Lagos and that is why we are having all these issues for the past four, five years. Lagos roads have not been free but if an alternative comes up like there, some people will go there to do their businesses. Lagos roads will be eased off, money will be adequately distributed.