Cross River NASS Members And Constituency Empowerment: How Have They Fared?

In Breaking News, National News, Politics, Reports

by crossriverwatch admin

Nigeria's National Assembly
Nigeria’s National Assembly

Cross River State has 11 National Assembly members: 3 Senators and 8 House of Representatives members.

In the Senate we have Senator Victor Ndoma Egba representing the Central Senatorial District and functions as the Leader of the Senate, Professor Ben Ayade, representing the Northern Senatorial District and the Chairman, Committee on Maritime and Senator Bassey Otu, Chairman Senate Committee on Banking and other Financial Institutions.

Whilst in the House of Representatives, we have Hon Owan Eno, the member representing Etung/Obubra Federal Constituency, and Chairman, Committee on Appropriation. Another is Hon Francis Ada, representing Obanlikwu/Obudu and Bekwara Federal Constituency. Whilst Hon Chris Etta, a two-time member of the House represents Boki/Ikom Federal Constituency.

Hon Rose Oko represents Yala/ Ogoja while her female counterpart, Hon Nkoyo Toyo occupies the Calabar Municipality/Odukpani Federal Constituency seat. Hon Bassey Ewa, represents Abi/Yakkur Federal Constituency, while Hon Essien Ayi, a two time member of the House represents Calabar South/Akpabuyo and Bakassi and the last and not by any means the least is Hon Daniel Asuquo, the member representing Abi/Akamkpa.

While is it taken that the essential responsibilities of a legislator are legislation, oversight and appropriation, the immediate needs of constituents also form part of the legitimate expectations of constituency electorate from their representatives.

In the face of the fact that we also cannot pin our representatives, particularly in the House of Representatives to any known number of legislations they have sponsored in the green chamber, some of them have also abandoned or pretended that their constituencies are not relevant in their legislative agenda.

It is a common tale-in-the-village-square that the volume of resources that members of Nigeria’s National Assembly are exposed to is huge and also includes the constituency slice that should necessitate periodic direct intervention that can alleviate the suffering of constituents in the short term.

We cannot over emphasize the fact that as tokenistic as they may seem, the various intervention programs like scholarships, provision of artisan working tools, and small business training and capital which have been undertaken by some of the members have gone a long way to ameliorate the perverse penury of their people.

Basically, the three Senators from Cross River have visible programs which serve as the center piece of their representation in their constituency especially for the constituents of the senatorial districts which they represent.

For instance, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba has a scholarship program which has assisted hundreds of undergraduates and post graduate students with funds to complete their education alongside a subsidized transport scheme.

Senator Ben Ayade apart from his subsidized transport scheme has a scholarship scheme which he sponsors students in his district in universities and is currently training 50 persons on small and medium scale enterprise development at the CBN Entrepreneurial Development Center with the aim of assisting them with funds to start their own businesses.

It is also note worthy that Senator Ndoma Egba and Senator Ben Ayade are topping the list (1st and 2nd respectively) amongst the entire 109 Senators in the number of bills sponsored on the floor of the red chamber.

Senator Bassey Otu is popularly referred to as “Sweet Prince” by his people because of what some of them called purposeful empowerment programs which have assisted many people stand on their feet financially.

However, these cannot be said of some of some members of the House of Representatives from the State as some of them are like the axiomatic lone palm fruit that is lost in the fire.

Out of the eight, only four can point to any tangible project tailored towards impacting the lives of those whom they represent. They are Hon Owan Eno, Hon Bassey Ewa, and Daniel Asuquo and Hon. Nkoyo Toyo.

While Owan Eno spends tens of millions annually to empower his constituents, like he did again only a few week ago, Hon Bassey Ewa late last year joined the league when he bought cars, Keke NAPEP, tailoring machines, mechanic tools, computers and tiles laying machines worth several millions for his people. So also did Daniel Asuquo early this year. Nkoyo Toyo, also in a colorful ceremony last year reached out to her constituents with equipment worth millions of Naira while she also runs a scholarship scheme but some of her constituents complained that her presence in the constituency is hardly ever felt because “she spends most of her time in Akwa Ibom State with her husband or in Abuja.”

Hon. Chris Etta
Hon. Chris Etta

But representatives like Chris Etta who has been in the House for six years, Frank Ada, his counterpart from Obudu/Obanlikwu who had also been acting governor in the state before, Rose Oko and Essien Ayi have seemingly remained bland and completely unconcerned with the needs and demands of the people.

For eight years, hardly can anybody in Boki or Ikom point to any tangible empowerment scheme as understood by our people from Chris Etta.

Last week when CrossRiverWatch was at Ikom during the Owan Eno empowerment program, people of Ikom/Boki constituency who came to observe their counterparts cart away cars, keke NAPEP, motorcycles and tile laying machines were full of regret that they have someone like Etta as their representative.

Miss Patience Bisong told CrossRiverWatch that she had wished that she was from either Etung or Obubra and not Boki. “If the thing no for reach me this time, I for get hope say next year I go get something but dis our own sef, we no even know who dey there for Abuja for our name, him no dey shake bodi at all”.

Hon. Frank Adah
Hon. Frank Adah

For former acting governor, Hon. Francis Ada who was present during the Daniel Asuquo program in February and also present during the Owan Eno program two weeks ago, it is hard to know what is going on in his mind as he looked blankly into the sky while praises were showered on Owan Eno.

A former councilor in Obudu who spoke with CrossRiverWatch said the lawmaker is more interested in junketing the world than empowering his people. “You people should ask Frank Adah why he is not doing what his colleagues in the central are doing. Are they not in the same house? He is just busy traveling the whole world forgetting that he will come back home and meet his people that he has abandoned.”

Hon. Rose Oko
Hon. Rose Oko

For Rose Oko, her attempt to show some appreciation to the people whose mandate was foisted on her by forces beyond the constituency failed woefully.

The motorcycles she bought were far too few and could not go round forty percent of the twenty four wads of her federal constituency of Yala and Ogoja.

“You could count the motor cycles with the fingers of your two hands and nearly half of the wards did not get anything and people fought one another in an effort to get a bike” Edmund Ogar who witnessed the motorcycle distribution told CrossRiverWatch.

Hon. Essien Ayi
Hon. Essien Ayi

Pastor Essien Ayi, also does not have any known empowerment program on the ground in Calabar South/Akpabuyo and Bakassi Constituency. Most respondents who spoke with CrossRiverWatch expressed disappointment with the legislator. Mr. Akpan Eyo, a voter who spoke with CrossRiverWatch in Akpabuyo said “Apart from visiting orphanages and old people’s home to hand over some bags of rice during Christmas in order to request for their prayers, he has nothing on grounds as an empowerment project to improve the welfare of the people of this constituency.”

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