By Archibong Jeremiah, House of Assembly Correspondent
The member representing Odukpani State constituency in Cross River State House of Assembly Hon. Akiba, Bassey Ekpenyong has applauded the Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. John Gaul Lebo for what he described as his legislative direction aimed at bridging the gap between Cross Riverians and the legislature.
Hon. Akiba barred his mind in an exclusive interview with our House Of Assembly Correspondent recently.
According to Akiba, “I want to commend the Speaker because his legislative direction has a lot to do with the public coming to witness the House activities. We have seen that there is a gap between what we are doing as a legislature and whether the people we represent are getting the message.
“The Speaker has come up with a number of innovations towards that direction which is worthy of commending especially the media parley that has come to stay”.
Ekpenyong, who is the Chairman House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources revealed that: “We are looking at organizing a lot of town hall meetings, imagine how effective it will be if all of us have regular town hall meetings in our various constituencies. It is in these town hall meetings that we will first hand explain to our people what we are doing and answer their questions directly; by this a lot of people will become interested to participate in the legislative process up to the point of coming to hear from plenary”.
He recalled that “few days ago I raised the issue of our people been terrorized by our neighbors from Akwa Ibom and Abia State, also of incursion at different times, those in riverine areas are been terrorized by sea pirates on daily basis and I called for immediate intervention from the government and other agencies constitutionally responsible, primarily to protect the lives and properties of the citizens”.
More so, Hon. Bassey posited that there is no way meaningful development will thrive where there is insecurity; “government and governance will not work.” He said, arguing that Cross Riverians who are onshore enjoy better security than those offshore which is against the constitutional provision for security of lives and properties of all citizenry.
He lamented the state of roads in Odukpani LGA alleging that Eburutu communities in the state cannot access each other, a development which he says is hampering rural development. He gave examples of how some communities, like Ukwa in his constituency can only be accessed with ease through neighbouring states, specifically Akwa Ibom and Abia State.
As a personal task in the Assembly, Hon. Akiba said, revealed: “A major task I have set for myself is to study all the laws passed by the Assembly and do a survey of those actually impacting positively on our people and those that amendment or review can be done. For laws not existing, we will try to do something”.
On the first approach of his committee he said, “My committee will x-ray what has already been done in areas of agriculture and natural resources with the view to seeing how we can beef up the productive activities to the betterment of the state. When we look at what is on ground we will align them with the realities of today which is that the oil economy is down, the only area we have as a people is agriculture.
“There should be a shift which we will encourage; at this point in time the committee is very critical. The agricultural sector in history has been the major employer of labor within and outside the state. One of the major challenges I have spotted is the difficulty of our farmers to imbibe modern agricultural practice”.
He ended by advising young Cross Riverians to “Look at governance as one thing that will change the status of the state which will in turn change the life of the individuals. Many think when you are in public office you are there simply to make wealth, it’s not that because our priority is to render service.
“They should try to find out what is happening in governance and possibly try to key in because there are lots of things coming up that one needs to key into like the signature projects, make the best use of these opportunities coming”, he concluded.
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