The Deputy Speaker and Member representing Okobo State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Princess Felicia Bassey is returning to the state legislature following her re-election in the last general elections.
She had a session with journalists in her residence in Uyo after receiving her Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission last month, where she spoke on a number of issues, one of which was her passion for women rights and empowerment of her constituents. .Excepts…
This happen to be the first time Oro nation has given bloc vote to a sitting governor even with the activities of the opposition Political Parties. How was that possible?
I have always said, when the head is excellent, other parts of the body will be perfect. I am from Okobo and I occupy the highest political office from that area. I know that my governor is an excellent and erudite administrator.
He is worth celebrating; he is worth re-electing and politics is all about performance, popularity ,consultation and acceptability. We met as party Stakeholders, discussed, and shared information based on his performance and a concrete decision to give him overwhelming votes was taken. Hence, the positive result you have seen.
Oro people are not blind. They have seen, heard, talked, touched and felt what Governor Udom Emmanuel has done. So, that was why he won convincingly in Oro nation.
What are the people of Okobo expecting in your second term?
They expect me to do more for them. Personally, what I will do for them as a good representative is to use my position to attract quality dividends of democracy to Okobo.
We gave the Governor the highest number of vote in Oro Nation and we gave that to him because of the special packages he has for us in his second coming. So, Oro people would be adequately compensated.
This time around, I will ensure that by the grace of God that the governor will touch my people positively more than what he did in his first term, because the last is always the best.
Does that also include appointment in the state executive council?
(Cuts in) Of course, yes. We have no member of the state Executive Council in this first term that is almost running out. Infact, the highest political benefit is the office of the deputy speaker I am occupying.
We have one senior special assistant, which was a slot for Essu Nlap Oro, meaning that it is not an Okobo slot. So, for Okobo, we expect more from his Excellency because we gave the him the highest number of votes in Oro nation.
It has almost become a tradition in Akwa Ibom political space for the House of Assembly member to be on collision course with his or her council chairman, but that is not the case in Okobo. What is the magic?
How can a House of Assembly member whose council chairman is a friend, brother, son, director-general of campaign organisation and a dire heart supporter be on collision course with me?.
I am surprised because it is not the practice in Okobo? But if it was a practice, somebody has to break the record. I am a record breaker, take it from me.
I have broken so many records as the first woman state officer of PDP from Okobo, first woman transition chairman, first woman Executive chairman, first female Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly member from Okobo and the first lawmaker to return for a second term in Okobo.
So, if I carry that grace of God and through the understanding and goodwill of Okobo People, it will not be possible for me to quarrel with my council chairman, because I have been there before. He has his own office and I have mine. I do not interfere in what he is doing, except when he needs me.
We move as a family and we do not have any reason to quarrel and I do not think I ever have course to regret that Rt. Hon.Ubuo Ubuo is my local government chairman. I will tell you am blessed to have him as my chairman and you do not throw away a good product.
I am a mother and a good mother will always pray that her children should do better than her. And that has been my prayer for him, meaning that I cannot stop him from growing. My duty is to encourage him to grow in politics so that Okobo people will embrace this new style of politics; politics of development.
Where there are no crisis chaos, and usual excuse by some politicians that things are not working out well in the Council.
You are known for women Advocacy and empowerment. Will that still be a major feature in your second term?
I have been a woman activist since birth. When I was in the Police, women were subjected to all kinds of treatments, but the authority did not extend that to me. For instance, a Police woman would have to serve for three years before getting pregnant or marry, whereas the Police men were not subjected to that kind of treatment.
The authority will investigate your husband, take his finger print and subject him to all kinds of intimidations and I will call it so because if the man you want to marry does not have deep love for you, he will run away.
I know many of my colleagues who could not marry because some of the men were afraid. When I joined the Police newly, women were not allowed to shoot gun, but people like me won an award because at some point, the authority gave us the gun to shoot.
We were trained officially and we did very well. I came into politics in Oro nation, when the voice of women were not heard and I said that should not be the case. We begged them and started following them with performance.
I thank God for the wife of the former Governor, Mrs. Unoma Akpabio, who encouraged me when I met her and we started working together and brought many women into governance. Since then, we have seen the emergence of more women as chairmen, vice-chairmen and all of that.
And when Her Excellency, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel came in , she sustained that tempo and at a point upped the ante by encouraging women participation in politics. So, I am a voice for the voiceless women and many of them have been encouraged by us. Therefore, I want to assure them that I will still continue to do it.
What will you want your people to remember you for when you leave political office?
The first thing I want to be remembered for is the unity and love I have sustained among the political class be in Okobo and the two political Bloc of Okobuo Mbawa and Atak Oro.
For instance, the Council chairman, Hon Ubuo Effiong Ubuo is not from my development area and I could have insisted of having my brother from Atak Oro Bloc in the Council as Chairman, but I could not do that.
I want my people to remember me as that politician that brought justice and peace to Okobo. So far, I have done many things, some of which many members could not do. We may not have roads and other things, but we have over 18 schools, which have been renovated by me.
The women are not left out in my empowerment scheme. If you come to my house on a working day, you will marvel at the crowd you will see. I gave an instruction to my SA that I do not want to see many people today and that is why you see the number of people you are seeing now.
Even with that, you could still find more than 100 persons in this brief ceremony .
We are going to empower more of our people. Apart from employment, which I know we cannot give to everybody, but I have supported my people to acquire relevant skills.
My dream is to take the boys off the street, make sure those who have not completed education have the advantage of extra moral classes. It may look like a minor thing, but by the time they go to school and become exposed, there are many things they will do to live meaningfully.
I am, going to serve my people in a better capacity. I am going to ensure that Okobo is seen in a better light in the government of Akwa Ibom State, because when you relate with the governor, you will bring dividends of democracy back to your people.
I am not returning to the House of Assembly to fight, but to take dividends of democracy to them. I have to take education, employment, skill acquisition back to my people. My women have to do better; they have to start trading with good capital.
I have so much for my people, which we will unfold soon. I dedicate my re-election to God and the less-privileged in Okobo, the down trodden and the uneducated people of my local government. Why I am dedicating my victory to them is because the old women who do not know anything about politics, know Mma Abaak.
They said, show me Mma Abaak, which is myself and that is because I have been good to them. So, I have to give back to them.
As a woman leader and activist, what are you doing about the low percentage of women coming to the House of Assembly every four years?
It is good that a man is the one asking why only two women will be in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in the next session. I want to thank God, because there is an improvement in the percentage.
If you could recall, the second assembly, which ran from 1999-2003 had no female member. In 2003, we had two members, late (Barr) Iniobong Eshiet and Mrs. Mary Udongwo. They were joined by Mrs. Serah Esitikot in 2005, following the demise of her husband, Mr. Joseph Esitikot.
In the last assembly, we had two women and in the current session, the number of female members is still two. We want to beg our men to be gender-friendly. They should see us as partners. We will always acknowledge the superiority of the men.
And I want to thank the wife of the governor, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel, who has worked so hard to make sure that from two, we can be four and six, like what is obtained other states. There are some states that have six female members in the House of Assembly.
At a time, Benue and Anambra State Houses of Assembly had female speakers. So, I on behalf of my colleagues and other women of Akwa Ibom are begging the men to give us more opportunities, that we will not disappoint them and we are ready to work with them, beside them and not in front of them.
I want you to talk to our fathers and brothers to give women more chances, because I believe that the modern men of Akwa Ibom, today, invest more in their girl child more than their male children. No parent invests in his girl child and throw her away.
So I want you to join me in the crusade, so that when I am leaving as the member, those taking over from us will smile with either four, five or six members.
Who will you prefer as speaker of the next Assembly?
I am telling you as a member of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and member- elect and by the special grace of God, the deputy speaker, the first thing is to collect what we have collected today, which is the certificate of return.
That qualifies every recipient as a member-elect. When we get to the House, the speaker will emerge to the satisfaction of everyone.
But you have worked with Aniekan Uko, a former speaker before?
I don’t know why you singled out Aniekan Uko among the 25 of us. Let me tell you, we are 14 returning members, and all of us are eligible, but because the party has zoned it and we will abide by the zoning arrangement of the party.
I do not know about succession. We allow the Almighty God to take control of everything. I am sure after today, there is nothing wrong seeking the advice of the Governor and his direction. For now, I cannot talk about the issue of who will be the speaker of the next session of the House of Assembly.
I still have some weeks to serve as a member of the current session of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. You want them to come and push us away. My office is not vacant, so is that of the speaker, Rt . Hon. Barr. Onofiok Luke. He is still my speaker. I have no other speaker other than him for now. When the next assembly is inaugurated in June, we will have a new speaker.