Iniobong Ekponta, Uyo reports on an encounter with a Local Government Chairman, Mrs Felicia Bassey who reminisced on what she considers one of the strong points of immediate past Governor Godswill Apkabio, his empowerment of women.
As curtain falls after eight years of Chief Godswill Akpabio as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, his positive imprints on the sands of time, according followers of his rein since 2007, will continue to drown every attempt by his detractors to rubbish his era. This was the position of Hon. Felicia Bassey, Chairman of Okobo Local Government Area, in an interview in Uyo, the State capital following the political change of guard recently in the State. “Akpabio has no photocopy”, the ex-Police officer of Otioro extraction noted, recalling that his emergence as the third civilian Governor of the 27-year-old State has really galvanized the womenfolk and entrenched in them the political consciousness to be able to weather the storm in a male dominated system. She noted that the non-discriminatory policies and programmes of the out gone era has foisted in the polity, the culture of unity, peace and harmony, adding that such values were the essential ingredients that assisted the “uncommon transformation” to thrive overwhelmingly in the State.
The multiplier effects of Akpabio’s administration, she noted, has further demystified government and governance because of the spread of the dividends of democracy to the rural women, youths, the aged and children. “Before now, government was far from the people; this is the first time people would see, touch and feel the government…”, she noted, adding that Akpabio’s government would be remembered always for its effects at the grassroots level. Recalling that women barely wandered beyond the peripheral issues of domestic chores in time past, Mrs. Bassey, who would soon be sworn-in as a House of Assembly member for Okobo State Constituency, having won the poll last in April, said “Akpabio has given women a pride of place in politics”.
“Akpabio’s administration has given us a conducive atmosphere to operate, it is very rare to have someone like Akpabio as Governor”, she enthused, adding that Akpabio has satisfied the 35 percent affirmation for women in Akwa Ibom politics by his appointments. She disclosed that during Akpabio’s era, four women had the slots of Local Government Chairmen, 12 Vice Chairmen and over 200 women appointees into various positions of authorities in government. Besides, she pointed out that Akpabio’s gender sensitive policy saw to the emergence of a female Chief Judge, Justice Idongesit Ntem-Isua; three female members of the House of Assembly and the first female Deputy Governor in the State and in the South-South. According to her, these unprecedented feats would mark Akpabio’s era out as one that came with a mission to redefine the political landscape of Akwa Ibom that with political audacity, impossible issues could be addressed.
These boundless development programmes, she noted, were heavily facilitated by Akpabio’s empowerment force, which also challenged the administrators at the third tier, to emulate and implement at the grassroots. With the consummate development plans that have turned around the fortunes of Akwa Ibom from its hitherto pedestrian status to a new destination for tourists, visitors and investors, the outgoing Council Chair is heavily convinced the his successor, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, would consolidate and sustain the ‘uncommon transformation’ paradigm initiated by Akpabio.
Going to the Senate, Mrs. Bassey expressed confidence in Akpabio to soldier on; saying with prayers of the people, God’s wish for him would be accomplished. “I know God is not through with him yet”, she said and expressed strong belief that the Essien Udim born politician would coast home to victory as President of the country in the years to come.