Saturday, 20 November 2021

How C'River Lawmaker is Silently Changing his Constituency While Affecting Lives

Generally speaking, a lawmaker has three main responsibilities which are, legislative, representation and oversight functions.

But in Nigeria cum Cross River State hardly would one find a lawmaker who is proficient in all three functions. What is typical of lawmakers and elective office holders in Cross River State is their boastful empowerment programs which most times leaves beneficiaries in more penury because those empowerments are not carried out based on needs assessments.

A typical House of Assembly Member in Cross River State would hardly carry out empowerments nor projects that don't have a direct bearing on the next election. They only attend burials, birthdays, child dedication and other functions carried out by their loyalists while boasting of number of bills presented before the House. More often than not, those bills which are lifted from other states do not have any direct impact on citizens.

They yet another group whose stock in trade is payments of House Rent and School Fee for their loyalist and/or aides' children and these makes them feel they have done a lot.

Most of them flaunt the excuse of their meager allowances and salaries coupled with the fact that there is no constitutional provision for Constituency projects unlike National Assembly Members, thus they can't execute community projects, but these same public office holders will be seen spending extravagantly on themselves and families.

Surprisingly, events of last week revealed that they are still few politicians with conscience who have the betterment of their people at heart, who despite poor funding will still do the little they can without blowing their trumpets. These sets of persons are called, Silent Achievers. And we have just discovered one of them in Cross River State House of Assembly.

For us at The Daily News Ng, we see these set of persons worthy of celebration and recognition, thus the publication of this story. It is our aim to promote, celebrate and appreciate these set of persons whenever we discover them.

The man Popularly known as "Papa" has not only raised boys to become men, especially those from his Ekpo Abasi, Abasi Edem, Apkarika constituency. (I grew up in this area so, I know most of these boys that have been transformed silently by papa).

Officially he is called Rt. Hon. Joseph Bassey, Deputy Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly and three term member representing Calabar South II state Constituency.

Below is the reason we are celebrating him today.

Following recent reports on the Dilapidated state of Primary School Buildings in Calabar, and how they have been converted to dens of thieves, with hoodlums and Cultists now using them as hideouts and base to carryout their heinous activities. TDN decided to embark on the spot assessment and investigation with the view of restoring public primary schools to normalcy through its reports.

While going round schools in Calabar South, we visited Government Primary School Mayne Avenue and something very remarkable happened. We noticed a particular building at the extreme of the school, the building stood out in bright colors that radiated an open invitation for one to explore its peaceful and quiet disposition and ambiance that encourages learning to take place.

With a sense of curiosity and desire to discover what or who was responsible for such a development, we decided to draw closer. We also noticed work was still ongoing in the building. Some persons were painting, while others were carrying out one activity or the other on the school block and this aroused my curiosity the more with several questions flooding my mind.

As we kept getting closer to the building while admiring the expertise and excellent finishing by the workmen, and the many questions running through my mind, I wasn't sure it was a SUBEB project, because from previous findings, SUBEB hasn't awarded any contract in Cross River State for over a year now.

When we got to the workmen, we tried to extract words from them as regards the project, but it was obvious they had no clue, except for the fact that they only know the person who hired them.

The Next day we were the school premises, this time early enough to meet academic activities. While I sat somewhere waiting to find someone appropriate enough to ask that was when I saw the Head Teacher walking towards the building with another man who I later discovered is the school's PTA Chairman. They went round inspecting the building and I heard her telling the PTA Chairman that she doesn't know whom the donor is. She said she got a call concerning the classroom block and the following day a young man visited her office, informing that he came to seek her permission to allow his Principal renovate the block.

When she tried to find out who the supposed "Principal" is the young man said his Principal would prefer to be anonymous. So she gave her consent and that was how work began.

That was how I walked up to them, introduced myself and scheduled this interview with them.

Speaking with our reporter,the Head Teacher of the school, Mrs. Nsa Efiok said she is not only happy but prays God's blessings on the donor for coming to their aide. She informed that the sorry state of buildings in the school had made learning difficult and the school environment had become hazardous for the pupils who had to be moving their desk and other belongings in and out of the classrooms both before and after school hours.

Like Oliver Twist, while appreciating the donor, she also called on him and other spirited members of the society to come to their aide and provide a lasting solution to the security challenges facing the school as well as assist in provision of school desk for the pupils which she said were also stolen and destroyed by hoodlums.

This is the sorry state of the class room block before Renovation In her words; "I want to say I am very grateful to this anonymous donor. I got a call some days ago about the renovation of this block, although the brain behind the renovation was hidden to me, but I sincerely appreciate whoever God has used to do this. You needed to see this building before the renovation, it was nothing to write home about. The doors, windows and PVCs were removed by hoodlums and they were using here as their hideout nobody could come anywhere close this building.

But today the story has changed, as you can see we have already taken delivery of the block classes are seriously taken place in almost all the various classrooms of the block.
As we accept and appreciate this donation with a sincere heart of gratitude, I will like Oliver Twist want to call on the donor and good hearted Cross Riverians to assist us in fixing the security challenge we have here.

Our school is no longer safe for us, these people(hoodlums) have taken over our school. You need to see how our pupils struggle to carry out their desk inside and outside their classes for safety. The is how the classroooom block looks now:

I will also plead that they assist us with seats for the children. All our classrooms are empty as most of our seats have been destroyed and stolen." She concluded.

Also Speaking with TDN, the School's PTA Chairman, Pastor Jeremiah Henry ommended the Donor for the kind gesture stating that he will dedicate one full hour of prayers for him and his future aspirations.

The clergy informed that using his office as the school's PTA Chairman, he had written several letters to appropriate quarters for the renovation of dilapidated buildings in the school but efforts were frustrated by administrative bottlenecks, and that their last resort was to task parent using the PTA, stating that following legally accepted procedures it would have taken them seven terms to complete one classroom block. Quantifying the cost of renovating the particular block renovated by the lawmaker, the PTA Chairman said according to market survey carried out last year, it would have cost over a Million Naira to complete the project.

He however, noted that he is aware of the security challenges facing the school, he therefore, called on the community youth and religious leaders to take full ownership of schools and other government and community project as this will go a long in reducing the rate of Insecurity and vandalism. The head Teacher, Deputy Headteacher and PTA chairman pose for a group photograph shortly after inspecting and taking delivery of the project.

Pictures and videos of the school block before the renovation as sighted by this reporter shows that the school block was in very deplorable state. According residents of Mayne Avenue, Palm Street and Abasi Edem Axis, the school have been taken over by hoodlums who have made it a den for thieves, and perpetrators of several heinous crimes thus making the school and the area unsafe.

After gathering all the information needed it was finally discovered that the brain behind the renovation was no other person but the amiable dynamic young and energetic Deputy Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Joseph Bassey.

Rt. Hon.Joseph Bassey,member represent in Calabar South II
In a chat with him, he informed that the project is part of his personal effort aside his constituency projects and empowerments to give back to the society. He noted that funds used for the "Revamp our Schools" Project are personal funds and the project which is carried out by The Believe Foundation is completely different from constituency projects. He said aside Government Primary School Mayne Avenue they are other schools penned down to be visited with such projects.

TDN, learnt that Rt. Hon. Joseph Bassey has also silently carried out many interventions which he deliberately decided to be silent about. Most beneficiaries of such projects do not even know he is their benefactor.

photo Galarrey of the project
Ukorebi Esien is Development Worker/Journalists who writes from Calabar and passionate for the development of Cross River State and her Citizens.

Please do nor hesitate to share information with us as regards anybody who is carrying out activities or projects towards the betterment of mankind