Joe Effiong, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly has elected two returning members, Mr Aniekan Bassey and Princess Felicia Bassey, as Speaker and Deputy Speaker, respectively.
Aniekan Bassey who represents Uruan state constituency emerged unopposed against the expectation that either the former speaker, Mr Aniekan Uko of Ibesikpo Asutan state constituency or another returning member, Mr Mark Esset of Nsit Atai state constituency would assume the speakership.
Our correspondent gathered that Uko, who miraculously emerged speaker of the 6th Assembly even as a fresher, until he lost the seat to Onofiok Luke after the Appeal Court voided his election in December, 2015, was most favoured to win as he was said have had the backing of all the returning members plus a few freshers up to Sunday afternoon.
“The executive arm of government had to step in and by the time they finished the meeting, the tide changed. That is why you have not seen any other nomination for the post of speaker or deputy speaker apart from the two of them,” a former member of the house said.
It was also learned that what worked against Uko was the emergence, a week ago, of the Head of Service, Mr Effiong Essien, who is also from his ward in Ibesikpo, coupled with expectations that the Commissioner of Finance, Mr Linus Nkan, still from same local government area would retain his post in Gov Emmanuel’s new state executive council.
The speakership was zoned to Uyo federal constituency made up of Uyo, Ibesikpo-Asutan, Uruan and Nsit Atai local government areas. Only the member representing Uyo state constituency, Mr Anietie Eka is a fresher among the House members from the federal constituency; thus he had an outsider’s chance of becoming the speaker.
The Deputy Speaker, Felicia Bassey, who was also the deputy speaker in the last state House of Assembly, represents Okobo states constituency.
The 26-member House, minus Nse Ntuen, of Essien Udim State constituency, yet to be issued certificate of return by INEC, is entirely PDP.
In his acceptance speech, the newly-elected Speaker, Mr Aniekan Bassey, thanked God for making him emerge the speaker of the house, and acknowledged his party the PDP and his constituency for giving him the opportunity to represent them.
He thanked his colleagues for reposing confidence in him and promised not to disappoint them, even as he assured the people that the House under his watch would run a transparent, accountable and resulted-orientated administration.
“We shall operate an open-door policy that will welcome constructive criticisms and ensure that decisions are reached with the full consent of members. It is the first time in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly that the people of the state have spoken with one voice.
“Today marks the beginning of a new dawn in the people’s Assembly as the returning members and incoming members have reposed confidence in me and chose me to be the speaker of this great Assembly.
“The aim of which is to provide this honourable House with excellent leadership. Although I do not proclaim to be the best but they all found me worthy to be the speaker of this honourable House.
“Let me assure my colleagues and the people of the state that I will not take the responsibility placed on me for granted. Let it be known that we all belong to one another. We all need one another, to serve each other by sacrificing for the common good of the people.