Hon. Bassey Etienam
Hon. Bassey Etienam, representing Urue-Offong/Oruko State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, spoke to Okon Bassey on the socio-political situation in the country. Excerpts:
How do you see the political developments in the country?
My comment is that, I would still want us to commit this country right now into God’s hands. I say so because the stability of this country is dependent mostly on God and second, as citizens of Nigeria, we must have true passion and love for our country. If we want this country to stand together because we have issues of insecurity and disunity creeping in, and these are not things that will make the country unite and stand together as one, we must develop sincere and true passion, true love for this country to move forward.
Former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, recently insinuated that there might be a military coup or sustained instability. With such utterances coming from elder statesman, don’t you think Nigeria’s unity is illusive?
I think Balarabe Musa is inciting Nigerians and for me, that is committing a treasonable felony. In the first place, why is he inciting Nigerians? Why would he want to disrupt the peace of Nigeria? Such a person should be seen to be a great patriot but why, would he want to base leadership on tribe or where he comes from? Is the man from South-south not a Nigerian? Is the man from South-west not a Nigerian? Is the man from South-east not Nigerian? Why must we say Nigeria belongs to the North and North only? What is the input of the North to the economic growth of Nigeria today?
Apart from the groundnut pyramids in Kano then, what input has the North put in the economic growth of the country today that the country would burn if power does not shift to the North? We are Nigerians, leadership should be an open affair thrown to every Nigerian. If peradventure a Northerner wins or Mohammed wins fine, if it is Duke, Emeka or Adewusi that wins, it’s all fine. We should be thinking about the progress of this country and not ethnic sentiments.
What also can you make of the comments of people like Gen. Buhari who threatened hard times during the 2011 presidential election?
I don’t see them as patriots or as people who can move this country forward. We are in the 21st century, we should be aspiring to be one of the developed countries of the world, and we can’t remain a developing country for a long time. If you look at the developed nations like the United States of America for instance, do they talk about zoning? If you look at the UK, do they talk about zoning? Where in the world that developed countries still talk about zoning? Do they zone presidency to the blacks or whites or the New Yorkers or the man from Florida, No?
It’s an opened race for the best man. What we should be looking at is in terms of development- a man that would move the country forward. We should have passion to move this country forward; it is not about where someone comes from at this point in time. We should not be talking about tribes or the presidency has to come from my area, we should not allow that to becloud us, that is a thing of the past.
In view of such situations, do you think it has encouraged the current administration to do well for Nigerians?
There is insecurity in all ramifications. I always like to say that, Mr. President should stay focused and leave the distractions. Though I sympathise with him because from the moment he resumed office, it has been one distraction or the other, and he has not been allowed to move the country forward the way he planned. We have had insecurity situations; Boko-Haram coupled with all kinds of distractions and I still call on Mr. President to stay focused and that is the only way he should move this country forward.
With the current crisis in the NGF and the PDP Governors’ Forum, do you think all is well in the country?
What is the Governors’ Forum all about? They should go back and develop their states. Nigerians want to see the states working, and not about Forum. What are governors forming a forum for? They should go back and develop their states, we want to see tangible projects, and we want to see infrastructure and states moving. With the kind of allocations Governors’ have received, Nigerians want to see improvement in their states.
The issue of zoning certain political offices in the country seems to be generating interest among the political class. As a lawmaker, what are your views on zoning?
I have never been an advocate of zoning, I don’t believe in zoning. I think it has come to a time where the best man should win. It’s not about where the person comes from. We should leave this sentiment of zoning because it deters one, it does not allow for progress. We should throw it open to everybody as it is applicable in every part of the world. Zoning is one thing that would deter us, it will not allow us move forward. I am not an advocate of zoning and I don’t even believe in it. It should be thrown open let the best man who is ready to move this country forward take it.