Senator Henry Gershom Bassey, who represents Cross River South on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, spoke on the performance of the Eight Assembly and his expectations of the Ninth Assembly.
By Emmanuel Unah
How would you rate your experience in the Eighth Senate?
It’s been an honour and privilege to be part of the Senate. It has been very interesting. Secondly, to have the experience of serving with such distinguished Nigerians in the past four years is awesome. I am serving with people who have come from all walks of life. For all of us, 109 to come here, probably even more because some came and left and there were some changes. The entire experience has been extremely invaluable. I am thankful to God for the opportunity.
The Petroleum industry bill, the hat is going on with it?
It has gone back to the president. The President made some observations and the Eighth National Assembly had taken a look at those observations, treated them and sent it back to him. It should be back on his table right now so that he could sign it this time so that we can have those needed changes in the oil sector. It is one of the key pieces of legislation the Eighth National Assembly would be known for and our hope is that the President in the interest of Nigeria, not just anybody’s interest would sign that bill so that we can have reforms in the petroleum sector in the true sense of it.
Achievements of the Eight Assembly
Clearly, all my colleagues speaking about the Eight Assembly during the valedictory session in terms of benchmarks, in terms of the economy, oversight functions and all that said we surpassed every single assembly that came before us. Even at that, I think in terms of the quality of individuals and their contributions we were superb. Any historian looking at the performance of the National Assembly will rate the Eighth Assembly extremely high. My hope is that the Ninth Assembly would beat the record set by the Eight Assembly and in that sense, we will make progress as a country. If every successive assembly can beat its predecessor, then we will be making progress as a country.
What is your expectation of the Ninth Assembly?
What my constituency benefits is what the whole country should benefit. My constituency is part of Nigeria and if Nigeria does well my constituency will do well. Our focus is that Nigeria does well so that at the end of the day Nigeria would begin to have a booming economy, have efficient economy, an economy that can provide succour to all Nigerians, a secure country where issues of insecurity would be a thing of the past and as a government we can tackle all the issues bedevilling our country and not only tackle them but as the President would say, take the country to the next level.
So, the Ninth Assembly should be looking at bills and things that will move the country forward. I don’t know the committee I am going to serve but what would be paramount is the issue of insecurity, and unemployment, which will affect my constituency. As a National Assembly, particularly in the Senate, we should be able to pose solutions to some of these issues affecting our country and move our country forward.
His take on immediate past Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki’s valedictory speech
It was a beautiful speech. In his submission, he captured everything. I think he is one of the best leaders that this country has produced. Interns of his tenacity, doggedness, independence adherence to the truth. He was rock solid in his approach to leadership. He calls black ‘black’ and white ‘white.’ What he said which most people don’t realise was in terms of his support for the executive, which was very high. He used the example of confirmation of appointments sent by the executive to the Senate which he said between 95 and 96 per cent went through. That is one statistics that Nigerians don’t realise. That is the cooperation that particularly the Eight Assembly gave to the executive. There is always this impression that there was always a conflict between the executive and the National Assembly but certainly, that was not the case because 90 per cent of the time there was cooperation.