Mr Borono Bassey is one of the fast upcoming political factors and a voice to reckon with in Akwa Ibom politics. His sudden acceleration to the position of the Peoples Democratic Party state publicity secretary has shocked some political bigwigs in different quarters.
The vibrant youngman at several interactions on issues bothering on his party, political practice in the state have defined him as a man well versed with political knowledge. This proves that age does not count when it comes to politics or issues related to his party at all levels of politicking as seen in the just-concluded wards and chapter congresses of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Shortly after the congress in the state, the PDP publicity secretary, Bassey, who was optimistic in his party sweeping the 368 wards in the state and the 31 local government areas during election proper, said PDP had established history in a peaceful conduct of congress election, hence their all-round victory at the poll.
He explained that his party always make deliberate effort to translate its policies into reality by putting its house together before going to the field for any election, saying the peaceful atmosphere witnessed during the ward and chapter congresses did not take them by surprise because the Peoples Democratic Party state executive led by Obong Udo Ekpenyong had long ago worked towards achieving that.
The PDP spokesman maintained that the aspirants had to go through thorough screening before the congress, and after the screening, the party exco had to embark on wards tour, going around all the 368 wards in all the 31 local government areas to ensure that modalities were put in place for a peaceful conduct of the congress.
Bassey said to clear the doubt or uncertainties that could degenerate into problem, names of aspirants cleared to stand the congress election were published on both print and social media.
He said that after screening, as a listening party, those who were screened out were offered opportunity to air their grievances before an appeal panel, so that all the parties involved could be vindicated by the panel, noting that it was after giving those screened out a chance to present their complaints that the second list was published to clear loopholes.
On why the cost of purchasing form was on the high side, Bassey had this to say: “Going for election is a long term decision by an aspirant. We announced clearly and also published on papers that we are going to have election. We published the cost of expression of interest form and nomination form. Apart from that, you will agree with me that the economic situation in the country has changed, things are getting higher. So I don’t agree with you that the cost of forms was on the high side. We only made deliberate effort to reduce the cost of form for the women because we felt it was important we have a lot of female in elective political offices. The women were also screened the same date set aside for screening of all aspirants because we constituted 13 panels: 10 for the screening of councillorship aspirants and three for the screening of chairmanship aspirants across all the federal constituencies, because we hope to turn the political tide of the country by presenting the best candidates.
“Why we had that number of panels was to ensure that aspirants were properly screened to pick the best candidates for our party through due process. And we deemed it necessary to address their problems after screening to ensure that both candidates’ conscience, and the aspirants screened out were satisfied, which was a build-up to ensure a peaceful primary without bloodshed. And by the standard we have set so far, rancour, bickering and bloodshed have been suppressed. After the wards congress, we had to go to the field the following day to visit the 368 wards to meet the people assuring them of their franchise to elect a leader of their choice during the chapter congress election. All the processes we went through made the exercise peaceful; and was adjudged the best and the most peaceful in the history of the state. We want to set a model, not only in Akwa Ibom but across the country so that other states in the country will follow.”
In the area of complaint that materials arrived some areas late after a long term arrangement towards the congress, he said, “Well, I want to tell you that as at 7am, the state chairman of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party, Obong Udo Ekpenyong, was in the party secretariat. Party’s returning officers were also there. By 7:30am, everybody had taken their materials to different areas. But you have to understand that the congress was in different wards and in different local governments.
“People who came from Eastern Obolo for example, would have to drive that long distance before they got to their centre. And if it is an area you will have to cross, or go by waterway, you have to board a boat before you get to the centre; and that will take some hours.
“So, those are issues you have to take into consideration. But the most important thing is that the congress had been held and the people chose their leaders.”
On whether there is any plan to pacify aspirants screened out; hear him, “You will agree with me that when you were young, it was the community that used to fish out those they felt could represent them well in public offices to contest. Then if you feel that your people want you, and you assume you are popular and they want you to represent them, once you indicate interest, your people should take over from there.
“So the party cannot bear indemnity to people who were screened out even when we agree that we are a party that listens. For example, if an aspirant purchased a form and the credentials are not correct, or not complete, and perhaps no tax clearance, or your financial sanding with the party is not in a good shape; will you expect us to allow you to contest?
“I want to reecho the fact that the panel that screened people out was not the working committee or executive committee of the party. So what we did was to only receive recommendation which they sent to us; and even the law says that if you ask someone to carry out a task on your behalf, you have empowered them to do so. What you have to do is to entrust the responsibilities on them. Let me sieze this opportunity to commend the panel for a job well done. They did a very thorough and good job”.
Verifying why some chairmanship aspirants who were cleared in their first term to contest and eventually won were screened out, and the criteria used in screening chairmanship aspirants:
He said, “If you look at the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, Section 10 talks about the conduct of members of the party. Some of them who could not make up in the final list were screened out on grounds of not being in good financial standing with the party (non- remittances) and series of petitions against them. Putting all these into consideration, we resolved that we cannot send such people to serve us in our party. As a party, we don’t take unilateral decision, we don’t act arbitrarily; before we say this is our final decision, we must give you a chance to say your grievances for all interest to be satisfied. And even after the final list, we still gave them chance a Friday before the chapter congress on Monday August 24, 2020.”
Reemphasizing on why female aspirants are always given waiver in purchase of forms?
The state Peoples Democratic Party spokesman said, “from assessment, both in international and national levels, analysis shows that there is misrepresentation in terms of number of females occupying elective offices. From this assessment by interactional organizations including World Health Organization (WHO) and International Donor Agencies (IDAs), it behooves us as a party to give women the leverage to enable them participate fully in the process by making deliberate efforts to reduce cost of forms for them so that they could be more involved in the game. Why we do this is so that it may not be that they have interest to contest, but because of financial impediment they are scared.
“From the leverage which avails a lot of them opportunity to aspire and occupy public or elective offices, we now understand that our women have the capacity to represent us at any level”.
Responding to why no opposition party purchased either councillorship or chairmanship form, he said, “I am not a member of any opposition party, I may not know why. And I cannot speak for them; I only speak for my party. But one thing everybody should know is that Akwa Ibom is a PDP state. When you were in primary or secondary school, you knew people that could beat you in a fight if you went to fight with them. So you carefully and tactically avoided fighting with them.”