November 21, (THEWILL) – The Chairman of the Cross River State Caucus in the National Assembly, Senator Gershom Bassey, speaks with BASSEY ANIEKAN on issues affecting the state and Nigeria as a whole
The National Assembly recently approved another tranche of foreign loans to President Muhammadu Buhari without relevant details. What is your take on this?
We have the relevant details and the committee duly scrutinised the MDA’s justification over the funds before making recommendations to the Senate.
What have members of the National Assembly from Cross River State contributed to the development of the state?
I’m sure that all the legislators themselves can answer this question positively. Soon I will publish my scorecard for the 8th and 9th assemblies. It will give a full account of my activities. I am sure that you will give me an A after evaluating it.
The 2023 governorship election is in the front burner in Cross River, particularly as regards the issue of zoning. What is your take on zoning?
Zoning is a moral and equity-based question and resolution passed by the PDP caucus. One leg of that resolution was zoning the governorship seat to the northern part of the state in 2015. Now, the second leg is zoning the seat to the southern part and this must also be implemented.
The Southern Senatorial District, which you represent, is largely expected to produce the next governor of the state based on zoning. Is the district relying solely on zoning?
The south does not depend on zoning and I do not depend on zoning. I am ready to match anybody from anywhere, regardless of their zone. I have the guts and the grassroots support in every community across the state. I have what it takes to run the governorship race.
Zoning is about equity and a moral persuasion, which I believe is now due to the south. But if other zones feel otherwise, I’m prepared to contest at the primaries and general election against anybody. It amuses me to hear insinuations that the south is not prepared, the south is lazy and broke and it does not have the financial muscle to run an election.
Donald Duke, a major stakeholder in the south is reported to have spoken against zoning. Will this work against the south?
That’s an old interview. His current position has changed. He supports the Southern Senatorial District.
Is your governorship ambition still on course and can you match the powers that be financially and otherwise?
That is an old politically motivated story. Go and ask again. My empowerment programmes, inflows to the state and generosity are unparalleled. That is why after my consultations, if I decide to run it will be with or without zoning. It will be based primarily on my record, qualification and capacity. We will match anybody naira for naira, dollar for dollar. If they go to get money from Bill Gates to fight, we will go to Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk in response. The next Governor will be from the south.
Senator Sandy Onor is threatening to contest that same position despite the zoning arrangement. Are you bothered by this?
Don’t single out Sandy. There are many contestants or potential contestants and I welcome them all.
Do you have what it takes to turn the fortunes of Cross River State around as governor?
As I had earlier said, if I decide to run, my record qualification, capacity and unparalleled empowerment programmes within the state will speak for me, regardless of the opposition.
I have the state’s blueprint and I know where and how to turn the fortunes of our dear state around, if given the mandate. I implore my supporters across the State to be calm. I will continue to engage every stakeholder I need to engage.