Arc. John Etim-Bassey until recently resigned as the Chairman/Director General, Cross River Investment Promotion Council. He is a man of many parts, dynamic and articulate with vast wealth of experienced in space management consulting. An astute businessman and administrator, he currently runs Habitare group, an organization he single handedly raised from nothing in Jan 2000 to a thriving business with several employees and offices in Lagos and Calabar.
With an eye on the House of Representatives come 2019. In this interview, he speaks to us on why the Calabar/Odukpani agreement should be respected, how he intends to represent the Federal Constituency differently and other issues.
- How ready are you?
– Every experience, education and exposure is designed to build you and make you better for the task ahead. I believe my experiences for the last 8 years in the political and governance space in Cross River state has made me ready.
- What previous experiences are you bringing onboard
– As you know up until recently i was the Director General of the Cross River Investment Agency and working closely with an investor/investment driven governor like our Sen. Ben Ayade brings out the best of innovation and Creativity in you. And you know that before joining politics in 2010, I had spent 17 years building businesses (mine and others as well) and leading top business organizations in Abuja and Lagos. This experiences are one in a lifetime and do not come easy. But this is what I bring to the table. I will represent Odukpani/Calabar Municipality differently. I am bringing both my investment and development experiences to greatly impact the constituency.
This time it would not just be about empowerment with bikes and generators but human capital development and economic investment into the people and places of the constituency.
I intend to use my office to advocate economic zones in both Odukpani and Calabar Municipality.
- What do you say about the agitation by the people of Odukpani for zoning to be respected
Yes I think agreements should be respected. And I know there is an existing agreement. I have heard all kinds of arguments on this subject but the good thing is that Honorable men know the importance of Honoring their words and commitments and I can see a lot of Honorable Men and Women in Municipality who agree that it is Odukpani’s turn to field a candidate from the PDP to run the elections. I remember there was an arrangement as far back as 2011 when I first ran for house of reps. the reason they asked Odukpani aspirants to step down for Municipality people was to allow them run for two terms since Odukpani had the strength of numbers.
Also in 2015 there was indeed another emphasis placed on the earlier agreed two term arrangement when Municipality elders came calling for Odukpani elders to stop any aspirant who intended to run from Odukpani.
However I want us to bear in mind that this race shouldn’t just be reduced to the zoning as there are other parties that would field candidates but it should be based on capacity and pedigree to be the representative for this constituency.
- They are rumors you are being sponsored, how true is that?
Lol. I think I know what you mean but in that regards anyone who knows that particular rumour of being sponsored by an aspirant to divide Odukpani votes isn’t true.
However, there’s nothing wrong in being sponsored by interest groups who believe in you and your ability to represent them to win particularly for a good cause. However for those saying I am in the race for another aspirant I’d like them to discard that story and know that I am running to win the candidacy of my party the PDP and to win in the general elections.
- Looking at the present contest against other big names, What are your chances?
My chances are dependent 110% on God. And you know the scripture that says that with God all things are possible.
- What platform are you running under?
- If elected, What narrative will you change?
I want to change the empowerment narrative to that of real social and economic investment in the people of the constituency.
Empowerment is not giving people cars and bikes who don’t have jobs and hence resort to asking people for fuel and maintenance money. Empowerment is given you power for life. Economic and social power that makes you a blessing to your people and generation.
- What policies will you put forward that will affect your constituents directly?
Actually policy development is for the executive but the legislative creates enabling laws for those policies to thrive and be productive. Also to advocate and be the voice of the people.
In that light I will be;
1) Advocating for a security and economic buffer zone to stem the insecurity issues at our bothers. This buffer/economic zones would greatly enhance quality of life and bring peace to our zones.
2) Advocate for increase attention of investments into the natural resources of our area through sustaining federal programs and presence.
Just to mention a few.
- What are you currently doing to impact lives in your constituency at the grassroots level?
One of the things I did in the last three years on office of investment is to drive the Nigerian Content Development and Management Board Oil and Gas park into onimankiong in Odukpani local government.
The project was kicked off in March and is guaranteed to generate at least 1000 jobs for the constituency.
I also have several private initiatives I run.
Project Endue- a skill acquisition program
Beken and Fort – a start up initiative for entrepreneurs which started in 2012 and has several beneficiaries in the state.
Red Leaders – a volunteer community-based initiative for young graduates and Youth Corp Members
- Are you running to win?
Running to win? I am sure you already know the answer to that question. But for clarity I am running to win and I know I will win by God’s Grace.