One Year In Office: How Have C'River Senators Fared?

From R-L : Sen. Asuquo Ekpenyong (Cross River South), Sen. Eteng Williams (Cross River Central) and Sen. Jarigbe Agom (Cross River North)

By Dr. Inyali Peter 

As the 10th Senate of the federal republic of Nigeria marks its one year in office, it is a fitting time to reflect on the performances and achievements of the three Senators representing the people of Cross River State in the hallow chambers. Currently, Cross River State is represented in the Senate by Sen. Jarigbe Agom (Cross River North), Sen. Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr (Cross River South) and Sen. Eteng Jones Williams (Cross River Central). 

Even though the primary responsibility of the legislature is to make laws, the legislative arm of government has evolved in the Nigeria to a level where lawmakers are as involved in execution of projects and programmes almost as the executives. In fact, the best lawmaker in the eyes of an average Nigerian is not he who has the highest number of bills and motions but projects and empowerments.

This analysis therefore seeks to critically evaluate the performances of Senators Jarigbe Agom, Asuquo Ekpenyong Jr, and Eteng Jones Williams under various themes.

Sen. Jarigbe Agom (Cross River North)

Jari, as fondly called by his supporters is the highest ranking Senator from Cross River State in the 10th assembly. He remarkably got into the Senate by defeating a seating Governor under the platform of the opposition People's Democratic Party, PDP. The Senator, a former member of the House of Representatives was elected in 2023 with a reputation of performance and is by natural law obligated to improve his performances or at the very worst, maintain what convinced the people to renew his mandate. 

One year after, the Senator who Chairs the Senate Committee on Gas has not disappointed. Although he is yet to move any motion in the current assembly, he has sponsored three bills, which have all successfully passed through first reading. One of these bills, to establish the Federal University of Agriculture, Ogoja, has passed through second reading and is currently at the committee stage.

In terms of projects facilitated, Senator Agom has improved on his previous scorecard, taking project implementation to another level. He has facilitated 59 impactful projects across the five local governments of his senatorial district, including classroom blocks, rural road construction and rehabilitation, solar street lights installation, and solar-powered boreholes construction.

The lawmaker has also shown an impressive scorecard in empowerment and interventions, facilitating human capital empowerment and intervention programs, including training 500 Cross River North youths in Agricultural Data Management, empowering youths with grinding and sewing machines, donating tractors to cooperatives, distributing 50 tricycles to his constituents, etc.

Despite distractions and challenges resulting from election litigation, Sen. Agom has demonstrated dedication to facilitating projects and empowerment to his constituency. He is encouraged to dedicate more efforts to sponsoring more bills to add to his tally, as his primary responsibility remains lawmaking.

Sen. Asuquo Ekpenyong, Jr

In 2015, former Governor Ben Ayade appointed Sen. Asuquo Ekpenyong as the youngest Commissioner for Finance in Nigeria, despite his relatively unknown status in Cross River State politics. However, Ekpenyong soon proved himself as a refined gentleman ready for higher responsibilities. In 2023, he contested for the governorship but was persuaded to withdraw and run for the Senate instead.

As the "Standard," Ekpenyong has exceeded expectations in his first year in office, defying the logic of being a first-timer. As chairman of the 10th Senate Niger Delta Development Commission's (NDDC) committee, he has facilitated numerous projects, including the construction and reconstruction of 16 roads, installation of street light projects directly touching 120 communities in Cross River South.

Ekpenyong has also demonstrated a revolutionary approach to employment and intervention, facilitating Information and Communication Technology Centres centres to two schools, one hundred million (N100,000 000) business grant to one thousand people, donation of relief materials and food items to cushion the effect of the biting economy to one thousand five hundred (1,500) people, relief materials and food items to the abandoned Bakkasi IDPs, provision of free bus services, free medical outreach covering free surgeries for over two hundred people, as well as scholarship to five hundred others. 

Similarly, the lawmaker who had facilitated foreign scholarships and job employment for twenty people and legislative appointment for eight Cross Riverians has not forgotten his primary legislative assignment. To this end, he has sponsored six bills and further moved five landmark motions. Some of the bills include, the National Inland Waterways Authority Act (Amendment) Bill, 2024, South South Development Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2024, Environmental Restoration Agency Bill, 2023, etc. 

With his outstanding performance in his first year, Ekpenyong has set a high standard for himself with a determination and attitude that have shown that the excuse of being a first-timer is indeed an illusion. As he enters his second year in office, he must maintain the tempo and continue to deliver on his promises to the people of Cross River South. 

Sen. Eteng Jones Williams

Sen. Eteng Jones Williams, the immediate past speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, has brought his over a decade-long experience in the state assembly to the Senate, where he has made a significant impact in his first year. 

The consummate lawmaker has sponsored three bills, including the Nuclear Security and Safety bill, and moved five far-reaching motions.

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Eteng has facilitated legislative appointments and job employment for nine people. He has also facilitated nine human capital development programs in his constituency, including training for 200 women and youths in entrepreneurship skills, 200 artisans in agro-economy, vocational skills training in the oil and gas sector for 40 people, amongst others.

Additionally, he has secured a Federal Government Presidential Grant of N50,000 for 1,200 constituents, awarded scholarships to 21 Cross River central indigenes in law school, and facilitated the grading of the Mkpani-Agoi road. He has also sponsored a free medical outreach, distributed fertilizers to farmers, and constructed solar-powered boreholes in communities across his senatorial district.

While Sen. Eteng Jones Williams has achieved a lot, his constituents expect more from him. However, with the evidence of his accomplishments so far, there is hope that he will continue to deliver on his promises and exceed their expectations.

On the whole, while there's still room for improvement, the current set of senators from Cross River State have not entirely disappointed. As we mark their one year in office, we remind them that our scrutiny will persist, and we will continue to hold them accountable, demanding enhanced performance and service to the people.

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