OWAN FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY IN THE NASS:
THE JOURNEY SO FAR:
‘’I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’’ Maya Angelou.
The story of my sojourn into the murky waters of Edo politics did not start with my election into the Federal House of Representatives at the National Assembly; it goes well back in time…and you all probably know the story.
I dare say that, it is my passion and love for my people that kept me in politics thus far, not minding the short-comings, disappointments, betrayals and manipulations; not talk of the huge financial losses in the course of the pursuit of my political ambition; all in the bid to serve my people.
Thanks to God and to your support, we were able to surmount all the impediments on our path, (put in place by those who never wanted the dream to see the light of day), I made it to the National Assembly as your representative for the general good and advancement of Owan Federal Constituency. I thank OWAN leaders and people, our great Party the APC, and our great National Chairman.
We were inaugurated into the Green Chambers on the 11th of June, 2019 and we hit the ground running with a mind-set to ensure that the 9th Assembly would make a difference in the way and manner Legislative business is run: not confrontational nor overtly submissive to the whims and caprices of the Executive, but to engender a collaborative effort that will deliver on our electoral promises to our people
SETTING UP THE ABUJA OFFICE IN THE NASS
We quickly appointed staff to manage the Abuja Office thus:
Barr Emmanuel Ahamisi (Owan E) Senior Legislative Aide
Mr. Godson Aisabora Edore (Owan W) Legislative Aide I/PA
Mr. Anthony Iruafemi (Owan W) Legislative Aide II
Mr. Iriekpen Bright Omogbai (Owan E) Legislative Aide II/Media Officer
Mrs. Gift Aigbavboa (Owan E) Secretary.
These are the five positions approved for all honourables in the NASS.
COMMUNICATION WITH THE CONSTITUENCY
In order to effectively communicate with Owan Federal Constituency, we set up:
Two WhatsApp pages- Owan Federal Constituency: https://chat.whatsapp.com
A Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/ihonvbere
An Email Address- firstname.lastname@example.org
Telegram Page- https:t.me/joinchat
My email, that of my PA and my phone numbers have been in the public domain since I worked with the Presidency. These platforms are where we advertise ALL our programmes, activities, scholarships etc. etc.
During the campaign, we did promise to set up two constituency offices to make things easy for our people. Though Afuze is the Administrative Headquarters of Owan Federal Constituency, we have set up an office in Sabongida-Ora to make communication and access easy for our people in Owan West. Both offices have been fully furnished and functioning.
Owan West Constituency Office- Coordinator Mr. Sanni Friday, Assistant Coordinator, Mr. Monday Oleh
Owan East Constituency Office- Coordinator Mr. Dandy Obaide (Temporary)
Initial Appointments to Ad-Hoc Committees:
The Speaker of the House of Representatives has the power to set up Ad-Hoc Committees before the establishment of formal Committees. Such appointments are completely at his discretion. Your Representative was, surprisingly, identified and appointed to three very important and strategic Committees in the House.
Deputy Chairman, Ad-hoc Committee on Media and Public Affairs;
Chairman Ad-hoc Committee on Rules and Business, a critical committee saddled with the duty of drafting and reviewing the rules and orders that would govern the Legislative Business of the 9TH Assembly.
Chairman, Ad-hoc committee on the Legislative Agenda that designed the Legislative framework of the 9TH Assembly known as the LEGISLATIVE AGENDA OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 2019-2023.
I am also chairing a small Committee to work on a background to establishing a National Assembly Archives.
These assignments kept me very busy and even kept me away from the Constituency. I am pleased to report that in collaboration with my Committee members, we completed these assignments meritoriously.
MY LEGISLATIVE PRESENCE AT PLENARY
Democracy has so far lasted for twenty years in the 4th Republic with mixed results. Our problems as a nation continue to get more complicated and challenging. One of our commitments as a House is to use our powers and resources to work for the Common Good and make Nigeria a much better place.
Our assignments are three: Law-making; Oversight and Constituency support. We do these through Bills, Motions, and Constituency projects also called Zonal Intervention Projects. In our first three months, we have done our best to make Owan Federal Constituency relevant, visible and heard by all. Recall that during the campaigns, I did promise that I would work to give Owan Federal Constituency a voice and face.
Thus far, in six months, l have moved Five (5) Motions which l believe cover the essence of good governance and dwell on the need to ensure that our people enjoy the benefits of my representation at the National Assembly.
Motions and Bills
I. Motion on the Need for the intervention in Edo State House of Assembly Crisis; 9th July, 2019.
ii. Motion on the need to investigate the Alleged Negligence by the Federal Ministries of Justice and Petroleum Resources in the Handling of the Transaction between the Federal Government and the Process and Industrial Department (P&ID) Limited; 18th September, 2019.
iii. Motion on the Need to revamp the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Uhonmora Substation Edo State; 25th September, 2019.
iv. Motion on the Need to complete the Abandoned Sabo-Sobe Road in Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State; 7th November, 2019.
V. Motion on the Urgent Need to Investigate the N1.343 Trillion Unremitted Revenue by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) (co-sponsored with Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai), December 18, 2019.
I have also spoken up in support/against Motions and Bills raised by colleagues on the floor of the House. Most of these motions and bills are germane to the well-being not only of Edo State, but to Nigeria as a whole.
Amongst the Motions and Bills are;
a. Motion on the call to reinforce security along Benin –Okada Road to stem the rise of Kidnappings and Robberies- 24th, July, 2019.
b. A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of National Commission against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons to Coordinate and Implement Activities to Combat the problem of the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria in line with the Economic Community of West African States Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons; and for Related Matters-24th July, 2019.
c. Motion on the Need for the Federal Government to intervene in the incessant Xenophobic Attacks on Nigerian Citizen living in the Republic of South Africa and other parts of the world; (A matter of urgent public importance that borders on the lives and property of Nigerians resident abroad.)- 17TH September, 2019.
d. Motion on the Need to Bail out Ailing Industries to absorb the Teaming Unemployed Graduates and create wealth for the country- 19TH September, 2019.
e. Motion on the Recent Outbreak of Lassa Fever in Benue State- 25th September, 2019.
f. Motion on the Need to take active part in the marking of the Independence Day celebration- 3rd October, 2019.
g. Contribution to the Debate on the 2020 Budget presented before the National Assembly by Mr President on the 10th October, 2019- my main points were on the need for effective implementation, checking waste and duplication of projects and using the budget to empower and change the lives of women in Nigeria.
MOTION AND BILLS BEING WORKED ON:
1. A Bill for an Act to establish the Federal University of Sports , Afuze, Edo State to make comprehensive provisions for its due management and administration for related matters, 2019
2. Motion on the need to ease the suffering of pensioners in Nigeria.
3. Motion on Need to protect our local maize farmers
4. Motion on Need to Develop and Encourage the Development of the Dry Port in Benin
6. Motion on the need to investigate the role of the Central Bank in the illicit financial transactions amongst Nigerian banks.
7. Motion to Amend the UBEC Act to include secondary education (co-sponsored with Hon. Taiwo Oluga.
COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP IN THE NASS
Apart from being the Chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Services, a Grade A Committee, I am also a member of others Committees listed below:
1. House Committee on Federal Capital Territory
2. House Committee on Federal Character
3. House Committee on Federal Road Safety Commission
4. House Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations
5. House Committee on Nigerian Content and Development
7. House Committee on Ports and Harbour
8. House Committee on Public Procurement
9. House Committee on Science and Technology
10. House Committee on Interior
Obviously, these are too many and there is no way a member that wants to keep his sanity, be efficient and effective, have time for friends and family and pay attention to the needs of Constituents can function in over 10 Committees. Accordingly, beginning January 2020, I plan to review my membership in some of these Committees.
So far we have been able to attract government presence to Owan Federal constituency having inserted some projects into the current 2020 budget: these projects, we believe, would create jobs and alleviate the sufferings of our people. Moreover, we have vigorously ensured that the projects inserted by my predecessor in office are implemented, in fact, some of these are already being implemented. We must thank our brother Mr. Patrick Giwa, the Clerk of the National Assembly who continues to show very strong interest in the development of our Constituency.
Some of the projects we are expecting to be supported in the short term from the 2019/2020 budget will cover water, school construction/renovation, road rehabilitation/construction, street lights, and several empowerment projects for the youth and women.
In the 2020 Budget, we have been able to capture the underlisted:
Renovation of between 8-10 classroom blocks
Entrepreneural training in Agriculture for youths in OFC
Training for youths and women in OFC in Leather works
Cultural sensitisation and training for youths-support for the film industry
Entreprenural training for youths in fishery and animal husbandry
Provision of grinding machines, generators, sewing machines, professional hair barbing equipment
Solar lighting for some streets
Water boreholes for some communities
Rural link roads for some communities.
Let me inform that including these and more in the budget is just a first step. The main challenge is often what is released by the executive. In 2019 for instance, only 30% of the capital budget has so far been released and many of the projects are not funded at all. Even those that are funded at 30%, by the time you deduct VAT, other taxes etc., what is left for project execution is often limited. But we shall never be discouraged.
Appointment of 22 Legislative Assistants:
To ease communication with the 22 Wards in the Constituency, we have appointed 22 Legislative Assistants at one per ward. Some were nominated by leaders and others, were picked for their hard work and sacrifices during the Campaign. They are the link between Abuja and the Wards and would represent me at occasions that I am unable to attend. They will keep the Afuze, Sabo and Abuja offices abreast of developments within their respective wards. Join me to congratulate the new appointees.
PROVISION OF SOCIAL WELFARE/ASSISTANCE: (From Post-election till date)
I have provided welfare/assistance, ranging from financial, social, educational, health and business to over 300 indigenes of Owan Federal Constituency since my election as a Member of the House of Representatives.
We shall continue to be our very best in this regard. I urge our people to the rational in some of their demands and to recognise that even a government cannot satisfy all citizens. We are keeping a record on this level of support.
PROVISION OF TUITION SUPPORT (SCHOLARSHIP) TO UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS OF OWAN FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY
I set up a scholarship scheme for undergraduate students from Owan and l am glad to report that 50 of them have benefitted so far from the scheme which was instituted to assist in the payment of their tuition fees- 25 from each Local Government. In the coming years the numbers will go up and so will the scholarship amount.
To avoid complaints, we may have to resort to having applicants write examinations/tests to pick deserving awardees. I thank the totally independent Scholarship Committee: Dr. Murphy Ajayi, Mr. Airunugba, Comrade Ikosimi, Mr. Omo Odihiri, and Dr. Lewis Igbafen for a job well executed.
Furthermore we have advertised more than 50 international scholarship programmes sent to me by various organisations, foundations, universities and non-governmental agencies with over 200 opportunities abroad for the benefit of our children who can avail themselves to the program.
It is sad to note that our children are not exploring these opportunities. This sort of mental laziness will not help anyone.
PROVISION OF ASSISTANCE ON THE PAYMENT OF FEES FOR JAMB ENROLLMENT
In order to support our children that have ambitions to further their education, we have announced 200- 100 per local government opportunities for support in obtaining the JAMB forms. All they need do is write the examination. Assistance will be on a first come and first served basis. To the best of our abilities, we continue to assist many with admission to institutions across the country.
Between December 21st and 23rd an IT Website Development and Desktop Publishing Training will be carried out in the Constituency designed to empower selected youths. This is part of our effort to encourage the youth in the area of self-employment. Those selected by a private technology-based organisation that will be executing the training, will be given laptops at the end of the exercise. This is an initiative of Owan Federal Constituency. More of such opportunities will come in 2020.
I recognize the unemployment challenge in our Constituency. Both at the State and Federal levels, Owan people are not enjoying the benefit of new jobs. In Abuja, the struggle is even tougher. No slots are necessarily provided for Honourable members. We have to beg, lobby and do whatever it takes legally to open doors. The system itself is designed to lock out people even when you follow due process. This is not to mention that the Federal Government is already heavily overstaffed. Yet, we have been able to create over 10 Federal jobs with more on the way. We shall continue to work hard to assist our children that have applied to various agencies for employment.
Our emphasis would shift significantly from government jobs to empowerment of our youth through training, skill acquisition and further education/post-graduation training geared towards self-employment in 2020.
I can say that we have done much more than we have articulated here. I am in Abuja to represent you and will continue to respond to the needs of our communities. I count on your usual support, encouragement, understanding and prayers. I do not plan to let you down in any way. With God on our side, our dreams for a better, more united, and rapidly prospering OWAN will be met.
May God continue to bless us all.
Hon. Prof. Julius O. Ihonvbere, OON, OGI
Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education
Iyase of Iuleha