We have redefined representation to the best of our ability – Rep. Sam Onuigbo … Says he will continue to be fully accountable to his constituents
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REMARKS BY REP. SAM ONUIGBO FCIS, FNIM, MEMBER REPRESENTING IKWUANO/UMUAHIA NORTH/UMUAHIA SOUTH FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY OF ABIA STATE DURING A MEDIA BRIEFING WITH THE NIGERIA UNION OF JOURNALISTS (NUJ) ABIA STATE CHAPTER, ON JANUARY 11, 2022.
I have always believed that every elected official is an employee of the people who through the power of their thumbs, empowered him or her to hold power in trust for them. It follows therefore that as a responsible employee, every elected official must from time to time go back to his or her employers (the electorates) and render a transparent account of his/her stewardship.
* Since I was elected in 2015 to represent the good people of this unique and great Federal Constituency— Ikwuano/Umuahia North/Umuahia South Federal Constituency— I have at least once a year made it a point of duty to share with my people, an account of my stewardship. In fact, in 2021, I had, on numerous occasions, participated in radio simulcasts to provide answers to key enquiries by my constituents, ranging from the state of the Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene Federal Road to ongoing efforts to ensure that 30 years after its creation, Abia State joins other states in having a federal secretariat. I hold these engagements because I am a servant of the people, and it is mandatory for me to dutifully account to my people at all times.
* This engagement is therefore another platform for me to render a detailed account of my representation of the good people of great Ikwuano/Umuahia North/Umuahia South Federal Constituency.
* As some of you may already know, a lawmaker’s responsibilities in Nigeria are tripartite— lawmaking, oversight, and representation. I will therefore attempt to provide a detailed account of my representation by focusing on what we have been able to do on this tripod of representation in Nigeria.
* As a lawmaker, my primary responsibility is to work with my colleagues and other stakeholders in making laws and pushing for policies for the good of the country. This could be through sponsoring of Bills, or through the tabling of motions on the floor of the House.
* On this front, we have done remarkably well. 2021 ended with a bang for us as the Climate Change Bill which I sponsored was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari and consequently became an Act of the National Assembly of Nigeria. This Act has not only brought massive commendations to me by the global community, but also within Nigeria where the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Senior Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Chinedu Francis Akubueze, and many others have applauded me for pushing through this historic piece of legislation which positions Nigeria to begin her journey to sustainable development. This Act also earned me the award of Dean of Bills by the revered National Assembly Press Corps.
* Other Bills that I have sponsored, motions that I have moved, and petitions I have presented on behalf of my constituents, include:
– Bill for the amendment of the Flags and Coat of Arms Act.
– Bill for the amendment of the Federal University of Agriculture Umudike Establishment Act.
-Motion on the need for the urgent reconstruction of the Umuahia – Ikwuano – Ikot Ekpene federal road.
– Motion on the need to check the admission of students into tertiary institutions for courses not accredited/approved by the National University Commission (NUC): The motion was aimed at saving students and parents the agony of wasting their time and resources studying for courses without getting certificates at the end of the journey.
– Motion on the need to stop the deconstruction of Nigeria’s national flag: This is a national issue aimed at ending the strange and disturbing act of superimposing the Coat of Arms of Nigeria on the white section of the Nigerian Flag.
– Motion on a matter of urgent public importance on the need to immortalize two former national football coaches, Stephen Keshi and Amodu Shuaibu who passed on: This followed the death of both Stephen Keshi and Shuaibu Amodu, with the revelation that despite the selfless services of the two great sportsmen and gaffers, the government was owing them heavily.
– Petition on the wrongful dismissal of over 300 Diamond Bank staff without due process: Here, I urged the House to take appropriate steps to ensure that the Bank pays the dismissed staff their full benefits.
– Petition on the wrongful termination of the employment of some employees of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
– Motion on the need for the Federal Government to reverse the Presidential directive to scale down non-agricultural programmes from the curriculum of Federal Universities of Agriculture. This motion was aimed at reversing the illegal directive to delist Management Science courses from Universities of Agriculture especially the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike. I followed this up with townhall meetings with my constituents and several consultations with stakeholders within Abia State while also engaging the media extensively through advertorials, etc. At the national level, my motion led to the convening of a public hearing during which the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), the National Universities Commission (NUC), the Vice Chancellors of the three Agricultural Universities, and several important stakeholders were invited to discuss the legality or otherwise of that directive.
– Motions on a matter of urgent public importance (Order 8, Rule 4) to call on the Federal Government to immediately take actions to prevent a calamity waiting to happen at Umunwanwa, Umuopara, in Umuahia South LGA of Abia State: These motions were initiated in two Assemblies—8th and 9th Assemblies– to get the backing of the House in efforts at ensuring that the Federal Government and its agencies take urgent action to address the life-threatening Umunwanwa erosion.
– Motion on the need to intervene in the case of attacks and the gruesome murder of four indigenes of Usaka Ukwu in Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State by armed indigenes of Ibono Okporo, Nkari in Ini Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State in order to prevent a bloodbath. Moved on the 14th of July 2020 on the floor of the House of Representatives, the motion sought to get the Federal Government to mandate security agencies to step in and prevent further bloodshed in the boundary dispute between the two communities, ensure that the National Boundary Commission is sent to properly demarcate the boundaries, while also ensuring that relief materials are provided for the displaced. Note that I had moved a similar motion during the 8th Assembly when due to this same crisis, a young man, from Ariam Eluelu, Ikwuano Local Government Area, was killed.
* I have been fully committed to performing my oversight functions as the representative of the people of Ikwuano/Umuahia North/Umuahia South Federal Constituency. During engagements at the committee level, budget defence sessions, and interactions with Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, and even with the international community, my voice has been strong, loud, and effective.
* Some of my key oversight engagements include:
· As chairman of the Climate Change committee during the 8th Assembly, the committee, under my leadership, keyed into key oversight roles in the Ogoni Clean-up exercise launched by the Federal Government on June 2nd, 2016.
· I was part of the Nigerian delegation led by President Muhammadu Buhari, to the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris, France, when the first globally and legally binding agreement on Climate Change—the Paris Agreement on Climate Change– was adopted.
· On September 22, 2016, I, the then Minister of Environment (current Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations) Amina Mohammed, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama were the only Nigerian officials who stood as witnesses on the right hand of President Buhari at the 71st General Assembly in New York when President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. There were over fifteen prominent Nigerians (Governors and Ministers) who were observers at that event.
· On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, I was able to work with MDAs, to get an unprecedented N8billion naira for Climate Change issues. · In November 2016, I participated at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco as part of the Nigerian delegation led by President Muhammadu Buhari. In November of 2017, I was also part of the Nigerian delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP 23 in Bonn, Germany. I was also part of the Nigerian delegation to COP26 at Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021.
· As part of my efforts to ensure that relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies become actively engage on Climate Change issues, I conducted over twelve interactive and budget defence sessions with MDAs during which the awareness required to contain the devastating effects of Climate Change was created. This was during my time as the Chairman, House Committee on Climate Change.
· In recognition of my exploits and commitment to Climate Change issues, I was on November 24th, 2016, elected the Vice President of GLOBE Nigeria– Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE). GLOBE is an organization for parliamentarians in over 99 countries of the world and is committed to Climate Change and sustainable development. With an eye on energy, security and land use, GLOBE believes that legislators have an important role to play in ensuring that their governments fulfill their obligations as it concerns commitments made during international negotiations. During the 9th Assembly, I was then elected as the head of GLOBE in Africa as Vice President (Africa) of GLOBE International. This made me the first Nigerian to become a Board Member of GLOBE International. It is important to point out here that my commitment to Climate Change issues is born out of a first-hand experience of the effects of Climate Change on the people of Ikwuano/Umuahia–the massive erosion that the people of this constituency experience is a result of Climate Change.
· As Vice President (Africa) of GLOBE International and President of GLOBE Nigeria in the 9th Assembly. I have used this position to drive for the attainment of the objectives of the Global Environment Facility (GEF6) project “GLOBE Legislators Advancing REDD+ and Natural Capital Governance Towards the Delivery of the 2030 Agenda”. In the course of driving this important national project, I have held many interactive sessions with key MDAs, private sector players, and generally led national legislators to begin to pay attention to the importance of Natural Capital Accounting to Nigeria’s sustainable development, while also furthering the country’s implementation of its REDD+ and Great Green Wall Initiative plans. We have as part of our efforts produced three policy documents that will drive legal and institution reform of Nigeria’s REDD+ Programme, the Great Green Wall Initiative, and Natural Capital Accounting in the country.
· I am also currently championing the efforts of the Nigerian branch of Climate Parliament as the Chairman of Climate Parliament Nigeria, as we drive for renewable energy implementation and sustainable development.
· As part of efforts to kickstart the transition of women (some of the worst impacted by greenhouse gases –GHG– emission) to the use of clean energy sources, I have donated clean-cook stoves to women leaders from my constituency.
· In January 2020, I was one of the speakers during the tenth session of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Assembly in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates where my presentation focused on the impacts of Climate Change on women and the need for Climate Change mitigation and adaptation efforts to prioritize women. In 2017, I also participated in the 7th session of the IRENA Assembly.
· On November 5, 2021, I delivered a paper entitled “Net Zero Laws, Green Recovery, and NDCs—Who is getting it right? The Nigerian Perspective” at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, Scotland, as part of the GLOBE COP26 Legislators Summit. · As part of my oversight responsibilities, during a budget defence session in October 2019, I brought to the attention of the Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, His Excellency Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN, that Abia State does not have a Federal Secretariat, and impressed upon him the need for this to be handled. That began the process of ensuring that the Federal Government builds a Federal Secretariat in the state.
· In addition to all of these, I have through several oversight engagements championed the needs of my constituents and Nigerians in general and some of these engagements have resulted in the provision of employment and provision of some infrastructural needs of my people.
* Projects Attracted to the Constituency
* Even though the primary responsibilities of a legislator are to make laws, carry out oversight functions, and representation, the unique nature of our country demands that in addition to these primary functions, a legislator also plays a role in attracting infrastructural and empowerment projects to his or her constituency. In this vein, I have also done very well for the federal constituency.
* Some of the key empowerment and infrastructural development projects that I have attracted to the constituency are:
· Rehabilitation of the failed sections of the Umuahia–Ikwuano–Ikot Ekpene federal road in 2017.
· The ongoing total reconstruction of the Umuahia-Ikwuano-Ikot Ekpene federal road. · Training of select women and youths from Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency on fashion designing by the Industrial Trust Fund.
· Training of mechanics in their workshops at Mgbuka, Ohiya Mechanic Village, by the National Automation Council.
· Training of select youths from Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency on Solar Panels installation, POP and painting, and web design by the Industrial Trust Fund.
· Training of select women and youths from Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency on fish farming by the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology, Lagos.
· Training of 1,500 women and youths from Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency on how to start and manage small businesses by the Border Communities Development Commission. This was followed by provision of stipends.
· Training and empowerment of 100 men and women with galvanized battery cages, point of lay birds, bags of feed and start-up funds in February 2021.
· Empowerment of additional 100 youths and women with galvanized battery cages, point of lay birds, bags of feed, and start-up funds in May 2021.
· Training and empowerment of 100 graduates from Ikwuano/Umuahia North/ Umuahia South Federal Constituency in Arts and Culture.
· Training and empowerment of 50 youths from Ibere in Ikwuano Local Government Area.
· Empowerment of constituents with several equipment/materials to enable them source for a living. These include the distribution of motorcycles, grinding machines, sewing machines, to hundreds of constituents.
· Construction of school blocks at Ekebedi, in Oboro, Ikwuano LGA; Old Umuahia in Umuahia South LGA; a block of two classrooms at Adanma Girls Secondary School, Afugiri, Umuahia North LGA; a block of two classrooms at Umutowe Central School, Olokoro, Umuahia South LGA; a block of three classrooms at Nsirimo, Ubakala, Umuahia South LGA; a block of classrooms at Umulu Ibere, Ikwuano LGA; a block of three classrooms at Umuajata Olokoro, Umuahia South LGA.
· Construction and renovation of Health Centres in Oloko and Obuohia Obi-Ibere. · Provision of educational materials for students and purchase of WAEC and JAMB forms.
· Printing and distribution of past SSCE/NECO/GCE Questions and Answers (1998-2019) on English and Mathematics to students and candidates from secondary schools in my constituency. · Water projects in Obunta Oboro Ikwuano LGA, Inyila Ibere, Ikwuano LGA, Avonkwu Ibeku, Umuahia North, and Obuohia Ibere, Ikwuano LGA.
· Empowerment of 250 farmers on the 24th of April, 2017 with fertilizers, coveralls, knapsack sprayers, pesticides, etc. · Donation of Office equipment to Pacesetter FM, Umuahia after the fire outbreak incident.
· Provision of a Generating Plant for NTA Umuahia. · Donation of a modern and powerful Sony camera set and other accessories to the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) to support their digitization efforts.
· Erosion control works at Amankwo Ezeleke, Umuopara, in Umuahia South LGA, and at Okwe Oboro, in Ikwuano LGA. Both projects cost the Federal Government about N750million.
· Construction of a Skills Acquisition Centre at the headquarters of the Umuahia South Local Government Area, in Apumiri, Ubakala.
· Electricity projects in Obuohia Obi-Ibere, Umuezeala Obonipa in Usaka Ukwu, and donation of transformers to the following: Ndoro Oboro, Agbama Olokoro, World Bank Housing Estate Umuahia, Nnono Oboro, Landlord Association of Umudike, Maryrose Umudike, Ameke Junction, Umuagu-ngolori, Isi Court Old Umuahia.
· Medical Outreach in March 2018 where over 400 participants benefited from the free medical and counseling carried out by the medical practitioners. Also, following the outbreak of the Coronavirus, PPEs such as, tap-buckets, hand sanitizers, and liquid soaps, were provided for my constituents in line with the stipulations of the World Health Organization’s preventive manual.
· Construction of the Elemaga-Itunta mini-bridge in Ibere, Ikwuano LGA. · Installation of streetlights at Obuohia Obi-Ibere and Ndoro Oboro, Ikwuano LGA.
· Reconstruction of the Ngwugwo valley embankment.
· Construction of drainage at Iyibom along the Okwe-Obuohia road. · Construction of Obuohia-Nkari Bridge (Ongoing).
· Erosion Control and construction of rural road in Umuecheokwu, Umuovo, Old Umuahia, Umuahia South LGA (Ongoing). · Construction of a market at Obuohia Obi-Ibere in Ikwuano LGA.
· Construction of a block of six classrooms at Amaoba, Ikwuano LGA. And many more.
* When I was consulting in 2014 to run for election into the House of Representatives, I visited over 285 homes in Ikwuano, Umuahia North, and Umuahia South Local Government Areas. During those visits, I informed my people that my representation, if elected, will be anchored on the philosophy of Effectiveness, Accessibility, and Responsiveness (EAR). I also informed them that I will attempt to redefine representation through my actions at the National Assembly. This principle is what has shaped my representation over the past six years. The projects which I have attracted were not just randomly picked but are results of engagements with my constituents to ascertain their most pressing need, and to lobby the executive to ensure that those needs are met within the availability of resources. I cannot say that we have been perfect. One thing is for sure however; we have, to the best of our ability redefined representation. More will be done within the coming years.
* I profusely thank my constituents for the confidence reposed in me, and for their unwavering support. I hold power in trust for them and will continue to be fully accountable to them.
* Thank you all for coming, and may God bless us all.