Legislation is the act of making laws for use in governance. This takes different shapes in different countries. Undisputedly in Nigeria, the legislative power is vested on the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria presently modelled along the line of a bicameral nature of two chambers – the Senate and the House of Representatives at the national level. Each State is divided into three senatorial zones while the House of Reps. is grouped into constituencies made up of L.G.As. Some are up to 3 L.G.As and others more than that, depending on the population and other variables. Due diligence may have been employed in the delineation process.
The beauty of this electoral aggregation is that all constituents are represented in both the chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives. Nobody can come out to complain of non-representation or not having any constituency. A short anecdote will lighten the mood as legislation is always a serious business, more so in a setting where ethnic considerations are of political essence.
In 2001, a man came to the office of the House committee chairman on Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, requesting a recommendation to one of the parastatals of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. His name sounded strange language-wise, so I advised him to try his Senator or House of Reps member. He jocosely laughed and insisted that he had none. I quickly drew up the directory of House of Reps and called out the name of his Rep. He sharply asked for his office number. I hardly could answer that as offices were short then and so many went without offices. His laugh this time was thunderous, implying that he was right in his claims of non-representation. ‘Oga,’ he blurted out, ‘this man you called may be representing himself and his family. He has since from inception not contributed in debates, neither motions nor bills, please give me this letter, I am a Nigerian.’ To save my time, I obliged him mostly for his humour and argument.
Looking back to the Athenians of ancient Greece where parliamentarianism had one of its origins, all constituents were present and joined in debates. But today, to have the whole members of a local government or council under one roof may be inviting chaos, therefore the representative nature where the citizens and constituents are ideally expected to select who represents them through a recognized electoral system.
In the present situation, the statesman, Chief T. A. Orji like his other colleagues was elected on March 28, 2015 to represent Abia Central Senatorial District after a fruitful two-tenure governance of Abia State.
Senator Orji has in many ways demonstrated that he is the right man for the job based on his wealth of experience of having been in public office.
It is on record that since after graduation from school, the man popularly known as Ochendo has done nothing else but serve people in different capacities from many years in the Civil Service, eight years in the office of Chief of Staff in Abia State government, eight years as governor and now one year in the prestigious Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is no news that some would have been satisfied that they have risen to the position of the governor of a state and would embark on a swagger trip, but Senator Orji, humility personified, fast at learning, went to work immediately after inauguration and today is adorned with so many Bills and Motions which are the evidences and essence of legislative practices. Permit my immodesty in listing the Bills and Motions
1) Food Security Bill 2015.
2) Nigerian Investment Promotion Council Act CAP N117 2004 Repeal and Re-enacted Bill.
3) National Planning Process Bill 2015 (SB. 73).
4) Deep Offshore and Inland Basins Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP D3 LFN 2004 Amendment Bill 2015 (SB-119).
5) Nigerian Biodiversity Bill 2015 (SB. 79).
6) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Portfolio Designation) Bill 2015.
7) Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DIXA) Bill 2015 (SB. 78).
8) National Centre for Disease Control Prevention (Establishment etc.) Bill 3016 (SB. 256).
9) Nigerian Metallurgical Industry Bill, 2016 [SB.260] All these have gone through different stages of readings and on observation are consciously people-oriented. Notably, he has not turned his back on the constituents in cares and consultation.
In December 2015, he toured round the constituency made up of six LGAs depositing grains of the season after each town hall meeting. This act runs along the prescription of one of the foremost American presidents, Abraham Lincoln who said ‘no man is good enough to govern another without that other’s consent.’
Not too long after, the youths were gathered in a scholarship exercise based on indigence and brilliance, numbering a total of 60 in all, ten from each LGA. This is in line with his long-held belief in the views of Henry Broughen, that ‘education makes a people easy to lead but difficult to drive, easy to govern but impossible to enslave.’ Recall that primary and secondary education were free during his eight years as governor.
Not quite two months from that date, on April 9, precisely, the whole constituency was reassembled again for a massive empowerment programme where multiple items were doled out to cater for different needs. Private power generators were carted away for lighting, machine operations and driving cottage manufacturing. Wheel chairs to mobilize the physically challenged, motorcycles and tricycles for commercial operations, automated grinding machines for home use and commercial purposes, sewing machines for the already skilled and those who are willing to learn and liquid fertilizers for the farmers which turned out to be the cynosure of all eyes as many saw the liquid fertilizer and accompanying sprayer for the first time in their lives. According to a professional who introduced the wonder fertiliser, the quantity given out will fertilize multiple hectares and I challenge people to calculate the multiplier effects in terms of yields and food on the table.
Ochendo has stirred the hornet’s nest with these humanistic approaches knowing where the shoe pinches and in line with human nature, the constituents will definitely ask for more as his office in Abuja is a beehive of activities with multiple requests. The most admirable of the aspect of the scholarship and empowerment schemes are that committees were enacted for both, making the selection process tamper free transparently so that even the Senator and his family did not nominate any on their own.
In the Senate, his affability long honed from his time as chief of staff has permeated the Senate where he is on first name terms with his distinguished colleagues.
In yet another gesture of consultation, harmonization and consensus, the PDP constituents gathered under his auspices for positions in the congress that were perfected in Enugu, the South East Zonal level and epitomised the rancour-free slogan that eluded many zones which I am sure will be emulated at the convention when the dust settles.
This is no surprise as he has raised the equity standard in Abia, zoning the governorship to Abia South that has been bereft of it since amalgamation of Nigeria.