Mr. Don Norman Obinna, Media Adviser to the immediate past Governor of Abia State and Senator representing Abia Central Senatorial district at the Red Chamber of the National Assembly, Senator Theodore Ahamefule Orji, in this interview with Peter Uzoho highlights the achievements of Senator Orji in the past one year
Senator T.A. Orji has been in the Senate for over one year now. How is he finding his new job as a lawmaker?
Well, the job of legislation is not the job for rabble-rousers or garrulous people; it is the job of the witty. Senator Orji no doubt proved his leadership prowess during his two terms in office as the executive Governor of Abia State between 2007 – 2015. His eight years were eventful as he left legacy projects behind for posterity. So having set that unprecedented record, the issue of transition was not difficult because he has a blue print of the objective he wants to accomplish as well as time frame for its accomplishment.
That was why he set the ball rolling immediately he was elected the Senator representing Abia Central Senatorial district by sponsoring eight bills as part of his legislative oversights and at the same time ensuring the wellbeing of his constituents with mouth-watering empowerments to ensure their financial freedom in just 365 days at the Red chamber of the National Assembly.
What are the eight bills he sponsored in less than one year?
It sounds unbelievable, isn’t it? That is the hallmark of an astute and sturdy leader. These bills we are talking about are not just mere bills rather they are bills when enacted will have positive impact on the Nigerians. We have the Food Security Bill, 2015 (2nd Reading), the objective is to compel government to provide quality food as part of its primary responsibilities. The establishment of a Food Security Agency will enable vulnerable and marginalised groups like children, pregnant women and lactating mothers have access to quality food.
Also of paramount importance is a provision in the Bill which seeks to establish a Food Security Agency that will implement the blueprint on food security mapping system. The bill when enacted seeks to empower the proposed Food Security Agency to collaborate with the Ministries of Finance, Disaster Management, Planning and National Security to actualise its mandate and strengthen their capacity in food emergencies. So when enacted, the Food Security Bill will ensure a healthy society, and a robust population because it will certainly reduce drastically and/or eliminate completely the menace of malnourishment, morbidity, neo-natal mortality, high rate of child and maternal mortality which Nigeria is the second largest contributor with the loss of about 2, 300 under-five-year-olds and 145 women of childbearing age every single day according to the current UNICEF record. In other words, about 8.395 million and 52, 925 annual infants and maternal mortality will be prevented.
We have the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council Act Cap N 117 2004 Repeal and Reenactment Bill (1st Reading), with the objective to further encourage, promote and co-ordinate investment in the Nigerian economy; National Planning Process Bill 2015, SB.73 (1st Reading); and Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act CAP PD3 LFN 2004 (Amendment), Bill 2015 (SB – 11 9) (2nd Reading). Others are the Nigerian Biodiversity Bill 2015 (SB 79), (1st Reading); Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration), Portfolio Designation Bill 2015 (1st Reading), Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), Bill 2015 (SB 78), (1st Reading); and a bill for an Act to Establish a Centre for Diseases Control and other Related Matters (1st Reading).
What about the controversial Bill for Institute of Chartered Politicians?
The imaginary bill was blown out of proportion by detractors and selfish individuals who have been rattled by Senator Orji’s unprecedented achievements in the National Assembly. Senator Orji did at no time sponsor the so called “Bill for Institute of Chartered Politicians” as circulated by mischief makers. It was only a sarcastic proposition he made while contributing to a debate on an Act to Establish the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants of Nigeria (CIMAN), sponsored by Senator Barnabas Gemade representing Benue North East. Those who know Senator Orji well are very much aware of his comicality and his suggestion for the said bill was not just an exception.
Are there plans to attract Federal projects to his constituency as well as plans to tackle the ecological challenges in that area?
We are not talking about plans anymore, it is no longer a question of if but when because as we speak, through the persuasive demands of Senator Orji at the National Assembly, the Federal Government through the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), has requested for expression of interest for constituency service for the maintenance/repairs of critical failed road sections, along Umuahia-Ariam, Ikot-Epkene road in his constituency; Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State. We also have the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs invitation for prequalification and direct tendering for works, goods and expression of interest for consultancy services for the 2016 capital projects for the design and supervision of Mbom-Ameke-Olokoro-Umuikea roads, 7up/Umuola-Nkwo Elechi Ohuhu road-5km and the consultancy services for training and empowerment in agriculture and other value chain in Abia State. These are verifiable facts because they were published on THISDAY newspaper edition of Monday, June 13, 2016. So hopefully after the rainy season, works will begin on these roads to ameliorate the transportation hardship of our people.
How has his representation so far transformed the lives of his constituents in this past one year?
I will say his representation has affected his people in several unimaginable ways because apart from these legislative oversights which are his primary responsibilities, Senator Orji has also touched the lives of his people evenly. As we speak, he introduced an annual scholarship scheme designed to produce 240 graduates in four years. 60 indigent students; 10 from each of the six LGAs that make up his constituency will annually benefit from this scheme. The scheme has produced its first 60 beneficiaries last year and the second batch of another 60 beneficiaries will come up sometime this year.
Senator Orji has also restored the limbs of some physically challenged persons in his constituency with the donation of 20 wheel chairs; ensure also their financial freedom with the donation to the indigent entrepreneurs vocational equipment such 25 sewing machines, 25 grinding machines, 25 2.5KVA generating sets, five tricycles, and two 18-seater buses. And in furtherance of his Food Security Bill, Senator Orji also provided 100 liquid fertilisers for farmers to ensure robust farm produce. We were told by a representative of the Abia State Ministry of Agriculture during the presentation that if properly utilised, the fertilisers are capable of enriching 200 hectares of farmland.
So you know what that means to agriculture in Abia State. It is also worthy of mentioning that another set of 250 bags of fertilisers have been purchased by our amiable Senator to be distributed to farmers in his constituency. They will soon be distributed to farmers. Again we also have other projects which are intended to develop our pupils and youths to ensure that they compete effectively with their contemporaries from other states and in the world as well. Senator Orji has also shown his media friendliness with the donation of five sets of office furniture to Radio Nigeria (Pacesetter FM), Umuahia, for the refurbishment of some of their offices gutted by fire. So over all, he has provided avenue for financial liberation of his people.
Apart from the well publicised legacy projects, what other achievements would you say were Senator Orji’s greatest that endeared him to the people as governor of Abia State?
Of course security was one of them; remember the era of the contrived kidnapping which apart from the security threat it constituted also to a large extent crippled the buoyant Abia State economy. You have to appreciate Senator Orji’s ingenuity in tackling as well as exterminating the menace of abduction with the application of scientific methods despite the fact that this happened when kidnapping was alien to us. Another is the elimination of idolatry which held sway in Abia State prior to his emergence. It was a known fact that qualified Abia youths were debarred from political appointments and participations with this anachronistic ideology and of course the effect was the abysmal underdevelopment which Abia State suffered before its liberation in 2010.
Then the most recent one which earned him the enviable title of Opuruiche 1 (Unique One) of Igboland was his insistence that an Ukwa Ngwa man will be supported to become the governor of Abia State in recognition of the Abia Charter of Equity against fierce opposition by some people whose motive was to stoke up the polity and made mess of the unity which Senator Orji laboured to achieve in the state. These three achievements no doubt were what endeared him to the masses and to a large extent the reason he was elected en masse by his people to represent them at the National Assembly. That decision has proven to be a smart one as this last one year has proven.
What else should the people of Abia Central Senatorial district be expecting from Senator Orji in the coming years?
Well, Senator Orji believes so much in the “Right Base Approach to Development”; a political ideology which sees the people as the right bearers and government, the duty bearers. In other words, Senator Orji believes that the people are rationale and as such should be consulted in decision making and in provision delivering. Apart from the fact that we have organised some handful of radio interactions where people called his attention to some pressing issues. Senator Orji has also concluded plans to organise a town hall meeting where he will meet with his constituents to discuss and see ways their lives can be further improve upon.
He also has some programmes on the pipeline designed to eliminate idleness among our youths. That means that we are going to see some vocational and empowerment programmes which will create wealth for our people and ensure the sustenance of his philosophy which is to make possible an egalitarian society permeate with wealth creators.
All he is asking for is the continuous support of the people, of course he has shown that he understands their feelings with the donation of 600 bags of rice to the widows, elderly and the less-privileged in his constituency – 100 bags each – to the six LGAs that make up his constituency as well as helping the women of Umuamainta complete their hall. No one would have done the business of representation better than Senator Orji and that is the reason he is revered in Abia.