At Last, Onyendozi Returns to the Federal House

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Dozie Nwankwo

Chike Okeke

It has been over eight months of anxiety, trials and great expectations. The supporters of Hon. Dozie Nwankwo and those of Hon Valentine Ayika, who contested for the same seat – the House of Representatives slot for Njikoka, Anaocha and Dunukofia, had been very antagonistic to each other on various social platforms. The political fight was bitter, very aggressive, hostile and vehement. Although the two candidates Hon. Dozie Nwankwo of the All Progressives Grand Alliance and Hon Val Ayika of the People’s Democratic Party hail from the same hometown, Enugwu Ukwu, their supporters made the contest look like an Arab Israeli War.

Nwankwo (Onyendozi) who had occupied the seat from 2015 election, retrieving his mandate from another PDP member, had given a good account of his representation and was poised for an overwhelming mandate to return in 2019. He was however given a serious challenge by Val Ayika at the polls which produced surprise results. Incidentally another contestant Mr Elijah Onyeagba (Igbakigba) also an indigene of Enugwu Ukwu contested the election for the same seat on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.

The campaigns were issue based and Nwankwo was the candidate to beat, having received overwhelming support from all the towns in the Federal Constituency and acquiring chieftaincy titles from the various towns in the constituency – Onyendozi Nwachinemelu Enugwu Ukwu, Osinachi Anaocha, Ifeachukwudeln Ukwulu, Agunechemba Enugwu Agidi, Akalaka Nteje Abogu, etc.

Given his popularity in the entire Federal Constituency in particular and Anambra State generally, he was the candidate to beat, with his annual Medical Outreach and Poverty Alleviation Programmes in the constituency which empowers thousands of youths regularly. His Medical Outreach involves eye surgeries, provision of eye glasses and medical consultations and drugs to patients of various ailments while his Empowerment Programmes has made a number of his campaign leaders’ car owners, employers of labour and distributors of grinding machines, tricycles electricity generating sets, dryers and various other small scale enterprises.

The electorate was therefore in joyous and festive mood, poised to give Onyendozi an even greater majority of votes than he garnered in 2015.

However, since politics is the act of the possible and the tale of the unexpected, the result of the National Assembly Election became a huge disappointment to many of the electorates in the constituency.
The PDP had won the National Assembly elections in many constituencies but especially the Anambra Central Senatorial District, despite the popularity of APGA in Anambra State.

The reason for this victory was not far-fetched. The Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr Peter Obi, hailed from Agulu in the Anaocha Local Government Area of the Federal Constituency. Hence sympathy votes for Peter Obi and his PDP turned the table against the massively popular APGA candidates including Onyendozi the candidate for Njikoka, Anaocha and Bunukofia Federal Constituency and Victor Umeh the candidate for the Central Senatorial District.

However, since Hon Nwankwo’s palm kernel had been cracked for him by a benevolent spirit, apology to Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, he eventually won the election despite emerging second. This followed a pre-election intra party dispute in the PDP in which two aspirants – Val Ayika and Richard Egenti contested for the party’s ticket and the victorious candidate at the primaries became a matter for serious contention, a legal tussle that ended in the Supreme Court. By the time the Supreme Court delivered its ruling on the dispute, the 60 days’ interval within which political parties must submit names of their candidates for the elections had lapsed. Hence, the court declared that the PDP went into the election for Dunukofia, Anoacha and Njikoka Federal Constituency without a candidate.

This fact lays to rest the arguments and claims by blackmailers and ignorant people that Onyendozi is sitting on a stolen mandate. We are in a Democracy and the Role of Law must be practiced at all times no matter whose ox is gored. INEC cannot wait indefinitely for political parties to sort out their problems and submit names of their candidates for elections especially when they have deadlines for doing so.
As Hon Nwankwo is sworn in for his second term in the House of Representatives, his thousands of supporters wish him well and expect him to continue his good and effective representation.
During his first term, Hon Nwankwo had given an excellent account of himself. Since Charity begins at home, Onyendozi commenced his legislative duties in the House by initiating action on projects that directly affect his constituency. Accordingly he moved a motion calling attention to the poor state of infrastructure and abandonment of Federal Health Centers in Dunukofia, Njikoka and Anaocha Local Government Areas.

Similarly he moved a motion to tackle the devastating gully erosion in the same local Government Area. In response to these motion, members of the House Committee on Environment led by Hon Obinna Chidoka visited the Constituency and personally assessed the extensive damage done by gully erosion in the area. During the tour, the legislators sympathized with members of the community affected by the erosion and assured them that appropriate action would be taken to call the attention of the Federal Government to their plight.

Sometime last year the head of the Technical Committee on Yam Export Prof Simon Irtwange regretted that the 1986 Export Prohibition Act was hindering Nigeria’s yam export. He stated that the yam exporters in Nigeria were unable to do up to 50% of the export target of 2017 because of some difficulties and called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the repeal of the 1986 Export Prohibition Act. The said bill referred to by Prof Irtwange is one of the bills sponsored in the House by Nwankwo. The Bill has passed through First and Second readings in the House and is in the final stage of passage..

Other bills sponsored by Hon Nwankwo in the House are a bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the Sheriffs and Civil Processes Act. The main purpose of the bill is to reduce the time it takes to serve processes on various parties in court, especially on election petitions. Relying only on bailiffs to serve the parties causes undue delays and reasonable time will be saved if courier companies, law chambers and other organizations duly registered for this purpose by the Corporate Affairs Commission also perform similar functions.

Hon Nwankwo is leading the debate on a Bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian Industrial Development Bank (Guarantee Act). The Act is being proposed because it has become obsolete and serves no useful purpose as it was enacted to vest in the office of the President the power to guarantee foreign loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) needed at that time. Moreover, the NIDB for which the loan was to be guaranteed by the President is no more in existence, its functions and objectives having been taken over by the Bank of Industry.

He is also leading the debate on a bill for an Act to amend the Provisions of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act Cap MS. EEN 2004. The bill seeks to upgrade the punishment for quacks in the Medical and Dentistry profession from fine of ₦5000 and ₦70,000 to at least ₦1,000,000 and 10 years imprisonment. This bill when passed will definitely reduce the number of fake doctors whose practice result in avoidable death of patients.

Hon Nwankwo has given Notice of Presentation of other bills which he will be called upon to present in due course.

They include Amendment of the Provision of the Army Colour (Prohibition of use) Act Cap: A24 LFN 2004. Contravention of the provisions of the Act will attract fine of ₦1,000,000 or 6 years imprisonment or both.

Similarly he intends to present a bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the Nigerian Press Council Act 2004. The bill seeks to check the activities of bloggers and other social media practitioners who spread fake news and invade people’s privacy.

There is no doubt that a Federal Legislator who had recorded these impressive achievements in less than three years of taking his seat in the House, (having spent previous one and half years in litigations to recover his stolen mandate) is adequately equipped and prepared to represent his constituency very effectively and bring democracy dividends to them.

His inauguration last week for a second tenure which was attended by thousands of his supporters from all over the country affords him a golden opportunity to put his promises during the election campaigns into reality. There is no doubt that Hon. Nwankwo is a square peg in a square hole in his good representation for the Dunokofia, Anoncha and Njikoka (DNA) Federal Constituency. Onyendozi, carry go.
––Chike Okeke, a media Consultant wrote in from Abuja.