Gbajabiamila, Nwawuba and Legislative Reforms of the Ninth House

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Adedayo Akinwale writes on the reformative roles of the Ninth House of Representatives, it promptness in intervening on national issues and the silent but deeep contribution of Hon. Henry Nwawuba in the legislative reforms

The House of Representatives under the leadership Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as the Speaker, has been both proactive and swift in responding to national events. A good example of note was the revision of the House Legislative Agenda just after one year of the four-year tenure.

The move was a deft response to the dynamics of the Coronavirus pandemic and the #EndSARS protests that took place in various States of the federation. Both incidents heavily impacted the country in multiple dimensions.

However, the revised Legislative Agenda refocuses parliamentary resources and energies on re-energising the economy, far-reaching police reforms and modernizing the business of parliament, among others. Results are already trickling in, especially with the recent digitization of chamber operations and an imminent holistic police reform bill.

But one man stands deep and firm in the background of these legislative reforms and the much that lie ahead. He is Henry Nwawuba, member representing Mbaitoli /Ikeduru federal constituency of Imo State. Humble, unobtrusive but cerebral, experienced and articulate, Nwawuba is said to be one of the firm foundations upon which the House is resting its reformist drive.

Whilst Gbajabiamila is resolved to push through these reforms, he quietly assembled a crack and competent backroom team to help achieve the outcome of a people-focused Green Chamber. Nwawuba has emerged as the nucleus of these efforts.

The ranking lawmaker was appointed deputy chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta in July 2019 when standing committees were constituted. But that was probably a ploy by Gbajabiamila to reserve him for a bigger assignment which soon began to manifest as the House settled to business and the coronavirus pandemic disruptions set in.

Nwawuba was drafted into the backroom strategising of the speaker and handed the task of chairing the adhoc committee on the legislative agenda. In announcing the appointment in plenary, the Speaker spoke extensively of the work of Committee.

He said: “Before the recess, we presented to the Nigerian people the updated Legislative Agenda of the House, which we tagged “Our Contract with Nigerians. The updated Legislative Agenda of the House and the accompanying Implementation Framework are a significant and thorough effort to outline a set of priority actions that taken together will help us achieve a more peaceful and more prosperous nation. The time has now come for us to make good on our obligations.

“To do that within the time frame we have committed to in the Implementation Framework, requires that we change the way we operate. From now on, motions and proposed bills that speak to the priorities set out in the Legislative Agenda will receive precedence in the House. The only exceptions will be for emergencies and matters of urgent national importance that require immediate action.

“To ensure fidelity to the commitments we have freely made, I am appointing an Adhoc Committee to guide implementation of the Legislative Agenda across the Committees and other institutions of the House of Representatives. This AdHoc Committee will work with the Committee on Rules and Business to ensure that bills brought forward for consideration align with our Agenda. Additionally, the Committee will monitor and provide regular reports on our individual and collective efforts to deliver on the objectives set out in the Agenda. Hon. Henry Nwawuba has worked closely with me to conceptualise and develop the Legislative Agenda, and Implementation Framework will serve as Chairman of the Committe.”

Expectedly, the Nwawuba Committee has since swung into action in redefining legislative interventions on various aspects of national life. The central importance of the Committee is not lost on members of the House as findings show that those with pertinent motions and bills have found it necessary to liaise with it. In a sense, the Imo rep has become chairman of chairmen of sorts.

Incidentally this huge responsibility has not affected the effective and productive representation Nwawuba owes his constituents. He has not only continued to project their voices on local issues but has remained nationalistic. For example, in the height of the bruising pandemic he moved a motion for Nigeria to “develop and adopt a long term economic, social and development framework for 20 years.”

The motion urged “the Federal Government to develop a SMART 20 years Economic Master-plan and Development Strategy (Vision 20:2040), a long term economic plan and development strategy.” It was adopted by the House.

In an apparent response to the resolution of the House, the Federal Government inaugurated a Steering Committee co-chaired by the Minister of Finance Hajia Zainab Ahmed and Mr Atedo Peterside in October 2020 to develop a framework for Nigeria Agenda 2050.

Nwawuba, born 27 February 1969 and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a Nigerian enteprenuer, banker, philanthropist and politician. He is currently serving his second term in the National Assembly. He has been elected on both occasions on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He is the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta.

The lawmaker was born in Aba Old Imo State (now Abia State) Nigeria and had his Primary education at Bayero University Staff School Kano and Secondary school at both the Aminu Kano Commercial College and the Federal Government College Kano. He attended the University of Jos from 1988 to 1992 where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree. Thereafter he proceeded to the United Kingdom after his National Youth Service Corps in 1993 where he studied Business Computing for a Masters Degree Programme.

Before his advent into politics, Nwawuba had a flourishing career as a banker, cofounding one of Nigeria’s foremost Micro Finance Banks, Fortis Micro Finance Banks Plc. His private businesses include ventures in Oil and Gas, Tourism, Telecommunications and Agro Processing. He was the Chief Executive Officer of NICNOC Nigeria Limited an indigenous Oil and Gas Servicing Firm.He also sat on the Board of Capital Meat Ltd, one of Nigeria’s largest emerging agricultural meat processing companies. Before then, he worked as a computer farm manager at City of London Telecommunications in London, England.

Upon his return to Nigeria from the United Kingdom in 2006, Nwawuba served as Special Assistant on Special Duties to the Governor of Plateau State Mr Michael Botmang. He retired to private business until in 2015 when he was elected into the House. He was reelected to serve a second term in 2019.

His legislative interests include Reforms and Innovation in Policy Formulation, the development of the Niger Delta, Local Content, Human Capital Development, Oil and Gas, Banking and Information Technology.

Described as a very vibrant and cosmopolitan lawmaker, he has remained a very active member of the House and has sponsored several bills and successful resolutions. He is a leading voice in the campaign for the development of the Niger Delta region which hosts oil and gas activities which is Nigeria’s main revenue earner. He is the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta and the Chairman/Coordinator of Nigeria’s first ever Legislative Dialogue on the Niger Delta.

Nwawuba is a leading voice for justice and equity. In march 2020, he led other law makers from the South East region to demand from the federal government the inclusion of the region in infrastructure projects to be funded from the $22 billion loan from international finance agencies vide a petition he presented from the South East Elites. In the 8th National Assembly.

He co-sponsored a Bill for the establishment of the South East Development Commission which scaled first and second reading in the Green Chamber after a rocky start. He also served on the technical committee on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) between 2018-2019. The bill was denied Assent by President Mohammed Buhari at the end of 2019. He has been re-nominated to serve on the committee to consider its passage in 9th Assembly.

In may 2020, he sponsored a Motion on “the need for Nigeria to develop a long term social and economic development framework vision” which was unanimously adopted on the floor of the House.

Nwawuba was drafted to serve on the committee that re drafted the document and currently serves as the Chairman of the Adhoc Committee on the Implementation of the Legislative Agenda of the 9th House.

He has been on several international legislative delegations for Nigeria, including the elite team sent to south Africa to protest the xenophobia suffered by Nigerians in that Country in 2017 with the then Majority Leader (now Speaker) . He has attracted several infrastructural and human capital development projects to his constituency.

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The Nwawuba Committee has since swung into action in redefining legislative interventions on various aspects of national life. The central importance of the Committee is not lost on members of the House as findings show that those with pertinent motions and bills have found it necessary to liaise with it. In a sense, the Imo rep has become chairman of chairmen of sorts. Incidentally this huge responsibility has not affected the effective and productive representation Nwawuba owes his constituents. He has not only continued to project their voices on local issues but has remained nationalistic. For example, in the height of the bruising pandemic he moved a motion for Nigeria to “develop and adopt a long term economic, social and development framework for 20 years