Like Iroko, Ugochinyere Stands Tall in Legislative Activism

Udora Orizu writes that the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources, Downstream, Hon. Ikenga  Ugochinyere, really knows his onions and strives to make a difference as a first timer in the Green Chamber.

In his book, ‘No longer at ease’, literary giant, Prof. Chinua Achebe says, “Who ever planted an Iroko tree – the greatest tree in the forest? You may collect all the Iroko seeds in the world, open the soil and put them there. It will be in vain. The great tree chooses where to grow and we find it there,” so it is with greatness in men”.

Like the Iroko that he is, Hon. Ikeagwuonu Ugochinyere (Ikenga Imo) stands tall and strong on the Nigeria’s legislative turf within his one year in the House of Representatives.

Young, vibrant, charismatic, fearless and patriotic, he has been around the Nigerian sociopolitical cycle as a students’ leader, youth leader, human rights activist, anti- corruption crusader, legal battle fighter, lawyer, just to name a few.

He had been President of all Nigerian Youths (NYCN), Secretary General, African Youths Council (AYC), Founding member, International Youth Council, New York USA, Founder and Chairman of Action Peoples Party (APP), Executive Assistant to a Governor, Senior Special Assistant to Senate President of Nigeria, Spokesperson, Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP).

He was the founder and first National Director of PDP Youth Movement during the Chairmanship of Ahmadu Ali and Ojo Maduekwe as Secretary. Ugochinyere in each of these positions stood with the people, becoming a towering voice against tyrannical forces in the land.

Armed with his legal background, Ugochinyere has never been deterred to speak truth to power even at his own peril. The young lawyer turned lawmaker is using the current position to advance the causes he has always believed in and attracting development to his immediate constituency and making laws for the peace, unity and progress of Nigeria.

Before and after his swearing in as a member of the 10th House of Representatives, Ojeozi Ideato (People’s messenger) as he’s popularly called has been in a political and legal battle which was draining, heart wrenching and bloody. The battle claimed lives of some of his family members and supporters, following a deadly attack on his residence on January 7, 2023 shortly before the February 25, 2023 National Assembly poll.

The horrible incident would have made anyone to give up, but as the people’s messenger that he is, Ojeozi stood his ground, focused and fought like a warrior.

He eventually emerged victorious, defeating other candidates, and after their inauguration on June 13, 2023, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, appointed Ugochinyere as Deputy Chairman of the Special Committee on Media and Public Affairs of the House.

On July 27, 2023, Speaker Abass and Deputy Speaker, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, appointed Ugochinyere as the chairman, house committee on Petroleum Resources, Downstream.

As he assumed duty as a lawmaker, he faced yet another legal tussle when Imo State National/State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal removed him as the member representing Ideato North/South federal constituency of Imo State in the House of Representatives and declared a supplementary election in 55 polling units of the constituency with the exception of Ugochinyere.

But, in November 2023, the Court of Appeal, sitting in Lagos, unanimously affirmed his election, as the validly elected member of the House of Representatives.

In a unanimous judgment, the panel headed by Justice Abubakar Gumel overruled the judgment of the Imo State National/State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, which had disqualified Ikenga and nullified his election on a pre-election matter of the primary election of the PDP despite plethora of authorities by the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal to the effect that Election Tribunals do not have jurisdiction over pre-election matters. As news of the judgment reached Ideato, there was instant jubilation, with markets and streets instantly turning into carnivals for the celebration of the legal victory.

Ugochinyere has in last one year lived beyond expectations in the core functions of a legislator – lawmaking; having sponsored a good number of bills and motions; oversight – having intervened severally to address issues in the Downstream Sector of Petroleum industry which he chairs, attracting constituency intervention projects and empowering his constituents.

He sponsored the motion on the need to reconstruct the failed portions of the Oba-nnewi-Uga-Akojwa-Arondizuogu Okigwe federal road in Idemili north/South, Nnewi North/South and Ideato North/South Federal Constituencies in Anambra and Imo States.

Other motions which he sponsored were on the need to rehabilitate the collapsed Akokwa-Umuchima-Mgbe-Orlu federal road in Ideato south local government area of Imo State, motion on the need to investigate the arbitrary increase of petrol pump price from N537 to N617 by petrol marketers and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation limited, motion on the need to intervene in over 28 erosion sites in communities in Ideato North and South constituencies of Imo State, among others.

Ugochinyere has sponsored bills which have passed through first and second reading. They include, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2023 (HB.205), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2023 (HB.206), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2023 (HB.197), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2023 (HB.199), Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board Act (Amendment) Bill, 2023 (HB, 198) and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2023 (HB.200).

Others are, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2023 (HB.201), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2023 (HB.202), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2023 (HB.203), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2023 (HB.204), the Interpretation (Amendment) Bill 2023, The Land Use Act (Amendment Bill, 2024 (HB.1429), and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Sixth Alteration) Bill 2024 (HB 1430) Orlu State Bill.

 For the Orlu state bill, Ikenga is leading 32 federal lawmakers on political restructuring with the Bill which was introduced and passed through first reading at the plenary on May 22, 2024.

The proposed legislation seeks to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) to create a new state in the Southeastern region of Nigeria to be known as Orlu State.

In the bill’s draft, it states that, “the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended) (herein referred to as the “Principal Act”) is altered as set out in this Bill; Section 3 of the Principal Act is amended as follows: There shall be thirty-seven states in Nigeria that is to say, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos,Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Orlu, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara”.

Also the bill seeks an amendment by inserting a new paragraph immediately after the Ondo State and before the Osun State paragraph, to read as follows:

State – Orlu ,Capital City- Orlu.

Local Government Areas as to be amended will now include, “Orlu, Orsu, Oru West, Oru East, Ideato North, Ideato South, Njaba, Nkwerre, Nwangele, Isu, Oguta, Ohaji Egbema, Onuimo, Ihiala, Uga, Ihiala, Uli, Ozubulu, Akokwa, Arondizuogu, Umuchu, Umunze, Umuaku, New Ideato North, Nwabosi West, Nwabosi East, Owerre Nkworji, Alaoma, Amaifeke, Owerrebiri Umuowa.”

Ugochinyere has also sponsored a Bill seeking to amend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended) to limit the period which any individual can serve as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from two terms of four years each, to a single six year tenure.

The Bill also seeks an amendment for rotation of Presidency across the six geo-political zones in the country.

Shedding more light on the bill’s content, Ugochinyere said the sole intent of this bill is to enact legislation that will make provisions for the rotation of political power amongst the geo-political zones, for Presidency, governorship in the general elections.

He lamented that Nigeria is among several countries in Africa confronted by threats of political instability and social conflicts, hence the situation led to political actors in the country to canvass for the adoption of rotational and single tenure presidency as a potent political arrangement that can guarantee stability.

Ugochinyere called for support for the bill, saying that Nigeria should emulate Mexico as it practices a presidential system of government like Nigeria, but with a single-term presidency of six years.

On constituency development, Ugochinyere initiated an agricultural program that have many of his constituents undergoing training, he has also floated scholarship scheme for his constituents.

On December 5, 2023, the lawmaker presented scholarship grants to qualified beneficiaries who participated and performed excellently well in the scholarship examinations, which took place few months earlier.

The 100 lucky beneficiaries all from Ideato North and South federal constituency gladly gathered at St. Dominic Savio Comprehensive Secondary School, Ntueke in Ideato South Local Government Area of Imo State, to receive grants to support their educational pursuit.

Chairman of the Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere Educational Development Committee, Mr. Sylvester Durukwuaku, while addressing the beneficiaries, commended Ugochinyere for such a laudable initiative, saying it was a testament to his passion and unequalled commitment to the education of the Ideato children.

He said the scholarship grant was going to be an annual program designed by Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere to support and encourage students, parents and guardians who truly need such assistance to achieve a brighter future, adding that it was Ikenga’s desire to see intelligent students from the most disadvantaged background access qualitative education.

Durukwuaku also urged the beneficiaries, made up of the Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary Categories and Tertiary level to appreciate the grant given to them by excelling beyond bounds academically, assuring them that more of this opportunity will come in line with the educational projects of Ikenga for his beloved federal constituency.

For his safe school campaign initiative, Ugochinyere has started renovation of many schools in his constituency, and as well as the clean water campaign which involves drilling water projects from Umuojisi to Urualla.

Ugochinyere has made his name in the political sphere through hard work, diligence and consistency. He has proven that the difference between ‘race’ and ‘grace’ is the “G” which stands for the God factor and he’s just getting started on his plans in ensuring the well-being of his constituents and by extension, Nigeria as a whole.

-Orizu writes from Abuja

Related Articles