EDO SOUTH IN NEED OF QUALITY REPRESENTATION

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By Inwalomhe Donald

without doubt, Hon Obahiagbon has remained loyal to his constituent and I believe the experience he has gathered in nearly twenty years of our democracy will prove a valuable asset in the coming years for his constituent and Nigerians.

I have consistently argued, and not just for personal reasons, that experience in the national assembly is imperative and an invaluable asset to the party and the constituencies being represented.

It takes considerable amount of time to be effective at law making, to understand the ropes, to move bills or motions and to have a grasp of the paraphernalia of governance at the centre.

Edo South Senatorial zone is in need of quality representation because Senator Urhoghide could not defend himself before the people of his constituency that protested against his motion.

Urhoghide moved a motion for President Buhari impeachment without consulting with his constituency. A group which described itself as Edo South Youth Coalition (ESYC), warned the lawmaker representing Edo South Senatorial District district, Matthew Urhoghide, to either withdraw his motion invoking section 143 of the constitution on President Muhammadu Buhari or risk getting recalled.

This explains why legislators are routinely trained to continuously build capacity in a bid to discharge their responsibilities dutifully. Need I say, that it costs a handful of Money to train federal legislators, and it would be pound foolish for the country not to profit from that investment.

In 12 years Hon Obahiagbon has benefitted immensely from routine training of legislators and Senators Urhoghide has not benefitted from any training in the past 3 years. The truth is, Representatives like Obahiagbon in the green chambers is able to push bills through faster in the house having gathered the requisite experience and the wit for sensible politicking. Beyond the quality and appropriateness of the bills, it was his experience, lobbying and politicking, gathered from serving 12 years in the house that ensured the success of the bills.

Hon Obahiagbon is one of the most vibrant and patriotic federal lawmakers whose legislative contributions and engagements in the National Assembly and Edo House of Assembly touched on the core needs of less privileged Nigerians. Indeed, the country is proud of Hon Obahiagbon who has be the most vibrant and patriotic former federal lawmaker whose legislative contributions and engagements in the National Assembly and Edo House of Assembly touched on the core needs of less privileged Nigerians, particularly through his membership of many Committees on Poverty Alleviation and social welfare.

Creditably, to his name is the many bills which he sponsored and was passed by the Edo State House of Assembly and Federal House of Representatives between 1999 and 2011.

A progressive-minded politician, Hon Obahiagbon took clear positions on causes and issues in the polity he stood for or opposed, particularly on election reforms, anti-corruption, true federalism, devolution of powers, legislative-executive relations, among others.

An All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the Senate for 2019 general elections, Hon Obahiagbon will give quality representation to Edo South Senatorial zone if he wins.

Edo South has continued to lag behind in terms of infrastructural development, social. Amenities, dividends of democracy and employment opportunities for the youths in the area.
Hon Obahiagbon if elected to represent Edo South Senatorial zone, will fast-track the development of the area by galvanizing efforts towards the establishment of small scale industries and agro-businesses that will provide employment for the unemployed graduates in the area.

As CHAIRMAN of Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, Constituency projects, otherwise known as the zonal intervention projects by lawmakers, have been widely criticised as a drain pipe employed to orchestrate fraud in the budgeting process, and surreptitiously funnel public funds into the pockets of legislators under the 8th Senate that Senator Urhoghide belongs to.

At least N200 billion has been dubiously ‘injected’ into various Nigerian communities in the past three years to implement 6399 ‘constituency projects’ proposed by federal lawmakers.
As CHAIRMAN of Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, President Muhammadu Buhari recently cried out when he was to sign the 2018 budget on how lawmakers had ‘inserted’ over 6000 projects in the 2018 budget, a development which showed how about 391 projects were smuggled by federal lawmakers into the 2018 budget of two federal government agencies;
Under Senator Urhoghide Constituency projects are dubiously inserted by lawmakers in the federal budget to ensure that the implementation that have been controversial and are sometimes characterised by corruption especially because lawmakers for each constituency need to work with a relevant government agency to execute the project, including nominating the contractor for it.

Where was Senator Urhoghide when a lawmaker representing Kaduna Central at the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Shehu Sani, in February 2018 admitted that implementation of constituency projects is an avenue for theft and corruption employed by lawmakers?

It is commonplace to hear people like Senator Urhoghide speak about constituency projects initiated and executed by lawmakers in their various constituencies. In fact, the controversy behind how much Nigerian legislators receive as constituency allowance has been in the front burner of political discourse for quite some time now.

HOW much do you collect as constituency allowance? There is nothing like constituency allowance. There is no such thing. It exists only in the imagination of the public.

I am worried by the erroneous impression prevailing in public domain about the execution of constituency projects in Edo South. They are used as souvenirs for federal lawmakers in Edo State. Governor Godwin Obaseki has put a stop to using constituency projects as souvenirs for federal lawmakers in Edo State. Constituency project is a project identified by the lawmaker in his constituency and brought to the knowledge of the State or Federal Executive Council that considers and certifies it based on certain factors. Governor Godwin Obaseki has stopped the use of constituency projects as souvenirs for 2019 elections in Edo State.

People make a lot of noise as if constituency projects are a business given to a lawmaker who then becomes a contractor but that is not true. The job of the lawmaker is to identify such projects and it is for the Executive to certify and implement them in the constituency of the lawmaker. They call it constituency project because it originates from the lawmaker in his constituency, not that the lawmaker is the contractor executing it.
The constituency project has to be approved first by the State or Federal Executive Council and it is then tendered while the contractor that wins it goes to work and he is paid as he puts in his certificate like every other contractor. But because they call it constituency project, there is an erroneous impression among some persons that it is a ‘gift’ and lawmakers have become contractors but that is not true.
Indeed, beyond just performing other oversight functions as provided for in the constitution of the federal republic, it will be incumbent on the legislature to look beyond the call of duty and political patronage in citing constituencies projects. The needs of the constituency they represent must be seen to be accorded the desired priority if even development must be achieved.

The senator, representing Edo South Senatorial district, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, has cried out that the Edo State government has destroyed all the projects he attracted to his constituency because he is a member of the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party. Senator Urhoghide said agents of Governor Godwin Obaseki have begun tearing down the labels on the solar street lights installed in various streets of the senatorial district.

A walk round the streets where the solar powered street lights are located showed that the posters of Senator Urhoghide and Hon Ogbeide Ihama have been removed from the street lights. A statement signed by the Senior Legislative Aide to Senator Urhoghide, Barr. Neda Imasuen, said the action was condemnable, irresponsible and wasteful of tax payers’ sweat.

Special Adviser to Governor Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie said the removal of illegal structures. billboards, posters, pictures was because they ran contrary to the development imperatives of the state government. Osagie noted that it was disruptive of anybody to place structures without due approval from relevant government agencies thereby upsetting development plans for public utilities and other social amenities.

Hon Obahiagbon is aspiring to become a senator not to get money or buy new cars for myself and his family.“Rather, his main aim is to go there as a senator for the entire country and work towards bettering the lives of all Nigerians, Hon Obahiagbon has pledged to offer quality representation for Edo South at the Senate, if elected.

Inwalomhe Donald writes from Benin City inwalomhe.donald@yahoo.com

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