Political knowledge is widely viewed as a foundation for representative democracy, especially in developing democracies like ours where people hold incorrect beliefs about democracy and do so confidently.
Some of these believes are most often delibrately held on the account of conspiratorial influence and rumour peddle by desperate political actors to amplify the volume of misinformation already planted in the minds of their victims – the electorate.
Political actors in the country and even individuals have found ways to exploit the fast-paced nature of the modern information ecosystem for their political advantage, ignoring the consequences.
We saw the effects of this trend on the people in the just concluded general elections, especially in Umunneochi/Isiukwuato federal constituency, where the volume of misinformation was amplified, leaving electorates in this area increasingly angry, fearful, or disoriented.
The danger is that some of the victims were no longer interested in the gains recorded in the last few years and even with the ongoing federal government projects across the two local governments because their minds had hitatto been abused.
All these were no doubt targeted at the Deputy Chief Whip of House Representatives, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, to paint her black and neutralize her political capital. One of such narratives used against her was that she has served for four terms. While her performances and records were not used as yardstick to determine whether she should be returned by the people as it’s seen elsewhere to continue with her developmental strides, they went further to capitalize on her gender.
To say that Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha was a victim of this false tails, could mean she lost the election; she did not, the people are indeed the victims of the bum steer sold out to them, that was meant not only to abuse their minds, create fear and cast aspersions against Hon. Onyejeocha. The overall narrative was nothing but an agenda designed to shortchange the entire constituency and rob them off their gains.
A time-tested saying goes that “Old Wine tastes better.” Wine tastes better with age because of a complex chemical reaction occurring among sugars, acids and substances known as phenolic compounds. In time, this chemical reaction can affect the taste of wine in a way that gives it a pleasing flavor.
In like manner, democracy deepen faster and fulfil its mandate of better life and greater freedom to the greatest number of people, when the parliamentary arm of government functions optimally. With more than 59 years of service, Representative John Dingell, Jr., of Michigan, holds the record for longest consecutive service in the United States Congress.
Suffice it to buttress that the parliament is the bastion of every democracy as other arms of government, exist in one form or the other under military and other autocratic systems. This explains why, the military, upon overthrow of a government, suspends parliament and the Constitution. Hence, the strength of any democracy can only be measured by the vitality or lucidity of it’s parliament.
Alas, this has become the bane of many democracies. The parliament is severely weakened by the high rates of lawmakers’ turnover. The advance democracies of this world understands this secret, while emerging democracies like Nigeria are still grappling with the challenge of high lawmakers’ turnover. Worse still, is archaic and mundane advocates of zoning.
What do you do with a situation where every election circle produces over 70. percent of newcomers’ legislators?. This accounts for why there have been increasing calls for concerted efforts to tune down the rate of turnover in the Nigerian parliament. Having a parliament dominated by newcomers blurs the ability to investigate and legislative oversight of the parliament as larger percentage of members had to learn through the ropes.
The longer a Parliamentarian stays
in the parliament, the better for good governance. The best demonstration of the advantage of a ranking parliamentarian is the Member, representing Isiukwato/Umunneochi at the House of Representatives, Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha. Like the Old Wine that gets better with time, Onyejeocha has learnt through the ropes in the last 16 years to become a thorough breed, regional and globally reputable parliamentarian.
She has demonstrated that nothing separates men and women in terms of ability. At the Nigerian parliament she stands shoulder high in legislative mastery. At the sub-regional parliament, the Parliament of the Economic Community of the West African States, (ECOWAS) otherwise known as the Community Parliament, Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha is a towering voice and a leading influence. She continues to make Nigeria proud at the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), a unique and permanent democratic institution which brings together an equal number of elected Members of Parliament from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states and Members of the European Parliament.
One may ask, how was she able to stay this long in the House? A former US secretary of state George P. Shultz was famously quoted to have said: “When trust was in the room, good things happened.” In other words, in governance like in every realm, “Trust is the rule of the game.”
Her ambitious yearly medical outreach is second to none.. This year was the 15th time. At a time she was holding the outreach in collaboration with the Nigerian doctors, until few years ago, when she started partnering with Living Hope. Together, over 40 medical doctors from the United States are brought into her Constituency, every year.
Though, COVID interrupted it at a point but as soon as COVID subsided, the programme got back on cause. Every year, the team perform at least, 150 surgeries absolutely free of charge. People come from different states for medical help during the outreach. Her paramount interest is to see people smile again, irrespective of whether they are from her Isiukwato Constituency or not.
Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha has made an indelible mark at the lawmaking arm of the Nigerian government. Suffice to mention a few amongst countless other bills she sponsored. HB 203: Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, HB 204: Nigerian Assets Management Agency (Establishment) Bill, 2019, HB 205: Securitization Bill, 2019, HB 206: Payment Systems Management Bill, 2019, HB 207: Witness Protection Programme Bill, 2019, HB 279: Medical and Dental Practitioners Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, HB 280: Psychiatric Hospitals Management Board Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, HB 281: Peoples Bank of Nigeria Act (Repeal) Bill, 2019, HB 282: National Eye Centre Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, HB 283: Food Drugs and Related Products (Registration, Etc.) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, HB 284: Loans (State Development) (Repeal) Bill, 2019, HB 1761: National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, HB 1760: Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, HB 1759: International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973 and 1978 Protocol (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, HB 1758: Survey Co-ordination Act (Amendment) Bill, 2021, HB 1413: ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons Bill, 2021, HB 197: National Hospital for Women and Children Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019 etc.
In addition to the foregoing, she sponsored a bill tagged Additional Seats Bill. She was able to rally the Speaker to co-sponsor and over 100 male lawmakers as signatories that includes the 12 women Parliamentarians.
The idea that Hon Nkeiruka has served four terms representing her people and should give way for another person to replace her as sold to the people by her traducers is not only parochial but betrays the level of their understanding of the workings of the legislative arm of government.
The current Senate President and number three citizen of the country, Senator Ahmed Lawan, did not just become the Senate President overnight. He learned the ropes while his people supported him all the years from the House Representatives till he was elected a senator and eventually tipped for the Senate President by his party.
The same thing is applicable to other experienced lawmakers in the red chamber of the National Assembly who, like Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, are all principal officers.
The current Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, is not the best politician in Nigeria, the same people who despise him, despise Onyejeocha but his constituency keeps returning him in the last 20 years.
Hon. Aliyu Betara has been in the house since 2007 and he was returned again by his people who continue to set their eyes on the ball – they want the speakership of the house.
What about Hon. Monguno the Chief Whip? He was also returned but not as a Reps member. He is today a senator-elect going to Senate in tenth assembly
The same thing with the Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Hon Peter Akpatason, who represents Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency for a record fourth term. The list are many from both chambers of the National Assembly.
Constituency benefits the more when their representatives are consistent.
The good thing is that she is still representing the good people of Imunneochi-Isiukwato Federal Constituency and at the verge of reclaiming her stolen mandate.
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