It is fair to argue that his stay in the National Assembly was quite momentous.
In less than five months he had sponsored motions that touched on the economic life of Nigerians and made an effort to drive them. Foremost among these motions were ‘Ports Decongestion/Revival of Moribund ones and the Sim Swap Fraud’. The two motions were as popular with the masses as the zeal with which members of the prized Assembly adopted them. They did not suffer the tortuous confirmation bills and motions usually go through in the Assembly. They simply scaled through. Besides these two motions, Ibezi had four important bills and eight motions already listed in the Order Paper before the Appeal Court struck.
Nigerians were elated and the media offered him honeymoon. His people of Idemili were on Cloud Nine. Just as all these were on-going, a special panel of Appeal Court was not impressed. About the time public hearing and visit to the port facilities were concluded and attention shifted to the SIM Swap Fraud, the special panel of Appeal Court struck, vitiated his mandate and offered another his office. This essay is not about Hon. (Dr.) Ifeanyichukwu Ibezi for he acquitted himself well during the period he held court at the 9th National Assembly. It is also not about how he has carried on since he left office because he has moved on. It is about how the good people of Idemili North and South will fare under his replacement. What promise, if any, does this replacement hold for the highly dynamic people of Idemili?
Hon. Obinna Chidoka who replaced him cannot be called a new kid on the block, at least, not when he has had a four-year stint at the National Assembly. He is by Nigerian parlance a ranking legislator who is not new to the business of the House and should be accorded some respect due to his experience. But again, this essay is not going to dwell on whatever legislative experience he would have ganered during his previous representation. That will serve no purpose at all. The essay will concern itself with the present as with the future of representation of one of the eleven federal constituencies in Anambra State and the biggest in Southeast Nigeria. Apart from its size and the speed of urbanization, Idemili North and South Federal Constituency are unique. It is the home of some of Nigeria’s best scholars, statesmen, clerics, businessmen, media gurus among others.
To this extent, it will be a great disservice to have as a representative of the constituency that produced the likes of Professors Chinua Achebe, Pius Okigbo, Alex Obiefoka Animalu, Ginigame Mbanefoh, Muodilim Achufusi, Herbert Kodilinye’, Emmanuel Obiechina, Oye Chukwurah, C. C. Ifemesia, Ben Obumselu, Christopher Okigbo etc one who is not committed to anything. Or to have one who goes off at a tangent – who is easily distracted from the business of representation – speak for Francis Cardinal Arinze, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Oyibo Odinamadu, Col. Emmanuel Nwobosi, Bishop Albert Kanene Obiefuna, Bishop Stephen Ezeanya, etc. It is expected that if the Nigerian state cares less about these men and women who fought a good fight, their representative should do well to honour them.
The environmental threat in the constituency, evident in gully erosion that eats deep into the seventeen towns, is real and demands a representative who has the determination to look for succour, however little. Much as a representative has no executive powers, he should be seen to make effort to needle the pertinent authorities. He must not be seen to be sitting on his hands while ecological funds are deployed to less challenged areas. He should be vibrant, mix up with others and, where necessary, apply wire pulling influence to get things done. It is not enough to take office and sit back for lotus-eating and dancing spree. Idemili North and South Federal Constituency deserve a hard-working representative who should give his all.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Hon. Obinna Chidoka has enough time – four good years to offer better representation. What the constituency had before Ibezi’s stint was no representation at all. It was devoid of public interest. Chidoka has ample time to complement what have been started and possibly surpass them. He has to work hard in order to delete his past record which was by no means colourless. It laid no claim to quality representation. It is expected that the five months he was in limbo before the decision of the Appeal Court were enough time for him to have adjusted to the nuances of public representation. He has time now to prove that his first coming was a mistake and that he is ready to make amends. Idemili people are eager to see the things he is bringing on board, especially, in this New Year. Why he, and not Ibezi, should represent them.
It will be regrettable to think that he has taken the office once again without clear intention of what to do. The good people of Idemili, nay Igbo, are waiting with bated breath to see what becomes of the Onitsha River Port. How he hopes to follow up on the much Ibezi did. What other motions of common interest to the people he will sponsor. How he intends to utilize his membership of the many committees in the House to lift the fortunes of his people.
It is good to remind him that Ibezi’s stay in the House, though short, has set a standard of representation for the constituency. That apart from the motions and bills, the young man made good use of his membership of the committees, especially, the one on tertiary education to effect changes in the lives of his constituents. Not less than thirty persons have been offered jobs in the Federal University of Technology, Owerri and the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Federal Capital Development Authority, Alex Ekwueme University, Ndufu Alike, Federal University, Wukari etc, with a firm promise to have more employed. UNIZIK, for the first time within the five-month period, had her take-off grant, withheld for 27 years, revisited by the committee on Tertiary Education. The road leading to the palace of Igwe Obosi which is now under construction was captured in the 2019 budget through the same effort. He opened two functional constituency offices at Ogidi and Ojoto which provided employment to 25 people from Idemili.
It will be of no use recounting what Ibezi did before he went into the house and what he has been doing since leaving it. Only very few politicians without selfish considerations, and they are not many, will carry on in the manner the young man has pursued his goal of representing Idemili North and South federal constituency in the National Assembly. Honourable Chidoka has to up his game this time. Idemili should not be relegated to the background.
At least the constituents can attest to the fact that certain things hitherto thought impossible are after all very possible. He must be answerable to the people.
Anyaduba, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abatete, Anambra State.