By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Senator Joy Ifenyinwa Emodi, (Ada-Di-Ora-Mma) widely acclaimed as the Joy of the Senate for the grace and grit with which she attended her legislative duties during her Senate years has recently been appointed as Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly. An educationist turned lawyer before her political advent in the mid nineties, Mrs. Emodi’s sagacity and steely style in grassroots politicking is the subject of political folklore in her native Anambra State.
Mrs. Emodi was an elected Delegate to the 1994 National Constitutional Conference, and became the first Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Congress for National Consensus [C.N.C] and subsequently the National Legal Adviser of the same party.
Senator Emodi represented the Anambra North Senatorial district in the Senate between 2005 and 2010 in the course of which her bill to provide for the teaching of civics and ethics became the first private member’s bill to be passed by the last Senate. Her efforts in boosting the fortune of federal tertiary universities through her chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Education was recognized with honourary doctorates by the University of Abuja and the Nnamdi Azikiwe University and also fellowships by Auchi Polytechnic and Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Afikpo.
In an interview in Abuja, Mrs. Emodi discusses her present job, while asserting that a conducive legislative environment would be pivotal to the government’s transformation agenda also highlights the captivating capacity of the President’s new cabinet.
How did you receive your appointment as Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters?
I am grateful to the President for finding me fit for the job out of several many people. I am not going to disappoint him, I am not going to disappoint Nigerians. My main job is to form strong harmonious relationship between the executive and the legislative arms of government to ensure that they have smooth relationship that will dovetail into ensuring the execution of the President’s transformation agenda. One good thing about the transformation agenda is that it is not limited to particular points, but it is totally touching on all aspects of our society because there is no way you can lay emphasis on some and leave others.
He wanted a transformation of the entire system. One good thing is that he is charting a direction and once you have a direction or mission of where you are going, then the problem will be easier solving. It is my duty as the presidential adviser, though I call myself the presidential liaison person, to ensure that he does this under a very comfortable legislative environment to enable him achieve his goals.
You know that we won’t be able to achieve that agenda if we have a rancorous relationship between the President and the members of the National Assembly and by the grace of God I will use all my experience and contacts within the National Assembly to ensure that the two arms of government arm themselves with the patriotic vigour needed to achieve the transformation goals without any arm seeing themselves as being different. You know there were times when the two arms would see themselves differently as if they have different agenda. I want to build a relationship for the two to now work together for the common interest of Nigerians. Again, Mr. President is one who is ready to listen. So, I will find it easy to work with him because he is a listening President. Added to that is that the leadership of the National Assembly and the members of the National Assembly are patriots.
I can see that with the deepening of democracy that they are now more knowledgeable about the workings of the National Assembly. They are not seeing the legislative arm as a different government that is there set up to fight against the executive arm, so I will find it easy to achieve my aim.
Again, I am going to reposition the office in such a way that the bills going in and coming out would be properly charted. We have to also work with the National Assembly so that the bills that will impact on the lives of the people will be taken and given expeditious treatment so that people will feel the impact of our democracy.
Of course, you know you can’t achieve this without having some laws to act as a framework to support the agenda. There are some ideas that must be put into law and if you don’t, you won’t be able to operate them. When such bills come, it is my duty to explain them and by dialoguing with members of the National Assembly ensure that they give speedy treatment to such bills. So it is my responsibility to support Mr. President’s transformation agenda through providing the enabling environment in the National Assembly.
Yes all bills are important, but some are more important and require immediate attention to be able to achieve the purpose of the transformation agenda.
What do you think may have prepared you for this job?
What has prepared me for this job is my experience, number one as a lawyer and number two as an administrator in the educational field where I had the opportunity of dealing with human beings and human relationships. I acquired that when I was in educational administration. I actually specialized in Education Psychology. I read Geography Education first and one area I found interesting then was Education Psychology and that has helped me in dealing with people, patience and trying to be focused and building up resistance level.
I acquired that when I read Education and practiced educational administration. Then as a lawyer, I was equipped with the knowledge of the law then I was a member of the Constitutional Conference of 1994/95 and that was when I grew my legislative teeth. From there, I contested election and became a Senator.
Commitment and loyalty
From all these, I believe I am ably qualified to deal with this assignment. Nothing is ever easy in this country and that is why I have to bring out my best and it is in me that any assignment given to me I always like to bring out my best, be committed and be loyal to my boss and to what I am doing.
You have been some few days in the job now. So what has been your experience?
I see it as another patriotic call to duty. So far so good. I have found it challenging. You know I started with the screening of the ministers. I was able during the period to interact with some of them and I got convinced that they are ably qualified to be where they are today, especially the ladies.
They are so cerebral, through my interaction with them I found that the qualities of these ministers are better than what we had before and especially the ladies. I found them ably qualified to be ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and they are well equipped to push this transformation agenda.