By Emma Amaize
THE Member representing Ika North East in the Delta State House of Assembly, DTHA, Hon Anthony Elekeokwuri, has said that there was no constituency or local government area in Delta State that the state government steered by Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has not sited a project since he assumed office.
“Quote me anywhere, I do not think there is any local government or constituency that has not gotten anything from the Okowa government, either in terms of roads, youth empowerment, etc,” the first-time lawmaker asserted in a session on NDV’s Podium, a platform where political office holders and leaders render account of their stewardship. Excerpts:
OKOWA and I from same LG, by May, we will be two years. It has been good, we have achieved a lot as a body in terms of our constitutional responsibilities. We have also a harmonious relationship with the executive and we are all looking at the SMART agenda of the government of today and making sure that it delivers on promises.
The governor of the state is from my local government, but he is a governor, who is passionate in all the local governments. In my constituency he is opening up the roads so that people will have access to their farms, markets and relate with others. We are not there yet in my local government, but we know that he is working on it. Mine is to do my best as a lawmaker and attract the things I should ordinarily attract irrespective of the fact that we are from the same local government area.
How I’ m delivering on my promises: But personally, I have achieved a lot in terms of youth and women empowerment, especially on agriculture, healthcare, school and education. Right now coming from my stable as the member representing Ika North East, my constituency project is to provide desks and chairs to students because we have discovered that most of our students sit on the floor and I promised during my campaign that by the time I finish my tenure, no Ika North East student will be sitting on the floor in his or her classroom.
I have started distributing chairs, but we are not done yet. I can tell you that we have done so much if you look at some schools in Ute Obeje, Umunede and lots more. The communities have schools, but there are no chairs.
Administration/power dynamics: We also know that infrastructure in most of these schools are going bad and we are looking into those areas, you and I know that there is a paucity of fund, but when you tell people there is no money, they will think that you are giving excuses not to perform. It is our ability to maneuver resources to achieve results and also use your power of influence as a lawmaker that makes you an achiever.
We are also providing things that will make our constituents, especially graduates to acquire skills and using our contacts to send some people outside to the country where possible to be productively engaged.
My primary responsibility: But if you look at my primary responsibility in the House, it is to make laws, those laws that will open the space for development, and the laws that can help in delivering the dividends of democracy to our people. So here in this House, I have been able to push the Administration of Criminal Justice law, which had been passed by the House in collaboration with other members and forwarded for assent to the governor.
It is a very important bill, a bill that lawyers, litigants and others are happy with and I know that it will open up the space. Also I have been able to pass the Delta State Environmental Management Bill, which has passed through the second reading, and it is with the Committee on Environment, they are working on it. I know that it is going to be signed into law; you and I know what the environment is all about.
I am also looking at the Leasing Bill, it is coming up very soon, it speaks to the relationship between the lessee and the leesor, how government can come in, we are looking at the Infrastructure Bill, these are the bills coming in immediately we resume.
From your statement, you are happy with what is happening in your area, but others, particularly those from riverine areas of the state, feel that the governor has not done anything for them and are unhappy?
I do not know who you are hearing that from, I am surprised that you are saying this, but definitely, people will always want more, they want changes, they want things to work the way they want, but as far as I am concerned, the governor has delivered in all the constituencies, not just local government, and let me tell you, there is no constituency, point one and I will tell you that it is a lie, that has not gotten one project from this state government.
No local government, quote me anywhere, I do not think there is any local government or constituency that has not gotten anything from the Okowa government, either in terms of roads, youth empowerment, etc.
SMART wonders: In fact, if you look at the SMART agenda, you will be able to appreciate what this government is doing because this is a government that came in and said this is what we are going to do, and I am going to use this SMART agenda to achieve it and he is doing just that to deliver the dividends of democracy to our people. Look at youth empowerment, look at wealth creation, there is no constituency in this state that we have not been able to train people, there is no constituency in this state that does not have one or two projects done by this government.
So, nobody can say that I am saying that because I am from the local government of the governor, all the members of this House are my friends and I have traveled to their constituencies and have seen things the government has executed and if the people are complaining, they will be doing it through their representatives and I am not hearing that.
Inadequate funds to go round: However, we must understand that the state do not have enough money that will go round, but with what the government is receiving, from the point of view of the legislators through the laws of appropriation, the government is doing well. It is here in this House that we do what they call budgeting that has been passing through law and we do oversight to ensure that it is being implemented the way and manner that we passed it. And that is what the governor is doing.