By Perez Brisibe
In an institution that is built on seniority, ranking in the Nigerian Senate is very valuable. It confers huge benefits including more powers within party caucuses, front row seats in the Senate chamber and better office space. But more importantly, ranking is used in the selection of candidates for leadership of the Senate and appointments of committee chairmanship.
It is for this reason that constituents are often inclined to re-elect their representatives rather than sending “greenhorns” to represent them at the legislative arm of government.
Despite these obvious benefits of seniority, Delta Central has never returned a senator.
Senators from the district who did one term each are Chief Fred Brume, who served in the 4th National Assembly, Olorogun Felix Ibru who was in the 5th Assembly, Adego Eferakeya in the 6th Assembly and the late Olorogun Pius Ewherido in the 7th Assembly.
Though Ewherido increased the bench mark for representation for the people, his agenda and aspirations for the people were cut short by death leading to a by-election which produced Olorogun Emmanuel Aguariawvodo to finish his term in office.
The failure of Aguariawvodo to return saw the emergence of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege in the 8th Assembly following the sack of Chief Ighoyota Amori by the Court of Appeal, seven months into the assembly. This trend has given rise to the cliché that, no senator representing the district is re-elected.
Delta Central, with 8 local government areas, plays host to the Urhobo people with a total of 819, 118 registered voters according to the register of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, used for the 2013 bye-election.
Unfortunately, the people of the district have not been so lucky on their representation in the Senate following the wanton changing of senators with the beginning of every Assembly hence sending “greenhorns” into the red chambre.
The cost has been huge. No Urhobo man has assumed a leadership position in the Senate. Only Brume, who was elected to the Senate in 1999 when all members of the hallowed chamber were first timers, was able to secure the chairmanship of a committee.
Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, despite already being a super star in the Senate, is only the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport. This is obviously not good enough for the fifth largest ethnic group in Nigeria. And 2019 provides the Urhobo people a great opportunity to correct the situation themselves.
Omo-Agege will soon declare his interest in second term to represent Delta Central and, if he wins, he’ll become a senior senator and that matters greatly for his constituency, the Urhobo.
While already a very popular senator in the APC and, at a time, one of only two APC senators from South South, Omo-Agege could not make a chairmanship or leadership spot in the Senate.
But all that would change should the people of Delta Central re-elect him.
Omo-Agege would go back to the Senate as one of the prominent progressives, able to compete for a leadership position or secure the chairmanship of a very powerful committee.
He would have a very good chance to get a chairmanship position and a leadership position, which a new senator won’t have. And he won’t be a backbencher.
This is a decision before the people of Delta Central but Omo-Agege knows that to ensure his return, he must be above board in the representation of his constituents.
To buttress this point, the lawmaker, while speaking to newsmen at the Osubi airport where a large number of his constituents came out to welcome him after being away for three months at Abuja championing their cause, said: “They sent me to the National Assembly to represent them; in sending me there, they have realized that I was one out of a total of 109.”
It is in the light of this that a chieftain of the APC, Chief Great Ovadje Ogboru, who had accompanied Omo-Agege from Abuja to the warm embrace of his constituents, noted that Urhobos are proud of the lawmaker, saying, “You can see that from the crowd that has turned out to welcome him.”
Omo-Agege’s promises fulfilled
Omo-Agege had, after his stolen mandate was restored by the law court, said it was a victory for the Urhobo, assuring that the delay in giving him back the mandate would not affect his performance as he had resolved to better the lot of the people.
True to his word, the lawmaker did not allow the delay in giving him back his mandate to affect his performance as he has not just been a true representative to the people of Delta Central, he has also taken the bar placed by the late Ewherido a notch higher by making the Urhobo a tribe to reckon with owing to his vibrancy on the floor of the red chamber.
Interface with constituents
First, he launched an interface with his constituents on social media platforms through his vibrant media team to brief them on daily happenings on the floor of the Senate and opened a channel of communication for accessibility to feel the pulses and needs of his people especially those in the grassroots.
In hitting the ground running, the senator facilitated the construction, supply and installation of 10,000 gallons Braithwaite, solar powered water supply scheme complete with pipes network each at Ughelli main market and Ugborikoko Market in Ughelli North and Uvwie local government areas respectively.
The lawmaker also facilitated the upgrading of existing town distribution network and construction of 11KV/415, 300KVA transformer substations in selected locations in the district with some of them namely; Construction of 500KVA transformer Substation at Uduere Street, Otovwodo Community, Agbarha Junction, Ughelli North, construction of 300KVA transformer Substation at Okorotumu St. Effurun, Uvwie, construction of 300KVA transformer Substation at Osia Junction, Ughelli North, construction of 300KVA transformer Substation at Isoko Road by Central Mosque, Ughelli North, and the construction of 300KVA transformer substation at Daniel Umukoro Extension, Uloho Avenue, Ughelli North council area.
He engineered the installation of dental and ophthalmological equipment to Mariere Memorial Central Hospital, Ughelli in Ughelli North local government area.
Omo-Agege as a legal authority
In his effervescency as a legislator, he stamped his feet as a legal authority on the floor of the Senate over his position on the amendment of the Electoral Act, 2018 which led to the leadership of the Senate slamming a 90-day suspension on him.
Refusing to suck his thumb and go home with his suspension, Omo-Agege approached the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to quash the suspension.
The court, in a judgment by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, held that the reason the Senate adduced for suspending Omo-Agege was unconstitutional.
The ruling has since exposed the over stepping of the bounds of the leadership of the Senate.
Omo-Agege, despite being a greenhorn in the Senate, has achieved all these in his first term in the Senate, a development that catapulted him as a member of the APC caucus.