Hon Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, 49, a fourth timer in the House of Representatives, a two-time chairman of the House Committee on Aviation, and two-time local government chairman, represents Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Federal Constituency of Abia State on the banner of the APC. In this chat, Onyejeocha spoke extensively on why she wants to pilot the affairs of the House in the Ninth Assembly if elected speaker.
By Emman Ovuakporie
How do you fancy your chances of winning the race in a male-dominated House? Do you think Nigeria is ready to have a female number, four citizens?
I don’t think it is fair to generalise because Mr President has said it in different fora of late that women will be given a fair share in his administration.
I sincerely believe him and I do know that our country has matured over the years to have a female speaker. Mind you I am not the first because in the sixth Assembly we had a female Speaker though her tenure was truncated. And I strongly believe I can pilot the House to a position of envy if given the chance.
What are the strategies you have to achieve this if elected?
First and foremost, I will adopt a legislative agenda with a clear framework for compliance and monitoring. Since the 7th Assembly, we have adopted a legislative agenda to guide our work. I must say this has been a good initiative by the House and I hope to continue and improve on it.
I will begin by engaging various stakeholders to seek their input to ensure the agenda for the 9th House is even more robust and promising
I will also ensure that there’s improved communication with the general public because we are in the assembly to represent their various interests. It is often said and I believe that the legislature is the closest arm of government to the people.
Since the legitimacy of our mandate as members is dependent on the people and their continued support is necessary for us to achieve our constitutional responsibilities, it is important for us, as a collective body, to embrace and enhance our relationship and engagement with them because four years from now we would be called to account for our stewardship.
This is a 360 membership House, how do you hope to cope communication wise?
From my experience, I have learned that our relationships within the House impact our work and effectiveness.
Consequently, I will run an inclusive, responsive and transparent leadership to foster harmony in the House. I will ensure that as much as possible, there’s a conducive environment for legislative work and collaboration across party and ideological lines.
Since the House is transiting into a new House what are you going to do about bills that were not concluded?
A number of key reform bills were proposed, considered and passed in the 8th House. Chief among them is the constitutional amendment bills which contained significant amendments such as financial independence for our counterparts in the states.
The successful adoption of these laws and their ascent into law was a milestone in the 8th House, unfortunately, a number of some other Constitution amendments were not assented to while some other key reform bills were not concluded or adopted by the 8th House with its term running out.
These include bills such as the Police Reform Bill, Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, PIGB, Universal Basic Education Act Amendment Bill, the National Assembly Budget and Research Office, NABRO Bill, Audit bill, Witness Protection Programme bill etc. There were also many bills touching on security, employment, improvement of the business environment, etc that were not concluded or vetoed. I will work on them to ensure they are revisited and concluded.
What are you going to do about legislative oversight in the 9th House?
Oversight is an important duty and power bestowed on us by the Constitution. Our oversight of executive programmes and activities is acknowledged by all as being critical to effective performance and good governance in Nigeria. While I believe that the 8th NASS accomplished a lot with respect to oversight, more work needs to be done.