Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege.
By John Mayaki
In Nigeria, it is without a doubt that the common man suffers a lot of plights, and the general well-being of the society is not very healthy.
The situation of things in Nigeria is dire in such a manner it doesn’t respect class or demography. So long you are in Nigeria, young or old, there exist some socio-cultural, economic, and political issues staring at you.
One of the main assignments of governance is the mitigation and tackling of these issues for the sanity and benefit of citizens. This task brings a duty to the slate of representatives and leaders of the people and citizens of the country.
These leaders are therefore saddled with the responsibility of advocacy on behalf of the people in the government, they are expected to go out of their way and pursue social justice, equality, and pursue policies that will institute a comfortable environment for citizens to thrive in their professions, career, and practices.
Unfortunately in Nigeria today, not all the representatives and leaders abide by the prescription of this sacred duty. Many have neglected the clarion obligation to devote their stay at the corridors of power towards the betterment of humanity, specifically of persons from their constituency. This heartbreaking abandonment of principles and objectives of leadership and representation has led to a situation where the masses breathlessly scamper and thirst for quality leadership.
However, despite this bleak scenery, there has been sparse and few visionary leaders here and there. One of them is Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, the senator representing Delta Central, and the current Deputy Senate President. Omo-Agege, coming off from a career trajectory that spanned through the private and public sector, in the legal field, and in government, at home and abroad, brings a wealth of expertise to his duty as a lawmaker and a representative of his people.
It could be simply argued that Omo-Agege, by the virtue of being a lawyer, has it in himself to be restlessly concerned about the human condition and social justice, hence his advocacy and sponsorship of bills that advance human good. Yet this argument is insufficient and basic especially when we factor that the Nigerian leadership stage is full of legal practitioners who are incompetent and indifferent to the plight of the people.
Following the popular video that was released late last year by BBC after Kiki Mordi, conducting an investigative journalism on sexual harassment and predation in tertiary institutions in Nigeria and Ghana, revealed the depth of gross sexual misconduct prevalent in the system, Senator Omo-Agege sponsored a bill in the Senate seeking to criminalize sexual harassment in Nigerian tertiary institutions.
This action, again, points and proves of a man who is deeply concerned about the welfare of the people. This feeling for the goodness of society and resolute pursuit for social justice was put to test following the emergence of this bill as the arguments that raged from different sections of the country both supported and opposed the bill. Yet, Omo-Agege remained determined to achieve a logical closure of the saga by making sure that offenders are duly punished, hence eradicating to the barest minimum, the occurrence of such ugly practices.
It is in line with his determination that when the rage that followed the release of the video, and the conversation that his bill caused, both seemed to be dying down, the senator worked hard to sustain the momentum. His efforts yielded results and on Tuesday, 18th February, the Senate conducted a hearing for all the stakeholders involved and whom the bill concerns.
In his original statement, Omo-Agege asserted that: “Sexual harassment in our campuses is a repugnant challenge to our values as a people. For far too long, sexual predators masquerading as educators have plied the corridors of our nation’s higher institutions unchecked. It will continue in the absence of an appropriate leadership response.” In this light, the Delta State-born senator, in his own wisdom, concluded that without the intervention of upright leadership, the menace would continue – and that would be to our collective disadvantage.
The hearing and the conversations that preceded it, through both alluding and dissenting opinions, has enlarged the scope of the bill, adding needed dimensions and removing needless aspects to the law-in-making. Such an example is the suggestion that the crime be removed from the classification as ‘felony’ and also the idea that the bill should not be limited to tertiary institutions but secondary and primary schools.
From all indications, the future of the bill is bright, and will definitely contribute to curbing the hideous scourge blighting our school system. Now students will have hope and remedy in the law, trusting that their complaints will attract the attention and wrath of the law on the offenders. But beyond the fate, benefit, and advantages of this law, beyond the better society that this law will help us achieve, is the man by whom’s foresight and persistence we are having the conversation and about to have this law.
The goal, therefore, is not to beam the light of attention nor clap the cymbals of praise for Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (although he deserves so), rather it is to emphasize the importance of having leaders who are willing to, like John the Baptist, shout their voice hoarse in order to precipitate ideas, thoughts, and laws that will help achieve the ideal society.
The message is more expedient now that petty politics has become the norm, and through pointing this out, while bringing to the spotlight, the masterminds of progressive ideologies, we also encourage more of like minds to emerge the scene. May the grand architect of this universe grant Nigeria more Omo-Ageges.
Mayaki is a Professional Consultant on Communication, Management and Strategy.