In the early twenties in the Niger Delta Region, the name Daniel Oritsegbubemi Reyenieju was a household commodity particularly during the ‘Warri Crises’ of 2003-2004 between the Ijaws and Itsekiris, both in Delta State.
He was then the National President of the Itsekiri National Youths Council. It was him and the present Deputy Governor of Delta, Deacon Kingsley Burutu Otuaro that signed the document that brought the crises to an end after intensive negotiations which took place in Benin City between the Ijaw and Itsekiri youths.
In 2007, Hon. Reyenieju contested for the elective position to represent the Warri Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives. It was indeed a venture in which he easily sailed through into the Green Chamber to the admiration of the people of the area. For 12 years (i.e. 2007-2019)) reports had it that he dutifully and productively represented that electoral space interms of displaying sound diction and capacity for articulacy on the floor of the House on issues of legislative concerns, initiating and successfully putting through a lot of bills that finally became laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and very significantly, deploying his deep knowledge of the functions the parliament in democracy to attract infrastructures to his constituency. With the general election coming up next year, the name of this tested Federal legislator (Daniel Reyenieju) who is a philosopher by training is diversely being mentioned in the different quarters as the most likely successor to Senator James Manager who has been representing the Delta-South Senatorial District since 2003, but now gunning for the governorship position in Delta State come 2023.
Information at our disposal indicates that you intend to contest for the Delta-South Senatorial seat under the auspices of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); could you please confirm?
I am indeed going to contest by the special grace of God (the author and maker of life) and I will be replacing Distinguished Senator James Manager in the Red Chamber, come in 2023. As you know, Delta State is a mono-party State with the PDP as the only visible and formidable political party that has been providing the desired veritable platform for mobilizing electorates, and thus the beautiful bride. Conscious of this indubitable fact, I began by engaging in serious consultations with party members to assess the extent to which my aspiration will be acceptable to the party and thus put me forward as the party’s flagbearer for the Delta-South senatorial district in the forthcoming 2023 general elections. (Cuts in)
In your honest assessment, what has been your experience as you consult?
so far the responses from leaders and party members, and particularly the delegates that I have interacted with have been very resoundingly encouraging and unparalleled such that they approximate some forms of mini-acclamation for me, prior to the real ‘acclamation’ that will come up during the party primaries of 21st May 2022.
Being aware of my robust and enviable legislative pedigree at the National Assembly, the preponderance of party members including delegates in the Delta-South Senatorial District that I have interacted with remain positively disposed towards my aspiration to represent them in the Red Chamber, come 2023 and all that they tell me is Daniel our man, go on, we are for you and you are the man of the moment that the senatorial cap fits, come 2023. With such, I was encouraged to procure the expression of interest and form nomination forms, filled and I have returned same to the National Secretariat of our party.
Now that you have thrown your political cap into the ‘ring’, hope you are conscious of the fact that you will have to confront other contestants; some with diverse enormous capacities?
From what I have seen so far particularly the unfathomable degree of consciousness, including those that I am aware are likely to contest against, I am far from being perturbed.
The current political/electoral ambiance in our senatorial district robustly favors me. Please note that the current democratic dispensation started in 1999 and after over 22 years, we can boldly concur that Nigeria’s National Assembly has significantly matured such that it will amount to political self-immolation for any senatorial district to send neophytes to Senate as such person must of necessity assume the status of backbencher. This indubitable fact most party members and specifically PDP delegates in the forthcoming primaries of 14th May, 2022 are very conscious of, and they take this seriously, and thus will not want to be represented in the Red Chamber by a potential backbencher. From my consultations sofar, those that have shown interest to contest the Delta-South Senatorial seat fall within this categorization of potential backbenchers and such most party members are conscious of particularly the extent that such will be disadvantageous to our Senatorial District; a situation that party members are prepared to avoid; and thus stay away from willfully creating a presence that that can compromise the relevance of our senatorial district in the Red Chamber, come 2023.
I am very certain that our senatorial district will not make the mistake during the primaries to elect a greenhorn who inherently remains deficit and bereft of legislative experience, such that are required to perform optimally in the House of Senate. If any of these fellow aspirants had come up in 1999, 2003, and 2007, it would have been understood; but not after over 22 years of the existence of Nigeria’s House of Senate.
It is a reality that the Delta-South Senatorial Constituency has the Ijaw, Isoko, Itsekiri, and Urhobos as constituents and you are of the Itsekiri extraction. Do you not think that the Isoko will also be interested assuming that the Ijaw may not, for now, want to contest since one of them has been there since 2003?
Thanks for this question which is very gamine. Fortunately for us of today in the Delta-South Senatorial geopolitical space, our ‘political progenitors’ had in their wisdom envisaged such an issue and thus had provided amicable working arrangement since 1979 based on the principle of rotating the representation amongst the trio ethnic groups. For time and space constraints, I will just summarize how this pragmatic arrangement for ensuring interethnic mutual respect has worked amicably. Within the context of this arrangement, the Isokos for example, has produced 2 Senators, the Ijaws now having James Manager as their second Senator, while the Itsekiris have only produced one that represented the senatorial zone between 1979 and 1983.
Since we all are desirous of equity and mutual respect and acknowledgment, it should be the turn of the Itsekiri to now produce her second senator to at least be at pal with her Ijaw and Isoko counterparts. You may be surprised to know that party members amongst the Ijaw and Isoko individually and collectively appreciate this fact; and this is for the sake of equity, fairness and natural justice ensconced on the principle of doing unto others as you would want others to do unto you.
What do you intend to tell party faithful that you think will entice them to see you as eminently qualified and better than other contestants for the Delta-South Senatorial seat?
At the risk of repetition, I cannot identify any intending contestant for the senatorial seat from the PDP family that has equivalent cognate experience as my humble self. But even at that, I have been engaging in consultations as I have already said, and others may also be doing the same.
That I was in the Fed. House of Rep. for 12 years is known to a significant proportion of party members in the Delta-South that I have interacted with. In the legislature, such robust legislative experience remains most treasured in the workings of parliaments and particularly in the allocation of offices/leadership of committees for example.
Thus, if I am put forward as the candidate of our party (PDP) and elected come 2023, I will automatically assume the status of a ranking Senator and will be in the position to attract dividends of democracy to the senatorial district. With my incontrovertible legislative experience, constituents will rest assured that they are being represented by a competent, experienced, and versatile individual in legislative matters, and in the ‘politics’ of the National Assembly; as against experimenting with inexperienced and neophytic individuals who if mistakenly elected will of necessity to begin with a learning process and inadvertently regress the historical status of Delta-South in the Senate.
I recall that in the 7th Assembly, I was the Chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Committee in the Federal House of Representatives. This is a position that will expose occupants to parliaments in the different parts of the world; and thus leadership of the House are very careful of whom they appoint to occupy the position because of the enormous tasks and responsibilities involved. For example, within the first year of my chairmanship of the committee, I was elected as the Vice-Chairman of Commonwealth Parliamentary Union, African region; in view of what my colleagues in different parts of the world considered as my outstanding performances.
That position (I still recall) exposed me to interact with members of parliaments across the globe which inadvertently deepened my knowledge of the capacities of legislative assemblies and processes of lawmaking including different strategies for lobbying in the parliaments. This acquired experience remains reflected in the totality of the numbers of bills I successfully sponsored, numbers of motions I moved that went through, including deploying the instrumentality of the parliament to get some of what constitute specifics/particulars of infrastructural developments to the Warri Federal Constituency for the period I was a member of the Federal House of Representatives. Even within my first term, I was able to deploy a particular form of lobbying strategy which I usually describe as ‘privatized-shuttle lobbying diplomacy’ to get two mega projects which include Koko-Ogheye, and Omadino-Escravos roads for the Warri Federal Constituency.
When both are completed, major oil installations in the Escravos axis of the Warri South-West Local Government Council, and Olero (Warri North Local Government Council) including hundreds of Ilaje, Ijaw, and Itsekiri communities in that axis will be linked by roads. Unfortunately, since I left the National Assembly, the requisite push to get budgetary provisions for both projects has been stalled resulting in both mega projects being abandoned by the contractors. The lists of such megaprojects that I was then able to attract to the Warri Federal Constituency are umpteen.
The same I have the capacity to replicate for Delta-South Senatorial district, and even more, if I get the party ticket and get elected into the Senate in 2023. In brevity, parliaments all over the world place a high premium on members’ legislative experience and the Nigerian Senate is not an exemption. It thus behooves the PDP delegates in the Delta-South Senatorial District that after about 23 years of the present National Assembly, we should ensure that whoever we elect to represent us in the Red Chamber will not be a neophyte who will automatically be a backbencher in the Senate. Importantly, if I am nominated by our party and voted as senator representing the district in 2023, I will be eminently qualified to vie for any position reserved for the South-South zone in the Senate; of which none of my fellow contestants, (if mistakenly elected) will dare.
For example, since it is clear (in my view) that our party will most likely win the presidency including having majority members in the National Assembly come 2023 as a result of the abysmal performance of the APC government, (depending on the zone the next president will come from), the South-South zone could have the position of Senate President, or any other principle officers’ positions zoned to it. If that be the case for example, because of my legislative experience if finally elected, I will eminently be qualified to contest for any of such positions by virtue of being an automatic ranking Senator. Thus, any mistake to send a neophyte there will dangerously regress our senatorial district a d Devalue the Value Already established by past Senators of the Senatorial District ; and will constitute what we categorize as ‘category mistake’ in philosophy.