By Chika Nwabueze
His emergence as the Speaker of the 7th Abia State House of Assembly was remarkable and well celebrated by followers of Abia State politics, many of who believe that Engr. Chinedu Orji has both the mental ability and political sagacity that will engender vibrancy in the legislative functions of the state house of assembly, as well as promote good governance in the state.
Barely six months in office as Speaker, Rt. Hon Orji has not failed both the legislators who unanimously entrusted leadership of the Assembly on him, and the people of Abia State who have put so much hope and trust in him that he would put his feet down for the executive to do the right things in terms of delivering democracy dividends to the people.
Rt. Hon Chinedu Orji is an extra-ordinary politician who has demonstrated in so many diverse ways of his commitment to the welfare of the citizens of Abia state. He is one politician who could be said to have ticked the right boxes politically with his eyes focused on the ball. Before his election to the state assembly in 2015, Rt. Hon Orji fondly called Ikuku by his numerous supporters and admirers blazed the trail in the state in terms of youth empowerment initiatives through which he lifted many youths and homes out of poverty. In fact, he showcased his leadership qualities well enough that he was literarily begged to assume the speakership seat of the Abia House of Assembly.
Those who know were of the opinion that with Rt. Hon Chinedu Orji as Speaker, the welfare of Abia workers and indeed Abians would be a thing of priority. And indeed, the House of Assembly under his leadership has in the discharge of its oversight functions intervened in the payment of workers’ salaries. The committees set up to probe some ministries and parastatals over non-payment of salaries did a good job that produced results in the short run to the credit of the legislators.
Also, the legislative intervention in the issue of refuse disposal which became one of the low points of the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu administration, prompted the rejigging of the refuse management agency, ASEPA, which has in turn resulted to greater efficiency in refuse disposal and environmental cleanliness of Umuahia and Aba, the two major cities in the state.
However, the legislative intervention in some of these areas which is a derivative of governance in the state attracted side comments from certain quarters, who alluded that the Speaker is out to usurp the duties of the executive. They alleged that in probing some ministries and parastatals, and in speaking out against the refuse menace in the state capital Umuahia, that Ikpeazu was the target.
Some interests also went ahead to accuse the Speaker of plotting to impeach the governor of Abia State ahead of 2023, but the allegation has no merit, according to The NewsCritic findings. For one, the plenary of the 7th Abia State House of Assembly is open and well publicised online not to leave any doubt about a secret agenda or motive. But the hawks in Governor Ikpeazu government appear to be resolute in instigating a clash.
Again, from all indications, the Abia Assembly is more concerned on making good laws for the benefit of Abia citizens, a reason why so many people oriented bills have been sponsored and passed into law by the legislature.
Some of the bills include the Abia State Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill 2019, which was sponsored by Rt Hon Orji. The bill when passed to law seeks the prohibition of every form of violence against all persons in Abia State and for other matters connected therewith.
The Speaker while presenting the bill during plenary disclosed that he decided to sponsor the Bill was due to the need to protect all Abians from every form of violence including political, domestic, sexual, and spousal etc. He added that it has become necessary in view of the rising incidence of violence against all persons globally, both the weak and vulnerable. The bill has passed second reading in the house.
There is also the Abia State Equal Opportunities Bill 2019 and the Abia State House of Assembly Service Commission Law 2019. This Bill was passed into law within the first 100 days in office of the Speaker.
For one, the 7th Abia House of Assembly can be said to have been able to prove beyond every reasonable doubt that it is concerned about people oriented laws that will benefit the suffering masses. Therefore, it is of little wonder that Rt. Hon Orji was voted the best performing speaker in Nigeria today, an award that he merited by every standard, according to analysts.
Apart from the remodelling of the Abia House of Assembly complex to a befitting legislative structure, Speaker Orji has put in place mechanism to reward dedicated staff of the assembly. To this end the first to be adjudged the best staff of the month Mrs Ijeoma Ezuta has been rewarded with a Toyota Sienna mini bus for her dedication to duty.
The reward was in fulfilment of the promise the speaker made to workers of the state assembly in June, that the assembly would begin to reward hard-work and dedication to duty. He said that the car gift is only one out of the several packages he has in stock for the workers.
NewsCritic reports that the car gift is the first of its kind in the history of the Abia State House of Assembly and by extension the state in general. Many described the gesture as being in line with the welfarist policies of the Honourable speaker.
At any rate, Rt Hon Orji has shown a high degree of personal commitment to the peoples’ welfare which has endeared him in the hearts of Abia electorates. Beyond his direct touch initiatives, his youth empowerment programmes cut across all the spectrum of the society. He has awarded scholarship to countless number of indigent students in the state, and also receives more applications for financial assistance more than any politician either living or dead in the state today on account of his humanitarian goodwill.
The Abia House of Assembly, since the emergence of Rt Hon Orji as speaker has on a daily basis witnessed large number of group visitors, and protesters alike who find him a listening ear. What it implies is that the speaker and the assembly are daily under pressure from the public, who are in need of one form of assistance or intervention, thereby transferring what should ordinarily be the burden of the executive to the legislative arm.
But how is the speaker coping with all these requests at this period when the 2019 elections were barely over is only left to one’s imagination, but one thing that is certain is that Rt Hon Orji will never shy away from generosity, for him it is a kind of calling.