The member representing Andoni/ Opobo-Nkoro Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Awaji-Inombek D. Abiante has fumed over the level of ignorance shown by constituents regarding legislative and executive processes and procedures.
He said the ugly trend is annoying, as these persons would go to the social media to denigrate lawmakers for perceived nonperformance, ignoring the fact that legislators had statutory roles to play in the political process.
Speaking when the Editorial Board of National Network newspaper called at his residence in Port Harcourt on Monday to present an award letter as Most Impactful Federal Lawmaker of the Year, as part of events marking the 18th Anniversary celebration of the newspaper, the legislator described the situation as challenging for a representative of the people.
“The challenge there is, when you get through the social media, you find a whole lot of us that are very ignorant of the processes, procedures, expectations and responsibilities of government officials across board”, he said.
He went on: “People still do not understand that as a legislator, you are not given money to go and do any project there. They don’t know that whatever you find is the result of your interventions. It is God’s grace first, and then, your ability to convince those at the lower Chamber. Three of us can present the same challenge but one person’s own can be singled out as what to attend to”, he explained.
The Rt. Hon. Abiante, whose bill seeking to scrap the NYSC programme caused a stir at the lower legislative chamber recently, said it would be necessary for constituents to understand the
responsibilities of governance, and its processes.
“There is this project in Bayelsa State, the road to Brass. That road was conceived in the 1940s. The first award was about N3m. As we speak, between 1940 and today, which has gone past 60 years, that road is still not completed. It simply means that the processes have not gotten through.
“It doesn’t mean that people are not making efforts. Several governors have made efforts – from the colonial government, to the old Eastern Region, to the old Rivers State and to Bayelsa State”, said the lawmaker.
He gave further instance with the Bodo-Bonny road. “The Bodo-Bonny road is a project that was on the second developmental plan of this country. The Terminal there was built and completed around 1963 to 1965 to ship oil from Nigeria. That was the first Terminal that was built. Even as we speak, the road is still not completed. Several governments have made attempts.
“For those who should know, that project is not even being paid for by the government of this country. It is being handled by the NLNG. They will get that money back through their tax rebates and all of that. But that road, from the 70s till today, is not yet completed”, he said.
“So, if there are interventions from a common law maker who does not have the power to appropriate, but only have the power of interventions and appeals, gets to have the ears of those in the Executive Arms to provide intervention for his people, I don’t see why people should keep abusing their lawmakers. They think that once it is conceived, it must appear on the same day”.
He urged the visiting Board members to use their platform as journalists to make the constituents understand the processes by way of information and enlightenment.
“There is a difference between he that has executive powers and he that is only endowed with courage and outspokenness. They are two different things. If the one in the Executive Arm decides to say I want to provide this, he provides it right there.
“But for the legislator, even if they (the Executive) say yes, the “yes” might not translate into reality immediate. It will still take processes”, he said.
Rt Hon Abiante drew instance with the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology, which approved has already been secured.
Hear him, “The approval has been given to us. It will award National Diploma and Higher National Diploma as an equivalent of a Polytechnic, but some people are shouting ‘it’s a lie’.
And I keep wondering the level of their understanding, whether some of them are really the graduates they claim to be”.
He also said that a campus of the Rivers State University has been offered to Tai Local Government Area for more than one year now, adding that the fact that the campus has not been commissioned does not deduce the fact that the campus has been offered.
“There are processes, and if our people get to understand this, I am sure the agitations would be tailored towards achieving much more than we think we can get”, he said,, even as he thanked the management of National Network following the nomination for the prestigious Award.
Speaking while presenting the Award letter to the legislators, the Chairman of the Editorial Board of National Network newspaper, Prof Gbarabon Nsereka, said the newspaper is happy to be associated with the parliamentarian whose humble disposition he described as legendary.
“We are not just giving you this award because you haven’t had any. We are sure you must have had a galaxy of them in different forms, format and purposes. Ours is to project you as a model that people should not just say they want to go into politics. They all say they are in politics because of pressures from their people.
They hardly say they are matured enough and have what it takes.
“For you, whatever was the pressure or initiative that gave rise to your coming up was not mistaken. You chose to contribute to the preservation of the sanctity of your people. We want to let people know that there are those are leaders. We feel that you are leading. As a human being, you have done your best within the period you are at the House and you need to be appreciated not just by the media but by members of the public. For us, you are a politician’s politician”, said Nsereka, a Professor of Communication Studies at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
In his vote of thanks, the Secretary of Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) in Ward 1, Ngo Town of Andoni Local Government Area, Hon. Otuokwun Inyene thanked the visitors, especially Publisher of National Network, Pastor Jerry Needam for the honor done to Abiante whom he fondly called ‘MP’, and described the Publisher as one of the finest, bold and courageous journalists in the State.
He said the Award would surely spur the federal lawmaker to do more not just for his constituents but for Rivers State at large.