It is important I clearly state the following to enable the reader understand my objectivity and professional opinion in this commentary. I am not a member of PDP, APC or any other political party. I don’t know or claim to know any of the Congressmen mentioned herein, and do not in the present or in the future seek any favor from them. This endorsement is purely objective, without fear, biase or favor. I write in my capacity as a social commentator analyzing a trending issue.
Senate leader Ndoma Egba and Hon Owan Eno, House of Rep Chairman on Appropriations, both from Cross River State central district are neither my friends nor foes. On a normal day, I wouldn’t endorse any of them for a fourth term, not because they do not deserve endorsement, but because both men belong to the same retrogressive, inept, corrupt and inefficient political class that has placed Nigeria were we are today, and more importantly, I am not in the business of endorsements. This commentary is in response to my fans who have repeatedly asked for my opinion.
Based on social media commentaries, Owan Eno appears to be more favored and admired by his constituents than Ndoma Egba. Reasons for this may not be far-fetched. Owan Eno is alleged to be more philanthropic.
However, the fact that Ndoma Egba does not throw money around or appears snobbish and tight fisted or stingy as some may allege, in my professional opinion does not make him a poor performer as a Senator. To be very frank, Senator Egba is one of the best senators in the 7th Senate of the federal republic of Nigeria.
But in endorsing Ndoma Egba for a fourth term in the Senate, and Owan Eno to continue as Appropriation Chairman in the house, what then is my basis for action? Before you crucify me, please, be patient and read through my argument.
What makes a good senator?
A good Senator is not measured by the amount of people friendly projects they initiate or execute while in office. Purchasing cars, Keke NAPEP, providing scholarships, subsidizing local transportation, distributing cash to your constituents, assisting your constituents with jobs, appointments and projects.
All these are laudable, but still do not make a good senator. The reason is simple; Senators are not really elected into office to perform executive and charitable functions, rather they are elected to make laws.
Mass poverty in our communities has made the people look up to charitable support from their law makers, which over the years informed the introduction of constituency allowances and in essence downplay their law making responsibilities.
In developed democracies like the United States, Constituency allowances are not executed by the congressmen themselves, rather by a bureaucratic administrative agency through an objective grants allocation system. The real use of constituency allowances rather should have been to maintain congressmen offices in their local constituencies and not to initiate executive projects.
A good senator is not accessed based on the high number of bills they table to the floor of the House or Senate, rather they are accessed based on how many proposed and passed bills are accented by the President to become laws. A senator who proposed 500 bills to the floor for debate and none was passed into law is as bad as a senator who proposed none.
A good senator is not accessed based on how customer friendly he is to his constituents, opening his doors to everyone, attending cultural events in his constituency, providing boreholes and hospitals to his constituents, all these are laudable, but it does make a good senator. Rather, a good senator is accessed based on how he understands the dynamics of society and apply same to law making.
A good senator is measured on how logical his arguments are, how influential he is able to carry along his colleagues in getting bills passed, how influential he is able to create bipartisan alliances, and how respected he is among his peers. Based on these assumptions, I would adjudge Ndoma Egba a senator par excellence.
Having said that, Owan Eno is an honorable gentlemen. He occupies one of the most important offices in Congress. Chairman Appropriations Committee. This is one of the most influential committees in the entire congress.
In the United states were we copied our constitution, the chairman House Appropriations is the most powerful congressman only next to the Speaker and House Leader. But in terms of power, control and influence, this is one of the most powerful House of Representatives position.
For the chairman appropriations (Owan Eno) to seek to be elected a fresh man senator, as currently canvassed by his supporters is a step downwards in his career advancement. It should be made clear that if Owan is elected a freshman senator, he takes the cue, he is not going to senate to be elected senate leader or chair any meaningful committee, he is going there as a freshman senator.
His current position as Appropriations chairman places the duty of appropriating funds for the ministries, departments and agencies of government squarely on his shoulders. What congressional responsibility can be more appealing than this?
For Senate being called upper house and House of representatives called lower house does not imply senate’s superiority over the house. The difference between both houses has to do with geographic and population representations. Don’t get me wrong.
I am not saying the House of Representatives is higher than the Senate, rather, the position of Chairman, Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives is far more important and prestigious than being a freshman Senator.
It is unthinkable in developed democracies that the chairman of the House of Reps. Appropriation Committee will be seeking to be a freshman senator. For purposes of clarity and enlightenment for those who may not understand the importance of this committee Owan Eno chairs, let me take you down the path of further enlightenment to buttress my point.
“The Appropriations committee is widely recognized by political scientists as one of the “power committees,” since it holds the power of the purse. In addition, the ability to appropriate money is useful to contractors who have large federal projects as such, being on Appropriations, or more important Appropriations chairman makes it easier to collect campaign contributions and a lot of kickbacks what most will call bribery.
I am not implying that Owan Eno is corrupt as a result of his office, I am only trying to highlight the powers and importance of the committee he chairs. Given the powers allocated to this Committee, Owan Eno is in a better position to attract federal projects to his district than the Senate leader. One then will wonder why he should aspire to leave such a lucrative national congressional position to become a freshman senator, which by virtue of his freshness if he successfully replaces Ndoma Egba, may not chair any meaningful committee in Senate.
Ndoma Egba as Senate Leader and Owan Eno as Appropriations Chairman are in a far better position to have ensured that funds were allocated to work on the Ikom-Ogoja-Obudu roads given their positions in congress than Governor Imoke.
This is the truth no one has dared addressed about these men, rather we spend time talking on who attends new yam festival and whose convoy was denied access by thugs, who is stingy or generous.
It is important the truth be told, in the immediate past congress, both Owan and Ndoma failed the people of Cross River state for not using their leadership and appropriations position to have appropriated funds for the Ikom-Ogoja-Obudu highways by initiating moves to get the federal ministry of works include this roads in their budgetary allocation for the past fiscal years and using their positions to appropriate funds for the roads even if it is the second time in 5 years.
I am in no way making excuses for the Senate Leader and his perceived lackluster performance as alleged in some quarters, but if performance is measured based on job responsibilities as to why they were voted into congress, Senator Ndoma Egba is a Senator extra ordinary and should be allowed to continue in office.
Based on what we have seen so far in social media, Ndoma Egbas constituents complain for lack of accessibility to the Senator and him not being able to extend a helping hand in employment and federal projects. Let me make one thing clear to my readers as democracy and congressional oversight was meant to work.
The actual interface between a congressman and his constituents is the Chief of Staff. It is the responsibility of the Chief of Staff to the Senator to put together a structure that will meet the people’s needs.
Constituents that need employment, rather than seek the attention of the Senator should rather get their needs through to the Chief of staff. It is the role of the Chief of staff to solicit for available federal projects and bring to the knowledge of the Senator who will then use his strings to attract same to the state.
It is also the responsibility of the Chief of Staff to arrange for scholarships, jobs, appointments, openings, and other exigencies that will benefit the constituency and bring same to the attention of the congressman.
It will be a great disservice to the people of Cross River State to deny a Senator with such carriage and intelligence from a continuous tenure in office for reasons that are so frivolous, note, that while executive tenures are limited to two terms, Congressional tenures have no limits.
The framers of our constitution understood that term limits would destroy all sense of stability in the Congress. They further understood that Congressmen and women who have served for terms on end are much more aligned with the political system, experienced in writing, debating, and passing legislation, and ultimately hold a better understanding of government workings and governmental institutions than their newer and/or younger colleagues.
As such, they understood that term limit imposition would damage the Congress, “The People’s” representation, and ultimately the Republic”. As a social commentator, I agree with this school of thought.
Last year, I spent time understudying the Nigerian senate and their debate patterns. To be very objective, irrespective of ethnic brotherhood with Senator Ndoma Egba, he has the carriage of a senate leader.
His colleagues in Senate have great respect for him, and he has a charming personality and appeal that makes it easy for him to pull together votes among his peers to enhance the passage of bills. Same will be said of Hon Owan Eno, he has the requisite experience, charisma, ability to influence bipartisan bills using carrot and stick, ability to assign funding to the right units of government based on objective assessment rather than partisan influences, these are qualities Owan Eno possesses.
In the spirit of good will and brotherhood, Owan should continue as Chairman of Appropriations, because to be factual, the chairmanship of Appropriations is far better than being a freshman senator.
On Ndoma Egba, We recommend you for a fourth term, however, pay more attention to the basic needs of your constituents. While it is admirable to be a shining star at the national level, don’t forget the local people that sent you there.
Always remember, successful politics is local politics. I will appeal to political mischief makers in Cross River politics, let sleeping dog lie, allow Ndoma stay in office and appeal to Owan Eno to continue as Appropriations Chair.
Finally, let me use this medium to appeal to Governor Imoke to intervene in this crisis and let peace reign. Our culture believes that a dysfunctional family is not just the fault of the children, rather it is the fault of the parents.
His Excellency, you are the leader of your party, put your house in order, this is the time to show leadership in your perceived political family, show the people that the political house you have built for the past eight years is built on the rock, for neither the rains nor the storms would pull it down, but if this house finally falls, then we will rightly assume that your past eight years only witnessed a political house built on the sands of distrust, disunity, disloyalty, sycophancy and political hypocrisy.
Finally, the crises rocking the state political class, if left unattended, may rubbish everything you have put in place in the past eight years of your administration.
Once again, Owan and Ndoma, sheath your swords, maintain the status quo, and let the sleeping dog lie.
PRINCEWILL OJONG ODIDI IS A PROJECT CONSULTANT AND SOCIAL COMMENTATOR WRITING FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. PRINCEWILLODIDI@YAHOO.COM
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