CaringHeart: Complementing quality Legislative Representation with Philanthropy in Ebonyi State
The 8th National Assembly is believed to have passed more bills than any other since the return to democracy in 1999. It is known for pro-people legislation despite criticisms and frictious relationship with the executive. As Martin Luther argued: The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
One unhidden giant in the green chambers of the 8th assembly is Rt. Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie, FCA. Every close observer of the national assembly cannot deny that the Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institutes has not surpassed previous records. With Hon Linus as the Chairman of House Committee on Agricultural Colleges and Institutes, Nigerians are witnessing far-reaching legislative interventions like never before. Oversight functions are thriving and proposals for reforms are given primacy.
One of them is the bill to professionalize agricultural profession. By tertiary education, we are agriculturists. At the University of Nigeria, we gladly recall those policy-level debates and recommendations, calling for the professionalization of agriculture as a discipline. Experts believe it has the potential to reverse the declining application, admission and demand for faculty of agriculture based courses in higher institutions nationwide.
Because of drudgery associated with subsistence agriculture in Nigeria, young people are not attracted to agriculture and agribusiness. Looking back, I see the former minister of agriculture — Dr Akinwumi Adesina, wailing under Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) that Nigeria must do everything possible to attract her youths to farming or risk a full-blown food crisis.
Responding to the discrepancy, Linus’-led committee initiated a bill to repair the negative perception of Nigerians to agriculture. With the bill, it is intended that agriculture would transit from an abandoned profession to enviable one, driven by young people with their inherent disposition to innovation assimilation or adoption. Linus is a game-changer!
Another gesture that endeared us to Hon Linus was: Bill for the Establishment of a National Agency for the Welfare of Vulnerable Persons (NAWVP). Providing and ensuring better welfare for the vulnerable, economically disadvantaged, persons differently enabled, etc, does qualify for quality representation, righteousness and sound moral content. The technicality and spirit of bills sponsored by Linus summarizes his personality as a humanitarian and pro-people legislator. Going by the recent status of Nigeria as the capital of extreme poverty in the world, Nigeria needs legislators like him to intensify pressure on the executive to implement appropriate public policies and corresponding antipoverty programmes.
Since the aim of this piece is not to exhaustively chronicle his legislative outputs, let us briefly highlight a chapter of his philanthropic initiatives that had stirred or marveled his constituents. But before then, history talks about Haroun al Rashid — an 8th century caliph of Baghdad, who frequently disguised himself and went unaccompanied into the streets of his city to see the life of his subjects in the ungarnished or uncensored reality. Ladies and gentlemen, the same testimony is true of Hon. Linus. He’s a grassroots politician and specialist in political cum social mobilization.
Just last week (August 12, 2018), in what would have been a silent thanksgiving service in honour of Hon. Linus by CaringHeart Vanguards — an NGO comprising of constituents who had been guided or assisted to secure government appointments in the Federal Civil Service. Surprisingly, it escalated to an “appreciation rally”. With little efforts, the thanksgiving service attracted the Executive Governor of the state — Engr. Dave Nweze Umahi, commissioners and top-level functionaries, royal fathers, Christian Association of Nigeria, women and youth associations, community-based organisations and indeed the general public from Ohanivo Federal Constituency in particular and Ebonyi State in general. An exciting observation was that the audience cut across political parties, even perceived political opponents. The rousing crowd implies a sanction or endorsement for his bid to re-contest his seat come 2019. Furthermore, it symbolized a deep-rooted appreciation of his quality representation or even a show of support for his future aspirations.
Let us not forget, Ohanivo is coming from a background where it was hard or almost impossible to associate top federal bureaucrats with Ebonyi state. This is partly because Ebonyi was among the last 6 additional states created in 1996. We lacked robust representation and our people suffered exclusion at the federal level. Hon Linus’ commitment and sustained engagement since his election resulted to over 80 constituents been employed in the federal civil service, and still counting. From the beginning, he made it known that one distinct pillar of his mandate is job creation, employment and empowerment. Being an honest man, Linus has kept his promises. He treats my pronouncements as oaths that must be honoured. What a man!
A fallout of the appreciation rally is what has left the entire constituency open-mouthed and overwhelmed. Hon Linus — the grand patron and benefactor of CaringHeart Vanguards, has announced a scholarship endowment for all members (now and in the future) of the organisation who enrolls and completes his/her higher degrees in any discipline of choice. The takeoff grant is a sum of one hundred thousand naira (N100, 000.00k) which stands to be reviewed according to prevailing economic realities. This is intended to incentivize postgraduate education in Ohanivo. It has since been welcomed by the targeted beneficiaries, of which the first class of awardees will soon be announced. For us, Linus is the real sheriff who is in the city.
According to the holy book, “None of you will be a true believer, until he wishes for his brother whatever good he wishes for himself”. Hon. Linus wishes the same good for his constituents as he does for all the good people of Ebonyi state. He wants Ebonyians to reach the same advanced levels as our elder brothers e.g. Imo and Anambra; he wishes that Ebonyians could take bold initiatives, excel and prosper in all fields of human endeavour. Although he’s proud of our past achievements, he wishes that Ohanivo attain greater heights. He said: I will never feel satisfied until all Ohanivo constituents prosper, achieve and excel. Linus is a true servant, sent by God and loved by his people.
Hurriedly, let us advice, recommend and conclude. As we know, there are huge benefits accruable to ranking legislators and principal officers. By experience, influence and qualification; Linus stands the chance of making the hierarchy or leadership of the green chambers if re-elected in 2019. As a consequence, it is only advisable that the good people of Ohanivo and his political party — PDP, unanimously adopt Hon. Linus as the consensus candidate for the Federal House of Representatives. The constituency stands positioned to attracting gigantic constituency interventions and other associated legislative dividends. This is one way Ohanivo can sustain her current influence in Abuja — Nigeria’s seat of power, attract more development-inclined interventions and deepen the massive enlistment of Ebonyians into the federal civil service. So far, Ohanivo cannot be the same again because Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie is our representative in the green chambers of the National Assembly. This should be written in books and taught, even to our unborn children.
Written by Ani Nwachukwu and Njoku Chukwunweolu. For correspondence, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org