Constituency Projects: Building and Sustaining Interventions, Youth Empowerment and Pro-people Legislative Outputs in Ebonyi State
With citizens embracing the practice and phenomenon of constituency projects (since its inception in 2004), strong questions have arisen on its constitutionality or lack of a definite regulatory framework for its practice. Critics argue that “constituency projects regime has neither a legal framework for its existence nor were it provided for in the present Nigerian constitution.” However, in the 4th Republic, the adoption of constituency projects has evolved in the legislative tradition and appropriation process of the legislative arm of government with abundant discussions on its successes and/or failures.
Looking at the trend of collapsing security and governance at the grassroots across the federating units, many public analysts claim that constituency projects are the only footprints of the federal government in many rural communities. This is true in Ohanivo Federal constituency in Ebonyi State. Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie, FCA; has pursued job creation and youth empowerment by ensuring that his constituents access federal jobs and opportunities using the instrumentality of federal character and quality legislative representation. It is common to hear constituents, who had gained federal jobs in the last four years, allude to a strong correlation with Hon Linus Okorie Factor. In all truthfulness, he has pursued this course with vigour and rigour. Adding more examples will only justify the obvious.
First, the announcement on April 7, 2018, that Abaomege Dispensary (a community managed facility, built in 1932) has been handed over for renovation was received with ecstasy. Immediately after the handover ceremony, words were backed with action and de-roofing of the facility started in earnest. As monitored and reported by active constituents, the reconstruction/renovation of the dilapidated dispensary is over 95 per cent completion. In addition, a standalone modern sanitation facility (comprising of toilet/bathroom cubicles and a motorized borehole) was incorporated to the project to aid service delivery. This was informed by the fact that provision of standard healthcare starts with the provision of water and sanitation facilities. If the people could access affordable healthcare, their well-being indicators would change. Hon Linus has not in any way failed the people of Abaomege community — the old Ukawu political block. He has exceeded their expectations.
Second, job creation and youth empowerment remains an area of special interest to our Caring Representative. In 2018 alone; on April 29, Daily Independent reported that 50 farmers of Ohanivo were trained on horticulture value chain and another 50 farmers on cashew production and processing which were facilitated by resource persons from National Horticulture Research Institute (NIHORT) Ibadan and Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) Ibadan, respectively. In a similar vein, The Nation Newspaper reported on March 30, that no fewer than 200 cassava farmers were trained in modern cassava farming and value chain. And on April 25, a citizen journalist claimed that about 21 constituents participated in a Skill Acquisition and Empowerment Training on Fish Production and Feed-Making, held at the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology, Lagos. Worthy of note is a Thisday Newspaper report of April 05, on the procurement of N643.5 million worth of agricultural implements for farmers in the South-east zone as attracted by Hon Linus. While this list is not exhaustive, conclusively, our Representative has demonstrated sufficient commitment in human capital development, more than any other in the political history of Ohanivo Federal Constituency.
While this article cannot conduct a comprehensive assessment of Hon. Linus’ legislative outputs/dividends, we have highlighted verifiable examples to buttress his excellent representation and legislative footprints. The press conference of March 28, 2018 which adopted a bottom-up approach to social and economic intervention projects aimed at addressing felt needs of the people, is believed to have fertilized the stage for transformation of the constituency. In the address, constituents were enjoined to independently monitor the implementation of projects in their localities. This call (social accountability) was a seal on the integrity and intent of Hon Linus.
In the constituency, an intergenerational socio-political legacy that Hon. Linus will bequeath is political consciousness especially among the youth. Since the end of the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War in 1970, the constituency has never witnessed the current measure of Civic Political Engagement currently thriving in the grassroots. More youth are getting involved. In the long run, this will strengthen our democracy and citizen participation for improved service delivery and good governance. Grant that we conclude with a proverb which states: one good turn deserves another! As 2019 general elections draw closer, Ohanivo Federal Constituency should ensure that Hon. Linus Abaa Okorie, FCA, is returned to the federal legislature for continuity and consolidation.
This article was written by Ani, Nwachukwu Agwu and Ogbu, Emmanuel Ogbonna. Ani is a rural development specialist while Ogbu is a presidential aspirant in the forthcoming EBSU-SUG election. In addition, Ogbu is competent with sound character. He needs your support to win his election.