By Chris Ojeikere
The clamour for Senator Matthew Urhoghide to return to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to represent the good people of Edo south senatorial zone, is too critically significant to be based merely on titillating effusion from glib talking advocates. Neither would it be entitled on the sheer complacency of a narcissist, nor yet, on a sense of entitlement by the Senator himself. No, those egoistic credentials would not be tenable for such a sophisticated zone, as Edo South. Pro Urhoghide’s return to senate advocates must do better than that. They must present evidence –based measurable deliverables. They must avail us with unassailable empirical arguments that his eight years sojourn in the upper chambers of the National Assembly added commendable value to Edo South senatorial zone, in all matters particular. The three planks of appraising this would include: (a) contributions to law making (b) over sight functions and (c) attracting developmental projects to his zone. Participation in debating yearly appropriation might be worth mentioning also, but hardly the focus. This article appraises therefore, how the serving Senator has lived up to, or failed to live up to those expectations of citizens from his zone. The appraisal is mindful of the circumstances under which the Senator is operating; as a member of the opposition party, and from a minority zone. We will be guided by general statistical analysis, and not sentiments. We shall dwell on the evidence before us.
First, we note that Senator Urhoghide’s maverick predilection at presenting cutting edge bills that affect the lives of average Nigerians on the floor of the senate, has become legendary and has earned him national respect from colleagues and observers near and far. Many are envious at the prescience with which the Senator digs out bills of such huge significance to the lives of ordinary Nigerians, but which have eluded the minds of many before then. Anyway, it has become common knowledge that it is because of his empathetic bonding with the grassroots, whose needs and pains he takes deeply to heart. Truly, as a man is, so he thinks!
Take the bill to licence, regulate and supervise microfinance businesses in Nigeria for instance. Everyone knows that the fastest way to grow developing economies like Nigeria’s, is to rely on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). China today owes its thriving economy to the deliberate development of their SMEs economy. Of course, the closest financial institution, easily accessible to the SMEs, is the micro finance banks with uniquely developed lending strategies that are flexible to all prospective borrowers. LAPO Edo South, Nigeria, has taught the rest of Nigerians how to Lift citizens Out of Poverty. Senator Urhoghide was quick to understand that having a national law regulating such an important sector would open limitless opportunities to would – be investors in the SMEs businesses, while simultaneously, securing borrowers’ confidence. He understood that consequently, more money will be in circulation and the multiplier effect that would have on wealth creation, savings and other economic variables that help to make the economy virile. He passionately pursued the bill to the delight of the Nigerian masses.
In concomitance to the laudable bill for SMEs explained above, is the National Farm Settlement and Youth Empowerment bill, which reveales the thoughtful ingenuity of the Senator about agricultural strategies for food sufficiency and youth employment. Imagine the number of families that would have been engaged in productive agriculture; living in farm settlements across the country. Millions of youths would not only have been gainfully employed, they would also be acquiring skills and professionalization in the food and agro chain industry. The result will be more than enough food sufficiency locally, and value added agricultural produce for export. If there is one emergency need in Nigeria today, it is to have food sufficiency to cater to the poverty and Ill health of citizens in our country. Again, it was Senator Urhoghide who could think about that and pushed it on the floor. What about the bill pushing for the need for fair and equitable distribution of federal health facilities in all six geo-political zones of the country? Does that not speak for itself? Story cut short, Senator Matthew Urhoghide’s choices of bills connects to the grassroots arguably, as no other Senator’s has, since the fourth republic. We can go on and on, but we have limited space here.
If Senator Urhoghide is a role model in law making processes, his genius in over sight functions is even more remarkable. At the Senate, he has had the privilege to either chair, or served and still serving in many committees; including: being the chairman, Senate Public Account Committee. Senator Matthew Urhoghide also sits as a member of several other standing committees, including: Culture and Tourism; Health; Appropriation; Niger Delta; Housing; Senate Services; Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes; Ethics, Petitions and Privileges committees, etc.
As Chairman, Senate Public Accounts Committee, his novel reforming style of legislative oversight, has become famously observed to be top notch result oriented to the delight of Senate presiding officers, who have ensured they made it possible for him to retain that chairmanship through two legislative tenures. His diligent and meticulous probe into MDAs spending practices, in relation to the Fiscal Responsibility Act and Financial Regulation Act, has earned his committee the alias, “Courtroom”. His searchlight covers about 797 agencies, with work enough to keep several senators busy for a long time. Yet, the workaholic Senator takes all that in his strides with admirable gusto.
One of his remarkable genius at oversight, was his uncovering of several agencies that are functioning as government agencies, without any law setting them up or regulating their operations. This was a landmark oversight achievement. Apparently, the Edo South diligent Senator has suddenly become something of a czar of the senate; fighting corruption in public spendings. Many consider his methods a very strategic way to kill corruption in our MDAs, if successfully executed. Indeed, the Senator has much left in the upper chambers to be pulling him back there. By the way, it should be noted that the Senate Public Accounts Committee is the only Senate Committee mentioned in the Nigerian Constitution. That in itself underscores the importance of the committee to our democracy. And by extension, underscores the Senator’s valued place in the upper chambers. We will not go into the third plank of attracting development to his community here now, because that will almost be a treatise on development It will follow in the next article with copious evidence. Trust me, on that turf, the Senator does have some bragging rights. He is indisputably peerless in rural and grassroots connectivity and development.
Senator Urhoghide is good to go!