Nana Opiah And The Albatross Of One Term For Elected Officers – By Collins Ughalaa
Let me quickly make this disclaimer: the accusation by some callers that I was paid N500,000 by the member representing Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West Federal Constituency, Rt Hon Goodluck Nana Opiah, to write my last article: 2019: Rt Hon Goodluck Nana Opiah and the charlatans, is completely false. I hail from Oguta LGA and as such belong to the same Federal Constituency with Opiah. Part of my roles in the politics of my constituency, local government and community is to enlighten the people and guide them to make the right choices. Because when we fail we all fail together.
Having said that, it is my considered position that Rt Hon Nana Opiah is the best choice for Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West Federal Constituency in 2019. Oftentimes people are led away to make the wrong choices without clearly understanding the issues. This is the reason the watchmen should always be at their duty post and ensure that corrupting tendencies do not find their way in the people and also that the people are truly abreast of the issues in the polity.
There have been claims of a certain agreement for one term for legislative officers in the constituency. I was told the agreement was reached prior to the 2015 general elections. I was not party to the agreement, but whosoever were privy to such agreement should realise now that such agreement is dangerous to our growth as a people and that it is a waste of our time to change our players every half time on the field, whether they are fine players, gaol scorers or not. We cannot make the mistake of murdering our generals before every war and then expect farmers to become our commanders in the battle.
The Igbo community is renowned for encouraging their bright children to go up the ladder. Pull him down is therefore antithetical to the community spirit of the Igbo people which preaches total support for a brother.
Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta/Oru West Federal Constituency is peopled with quantum intelligent people who are capable of retracing their steps if they realised they made a mistake. If there was any agreement for one term for legislators in the Federal Constituency, I urge the leaders to see it as one of the mistakes we have made in our quest for credible representation and abrogate such heinous agreement as we approach 2019.
Insisting on one term for lawmakers is akin to discouraging political growth and a waste of time and resources. It is better to allow our elected officers the privilege of a second term so as to allow them the opportunity to exhaust their agenda. Doing so will put us in the right stead to access them and know whether they need to be changed, because they would have played full time. It is only when teams play full time that the game is called and a winner announced.
As rigorous as legislative assignments are, it is practically impossible for any man to realise all his legislative agenda in his first term. A second term is a better opportunity to drive those policies already begun to logical conclusion and to kickstart fresh ones.
Second term for legislators would create the opportunity to build on their experiences and allow then the opportunity for self assessment. It will also allow the elected lawmaker the opportunity to climb up the ladder and get recognition as a ranking member. Being a ranking member oftentimes creates the opportunity to head sensitive committees and engage more in the politics of the House. A ranking member will have the opportunity to broaden his base and reach out the more. He would be in a more vantage position for wider and better negotiations.
These top negotiations create tradeoffs and eventually produce the dividends of democracy, which the lawmaker brings home to his constituents. Unlike a first term lawmaker, a second termer would negotiate from the position of some strength, especially when he heads a sensitive House committee.
Our elders and leaders know that the reward for good work is not sack letter but more work. This is why elders don’t support changing the winning team.
The fear of losing when the winning team is changed in the middle of the game is greater than when they are retained. Winning teams therefore build on their experiences and are more self-motivated with their previous successes than a fresh team that are oftentimes overcome by either anxiety or too much expectations from the people. Thus they miss beautiful scoring chances. Winning teams are more confident and this yields beautiful fruits for all at the end of full time on the play.
The saying that a bird in hand is better than a million others in the forest, and that the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know, are different ways of expressing the dangers of changing a winning team.
Political experts opine that constant politicking do not only kill ingenuity, but creates instability, strife, undue rivalry and heats up the polity. Situations like this when allowed to grow could engrain the wicked spirit of pull-him-down among the people and creates a dangerous cycle. Once we allow the one term agreement to subsist we cannot be able to change the goalpost in the middle of the game in the future. Even when we grow older and have better perspectives on critical issues as this, we might become powerless because a bad precedence would have been set. This is the time to set the right precedence by supporting second term for elected officers, particular when a lawmaker performs creditably.
Rt Hon Goodluck Nana Opiah has performed creditably and needs the support of all for a second term, so that he can have the opportunity to press the right buttons for the Oguta Lake bridge and other wonderful projects. A new breed cannot give this to us. Not in four years.
We would be the ultimate losers if our lawmakers are changed every four years, because we wouldn’t have optimally gained from them. It would be a waste of our precious time sending new people to learn the ropes every four years, while other constituencies allow their lawmakers ample time in the House, and then they become bosses to our freshers every four years.
In other climes such as the United States and United Kingdom, lawmakers are allowed to spend ample time. The longer they stay the better they perform. In some cases some of the lawmakers have stayed for decades. The result is that they do better each time.
Among the Igbo people it is believed that no one throws out his chicken because of the meows or growls of the cat in the night. This age long belief of protecting our generals, or what belongs to us, is a reason our leaders should resist those who think that going to the House of Reps is their best chance to making money. Making money or self enrichment should never be the criterion for aspiring to go to the House of Reps.
Our leaders should remember that it pays retaining our lawmakers and encouraging their political movement up the ladder. Take for example lawmakers like Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, Rt Hon Bethel Amadi, Hon Ezenwa Onyewuchi and Hon Jones Onyereri, etc.
For Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, he represented his people of Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency for 12 years. In those 12 years he became Chief Whip, Deputy Speaker and Acting Speaker. The exposure he gained honed him for higher future political aspirations, culminating in his becoming the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State in 2015. Ihedioha is also a serious contender for the 2019 governorship ticket of the PDP.
Rt Hon Bethel Amadi also contested the PDP governorship ticket in 2015 after representing his people for multiple terms. Hon Ezenwa Onyewuchi is climbing up the ladder to the Senate for Owerri Zone after representing the people of Owerri Federal Constituency in the House of Reps for 8 years. Ditto Hon Jones Onyereri who is now running for Senate of Orlu Zone after representing his people of Isu/Njaba/Nkwere/Nwangele Federal Constituency multi terms. For Senator Samuel Anyanwu, he rose from the local government system as Chairman, to the state assembly and the Senate. Based on the experiences he has gained over time, he is now running for the governorship ticket of the PDP.
The gains from upward legislative movements cannot be quantified. But when will our own lawmakers enjoy this upward legislative movement if we always cut them short midway?