Bills in 9th Assembly: How Benue House of Reps members performed
By Nick Odeh
Nigeria's 2023 General Elections, scheduled to hold in two phases, begins with national elections, February 25, when voters will elect members of the House of Representatives. Amongst those seeking the votes of the electorate are incumbents who have been renominated or new comers battling to cause offsets.
It has become necessary to ferret information for appraisal of incumbent lawmakers' performance in the core area of lawmaking as these lawmakers are entering the last quarter of their four-year term, of the 9th Assembly, ending in May, 2023.
This appraisal, however, is without prejudice to the performance of lawmakers in the areas of scrutinising the work of government, commonly referred to as oversights, and provision or attraction of projects for their constituencies. àHouse of Representatives members are elected to represent the specific interests of their constituents, but are representatives of their local governments and must consider their needs as a whole. And, as every parliamentarian knows, the recruitment process for effective representation is driven by the prevailing conditions of competence, commitment and capacity to drive the vision of development. Representation therefore, is not passive. It is full of challenges. And any poor job of representation has consequences.
Benue State has 11 Federal Constituences spread across three Senatorial Districts of Zones A, B and C. Each Federal Constituency is represented by an elected member. According to National Assembly Records, the total Bills tally of House of Representatives members from Benue State, in the review period, [year 1 - 3 of the 9th Assembly (June 2019 - May 2022)], was 42.
Rt. Hon. John Dyegh, a third term lawmaker, representing Gboko/Tarka Federal Constituency, leads the Benue delegates in Bills sponsorship. He has14 Bills to his credit, including the Electoral Offences Commission Bill, which is currently at the Committee stage. The ranking member was elected to the Green Chambers in 2011. He remained a committed member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) until he defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in December, 2021.
Hon Dyegh was nominated by his Party to contest the 2023 House of Representatives election. He will be slugging it out with Regina Akume, the candidate of APC, and wife of Sen. George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations, and former Governor of Benue State.
The lawmaker representing Katsina-Ala/Ukum/Logo Federal Constituency, Hon. Iorkyaw Richard Gbande, in the period under review, has seven bills to his credit, while Hon. Mzondu Benjamin representing Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency, has sponsored six bills. Both lawmakers are members of PDP and, interestingly, they were renominated by the party for the 2023 polls. Hon. Mzondo will be fighting his re-election against the APC candidate, Hon. Dickson Tarkighir, a member of the 8th Assembly, whom he replaced. Representative Gbande will be challenged at the poll by Solomon Nongo, the candidate of APC.
Hon. Francis Ottah Agbo, representing Ado/Ogbadigbo/Okpokwu Federal Constituency, and Hon. Kpam Jimin Sokpo, representing Buruku Federal Constituency, have both sponsored four bills each. They are closely followed by Hon. Tyough Robert Aondona of Kwande/Ushongo Federal Constituency, who has three bills in his kitty.
Hon. Aondona, a first term member of National Assembly, and a consensus candidate of PDP, is being challenged by Terser Mgbor of APC. And Hon. Kpam Sokpo, who was renominated by a new Party, the Labour Party, LP, will face two opponents at the poll. They are Sekav Dzualyortom of APC and Agba Terkaa of PDP.
The incumbent lawmaker representing Ado / Okpokwu/ Ogbadigbo was not so lucky. He lost his bid to return to the House of Representatives. He lost the ticket to Barr. Aida Nath Ogwuche, who will now slug it out with her APC opponent, Chief Philip Agbese.
Also, tied on the same tally of sponsored bills, in the period under review, are Hon. Samson Okwu, representing Oju/Obi Federal Constituency and Blessing Onuh Onyeche of Otukpo/Ohimini Federal Constituency, with two bills, each. Hon. Okwu, a ranking member pursuing a fourth term ambition, was renominated by the PDP, and he will be contending with the APC candidate, Peter Oboh Egbodo , at the polls, while Hon. Blessing Onuh of APC, will battle Alex Enokela Ogbe, the PDP candidate.
The total Bills sponsored by the 11 House of Representative members representing Benue State in the Green Chamber, stands at 42, in the (June 2019 - May 2022 ) review period. Surprisingly, the trio of Iorwase Herman Hembe, representing (Konshisha/Vandeikya), Mark Terser Gbillah of (Gwer East/Gwer West), and Godday Samuel Odagboyi, representing (Apa/Agatu) are the only members of the Benue State delegation without a bill.
Incidentally, the trio are not billed to return to the Green Chamber of the National Assembly. Hon. Odagboyi of PDP lost his renomination, thereby leaving the coast clear for new candidates: Adama Joseph Adama (APC) and Ojotu Ojema of PDP. The duo of Mark Gbillah and Herman Hembe are Labour Party candidates pursuing different ambitions. While Gbillah is seeking the Senate seat for Benue State ( Zone B ) Senatorial District, Rt. Hon. Hembe wants to be the next governor of Benue State.
From the foregoing, it is a testament that this whole business of representation is not a tea party. It demands some sweat. And the point has been made that success is never certain, and failure is never final.