By Ugaba Emmanuel
Democratic governance in Nigeria, particularly the presidential system of government as being practiced has afforded every federal constituency the opportunity to be represented at the National Assembly.
Igede nation, being the third largest ethnic group in Benue State is designated as Oju/Obi Federal constituency in the National Assembly, particularly the Federal House of Representatives.
The return to the present democratic governance in 1999, when the military handed over power to the elected civilians, saw the emergence of late Rt. Hon. Altine Idikwu who flew the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flag in the Federal House of Representative as a member representing Oju/Obi Federal constituency.
His election was without doubt aimed at projecting the Igede people as a unique and united indivisible tribe because he was acceptable by his people.
However, Rt. Hon. Idikwu, unfortunately could not live up to the expectations of the people of his constituency because he could not achieve much for his constituency in terms of attracting Federal presence.
In his bid to secure the mandate of his people to return to the House a second time, he built a two-room block and donated to the people of Ojwo in Orihi Council Ward of Obi local government area to be used for Primary Health Care Centre.In addition to this, he built some V.I.P toilets in some parts of his constituency just to curry in their favor, to vote him for a second term.
The return of Rt. Hon. Idikwu to the NASS in 2003 was highly resisted but he had his way because of the power that prevailed.
However, his second tenure was cut short by the cruel hands of death and before then, he was made Chairman, House Committee on Labour, a position that would have enabled him to give employment to several unemployed youths from his constituency. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
In 2005, Hon. Augustine Adikpe was elected to complete the tenure left by his predecessor. After completing the tenure, which was to me, uneventful, he was still re-elected for a second time.
Rt. Hon. Adikpe was not remembered to be a Chairman of any known House Committee and throughout his stay as a member of the Federal House of Representatives, his only achievements that I can remember are his contributions to the roofing of Omi Ny’ Igede Hall and in his very words, “I have reached the forest of money.”
The two past members of the Federal House of Representatives were not known to be versatile in the House plenary sessions.
The emergence of Rt. Hon. Samson Okwu in 2011 was a greatest surprise to many people in his constituency. He was the youngest of all the aspirants.
Rt. Hon. Okwu was a staff of the National Assembly where he rose to the position of the Special Assistant to the Senate President on Finance before he resigned to contest for the position of the House of Representatives member for Oju/Obi Federal constituency.
Many of his antagonists doubted his effective representation because he was not known to be an outspoken personality. Many argued that he lacked the ingredients for parliamentary performance because they believe he is deficient in grammar.
On the contrary however, he proved his antagonists wrong right from the start when he opened the eyes of his people to know that there is more in the House of Representatives to participations in the plenary debates.
Rt. Hon. Okwu attracted several federal projects to his constituency which cut across almost all the communities in his constituency in terms of critical infrastructures like roads, electricity supply, bore holes, classroom blocks, etc. Time and space will not permit me to name the specifics.
However, for avoidance of doubt, among so many critical infrastructures are, the construction of Oju Ebenta road, Ujume Edumoga road in Oju LGA, Adum-East- Ohuma road and Adum-East- Adiko road in Obi LGA are some of his remarkable achievements in the area of rural roads construction and rehabilitation.
These achievements endeared him to his people coupled with his giant strides in human capacity building and philanthropism so much that the 2015 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary election for Oju/Obi Federal Constituency that was characterized by the political Higgy haggar aimed at torpedoing him was unsuccessful.
Today, Rt. Hon. Okwu is Chairman, House Committee on Nigeria Air force, all eyes are on him from his constituency to influence the recruitment of his people into the force.
The Igede people in the employ of NASS today is traceable to his influence, both as a one-time staff and now member.
Though arguable, Rt. Hon. Okwu has set an unprecedented record that any one that will succeed him will be in for a heavy task.
As the clock is ticking towards 2019, God willing, will Rt. Hon. Okwu be bold enough to step into his master’s, Distinguished Senator David A B Mark, shoes at the Senate? Let us watch and see.