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As a Federal Lawmaker, I’ve achieved a lot for my constituents and still counting —Abiante

Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante (Ph.D) is member representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency, House Of Representatives  at  the National Assembly. In this interview with Barth Ndubuwah and Ijeh Ekpowaji, he bares his mind on a lot of issues, ranging from lawmaking, constituency projects, politics, among others. It will surely make an interesting read. Excerpts:

How long have you been in the House?

I was elected into the  8th Assembly of the House of Representatives in 2015,  but before we could gather momentum,  my election was annulled by the Court of Appeal.  I thank God that my people stood by me throughout my travail. So my people were denied of representation  for a whole one year. I have never seen a charade in the name  of  election like that before.

We got back in December, 2016 after my mandate was restored, but we had to tag along.

But in 2019 my mandate was fully restored and we got back to work.

House of Representatives is a very big House. How have you been coping up as a lawmaker?

I don’t know what you mean by big House. I know that the House of Representatives is a House of 360 members representing different constituencies with several and peculiar challenges across Nigeria.

Even before  I  contested election into the House of Representatives  I already  knew  where I was going and what the environment would look like. So  barely eight weeks of my assumption of office at the House of Representatives as a lawmaker, I  had started addressing  the House about the  problems of my people. For the first time, Nigerians have understood who we are and our peculiarity.

It was through my efforts that for the very first  time  the budget of  oil producing states was reviewed from 1.5% to 8%. It has never happened before. We are hopeful that it will improve.

What are your achievements so far?

My achievements are numerous, ranging from education, power, skills acquisition, sports and what have you.

We also worked on education no matter how small. We are going to inaugurate some of our achievements on 26/12/2020. How I wish this interview had come after the inauguration.

We also attracted  water project to be powered through diesel generator.  The water has been installed and is running. We equally attracted solar power project across my constituency. We have  commenced linking my  constituency to national grid . There  is also  water intervention traversing the Andoni Communities.

We also understand that  the world is driven by  Information Communication Technology(ICT), so we have inaugurated ICT Centres in Andoni, Opobo and Nkoro and  they are running till date.  For the ICT, we paid  for subscription and also paid for instructors  since 2017. We built an ICT Laboratory in Ngo, the  Headquraters of Andoni, as part of the ICT Centre project.

We do not have a bank in Andoni, but First City Monument Bank(FCMB) through our ICT  project has extended  Point Of Service(POS) services to our area.

We have also installed street lights  in Andoni, Nkoro, Opobo and Asarama Communities.

I have also been organizing a football competition annually  in my Constituency for the past six years.

You may be surprised to know that there is no  blackish water in the agricultural  budget of  Nigeria.

That is why we cannot harness the potentials or opportunities that abound in the blackish water or mangrove environment. We pursued that bill to the point of passage by both Houses of the National Assembly, but unfortunately the President did not assent to the law, probably because of his limited information about the mangrove environment. The bill has been resurrected in the 9th Assembly. I am optimistic that with the level of advocacy now  the President will assent to the bill when it comes to his table.

I also sponsored fifteen other bills  and they are in different stages of passage.  Such bills include, South South Development Commission, Moral Accountability Bill,  Code of Conduct  Amendment Bill, among others.

What about the  Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC)?

I know you will ask this question. The bill is not new, the issue of Niger Delta has been bastardized, so it would have  made more sense if  the Commission was left as Oil Mineral Producing Development Commission(OMPADEC). With NDDC, almost all the states in Nigeria are added, For example, Abia, Imo, Ondo are all in NDDC. Are they in South South? The answer is no. So there is need to establish a Commission for the South South, a region with peculiar problems. There is North East Development Commission that takes care of their peculiar challenges, so why won’t there be South South Development Commission. So the bill is not out of place at all.

My argument is let us go back to the 50% sharing formula  as it was practiced before in Nigeria. Most of the developments  recorded in Nigeria were done during the 50% sharing formula era, the Cocoa industry in the west, groundnut pyramid  in the north, the coal mines in the east, among others.

We have even expanded the argument to include Value Added Tax(VAT),so the more you consume, the more you pay.

How will the Moral Accountability Bill/Law operate?

The Moral Accountability Bill is another important proposed law in the country. It is important that we live an upright moral life, especially as public office holders. It was in this country that people said former President Goodluck Jonathan was training snipers.  Was that a statement of fact? The answer  is no, so why should architect of such news not be punished?

The punishment under this Moral and Accountability Bill when passed into law would be naming and shaming.

What do you intend to achieve with the  Code of Conduct  Amendment Bill?

The intention of the Code of Conduct  Amendment Bill is to remove the control of the Bureau from the President. Again the bill seeks to increase the number of judges of the Bureau  from three to at least seven or nine. The idea is to make sorting or compromise difficult.

What is your message to your constituents and Nigerians at large?

My message to Andoni people is that they should not despair. Let them be patient.

Today people now know where and who Andonis are unlike before. So we are making progress.

For Nigerians, we need a rebirth, by that I mean everybody should do the right thing.

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