The Edo State House of Assembly member representing Akoko-Edo Constituency 2 comprising Wards 1,2,8,9 and 10, Honourable Emmanuel Agbaje, has listed his modest achievements while expressing his pain over his several frustrated efforts to deliver more substantial dividends of democracy to his constituency.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Chairman Media Committee, Akoko-Edo Forum, Dayo Omoogun and made available to DAILY COURIER.
According to the statement, Agbaje made the disclosures while presenting his score card and fielding questions from the Akoko-Edo Forum members during a nearly 3-hour virtual meeting hosted by the Forum on Saturday 10, September 2022.
“Much as I cannot say that I have an impressive scorecard, I have done my best in the circumstance.”
While noting that the primary responsibility of a legislator is to make laws for the good governance of the people, he admitted that most ordinary Nigerians lack this understanding, and the needs of the people and the infrastructure gaps are huge that no responsible leader can ignore them. He also recounted painfully how the current government abolished Constituency Project in 2016 and how the House has fought to have it restored to no avail thus far.
“But of course, there is a programme called Constituency Project. That programme was created as a bridge between the constitutional responsibility of a legislator and the expectation of our people; when the people vote for their representatives, all their expectations center around what you can do for the community, local government area, or locality. Our people are not yet where they get to understand that there is something called Separation of Powers.”
According to Honourable Agbaje, this informs his constant quest to attract developmental projects to the local government and intervene in personal/ health crises of several individuals across the Constituency, often using his personal resources. Citing several examples, he stated that the performance of any legislator depended on the Governor’s political will and generosity.
“In 2015, when we were sworn in, it was under the (Oshiomhole Administration) we were lucky to have the first year constituency project approved. Incidentally, in 2016, barely a year, the government changed, and the new government, unfortunately, abolished Constituency Project”.
He lamented the situation where some communities have to pass through other local government areas to connect with Akoko-Edo headquarters or other communities within and how he had fought to remedy the situation by including such roads in the budget to no avail. Among the examples of projects he had presented several times seeking budgetary accommodation without success are Ojirami to Egbigere, and Igarra Township Roads, among others.
On a positive note, however, he recounted excitedly how he was able to raise a motion regarding the power blackout situation in the local government area within two weeks of his inauguration, after which power was restored a few days later.
“I have done my best even where government support has not been forthcoming.”
“When I was sworn in in 2015, Igarra and environs were in darkness for upwards of 6 months. We all know the economic impact of this on our people, and for me, it was a big issue. Upon the inauguration of that assembly, I was able to move a motion; in fact, I became the first to move a motion in the House calling for the restoration of power to Akoko-Edo. A few days later, power was restored. For me, it was a breakthrough.”
Aside from this, he says, in the course of his service as the Honourable member, he single-handedly provided a 500-KvA transformer in the LGA, instituted a women empowerment programme (revolving loan) which he claims was mismanaged, paid school fees and exam fees for several indigent students, has on several occasions intervened to save people with health challenges, built boreholes, collaborated with SUBEB to rehabilitate, and in some cases outrightly built classroom blocks in several schools.
“I did the little I could do for women empowerment, but it did not produce the kind of results one expected,” Agbaje said.
In his contribution, the state Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr. Dele Obaitan, who hails from Ososo in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area, corroborated the submissions made by the Honourable Member.
Obaitan rounded up his talk by categorically declaring that Akoko-Edo will continue to suffer neglect until we can produce the state governor. He, therefore, challenged members to begin to think seriously in this direction.
“If you do not take anything away from here, go away with this one message: until Akoko-Edo produces the governor of Edo State, we will just be talking and taking gambles,” Obaitan declared.
Hon Agbaje aligned with the Commissioner’s declaration reiterating that the state governor is the man with the knife and the yam and decides what to do and where to do it.
Answering members’ questions, Hon Agbaje acknowledged that until the current electricity distribution system is rejigged and electricity meters provided, the local government will continue to suffer the poor BEDC services because the debt status of the LGA in the books of the service provider is humongous even though frivolous.
He identified with the need to forge a common front, particularly among the political elites, to fight for the development of the area while stressing that the unhealthy rivalry among communities to dominate was a colossal hindrance to the unity of purpose and invariably to progress. He cited how we lost a golden opportunity to have more local government areas due to the bitter tussle over the siting of the headquarters of the proposed new LGAs.
He had earlier explained that going by the constitutional provisions; it is near impossible to create new local government areas in this dispensation.
On the poor health services in the area, Agbaje explained that most of the health workers posted to rural areas like ours hardly stay because of issues of lack of power, insecurity, etc. He also admitted that some limiting bureaucratic bottlenecks hampering service delivery, buttressing the point with his personal experience when he set out to renovate the Atte Health Centre. He, however, promised to use his membership of the House Committee on Health for a good cause by stepping up efforts to pressure the relevant ministries into doing the right thing.
He confirmed that he had a functional constituency office for six straight years until recently, when the premises’ landlord requested the tenancy’s termination.
He insisted that he does see any need to defect to the ruling party in the state not only on the grounds of personal principles but also because of the dashed hopes due to failed promises by the government as well as the fact that such a decision will have to be inspired by his constituents. He added that he, and by extension, his constituency, had not lost anything by being in opposition but was doing quite well comparatively.
The Select Committee, on behalf of the Forum, thanked him for making himself available for the meeting and the openness in his response to issues.
The Committee decried the laid-back posture of many members of the Forum who hardly contributed, whether in ideas or resources, citing the low turnout even at the Forum’s meetings and used the opportunity to announce a N25,000 (twenty-five thousand naira only) annual membership fee to be paid by everyone interested in continuing with the Forum.