By Comrade Venantius-Mary Chidozie Okeke
The concept of the first 100-Days in office came out of “Cent Jours”, or Hundred Days, from the home-coming of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte to Paris from exile, to his final defeat by the then British Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo after which Great Louis XVIII regained the French throne.
But Franklin Roosevelt, during his reign as American president in 1993, introduced the idea into America, albeit unconsciously. The collection of 15 pieces of legislation he introduced within his first 100 days in office became the body of his New Deal policies that reversed America’s Great Depression and brought an economic revival.
The fast introduction of the new legislation, and its implementation as well as the effects of the policies of the new legislation caught the attention of the Americans. There and then, it then became a measure of the performance of the American presidents.
The concept of the first 100 days in office of an elected political office holder is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria. It came into practice in the country since the return of the nation to democratic rule in 1999. The first 100 days in office as a concept, describes the early phase of the new leadership of the newly elected political office holder. This concept is not excluded from the lawmakers elected to represent various constituencies in the States Houses of Assembly across the country. It is believed thereof, that a lawmaker’s progressive achievements in his core duties as a legislator within the first 100 days in office, is an indicator to the future success or otherwise of the lawmaker, as the case may be.
In his constituency and beyond, mixed feelings have continued to trail the first 100 days in office of Hon. Sonny Ozobialu. Elected into the Anambra State House of Assembly by the good people of Nnewi South 1 State Constituency in the March 9th House of Assembly Election in Anambra State, Hon. Sonny Ozobialu took the oaths of office and was sworn in officially as an honourable member of the 7th Assembly of the Anambra State Legislative Assembly on Wednesday 12th June, 2019.
One must admit that the challenges of the development of the various constituencies in Anambra State cannot be surpassed in four years, let alone in 100 days in office, vis-a-vis the primary duties of lawmakers in the state. Certainly, not much can be achieved within this short period of time in office; however, an elected political office holder who is passionate about the progress of his people would set the ground running and give his people a taste of what his leadership would look like in years to come.
This can be seen in the leadership style of Hon. Sonny Ozobialu who clocked 100 days in office as the honourable member representing the good people of Nnewi South 1 constituency in Anambra State House of Assembly on Friday, the 20th day of September, 2019.
Immediately after taking the oaths of office, Hon. Sonny Ozobialu swung into action and set his legislative agenda running in a bid to better the lots of his people and effect a quality representation of the constituency in the state legislative chambers. Taking into cognizance the cardinal duties of a legislator which include representation, legislation and oversight function, Hon. Sonny Ozobialu has achieved so much within this short period of time.
To his records, as a lawmaker whose core duty is to enact, review or amend the existing laws for the betterment of the citizenry, Hon. Sonny Ozobialu contributed immensely, with strong argument in favour of, to the passage of the bill seeking for a law to establish the Anambra State Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Agency into law. This particular bill which was initiated by the members of the 6th Assembly was passed into law on Tuesday the 17th day of September, 2019.
This ICT Agency when established, would enhance research in various sectors of human endeavours and would create employment opportunities for the teeming youths of the state. The Agency would equally aid in constituting the database of various ministries, agencies and would serve as an enabler for the proper dissemination of information across the state.
Also, Hon. Sonny Ozobialu sponsored and/or served as a primary co-sponsor of the under-listed bill and motions:
• The Anambra State Youth Development and Empowerment Commission, 2019. A bill seeking for a law to establish the Anambra State Youth Development and Empowerment Commission, Implementation of Sustainable Youth Policy and other Related Matters, 2019 which passed the first reading on Thursday 19th September, 2019
• A motion, urging His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano, the governor of Anambra State, to direct the Commissioner for Agriculture to come up with policies and establish structure that will promote indigenous beef cattle farming “Efi Igbo” in the state
• A motion, congratulating Prof. Charles Okechukwu Esimone on his installation as the sixth substantive vice-chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University
• A motion, calling on the governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief (Dr) Willie Obiano to direct the ministry of environment to encourage landlords in the state to construct catchment pits in their premises
• A motion calling on the executive governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief (Dr) Willie Obiano to direct the commissioner for information and other related agencies to intensify campaign on stimulating Anambra State indigenes to divest their investment to Anambra State, leveraging on the enabling environment
• A motion urging the President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) to direct the Minister for Works and Housing to urgently reconstruct, complete and rehabilitate all dilapidated federal roads in Anambra State with special attention to Oba-Nnewi-Ekwulumili-Okigwe road
• A motion condemning the xenophobic attacks, gruesome murder and wanton destruction of businesses/properties belonging to foreigners, particularly Nigerians in South Africa and calling on the Federal Republic of Nigeria to rise to the challenge of protecting the lives of Nigerians in diaspora as well as ensure that Nigerians whose businesses were looted and properties vandalized are adequately compensated by South African government
• A motion calling on the governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief (Dr) Willie Obiano, to direct the commissioner for lands to as a matter of urgency, commence necessary actions to ensure the recovery of all government-owned lands illegally occupied by land grabbers, speculators and private estate developers as well as take proactive measures to forestall any further reoccurrence
• A motion calling on the governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Chief (Dr) Willie Obiano, to direct the commissioner for environment and the state project coordinator, Nigeria Erosion Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) to as a matter of urgency, take the necessary steps to control the gully erosion ravaging Ebenator Central School, Obinugwu village in Ebenator and its environs
• A motion calling on the President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) to confer a national award of honour on the person of Barr. Allen Onyema, the CEO of Air Peace, and to make Air Peace a national carrier, in recognition of Barr. Allen Onyema’s benevolence in rescuing and evacuating the Nigerian nationals trapped in South Africa during the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
Furthermore, in the area of oversight function which forms one of the primary duties of a legislator – reviewing and regulating the policies and actions of the executive and its ministries/agencies, Hon. Sonny Ozobialu was appointed the Chairman, House Committee on Pilgrimage, Ethics and Privileges, as well as the Deputy Chairman of the House Committees on SDG, Economic Planning and Donor Agencies, Housing and House Services respectively; and member of various other House Committees. As a lawmaker who is determined to living up to the expectation of his duties, he has since inaugurated his committee and has set out the modalities, together with the members of his committee, on how to ensure that the relevant government agencies directly under the watch of the committee are working in consonance with the objectives of setting up such agencies. He equally joined in the inauguration and familiarization visits of other committees that he is a member of, to the various government ministries/agencies, in a bid to establish a robust working relationship that will in turn yield the desired goals in improving the progress, welfare and development of the state in various sectors.
No one goes into political office for himself. Hon. Sonny Ozobialu understands fully the task entrusted upon him as a representative of his people. Not quite long after his inauguration, the lawmaker set out for the tour of the communities that constitute Nnewi South 1 constituency, in a bid to get first-hand information on the states of government infrastructures, roads, health centres, schools and others in his constituency. In one of such visits, he came across an MDG Skills Acquisition Centre that was abandoned years after its construction since 2009, located in Unubi, one of the towns that constitute Nnewi South 1 Constituency. After thorough inspection of the abandoned project, Hon. Sonny Ozobialu therein, promised to equip the centre and transform it to a Skills Acquisition and ICT Hub where the youths and people of Unubi and other neighbouring communities in Nnewi South 1 Constituency would always be mentored for Skills Acquisition, Self Reliance and Human Capacity Building.
Hon. Sonny Ozobialu has equally achieved the following within his first 100 days in office:
• Facilitation of the admission of some of his constituents into Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam
• Facilitation of the employment of some of his constituents into various agencies, boards and ministries
• Provision of Scholarship packages to some indigent students of his constituency
• Proposed renovation and equipment of the MDG Skills Acquisition Centre in Unubi, of which material acquisition and other processes are on-going
As part of his commitment to community engagement of his constituents at the grass root level, Hon. Sonny Ozobialu is currently equipping an ultramodern constituency office in Ekwulumili which will serve as a liaison and exchange point between him and members of his constituency.
Certainly, in the minds of the generality of Ndi Nnewi South 1 Constituency, Hon. Sonny Ozobialu remains a great personality, not because he leads a great army of soldiers, but because he champions the ultimate course of development and progress of his constituency and the people therein at all times. With his tremendous achievement in the legislative chambers of Anambra state within this short period of time, Hon. Sonny Ozobialu has shown that he is a leader that will excel across all domains. He exemplifies the steward’s values of shouldering responsibility, empathy and integrity in public service. He is a leader with great gifts of mind and heart. He has shown in practical terms that his opting to represent his people at the legislative chambers was borne out of passion and empathy for public good. He imbibes the quality of selfless service, putting the welfare and interests of the people before his own; a quality which Winston Churchill described as “the first of all human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others”.
Hon. Sonny Ozobialu is a rare breed politician who came to politics to work for his people. With his achievements in the Anambra State House of Assembly, he has distinguished himself as a statesman whose sole interest in politics is to better the lots of his people and posterity will remember him for his good deeds.
Comrade Venantius-Mary Chidozie Okeke writes from Awka, Anambra State