OrderPaperToday – The battle for 2023 general elections appear to be already manifesting as politicians jostling for different positions of influence and power are not willing to leave any stone unturned in order to score political goals over their perceived opponents even well ahead of the contests.
Delta State federal lawmakers are in this circle already as they engaged in direct and proxy face-offs not minding the sensitivities and reactions of their constituents and kinsmen. On February 20th 2020, the House of Representatives witnessed some drama which involved three members and an unseen fourth hand stretching from the Senate. To the politically blind, it was all about a debate on the siting of a proposed federal polytechnic in the State.
It was sequel to a presentation of a bill for an Act seeking the establishment of a federal polytechnic Orogun in Delta Central Senatorial zone. The bill was forwarded from the Senate to the House for concurrence.
While the said bill was sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege in the red chamber, there had been a similar bill sponsored by Mr. Ossai Nicholas Ossai, representing Ukwani federal constituency of Delta State which sought to establish same federal polytechnic in Kwale, Delta North. It was passed by the House and sent to the Senate for concurrence in November 2019, but it somehow failed to get the concurrence sought by the Reps.
Following the failure of the bill to get Senate concurrence, Mr. Ossai felt short-changed and decided to do an underground investigation which allegedly revealed that the power play at the behest of Mr. Omo-Agege worked against him. He thus laid in wait for Senate version of the Polytechnic bill arrive the green chamber.
And so, he fought tooth and nail to shoot down the Senate bill. He even accused the deputy senate president of hijacking his ideas and diverting same to his own senatorial zone of the State.
He said: “A bill for an act to establish the federal polytechnic Kwale, 2019, passed by this House came up in the Senate of the federal Republic of Nigeria for concurrence but was unfortunately stepped-down at the behest of Distinguished Senator who is the sponsor of this replica polytechnic bill. My people believe in the experienced leadership of the House and its boldness and courage to enthrone equity, justice, and fairness on this issue.”
But the matter actually began 3 weeks before the rancorous event in the Reps chamber when Mr. Ossai who chairs the House committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, raised a point of order alerting the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, that the senate bill so listed on the order paper for concurrence was actually sponsored by him and passed by the House but was rejected by the Senate when it was forwarded for concurrence.
Gbajabiamila upon hearing Ossai out had asked that the document be stepped down for the Rules and Business committee to look into the allegations and advice the House accordingly.
But when the bill came up again for debate, Ossai accused the deputy senate president, Ovie Omo-Agege of marginalising his constituency in the establishment of federal institutions.
But one key aspect of the process Ossai may have discountenanced is the art of lobbying which Omo-Agege seems to have done very well. Come to think of it, it will be very difficult, not impossible though, for Omo-Agege (even while presiding over the plenary), to just single handedly stop the Senate from accepting the request for concurrence seeking to advance the educational course of his home State.
The only thing the senator could have utilized, and which he appeared to have deployed effectively, was the tool for lobbying his colleagues to withhold their support for the Kwale bill from the House, because he had a similar document before the Senate requiring their support to sail through.
This sentiment was very much accentuated by Mr. Francis Waive, representing Ughelli North/Ugheli South federal constituency (APC) when he faulted Ossai’s position saying that his colleague should see the development of Delta State as a collective priority of all from the State.
According to him, “the polytechnic if cited in Orogun will not deny people from the North admission, neither would people from the Central be denied same if it’s cited in the North”.
He argued that Ossai was simply being emotional about a bill that seeks to advance the educational fortune of Delta State.
Nonetheless, you cannot wish away power tussle in the whole brouhaha because the trouble between the Delta political gladiators could just be beyond the Orogun polytechnic bill. Worthy of note is the fact that Ossai comes from a different senatorial zone and he flags a different political party while his colleague Mr. Waive comes from same senatorial district with the Deputy Senate President (DSP) and both men are of the ruling APC. It is alleged that during the principal officers’ elections of the national assembly, Ossai never supported his kinsman ambition to become the DSP.
The last may not have been heard on this issue as Ossai is known for his resilience on any matter that engenders his conviction. On the other hand, the DSP would be unwilling to retreat from his political focus or objective. The days ahead will be telling.