The Parliament Diary





…Deltans do deliver at all levels —Hon. Ossai

He is a Doctor, a Pastor and Evangelist. He came to limelight as a student union leader, and as President of the Student Union Parliament at University of Nsukka.

He has attended a number of international universities including Harvard International Law Institute, Oxford. Down the line he served as Council Chairman of

College of Education, Agbor. He was a lawmaker in the Delta State House of Assembly for 8 years. He won election into the House of Reps and has been there

for 11 years and counting. Rt. Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai is a scholar by all standards. He is best described as a Legislator Par Excellence. Not very long ago, he

represented the National Assembly at the World Parliamentary Scholar Summit. Ossai Nicholas Ossai is on the hot seat facing Precious Enebuse in this interview.


How has it been sir representing the good people of Ndokwa/Ukwuani Federal Constituency in the House of Reps for the past 11 years?

My duty has been to make laws for the country, and extensively my laws have been passed and signed. I have done well as a legislator. I represented this country effectively in the area of law making, in the 7th, 8th, and 9th Assembly.


How are your people, the Ndokwa-Ukwuani people faring in the politics of Delta State and Nigeria?

Well, Ndokwa people cannot say they have not benefited from the politics of Delta and the politics of Nigeria. First of all, an Ndokwa person was manager of NNPC and so on, so in the politics of Nigeria, they’ve also contributed our quota in terms of participation. In the politics of Delta State, Ndokwa was allotted the position of Secretary to the State Government.  We were also appointed in different designated areas as commissioners and advisers, so to me, I think they have participated, and have also done well in terms of democratic delivery.


Sir, can you, 11 years and counting in the National Assembly, comfortably say that you have effectively delivered on your legislative mandate and campaign promises to the people of Ndokwa?

Yeah my campaign promises were anchored basically on issues that border on lawmaking of which I’ve done very well, in fact excellent. In terms of oversight, excellent. In terms of being a voice of our people, excellent. And eh, there are certain subsidiary issues as a law maker, making sure that the constituency vote that comes to you is given to your people. I think that has translated to a lot of infrastructure in terms of road, classroom blocks, health centers, and in terms of starting off with the IPP. We are working on that but yet to finish. In terms of transformer we have supplied that. I think we have effectively delivered on our mandate.


So what is the state of infrastructure in health and in education in your constituency?

Yes, at the time we came in 1999, you can pinpoint only 3 key areas that have primary health care. In 1999 we had only a hospital in Kwale, hospital in Obiaruku, it was when we came in that the hospital at Aboh was established. More were established across the local governments. The other health centers came into being as at the time we came in. I think we’ve done well on that. When I came back to the National Assembly, a lot of equipment were supplied even to the existing and the new ones we have built in the different key areas. Those health centers are places where we have been able to take dividends of democracy to the grassroots. When we came into office there were lots of gaps in terms of classroom chairs, desks that students use. Hardly can you see an area in Ndokwa where a school is not equipped with chairs or desks, or a school without one form of infrastructure or the other built on it, both at state and federal levels, through our constituency service initiative.


Sir, you are the Chairman, House Committee Chairman on Protocols, Treaties, and Agreements. What exactly is the committee’s mandate and achievement so far?

This is a committee that looks into agreements made between Nigeria and other countries in terms of bilateral motions and agreements. We have been able to first of all open up deposit treaties in the ministry of Justice regarding treaties and agreements, where all our agreements are deposited. By the time we came in it was not there. We initiated that and made sure it was done. Secondly, there were really no laws, there were decrees, which were governing agreements in Nigeria. When I came in I proposed a law which has been passed by both houses to govern agreements. I have been able to look at some of those agreements signed by Nigeria and China, and other world countries, and have been able to propose a lot of issues. Today there have been lots of agreements. I think we are the first people who have been able to expose Nigeria to different kinds of agreements that Nigeria has entered and is not favorable to us.


What is your committee doing to individuals and organizations that disobeys the protocols, treaties and agreements between them and Nigeria?

I don’t think people are disobeying. Signing of agreement is an executive function and looking at the content of the agreement is part of the legislative function. Some of them are domesticated, some of them doesn’t need domestication but it needs some level of input from the legislation. I think we have been able to submit a lot to National Assembly which has not been done before. Our intention was to make sure that most of the agreements are domesticated, and I’ve put up the process of almost 14 of them to the house for the first time, and those issue have been taken, and are in different stages of legislative activities as of today.


Nigeria that attained 62 in October, is still crawling, what do you think, sir, is the best solution to revitalizing this nation and making her join the comity of technologically developed nations?

I don’t think we are crawling. I think we are running very fast in terms of modernization theory. We are able to go within our pace and define our own unique system that can be able to propel us, just like what China did. China in 1988 sat down and said let’s define what the China focus and foreign policy is all about, and today China has grown. Nigeria can also do the same and become a production economy. I think that’s what Nigeria needs, production economy. We should be able to design our curriculum in our schools and impart knowledge in our children so that to focus on production, not just going to schools to get certificate and yet they can’t fit into a job. This is the path Nigeria should take. Every time you see many governors, they are more preoccupied in road construction, road construction, only road cannot deliver this country. How many industries can they partner with private sectors to achieve? Because only private sectors cannot come and be setting up industries for our children. We must be able to be part of it. That’s what I call mixed economy. We shouldn’t just operate from a very socialist idea into a capitalist idea. No, there must be in between, there must be an economy where government enter into partnership with private individuals, set up industries, and let our children enter those industries, work on those industries, so that people can see food to eat and at the same time see road to pass. I think that should be the future of our country.


What was your reaction to the PDP primaries? Are you satisfied with the outcome of the election?

If I say I’m satisfied, I might not be fair to you because the interpretation of the electoral act was not fully interpreted by the political parties. You can’t be expecting statutory delegates not to vote, and all the delegates you just selected within 2 minutes are to vote, and you’re taking orders from one man in the government. What is governance when participatory democracy is not allowed? Because if those delegates were fully elected, what I mean by fully elected, the communities from those wards voted for those delegates that means they are representing the mandate of the people, not the mandates of appointees who appointed them. That probably brought a lot of dissatisfactions. All the same, we should give God the glory, having passed through a lot of process for the past 11 years.


Recently we saw you being adopted, so to speak, as the Delta State Deputy Governorship Candidate of PDP. What is it that attracted you to Edevwe, and do you see your principal stand a better chance to reclaim his mandate?

Of course I do, we have a very good case, case and clear. Federal high court should be able to look at the case, and look at the merit of the case. Unfortunately, the court of appeal did not look into the merit of the case, and went straight to technicality, which we faulted even those technicalities because David Edevwe is a man that will bring more development to the state, is a man that is loved by everybody, is a man that have all it takes to navigate delta state effectively and bring succor to the people. I believe that in all aspect of our economy in Delta state, David Edevwe is the best hand. And choosing me, also a seasoned legislator who can bring in a lot of legislative ideas in crafting a lot of legal framework for every project every direction, sectors he will be going to. First of all, he is going into the energy sector. He wants to bring in the private sector to generate power, that’s the first thing to try the industrial revolution that David intends to do. You need a legal instrument which will come through the legislature, and somebody like me who has been exposed to legislative business for the past years, you can agree with me that I’ll bring my experience to collaborate, or to compliment the activity of a very strong astute politician and a technocrat in the first place. He is also looking at agriculture. You cannot devolve agriculture from a legal framework, you need a very super legal framework that has human face, which can create agriculture revolution in delta state and bring succour to our people. Look, I think that’s what you need. You need someone who’ll compliment the very strong astute intellect who is coming to Delta State to achieve a lot of these. I think that is the compliment Edevwie has also seen in me, as someone who can add value and social investments. You also look at the social investment David intends to bring. His government has a human face, human face that he is going to build the machineries of Delta State and build the capacities of our constituents, which are Delta people; increase their skill initiatives, for them to impact on the economy Delta State economy. When you look at these key areas, and sectors, in terms of infrastructure that he is also bringing into bare, you see the quality of infrastructure the David Edevwe government is going to bring. He is a man that will impact on the economy of Delta State. He is a man that is experienced, a man that has passed through the mills of governance, and is ready, well prepared to achieve results in Delta State.


Sir, how do you rate Okowa’s performances placed side by side his counterparts in the Niger Delta?

Well, I don’t have the clear indices to be able to rate the governors of Niger Delta States. I have not evaluated them in the first instance. And to me, most important, the government of Niger Delta should not always face only the issues of road construction as such; they should build industries. And I’ve not seen any governor in the Niger delta who have collaborated with Niger Deltans to build industries for their people, especially industries aligned with oil. We have oil on our doorsteps, yet we haven’t increase that value chain. There are other subsidiary things in the oil sector that you can do; you can set up, look at the Sterling Oil Global setting up a gas structure in Delta State. A government that is clear headed who wants to bring development to delta state can go into partnership with such institutions and generate not only power, but become an investment. One, you look at Akwa-Ibom today, it is investing strongly in industries, look at the aviation sector, you have seen the model. Akwa-ibom manufactures the syringes that we use in this country today, and some other industries that Akwa-Ibom has set up. Government is not only driven by infrastructure in terms of road constructions, but in investing into business. People say government have no business in business, but government have a very effective machinery to do business.


So lastly, what is your message to the electorates and candidates in the coming general elections?

People should be able to evaluate the different candidates in different fields. You are a law maker before, what have you been able to achieve in legislative functions? How have you interacted? What is your compassionate level on the people? Those are the issues that should be looked at? Lawmaking is not a place where people just come, it’s a place where you analyze data because you’re coming to be approached with a lot of data that will be initiated by economists who are managing the economy. So if you’re somebody who is not able to navigate those areas, then you have no place in the legislative. Going to the executive, the history of someone who has performed very well is clear, like my principal David Edevwe was a third time commissioner of finance, was a Chief of Staff, was an Executive Secretary to the former president, and he has worked in world bank and other institutions. This is somebody that has come from a very solid background, so giving him executive power is not out of place. So I feel that he is the person prepared to change the narrative of Delta State completely.

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