Senator Oloriegbe and the Real Definition of “Senatorial” Representation
By Bolaji Aladie
June 11th of the year 2021 marks two years since the legislative journey of the choice of the good people of Kwara Central Senatorial District began. A medical practitioner turned politician, Dr. Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe is the Senator representing their interests at the upper chamber of the National Assembly. From his first official day as a legislator, the well-informed constituents would agree that the lawmaker who is chairing the Senate’s Health Committee and co-chairing the NGO and Diaspora Committee is an active performer amongst his contemporaries considering how he has been using his experience and exposures as a former State lawmaker and medical practitioner of international repute to redefine legislative representation as captured in the assessment of his first year in office captioned ” Oloriegbe’s 365 days of Redefining Legislative Representation ” as written last year by this author.
For his two years as Senator representing Kwara Central, Dr. Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe has been working assiduously to reciprocate the mandate given to him by the people and chart a successful path to transform the constituency through the facilitation of developmental projects bearing significant impacts on the lives of the people and casting aside the woes constituting the bane of their wellbeing. Thus, it is not vainglory but rightful to caption this year’s assessment as ” Oloriegbe’s Two Years of Purposeful Representation “.
With his immense wealth of experience and adequate knowledge of legislative duties, much as he did in his first year, he acquitted himself brilliantly in the discharge of the three constitutional duties of lawmakers – Legislation, Oversight function, and Representation. His performance in these three areas as well as in corporate social responsibilities are top-notch and that has won him the admiration of people who have been watching dispassionately his activities since the assumption of office.
In two years, Oloriegbe has sponsored 8 bills among which are; the National Health Insurance Commission Bill, 2019 (SB. 65) and the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Bill, 2019 (SB. 66) which have respectively secured the passage of the senate on their 3rd reading and passage on 10th of December, 2020 whilst several others such as Medical and Dental Practitioners Act 1988 (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill, 2020 (SB.480); Maternal and Perinatal Deaths Surveillance and Response Bill, 2020 (SB. 581); Federal College of Complementary and Alternative Medicine of Nigeria (SB.394); Psychiatric Hospital Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (SB 376); and National Emergency Medical Service Agency (Est) Bill, 2021(SB 717) are at the various stages of lawmaking processes.
During the year under review, the Senator had also sponsored and co-sponsored several bills and motions of National importance whilst the Health Committee under his leadership is one of the most active committees in the 9th Senate in terms of bills and motions sponsorship as well as oversight activities. These feats are gratifyingly unexampled and of no precedent in the recent history of Kwara Central Senatorial District representation.
As a patriotic Kwarans representative, the Senator in collaboration with his other distinguished colleagues from Kwara State supported the confirmation of Presidential Nominees (of Kwara origin) to Commissions, Boards, and Ambassadorial positions. The nominees include; 4 Ambassadorial Nominees.1 Member Federal Competitive and Consumer Board. 1 Chairman, National Pension Commission. 1 Chairman and a Member of Federal Character Commission.
He’s also playing active roles in every one of the assignments given to any of the committees he belongs to as Chairman or a member.
His capacity as the chairman Senate Committee on Health led to the below-listed achievements:
• Review and passage of the 2020 supplementary budget that was presented following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the need to adjust the budget to meet the new reality.
The key accomplishment under the amended 2020 Appropriation Act include the following:
- Strengthening the capacity of Federal Hospitals to better respond to the Covid-19 pandemic by the inclusion of funds for provisions of; Molecular Laboratory, a 30-bed Isolation Center, and 10 bed ICU unit in each of the 52 Federally owned Teaching Hospitals, Federal Medical Centers, and Specialized hospitals.
- Strengthening the capacity of research and regulatory agencies to better respond to the Covid-19 pandemic by the inclusion of funds in NAFDAC, NIMR, NIPRD, and NCDC for provision of relevant equipment for research, monitoring of COVID-19 as well for the development and approval of COVID-19 Vaccine and other vaccines.
- Inclusion of funds for payment of allowances to frontline Health Workers.
The Senator also leads the Health committee in the consideration of the review of the performance of the 2020 budget and the defense of 2021 budget proposals of the Federal Ministry of health and its 75 Agencies.
He was the Convener of the 4th Annual Summit of the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The summit which was held on May 23rd – 25th, 2021 had as its theme – ” Universal Health Coverage and Health Security: Two Sides of a Coin for an Efficient Health System”. The purpose of the Summit was to review progress against Legislative Health Agenda (set at the last summit in November 2019) towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and to set new Legislative Health Agenda (LHA) for the next year. Also to review the current situation of Nigeria’s Health System and how it has fared in the response to disease outbreaks; particularly the COVID-19 pandemic. The summit also sensitizes the lawmakers on the concept of Human Capital for Health (HCD) including a contribution of health to the HCD.
There are more to the Senator’s oversight activities within the over ten standing committees he belongs to but which time constraints wouldn’t allow us to talk about.
Being baffled by the rising unemployment and driven by the zeal to not only facilitate employments but also create job opportunities and increase the revenue earnings of the state, he sponsored among other bills, the bill that seeks the establishment of pioneer Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital in the whole of North Central at his constituency and with his gumption, he has been able to push the bill to the verge of implementation as the federal government has evinced overwhelming desire to bring the bill into actualization by delegating some top officials of the Federal Ministry of Health to visit and inspect the area earmarked for the construction of the project at Budo-Egba Village in Asa Local Government Area.
Needless to say but necessary to correct a woeful misconception of the naysayers about the project, the facility when brought to life will convey several units such as works, admin, counseling, store, and several others that will provide employment opportunities to many professions.
As the Chairman Senate Committee on Health with undying concern for anything that brings about progress, development, and prosperity to his constituency, he also facilitated the construction of the NAFDAC State/Zonal office in the Ganmo area of Ilorin South Local Government. The office which the designated land for its construction had long been acquired with nothing built on it until his intervention is on the verge of completion as of the time of writing this assessment report, this stems from his desire to suppress the tide of unemployment as the presence of the establishment will help create job opportunities and wipe away the bane of the entrepreneurs whose businesses require its certification.
Similarly, he facilitated the demolition of the hitherto decrepit structure of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) State/Zonal office and ensured the reconstruction of a bigger office with larger capacity that will give a boost to the delivery of its service in North Central and Kwara state
To complement the state government in the delivery of healthcare service to people, the senator whose concern about the provision of comprehensive and quality healthcare at the basic level for people is consistently unswerving, facilitated in the year 2020 budget, a free medical outreach widely considered as a life-saving program through National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) in collaboration with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The program, which lasted four days and was taken to each local government area that constitutes Kwara Central, provided a physical examination of the patients, laboratory tests, and provision of drugs to presenting beneficiaries to treat various conditions and prevent illness. Over 2500 constituents benefitted from this program.
Senator Oloriegbe is unarguably redefining representation and in the process stamps out the iniquities of the past and resents the condescending tendency the inhabitants of rural areas suffered from the past representatives. His humility to carry out assessments on the needs of his constituents got him attuned with the pressing priorities of each community in his constituency. To his consternation, he learned that several rural communities are suffering age-long water scarcity, which had prevented them from enjoying the benefits of water. As a responsive representative, he took remedial action by including water projects in the year 2020 budget to address the perennial problem of those communities. Today, these more than twenty-five of such alienated communities have benefitted from various water intervention projects such as treatment plants, motorized boreholes, and hand pump boreholes.
These communities include among others – Olokobiri village, Akewushola village, Aiyetoro Oja village, Ila-Oja Village, Afon Central Mosque, Ipakobo village, Alapa central market, and Budo Ikoko community whose water plight was brought to the fore by the BBC investigative report which sadly revealed how the residents of the community had been living in squalid condition as a result of non-availability of water. Several communities within Kwara Central as of today are also accessing potable water as a result of his extensive motorized and hand pump boreholes repair, which he carried out during the year under review.
With his equitable disposition, he has buried the practice of the past where the unemployed youths were made to kowtow to certain political emperors and identify with a political party before they could be considered for employment. The inhumane practice has changed, one doesn’t have to know the Senator before one can secure employment through him, this is the essence of the constituency office, one only needs to go there and submit his credentials for enrollment on the database. The Senator has chosen to make himself an agent of transformation whom through his responsive representation a sizeable number of youths have secured employment to several federal agencies which include but are not limited to University Teaching Hospitals, Federal Medical Centers, NCDC, NAFDAC, NDLEA, Health Regulatory Bodies, Health training Institutions and many more.
To mitigate the monetary challenges associated with unemployment and stamp out its attendant idleness, Senator Oloriegbe established empowerment and scholarship schemes for the youths. Within the space of two years, the Senator has empowered hundreds of youths and women on various skills; while some were trained on technological practices and were subsequently empowered with gadgets, others like artisans and unlettered constituents were either trained and or given corresponding tools to the skills they have to get them engaged and from which they hence earn a decent living. Just a few weeks ago, tens of youths from Kwara Central were offered scholarships to Kwara State Government-owned IVTEC, Ajase-Ipo with monetary gratification to motivate the beneficiaries. The objective of the scholarship and the empowerment was to drive the beneficiaries to embrace technological practices to enable them to explore opportunities that abound in the emerging industrial revolution era and get them to approach the future with new hope, creative ideas, new vision, and innovative mind to enable them to contribute their quota to the socio-economic development of the state.
Out of the fecundity of his imagination, he devised means to enhance the economic fortune of people without means of subsistence by setting up a scheme where some are trained and empowered on entrepreneurship activities and others are empowered with sustainable means of livelihood to make them self-reliant and be financially capable to fend for themselves.
Through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Senator Oloriegbe facilitated as capital project the execution of Erosion control project worth the sum of 100 million Naira to arrest flooding and gully erosion in Itamerin/Alatonto at Abata Oloduku Community that had hitherto ravaged the community and rendered scores of people homeless. The project brought relief to the residents from the albatross that had hitherto militated against the socio-economic activities of the area. Similarly, he facilitated the construction of a water treatment plant to the proposed Muhammad Kamal-deen University, the idea of facilitation was to meet part of the prerequisites laid out for the accreditation of the institution and make potable drinking water more accessible to the contiguous communities such as Ogidi, Tegbesun, etc and as well keep alive the memory of renowned Islamic Scholar Sheikh Muhammad Kamal-deen Habeebullahi Al-Adaby who founded the institution. The project was placed in Lower Niger River Basin Authority as a capital project.
Being cognizant of the factors that aid effective learning and realization of learning objectives, Senator Oloriegbe through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), gave a facelift to the dilapidated structure of Ogidi-Banni LGEA school that handicapped the abilities of the teachers to teach effectively and ensure meaningful learning. The school was by the Senator’s responsive representation given a facelift and conducive atmosphere with the construction of 3blocks of 2 classrooms (6 classes) equipped with solar-powered light and staff rooms for teachers and furniture for students and teachers.
In furtherance of the efforts to enhance the effectiveness of learning, the Senator through zonal intervention project facilitated the distribution of learning materials such as exercise books, mathematical sets, bags, textbooks et al to not less than 8000 indigent students across the schools in Kwara Central.
During the golden jubilee celebration of his alma mater, Ansarul Islam Secondary School, Ogidi-Oloje, Ilorin, Senator Oloriegbe sowed the sum of 1million Naira as scholarship seed for the best graduating students in science subjects.
He at various times identifies and renders supports to students’ various bodies such as NAKSS, NANS, KWASU SU, and Unilorin Post-Graduate Students’ Union during their programs.
To make himself a tower of strength to the communities dogged with a power outage, through the year 2020 budget, he facilitated 33000KVA transformers and funded their installation to restore electrical power supply to the affected areas, the beneficiary areas were Abata Shuban Area of Alabama Ward, Alore Area of Ogidi /Ojuekun Zarumi Wards, Muritala Muhammad Way, Magaji Aare Ward 2, and Kilanko Ero-Omo Area, Akanbi Ward 3 of Ilorin South.
As open defecation poses threat to the health and social wellbeing of the people, Senator Oloriegbe came to the rescue of the residents of the two communities -Alapa central market and Ganiki community (Akanbi V Ward, Ilorin South) ravaged by open defecation with the facilitation of the modern toilet facility with motorized boreholes for convenient use of the facility.
The Senator brought back to life the moribund Ogidi-banni Health care center that had lost the essence of its existence that even the expectant women of the community couldn’t approach the facility for delivery, Oloriegbe being an adroit lobbyist also facilitated equipment worth over Ten millions of Naira to the facility with other items pivotal to the delivery of quality healthcare service, he complemented this effort with positive reinforcement to motivate and enhance the commitment of staff to duties by building lodges equipped with solar-powered light and motorized borehole for them and the security officer in the health facility.
The Senator responded to various disasters that affected his constituents during the year. He provided relief materials from his resources and through his facilitation of relief from the National Emergency Management Agency. He also provides financial supports to many socio-cultural organizations in his constituency including IEDPU, Ward Development Associations, religious organizations, and others.
As the year 2021 rolls by with the focus on the full implementation of its budget, people of Kwara Central Senatorial District can be assured that more developmental projects are in the offing as efforts are afoot to draw more federal establishment to the state through quality representation of the Senator.
While the world is still recovering from the debilitating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and other sectors, we can conclude that the two years of Senator Oloriegbe with special focus on the last 365 days viz July 2020 to June 2021 has been of purposeful representation.
Bolaji Aladie is the Media Aide to Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe,
Senator, Representing Kwara Central Senatorial District in Abuja