A WOMAN AND HER SENATORIAL ODYSSEY
As the Senate returns to work after a deserved two weeks rest and the historic amendment of the 1999 Constitution, the vacuum created on the right flank of the isle seating majority (PDP) senators by the absence of the quintessential Joy of the Senate, Senator Emodi will be felt in many ways. But I make this statement without prejudice to the motion for the interpretation of the alleged double judgments/returns made by the Court of Appeal currently before the Supreme Court.
However, the fact that her absence is felt in a House of 109 senators is an indication she has indeed maximised her moments in the Senate. Her studied silence in the thick of the tumults and rumbles over the Anambra North seat characterised by masterminded media bashing and misrepresentation of her person for seeking interpretation of the contentious judgment bore all the imprimaturs of a woman confident in the ability of her track records and pedigree to do the talking.
A peep into her Senatorial records would readily show this very first female Senator of South East extraction has acquitted herself creditably through effective representation. For instance, she took over the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Education at a point of monumental scandal that swept away the Senate leadership in 2005. An educationist herself, she not only gave the committee a new lease of life, but has also worked hard towards the improvement of education as the bedrock of national development. She is known for her legislative activism and sometimes scathing criticism of the poor state of education in Nigeria, of poor administration, abysmal funding, and despiteful attitude to a critical sector.
She organised a successful National Summit on Education to ponder on and proffer solution to the many problems bedevilling education. She led the Committee on a study tour of the Cuban Parliament in April 2008 to build partnerships and bilateral cooperation for the revival of the moribund sector.
Senator Emodi further led the National Assembly Delegation to the 181st session of UNESCO Executive Board in Paris France where she was appointed the UNESCO Focal Person for Nigerian Legislature and participated in the 2009 meeting of Forum of African Parliamentarians on Education (FAPED) in Dakar, Senegal.
She also made her marks in her other Committees, especially the jinx-breaking Senate Committee on Constitution Review which successfully passed the first Amendment to the 1999 after many previous failed attempts.
Her landmark chamber works through her many bills and motions leave her in a class of her own. She sponsored the National Ethics Curriculum Bill which was the first Member Bill passed by the 6th Senate. It seeks to make it compulsory for ethics to be thought in our schools because we cannot prosper as a nation without discipline. She also sponsored the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration (Establishment) Bill, among others. Emodi moved eight landmark motions.
They include the Motion urging calling attention of the Federal Government to the 'drowning' Niger Bridge and need to construct a second bridge; the highly scathingly analytical motion on the epileptic power supply and incessant power outage in Nigeria; motion on police extra judicial killings and rising wave of violent crimes in Nigeria; and several motions calling for the infrastructural re-engineering across Nigeria. In particular, her motion on the urgent need to
re-construct the Onitsha-Enugu expressway after a chain accident claiming a whooping 70 lives led to the immediate rehabilitation of the said expressway.
But Emodi wasn't just the Joy of the Senate alone, but also of her constituency as she touched their lives in many ways. From the influencing of the construction and equipping of Primary Health Centre, Umuerum and sinking of many boreholes for portable water delivery across her constituency to the construction of ultra-modern library and ICT Centre at Federal Government Girls College and Queen of the Rosary College both in Onitsha, she proved her mettle. She also saw to the renovation of school blocks in Enugwu-Otu, the construction of the Modern Migrant Farmers Nomadic School at Ifite-Ogwari, and the attraction of UBE projects to four schools in Onitsha, two in Oyi LGA, one each in Anambra North, Anambra East, and Ogbaru LGAs. She has in addition facilitated several rural electrification projects in Onitsha, Ogbaru, Anambra East, and Oyi LGAs.
These are in addition to securing gainful employments as well as admissions for countless qualified youths of her constituency into Nigerian and foreign educational institutions.
Beyond these, she has also reached out to her constituency through the instrumentality of the Senator Joy Emodi Foundation. These are in forms of annual micro credit grants to widows, women, and youths; scholarship programmes; and annual charity programme for the widows, motherless babies, physically challenged and other less privileged segments of her constituency.
Her senatorial clouts also spread beyond national frontiers as she is a member of the ECOWAS Parliament, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Parliamentarians for Global Action, and a delegate of the International Parliamentary Union, ECOWAS Election Monitoring and Observation Mission to Sierra Leone, etc. Her strides in leadership, development, and democratization was so manifest that the National Democratic Institute (of Democratic Party) invited her to participate in the International Leaders Forum organised by the Institute during the landmark 2008 Convention in Denver that formalised Obama's nomination as the party's candidate in that historic US Presidential election.
Incidentally, her Senatorial odyssey is one which conclusion one cannot possibly write in a hurry. But in the interim, there is no doubt a Caesar has stepped aside, but our worry in Anambra North is, wither another Caesar to step into her enormous shoes and pedigree?
• Obijiofor is Onitsha-based