Hon Benjamin Kalu: Portrait Of Legislative Excellence…Bags African Industrial and Development Award 2022 Legislature of the Year

“Veni, Vidi, Vici,” is a Latin maxim that reportedly originated from a letter Julius Caesar wrote to the Roman Senate around 46 BC, after achieving victory against Pharnaces II of Pontius at the Battle of Zela which simply means “I came, I saw and I conquered.”

The above statement represents a fitting description of the personality of the Spokesman of the 9th House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, at this auspicious time in our nation’s history.
Sequel to his numerous achievements, Kalu has been nominated to receive the African Industrial and Development Award.

Kalu was nominated as the 2022 Legislature of the Year for his role as an active legislator who has performed excellently well. He refused to be controlled by ‘external forces’ and refused to be a rubber-stamp as he carried out his functions which include making laws, representing constituencies, and ensuring power balance perfectly.
Other winners of the African Industrial and Development Awards 2022, billed to take place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on Friday, 9 September, 2022 include the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mallam Mele Kyari; and billionaire oil mogul, Mohammed Indimi; Chief Executive Officer, Hajiya Nana Aisha Gambo, the wife of the Nigerian Chief of the Naval Staff, Chairman of BUA Group, Abdul Samad Rabiu, and a former First Lady of Benue State, Arch. Yemisi Suswam.

As a spokesperson, records show that there has not been any spokesperson that has engaged the public on topical issues via press releases, radio and Tv interviews and sectoral town meetings on national issues, and defending the nation and the ruling party like Kalu.

Recall that the Ninth National Assembly was inaugurated on June 11, 2019, and is made up of 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives elected from various constituencies across the country. The fact is while a majority of the lawmakers are inactive, the ninth House has a handful of active legislators, like Hon Kalu whose contributions in the last three years are commendable and quite laudable.

Even as a first-timer he has sponsored a total of 42 bills; one of the highest number of bills sponsored by a Reps Member who is a first-timer in the history of the National Assembly. He has also contributed to over 200 debates and motions that align with his legislative agenda and are crucial to the well-being of Ndi Bende and Nigeria as a whole.

He moved the first motion of the 9th Assembly HM001, that bothered on Ecological needs of Bende people which received the nod of the House as well as the Ecological Fund Office.

While some of his Bills have successfully passed through different stages of Bills reading. Some of the Bills include: Federal College of Education Bende, (Establishment, etc.) Bill 2020, Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act (Amendment) Bill, Counterfeit Currency (Special Provisions) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Dangerous Drugs Act (Amendment) Bill 2020, Acts Authentication Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Nigerian Meteorological Agency Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Nigerian Communications Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Internal Loans (Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Development) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Public Accounts Implementation Tribunal Act (Repeal) Bill 2019, and Official Secrets Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Others are: “Associated Gas Reinjection Act (Amendment) Bill, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency Act (Amendment) Bill, National Planning Commission Act (Amendment) Bill, Armed Forces Act (Amendment) Bill, Federal Cooperative College, Oji River (Establishment, etc.) Bill, Federal Cooperative College, Ibadan (Establishment, etc.) Bill, Federal Cooperative College, Kaduna (Establishment, etc.) Bill, Cybercrimes (Prohibition and Protection) Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Minerals and Mining Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020, Automotive Tyres (Mandatory Inscription of Dates) Bill, 2020, Fiscal Responsibility Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and Flags and Coat of Arms Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

To cushion the effect of COVID-19 that heralds public health concerns and economic crisis of unprecedented proportions for mankind as a whole, Hon Kalu donated thousands of relief supplies including face masks, hand sanitizers, hand gloves, washing soaps, thermometers, food, and hygiene materials to the indigenes of Bende Federal Constituency in Abia State, around all communities in his constituency.

To raise awareness about the scourge, he sensitised his constituents via radio jingles, billboards, posters and other awareness materials were produced to educate Bende people on the necessary protocols to be observed in curbing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the lockdown, he distributed 150 bags of rice, 1000 cartons of Indomie noodles, 1000 bottles of sanitizers, 5000 facemasks, 5000 pairs of hand gloves,and 5000 branded buckets with taps for hand washing. The focus was on the most vulnerable persons to cushion the effects of the pandemic and checkmate the spread.

“About 9,100 young persons and adults were given palliative care in every federal ward (700 per ward),” he said.

He sponsored the training of selected health workers from every ward by the emergency response team at Federal Medical Centre (FMC), on the World Health Organization (WHO)approved guidelines for preventing the spread of Coronavirus.

Amid the pandemic, Kalu moved a motion of urgent public importance entitled: “Urgent need to evacuate stranded Nigerians from China.” The motion called for the urgent evacuation of stranded Nigerians in China which was first rejected by the house and later accepted and fully implemented by the Executive.
This motion was celebrated around the world, as his motion against the Chinese discrimination against Africans in China was aired on major international media platforms.

On open and transparent governance in the legislature, he brought a platform to reduce the opacity around the activities of the legislators by initiating and publishing the first ever House Magazine known as the Green Chamber to cover all the house activities and as well as capture bill tracking on all the house bills and motions.
Kalu’s legislative acumen, sagacity, and finesse as well as his diplomacy in maintaining a good relationship with his colleagues made him loved by all in both the Green and Red chamber. However, if the Parliament is the bastion of democracy and the most important arm of government it remains a symbol of hope in terms of delivery of dividends of democracy.

The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria made the theory of separation of powers a fundamental principle of governance. Kalu as the House Spokesman has been able to balance the uneasy task of being the mouthpiece of the House.

So far, he has provided financial support, through his constituency office, to support his constituents to the tune of N15,748,680. The records of transfers are available at the constituency office.
Kalu has also embarked on some ongoing and completed projects in Bende Federal Constituency. Such projects include an 11km road Ecological Intervention Project in Umuimenyi Nkpa which is ongoing and the construction of Nkpa bridge to curb the erosion menace in the communities.

Also, he commenced the rehabilitation and construction of the Umuahia-Bende-Ohafia Road (LOT2) in Abia State to the tune of ₦12 billion.
He secured the rehabilitation of the Etitiulo-Itumbauzo road which has now been asphalted.

He constructed a one-kilometre road in Etitiulo Bende in Bende LGA and the one-kilometre Amaogwu Ndiokorieukwu road which are ongoing; He constructed 600-metre Amaogwu Agbomiri road (ongoing) and 400-metre Agbomiri Umorie road which is ongoing too.His quota to revolutionize agriculture in the state includes skills acquisition/training of 200 Bende Constituents on Aquaponics development in Bende Federal Constituency.

“Training and empowerment of Youth and Women on Agribusiness management in Bende Federal Constituency.
“Training and empowerment of over 1,000 Bende indigenes on rice farming, production, and supply of agricultural seeds to farmers in Bende.

He has also provided a solar-powered borehole drilling at Ovum Ugwu, Nkpa; Mba Autonomous community Ozuitem.
While solar-powered borehole drilling at Okpufu Amankalu Alayi in Bende L.G.A, and in Okoko Item is ongoing.
He donated 27 motorbikes and 13 tricycles (Keke Napep) to various wards in Bende to curb insecurity and improve transportation in Bende.

As part of his contributions to infrastructure, he constructed a solar farm to house a mini-grid for energy supply in Bende which will provide light for 25 years non-stop and away from the national grid which is ongoing.
He installed a 2.5 KVA transformer in Amaokwe Item; installed Solar Street lights across various communities in Bende and a 2×7.5 MVA 33/11KV injection Substation in Bende Town with one feeder extension at Ozuitem.

He has rehabilitated Uche-Ebiri hall in Igbere which is ongoing; while Agbamuzu town hall, Bende completed.
He supported the Bende Widows Support Programme (19th Edition) andBende Food Support Programme (19th Edition).
To support education in his constituents, he has constructed and furnished a three-classroom block in Nkporo central school, Ubibia in Itumbauzo Bende LGA.Construction of three-classroom blocks at Ndiwo Town School in Itumbauzo Bende LGA.

He has completed the renovation of Uzuakoli Practicing School and Amazu Central School, Umuhu Ezechi.
Kalu distributed learning and educational materials to community schools in 13 wards of Bende Federal Constituency.

He renovated a block of six classrooms in Girls’ Secondary School Uzuakoli, three classrooms in Uzuakoli township school, which is currently ongoing, and renovated Nkpa technical school Nkpa in Bende LGA.
Kalu constructed and furnished three classrooms in Onuibina Primary School Igbere in Bende L.G.A.
He renovated a block of three classrooms in Community primary school Okai item.

Kalu constructed a block of three classrooms in Amaokai primary school Ugwueke which is ongoing. He constructed and renovated six classroom blocks in Community Primary School, Apanu Item.
He also constructed a block of three classrooms in Okporoenyi, Bende; constructed and renovated block of classrooms at Item Community High School.

He has completed the Divisional Immigration Office in Bende and the construction of ICT Centre.
He also broke the 23 years old record in attracting the dividends of democracy to Bende Federal constituency with the list of projects attracted to the federal constituency and number of constituents assisted to be employed at the federal MDAs.

He bagged an Award for Outstanding Legislative Contribution towards Improved TB policy and Funding.
He also bagged Zik’s Award of Excellence on Civic Engagement at the 2nd Igbo Nsukka Zik Annual Merit Award, for his efforts in bridging the communication gap between the citizens and the parliament.

He also won the Independent Newspapers’ South East and Abia State Federal Lawmaker of the Year Award:
He was also Awarded by the Abia Online Media Publishers, the umbrella body of all online media practitioners in Abia State as the Most Outstanding Federal Legislator for the Year 2021.

He also bagged the Abia State Law Students Association (ALSA) Award as Beacon of Hope.
The fact is, an active legislator, therefore, has to be independent of any form of control from ‘external forces’ and refuse to rubber-stamp as they must carry out their functions which include making laws, representing constituencies, and ensuring power balance, Hon Kalu has performed excellently well in these areas.


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