HIS EXCELLENCY, RT. HON. SIR EMEKA IHEDIOHA, CON, KSC: A PROFILE IN SELFLESS SERVICE AND COURAGE
Emeka Ihedioha at a Glance:
Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, CON, KSC, is by different definitions, a self-made man, who has painstakingly but steadily risen through the ranks of his chosen career to meritoriously become the Deputy Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives. He is indeed one of the few Nigerians, living or dead, who has been returned to the House to represent his people for a record three times. His achievements and attainments in life today are all traceable to the grace of God Almighty, his personal grit, loyalty to his convictions and his refusal to make compromises on issues that will not advance the cause of humanity. Thus his quest to become the next elected Governor of Imo State is borne out of personal convictions and a burning desire to bring his consummate wealth of public service experience, political dexterity, wide network of national and global contacts, and visionary focus to improve the lives and living conditions of the good people of Imo State.
With about two decades of his life spent in public service, there were indications early in Emeka’s life that his strength of character and the obvious sparks of academic brilliance he exhibited in school marked him out for future leadership.
Background and Education:
Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was born on March 24th 1965 and hails from Mbutu, Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, South-East, Nigeria.Ihedioha Addressing Imo People He began his primary education at Town School, Mbutu in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State, completed same at SDA Primary School, Abule Oja, Yaba Lagos in 1976. He then moved on to St. Ephraim’s Secondary School, Owerrinta in present day Abia State for his secondary education, rounding off his academic sojourn in Nigeria with a Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) degree in Food Technology from the University of Lagos. This was in 1988. He has taken Management and Leadership Development courses at Stanford and Harvard Universities, both Ivy League institutions in the United States; Oxford University Business School and London School of Economics in the United Kingdom; as well as the University of British Columbia, Canada.
Political Experience/Public Service Record:
Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has lived a life of service, beginning with his appointment as Press Officer to the then President of the Senate of Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu in 1992. This appointment was in recognition of his capacity as a publicist of immense abilities and a media person of known effectiveness. Within three months of this appointment, he was elevated to the position of Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Albert Legogie (late).Ihedioha with president Jonathan
When the military cut short Nigeria’s democratic experience and experiment in November 1993, Ihedioha returned to his public communications practice as Chief Executive Officer of First Page Communications. In 1995 when the whistle was blown for transition to civil rule under the aborted Third Republic, he readily found his sails in the familiar waters of politics and was appointed Director of Publicity of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).
Rt. Hon. Ihedioha made the right moves, maintained the right contacts and retained relevance in an environment where even the biggest of ocean-going sharks and fish are known to drown quite easily. In 1999, Ihedioha was appointed into key positions in the budding democratic dispensation. First, he was appointed Special Assistant to the Presidential Adviser on Utilities (July 1999); Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President of Senate (November 1999); and eventually Special Assistant on Political Matters to the Vice President (September 2001). It was from this last assignment in the Office of Vice President Atiku Abubakar that he contested election and won a seat into the House of Representatives as Member representing Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency of Imo State in 2003 under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He is currently serving his third consecutive term in the House of Representatives as Deputy Speaker.
Since his first term, Rt. Hon. Ihedioha has been prominently positioned in the House of Representatives. He was Chairman of the ranking House Committee on Marine Transport between 2003 and 2007, where he brilliantly coordinated legislative oversight functions over Nigeria’s maritime sector. The passage of two key legislations which reformed the maritime industry to allow for increased participation of Nigerians in that sector of the economy is credited to the sterling, committed and determined efforts of Hon. Ihedioha. The legislations in question are: the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act, 2007 and the Merchant Shipping Act, 2005.
He led the way in ensuring that Nigeria complies with International Maritime Organization (IMO) Conventions and that these conventions became part of our Municipal Laws, through their domestications. These laws include:
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2004;
The United Nations Convention on Carriage of Goods by Sea (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 2005;
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (Ratification and Enforcement) Act 2005;
The International Convention on the Civil Liabilities for Oil Pollution Damage (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 2006; and
International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for the Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1979 as amended (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, 2006.
It is noteworthy that Hon. Ihedioha’s pivotal and timely role perfected the legislation for the domestication of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which ensured that Nigeria complied with global shipping standards. Within the period, he also personally sponsored and facilitated the passage into law of the bill that established the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding (CRFFN) in Nigeria. This is one of the few legislations sponsored by a legislator that received Presidential assent. This has brought order in the sector and given pride of place to our local operators.Ihedioha As Deputy Speaker
By spearheading the passage into law of these critical bills governing the operations of the maritime sector in Nigeria, Ihedioha achieved a legislative feat that has remained unrivalled and unprecedented in the parliamentary history of Nigeria. That is why he has remained a toast of the maritime community in Nigeria. We note, for the record, that the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) in 2010 awarded him the Most Outstanding Maritime Legislator.
But beside these tangible legislative accomplishments in the Marine Transport Committee, he has served on various Committees of the House and in other different capacities contributing his best to the growth and development of the legislature in particular and nation building in general.
After emerging victorious in the 2007 general elections that birthed the Sixth Assembly, Ihedioha served first as Chairman, House Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa before he was later elected Chief Whip of the House. He held that position until the expiration of the Sixth Assembly.
In his capacity as Chief Whip, Ihedioha served as Chairman of various Ad-Hoc Committees of the House, including Chairman, Ad-hoc Committee on Constituency Projects (2007-2008); Chairman, Ad-Hoc Committee on the Celebration of Ten Years of Unhindered Legislative Practice in Nigeria (1999-2009); Chairman, Ad-hoc Committee on Process and Procedure for Obtaining Local and Foreign Loans through which he was able with his members to standardize the operational procedure for obtaining future foreign and local loans by the Nigerian Government. He was also Chairman, Sub-Committee on the Review of Police Act.
These achievements made Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha to develop a reputation for competence, a reputation for leadership capacity and a man that can be relied on to deliver on even difficult assignments. He was clearly marked out as a man who could be entrusted with higher responsibilities of State. He epitomizes a rare brand of legislative excellence and is generally seen as a man who would spare no effort to improve the lives and living conditions of people. Even though he has placed his constituency at the centre of Nigeria’s political map as his first duty of representation demands yet his approach to issues is pan Nigeria. Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha has throughout this time become the darling brand of not just the people of Imo State but the entire Nigerian masses. He has consistently done his best to place his constituency and Imo State at the centre of Nigeria’s political map.
Emergence as Deputy Speaker:
It was therefore not surprising that on the 6th day of June, 2011 Rt. Hon. Ihedioha was elected unopposed as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives by his colleagues. The principled stand of the House members is seen as an affirmation of implicit confidence in the leadership credentials of Hon. Ihedioha. Ihedioha As Deputy Speaker
Since Rt. Hon. Ihedioha’s popular emergence as the Deputy Speaker, he has continued to provide together with his colleagues inspirational, rancour – free and dynamic leadership in the Green Chamber, displaying tact, dexterity and maturity in the conduct of official business. It is important to observe that the leadership of the 7th House of Representatives has made outstanding contributions to the peace and stability of Nigeria through its legislative interventions in motions, bills and constituency representation. More than that, Ihedioha’s emergence unopposed as Deputy Speaker represents a paradigm shift in our democratic experience. It is therefore hardly surprising that he enjoys the trust and confidence of his colleagues across partisan divide. A man of intellect and accomplishments, Ihedioha has meritoriously held (and continues to hold) important and strategic positions in the House of Representatives and at every turn he has acquitted himself creditably. Apart from the positions earlier mentioned, Ihedioha by virtue of his office as Deputy Speaker currently serves as Chairman of the following Committees of the House, namely:
1. House Ad-Hoc Committee on Legislative Agenda: Rt. Hon Ihedioha was instrumental in one of the most innovative decisions of the new leadership of the House in unveiling on the first day of legislative business a LEGISLATIVE AGENDA. This is the legislative Compass and Mission Statement that guides the operations of the 7th House of Representatives. Rt Hon Ihedioha chairs this Committee, a clearing house on policy for the House that is largely credited with the positive direction and image of the 7th House of Representatives.
2. House Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review: In his capacity as the Deputy Speaker, Ihedioha chairs the House Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review. Under his leadership, the constitution amendment process has progressed remarkably with new innovations to make it a bottom-up exercise that places a premium on the wishes and aspirations of the people. The novel and unprecedented introduction of the Peoples Public Session is an idea that is credited to him. Ihedioha As Deputy Speaker
During the Peoples Public Sessions, Nigerians from all walks of life in the nooks and crannies of the country aired their voices and voted on issues for constitutional amendment. That epoch-making mechanism remains the most inclusive, participatory, transparent and accountable process ever embarked upon in the history of constitution-making in the country. The Peoples Public Sessions is an idea that is built and conceived around the notion that since the people own the constitution, they deserve to be involved in the very process of amending the document; it is a bottom-up approach which availed citizens from the grassroots the opportunity to decide on various contentious issues in the Constitution. In order to demonstrate the transparent and accountable nature of the exercise, the Committee and indeed the House led by Hon. Ihedioha partnered with about twelve independent Organizations and professional bodies to organise and supervise the process. The organisations are: The Nigerian Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, The Nigerian Bar Association, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (ASUU), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), National Union of Local Government Employees, National Council of Women Societies, National Association of Nigerian Students, Nigerian Youth Council, and Civil Society Organizations. This exercise took place simultaneously in the 360 Federal Constituencies, nationwide on November 10, 2012. It is to the credit of Rt. Hon. Ihedioha that the Results of the decisions on various issues voted on by people in their various constituencies have not been faulted or questioned by anyone since its publication and presentation to the people. It represents something close to a referendum. His leadership has ensured that the amendments made by the House have been revolutionary and unprecedented. After several other amendment processes in the House of Representatives, the Committee under Ihedioha’s leadership processed a record 70 clauses of the Constitution for amendment which were eventually passed by the House of Representatives in a transparent vote applauded by Nigerians across board. Click here for a full list of the amendment clauses passed by the House of Representatives
3. Committee of the Whole: As the Chairman of the Committee of the Whole, Ihedioha presides over the consideration of Committee Reports. It is at the Committee of the Whole that Laws as different from just Resolutions are made. In other words, he presides over the most crucial aspect of the legislative business: LAWMAKING. To this unique role which exists only in the House of Representatives and not the Senate, he has demonstrated considerable expertise, experience, capacity, wisdom and tact in handling contending and contentious issues. He is always a delight to watch when he is presiding, as he brings uncommon brilliance and political sagacity to bear on this important legislative process.
4. Alternate Chairman, Governing Council of NILS: By virtue of his position as Deputy Speaker of the House, Ihedioha serves as alternate Chairman, Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS), an intellectual think-tank and capacity-building arm of the National Assembly. Under his Alternate Chairmanship, Nigerian Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS), has attained World Class status as a legislative and Capacity enhancing institution. It trains Legislators and Legislative Staff all over Nigeria, West Africa, Africa, and Worldwide.
A Core Party (PDP) Man:
Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has been on the national political scene for about two decades during which period he has made his mark convincingly and creditably. And in all this time, he has played politics of consistency, loyalty and commitment to his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). As a core party man and one of its founding stalwarts, Rt. Hon. Ihedioha joined forces with other prominent politicians to fight military incursions into the polity especially after the botched Third Republic where he played an active role. The PDP is a notable result of the political activism of that era. It could be safely said that Hon. Ihedioha was actively involved in midwifing the PDP and he has not left the party since inception. It is notable that Hon. Ihedioha served as Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) which is the precursor of the PDP. And he has always served the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) faithfully since then including being prominent in the presidential campaign organization that brought President Olusegun Obasanjo to power in 1999.
Ihedioha a Core Party (PDP) ManIn the 2012 National Convention of the PDP, he served as Chairman of the National Screening Panel that screened and certified the qualifications of aspirants to the various National Offices of the Party. In the following year, 2013, he also served as Chairman of the Publicity Committee of the Special National Convention of the party. In that capacity he ensured that the proceedings of the Convention were well publicized in both local and international media. And only in September 2014, he was appointed into the National Integration Committee of the party for North-Central. These appointments are obviously in recognition of his intellectual and political standing within the power echelons of the party.
At the state level, Rt. Hon. Ihedioha has been a major bulwark and one of the major financiers of the PDP in Imo since the party lost the gubernatorial office in 2011. In his capacity as Deputy Speaker, he has rallied other party stalwarts, members and supporters to rebuild the PDP in Imo State to make it such a formidable force that is set to retrieve the governorship of Imo State in the 2015 General Elections. He has ensured that Party members and others receive federal government patronage and facilitated employment of party members and other qualified citizens.
As Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ihedioha is the Leader of Nigeria`s parliamentary delegation to the Third Legislative Session of the ECOWAS Parliament (2011 – date). He also doubles as the Deputy Leader of the Nigerian delegation to the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) since 2011.
Ihedioha with Foriegn DiplomatsIn the 6th National Assembly, Ihedioha was at the head of several delegations of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to many Commonwealth nations in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, in his capacity as the President of the Nigeria chapter of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). He was the Leader of the Nigerian Delegation to the 6th General Assembly of the International Parliamentary Association for Information Technology, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2008; Member, Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Africa Region; and Leader, Nigerian Delegation to the 41stCommonwealth Parliamentary Association, Mpumulangha, South Africa.
Following his nomination by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), he was part of the International Observer Group that monitored the parliamentary elections in Lebanon in June 2009. He has made presentations to and attended several other conferences, seminar and symposia including a Chatham House Conference on the Nigerian Constitution Amendment Process held in 2013. These and more are part of the vast coterie of experience and resources that he can bring to bear on the fortunes of Imo State if elected as Governor in 2015.
Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha is a pro-people and development-oriented legislator who has consistently used his position as leader and driver of the budget passage process of the House of Representatives to push for actualization of democracy dividends to his immediate constituency, Imo State and the South East geo-political zone at large.Ihedioha Commissioning Road Project He Constructed These include interstate and intra city roads, power transmission/injection stations, vocational/training centres, healthcare facilities, schools, sporting facilities, etc. It is noteworthy that in the area of capacity building, Hon. Ihedioha has used personal and official contacts to facilitate the aggressive empowerment of several women and youths through skills acquisition, scholarship and trading support. Click here for a list of Projects, Empowerment Schemes and Gainful Employment he has facilitated to Imo State.
Recognitions, Honours and Awards:
Rt Hon Ihedioha, in the course of his public service, has received recognition, awards, titles and fellowships by a grateful public. Significantly, Rt. Hon. Ihedioha holds the national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) conferred on him, by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GFCR on 14th November, 2011. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Shipping and has also received the Distinguished Service Award of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations. He was voted One of Nigeria’s 50 Most Outstanding Legislators (1999-2009) and has also been conferred with the Fellowships of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology and Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC), among others.
Ihedioha Receiving AwardA man rooted in tradition and being one who understands the ways and nature of his people, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha is the recipient of several chieftaincy titles among which are The Omenka Ahuruanya of Mbaise; Ezeugo Nri; Odozi Obodo Ngor Okpala; Ezienyi Nguru; Ezienyi Uvuru; Ebubedike Agulu, Ebube Mba of Ngwaland; Odiuko Nnamba of Obinugwu-Orlu; Oke-Osisi Umuohiagu; and Aha Eji Agamba of Mbutu, etc.
A Knight of the Order of St. Christopher of the Anglican Communion, Ihedioha has bagged several religious awards in recognition of his contributions to the advancement of Christianity. In September, 2014, he was conferred with the Primatial Award for Integrity in Leadership, the highest recognition bestowed on deserving faithful by the Anglican Church in Nigeria. He was decorated alongside other distinguished Nigerians like former Head of State, Chief Ernest Shonekan, former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Gen. T.Y Danjuma (Rtd), and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, by none other than by His Grace, The Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, the Primate of All Nigeria.
From the Diaspora and at the continental level, Rt. Hon. Ihedioha has received the African Achievers Award in Kenya, award from the Imo Community in the United Kingdom, as well as the USAfrica International Legislative Leadership Award, among others. These recognitions and honours point to a general acknowledgement of his community leadership position, national service records and religious piety.
A Sociable Family Man:
A father of four and husband to the wife of his youth, Lady Ebere Ihedioha, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, CON, KSC, is a responsible citizen, good neighbor, great politician, loyal friend, dedicated community leader, legislator par excellence and a committed family man.Ihedioha a Sociable Man This quintessential, unassuming, erudite, focused, dogged defender of democracy is indeed an ICON and a pride to our people, his generation and the Nigerian nation. Imo State can only be Greater if he becomes the next Governor in 2015.