Unveilled: Faces that will shape the next Senate | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Unveilled: Faces that will shape the next Senate

Posted: Apr 19, 2015 at 5:39 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Its not going to be business as usual with members of the Upper Legislative chambers as the inclusion of some new faces to the chambers, whether for good or bad, is definitely going to alter the way and manner in which they run their affairs. So, loathe them or love them, fact remains that, by virtue of popular mandate, David Umaru, Uche Ekwunife, Godswill Akpabio, Dino Melaye, Mao Ohuabunwa, Stella Oduah among others, will be occupying very strategic positions in the Nigerian political arena. And considering the antecedents of these personalities, their presence in the Senate will be such that can neither be ignored nor dismissed by a wave of the hand. Individually, at various times and levels, they have been strong participants in the political affairs in the country, so they are not new to the politically conscious in the country. The interesting part remains that, considering their various backgrounds and antecedents, the chambers might be said to be in for one of the toughest legislative seasons, as a good number of them are not new to controversies. 

By Nkasiobi Oluikpe Correspondent, Lagos

David Umaru

David Umaru, though variously criticised by detractors as a consistently inconsistent politician, bearing in mind his defection instincts, and for being in the habit of picking petty quarrels with his political associates, is a dogged and never say die politician.



When in 2007, he contested the PDP governorship primaries and was said to have been shortchanged by some powerful godfathers, he didn’t give up easily, but contested the case several years after, up to the Supreme Court level.

And despite being a Christian in a predominantly Moslem state, (something that is said to have always worked against him), as a grass root politician, he is endowed with the ability to easily get his people to support his aspiration.

In 2011, he was said to have successfully and singlehandedly sponsored and installed eight out of the 25 All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) members in the Niger State House of Assembly, despite not being able to make it to the Government House himself. All the various disappointments did not stop him from still forging on, as right from his childhood days, he is said to be one not to give up easily on his ambitions. This dogged spiritedness saw him through his law career.

He sure does know his onion. Apart from being a successful legal practitioner, he struck the right cord by reaching out to the grass root masses by engaging in some philanthropic gestures, telling them he has a mission to liberate the masses. There and then, he launched himself out in readiness for the task ahead.

With his several unsuccessful attempts at clinching the number one seat in Niger State, since 2007, coupled with his grass root reach and deep pocket, the All Progressive Congress (APC) saw in him a formidable candidate to beat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

As a legal practitioner, estate manager, former tribunal chairman in Niger State, chairman of the committee on Privatisation of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), the principal partner of Cosmic Chambers and Senator-elect of the Niger East district, David Umaru, would be bringing a lot to bear to members of the National Assembly.

Uche Ekwunife

Uche Ekwunife, viewed by many, as an obsessively flashy honourable member of the House of Representatives, is the chairman of the House Committee on Environment. She came into prominence in Anambra State during the Chinwoke Mbadinuju’s administration in Anambra State, before which nothing was known about her. Her rise to fame was one that took many Anambrarians by surprise.



All that was known about her as at 1999, was as the branch manager of a bank at the state secretariat, Awka. But that marked the beginning of her rise to political relevance. And before Anambrarians could say Jack Robinson, she has hit the road, flying the kite for the number one position in Anambra State.

Even though once criticized by the immediate past governor of the state, Peter Obi, as only having impacted her constituency by erecting street lights that never lit, she still was able to navigate her way up.

One quality stands her out though, during the crises that rocked Anambra State when Chris Ngige was the governor, she stood solidly behind the Uba brothers and came out openly to pledge her support for them, despite the widespread condemnation that followed their actions. Between 2007 and 2014, Ekwunife was said to have hobnobbed round four political parties.

For a course Ekwunife believes in, she fights to the last. This is one sterling quality that endeared her to her supporters and sponsors and also saw her successfully ousting the indefatigable Chris Ngige for the Anambra Central district. Added to this, is her craving for good looks. If the saying that your dress is your address is to be taken seriously, then her elegant looks sure will make an impression.

Dino Melaye

Dino Melaye, popularly known as Mr. Controversy by his haters and a social crusader by admirers, was in the House of Representatives for Kabba/Bunu/Ijumu federal constituency of Kogi State from 2007 and 2011 on the platform of the PDP.



Said to sniff out opportunities anywhere they exists, exploring loopholes against his opponents and victims and ‘fighting to finish’ to prove a point. DStv, providers of satellite cable television, will not be quick to forget Melaye for descending heavily on them over their high tariffs on subscribers.

Having lost his bid to return to the House during the 2011 general elections, he took to full time social crusade, using his Anti-Corruption Network (ACN) NGO as his whistle and targeting mostly PDP political office holders.  Some politicians that found themselves roped inside the ACN hook include, Edem Duke (minister of tourism), Diezani Alison-Madueke (petroleum minister), Stella Oduah (former aviation minister and now senator), Buruji Kashamu (Soutwest PDP financier), Godsday Orubebe, to mention a few.

Melaye on one of the occasions took his anti-corruption crusade to the streets of London and New York, to protest the lukewarm attitude of the Federal Government in the fight against corruption.

But Mr. Whistle blower, however, became the centre of controversy when in 2012, his secret romance with Nollywood actress, Bisi Ibidapo Obe resulted in pregnancy out of wedlock. As it is said that in Nigeria politics, anything goes, despite the dust raised by this scandal, he still came out of it undaunted and successfully won the APC ticket for Kogi West senatorial district. This has lend credence to his statement in one of the interviews he granted, that no one can stop a moving train, irrespective of the mission embarked upon by the train.
Having won the Kogi West senatorial ticket on the platform of the APC, the outspoken Senator and whistle blower, will ensure it is a no tea party for the now minority PDP lawmakers that he has never hidden a dislike for.

Godswill Akpabio

Overtly and aggressively self confident Godswill Akpabio, the chairman of the PDP Governors Forum,will henceforth be representing Akwa Ibom West senatorial district in the National Assembly.



His brashness while in the University of Calabar, earned him the position of the Speaker of the Students’ Parliament.

The outspoken lawyer cum politician, who will forever be remembered for banishing the house help industry from Akwa Ibom State, will definitely be a difficult nut to crack for members of the now majority APC senators in the National Assembly.

Though these lawmakers individually and collectively, have had their shares of controversies, but that they were able to rise above them to clinch the positions they will be occupying come May 29, no doubt implies that they have something to offer the masses.

Stella Oduah

Until the bullet proof vehicles saga that saw her leaving the President Goodluck Jonathan cabinet, Stella Oduah was described as the Amazon of the Aviation Industry, but initially, when her name was mentioned as the Minister of Aviation, many who didn’t know her background, thought she was too beautiful, for such a serious and sensitive position.



But people who knew the active role she played as director of administration and finance in the President Goodluck Jonathan 2011 campaign project understood quite well that she’s really got the brain to match her beauty.

And when the ministerial slot rested on her, she initiated a lot of project and turned the almost moribund industry around for good.

Even though the bullet proof car saga has led many to cast aspersions on her days in the aviation industry, aspersions that many of her admirers and supporters think are politically motivated, as an independent marketer and CEO of Sea Petroleum and Gas Company Limited (SPG), this woman of substance was able to lead her company from a humble beginning to becoming one of the leading companies in the competitive oil industry.

And despite the barrages of criticisms against her, she was able to garner enough votes from Anambra North senatorial district over and against the incumbent senator, Dubem Obaze.

Mao Ohuabunwa

Mao Ohuabunwa is a man of unswerving dedication to party ideals. Despite the ups and downs, he has stuck to the PDP for years. And though he is viewed by many as a die-hard politician, he is humility exemplified, and is willing to sacrifice his personal ambition for the party. This unique characteristic earned him membership of both the PDP Board of Trustees and the position of deputy Leader of the House of Representatives



Ohuabunwa was the first person to represent the Arochukwu Ohafia federal constituency (1999 to 2007) and now won the seat for Abia North senatorial district.

Having spent eight years in the lower chambers without any trace of controversy, in Ohuabunwa, members of the Senate will know they have not found a novice, but someone who understands the happenings around them and is able to square up to the challenges ahead.