By Michael Jegede
On May 6, 2014, the Senator representing Kogi Central Senatorial District in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman, clocked 43 years of age. On this day, the ebullient, vibrant and energetic Senator could notbut thank God for protecting his life all this years, while also pledging to remain committed to the service of his people, who gave him the mandate to represent them in the Red Chamber.
When Abatemi-Usman won the election for the Senatorial seat of Kogi Central in April, 2011, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PD), his landslide victory signified the deep desire of the people for change, for a fresh start in Kogi Central politics and for more dynamic and robust representation for the zone. Since his inauguration, the soft-spoken Senator, popularly known by his constituents as “Deen”, has attracted growing admiration for his laudable contributions on the Senate floor, participation in various committee meetings and his activities on the home front.
Abatemi-Usman, an OAU graduate with diverse work and business experience in engineering, agriculture and management consultancy, is the youngest Senator in the seventh Senate and has worked hard to live up to the expectations of the people in line with his campaign promises. A consistent champion for the common man, Senator Abatemi-Usman, since he entered office, has been fighting the cause of the ten percent of Nigerians who suffer from disabilities. On March 27th, 2014, his efforts bore fruit as the Senate passed the “Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill, 2014.’’ This historic Bill offers unprecedented protection of the rights of the disabled.
Other bills to the credit of this great son of Ebiraland include the Local Government Financial Autonomy bill and a bill for an act to repeal the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act, 1881 as applicable in the Federal Capital Territory and provide for improvement in the law relating to conveyancing and property. One of the core themes of Senator Abatemi-Usman’s campaign was to tackle the perennial water shortages in Kogi Central that have caused such hardship to his people. Upon entering office, he persuaded the Federal Ministry of Water Resources who sent a team of engineers to
mobilize to Ekuku and Osara Dam for proper assessments. Thanks to his dogged determination to improve the water situation, he was successful in pushing for the allocation of funds in the 2013 budget for Ekuku Dam in Okene and the Ogori/Magongo Water Treatment Plants.
Since then, he has ensured the progress of massive and aggressive rehabilitation work on the pumping unit in Ekuku Dam and the distribution network at Idiche, Okene. For the first time in nearly twenty years, the people of Bariki, Idogido, Idoji and even Okeneba, the highest point on the hilly rocks of Ebiraland, recently enjoyed running water from their
previously dry taps for about two weeks. With money earmarked for the continuation of the long-term water projects in the 2014 budget, it is hoped that the people of Kogi Central will start enjoying potable water in their homes very soon.
Whilst the long-term projects continues, Abatemi-Usman has also provided temporary alleviation for his people, by facilitating the sinking of hand-pumped and motorized boreholes in a number of communities across Kogi Central, through the MDG intervention fund in 2012 and 2013. The second core theme of Deen’s campaign was the revival of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL). Barely two months into office in August 2011, he convened critical stakeholder meetings involving the Minister of Mines and Steel, National Assembly colleagues and other steel sector experts, to fashion a viable way forward for the Ajaokuta Steel project.
He then led a three-day visitation programme to all Federal agencies and institutions within Kogi Central, during which he declared that he would not rest until the Ajaokuta Steel Company and National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) become fully operational, lamenting that a project that had reached 98% completion and had consumed a whopping $5 billion, should be so recklessly abandoned. Although funding is not yet forthcoming, the push by Abatemi-Usman has
yielded some important victories, such as the disbandment of the ineffective ASCL Interim Management Committee, (IMC), which came as a result of his persistent lobby of members of the Senate Committee on Power and Steel.
Abatemi-Usman also made sure that a seasoned metallurgical engineer with over 30 years of experience in the steel
industry, Engr. Joseph Isah Onobere, was appointed to head the Ajaokuta Steel Company, the first Ebira man to hold this position in the company’s history. Abatemi-Usman has likewise lobbied for the execution of electricity projects, to boost power supply to the various communities of KogiCentral. Moreover, realizing the importance of information dissemination and communication, the Senator worked to ensure the allocation of funds for the completion of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) sub-station at Okeneba in Okene Local Government Area.
The completion of the NTA sub-station will empower the citizenry with access to information and at the same time, create job opportunities for people in Okene. Always concerned about the welfare of his people, the Distinguished
Senator was able to push for the construction of a primary healthcare center for the people of the remote Upake community in Ajaokuta Local Government Area. The healthcare centre is completed and ready for commissioning. Upake community is over 30km away from Ajaokuta townand this distance, coupled with the very bad road, has made things very difficult for the residents of Upake when they need to seek medical treatment. Senator Abatemi-Usman has worked to bring health facilities right to their doors, which will ease their previous challenges and radically improve the quality of their lives. He is also making frantic effort to see to the construction of the Upake road to make life much more bearable for the people who were never cared for by past leaders of the central senatorial district of Kogi State.
Despite the very stiff competition for jobs, Senator Abatemi-Usman has so far succeeded in securing employment for over 60 members of his constituency in various government agencies. In addition, the Senator personally sponsored four of his constituents who were among the six participants from Kogi State for the National Power Training Institute
of Nigeria (NAPTIN) pioneer Graduate Development Programme for 2012/2013. He took up the responsibility of footing the bill for the four graduates from his constituency because he believes the training will help to propel their future careers.
Still in fulfillment of his campaign promises to the good people of Kogi Central Senatorial District, he set up The Umajene-Abatemi Initiative (TUAI), a not-for-profit organization that has become a vehicle through which he is fulfilling the promises he made to promote the social and economic wellbeing of the underprivileged in his constituency. On April 7, 2014, TUAI provided tangible assistance to over 1200 Nigerians from Kogi Central, in the first phase of its empowerment programme. It was indeed an epoch-making event which had in attendance the Senate President, David Mark and over ten other Senators, the State Governor, Idris Wada, ministers and other top government functionaries. Some of the materials distributed for the empowerment programme include vehicles, tricycles, motorcycles, medical equipment, agricultural items, mobile toilets, hairdryers/clippers and generators, video/photo cameras and printers, grinding, sewing and vulcanizing machines.
In collaboration with Macks Farm, Osara, Kogi State, TUAI also trained 200 people in fish and poultry farming, helping to tackle the serious issue of unemployment in the district. This community empowerment programme is the first of its kind birthed by the political leader of Kogi Central for the benefit of his people. The astute parliamentarian has transformed the political climate in Ebiraland from one of violence and thuggery to the peace we enjoy today. I salute Deen – a gentleman politician, a committed public servant and a true representative of his people on the occasion of his 43rd birthday. It has been wonderful working with him as one of his aides. He has portrayed himself as a leader, who clearly understands the needs of his people, and thereby leaves no stone unturned to put smiles on their faces. I urge him to keep up the spirit!
Michael Jegede, media aide to Senator Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman wrote
from Abuja . 07065574368