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The Deputy Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly and Member representing Ibaji Constituency, Rt Hon Comfort Ojoma Nwuchiola Egwaba, has clocked a year in office already. How time flies!

In the political space and indeed other areas, it has become fashionable to consider such durations as first month in office, first 100 days in office, first six months in office first half of full tenure in office and the like.

In all these timings, years are significant in any duration. For instance, after the first year in office as a political figure, you know that a substantial portion (at least a quartre) of your duration has elapsed. One year is not a joke. It is 365 days. So, while we acknowledge the other durations that may have passed, it is imperative to beam our performance assessment light on this political figure whose coming in the first place was greeted with a stiff resistance from many people. It is important to state unambiguously the records of this state lawmaker within the period under review.

Upon assumption of office as a Member, Rt Hon Comfort Ojoma Nwuchiola knew the enormity of the challenges before her. First, Ibaji was a difficult terrain. The difficulty is both physical and political. Physically or topographically, the area is most unfortunate as a flood prone local government. In 2012, 2019 and 2022, the flood ravaged Ibaji, rendering the residents homeless and foodless.

Such a place deserves a state legislator with the understanding and courage to attract government attention.

Politically, the people of Ibaji are very critical of who becomes their representative at any level and would not hide their grievances for one second if he or she fails to deliver on his or her political promises.

In addition, the Rt Hon won her election free and fair, but it was not an easy battle. She had a powerful opposition force to contend with. In fact, at some point during the electioneering, some of her supporters began to express doubt in her ability to win. With God on her side and the support of the leadership and members of the APC, she emerged victorious.

Knowing these, Hon Comfort Egwaba would not hesitate to hit the ground running. Thus, after her swearing in, the first assignment was to have a wide range consultations within and outside Ibaji and Kogi.

As a well grounded politician who is already acquainted with most of the problems on ground, she just need to make critical consultations for more insight into the need of Ibaji.

Out of the box, Rt Hon Comfort Ojoma Nwuchiola Egwaba trotted many states seeking to know how issues having semblance with Ibaji were efficiently handled. Remember that Ibaji is the oil producing local government in Kogi state. Thus, she needed to conduct a research into oil producing localities and the processes involved in partnering with government to bring acruing dividends to the people of Ibaji.
With consultations over, the rest was action.

Just as she was busy sorting out issues relating to her local government, colleagues from all the local governments saw in her the qualities of an excellent leader and consequently voted her as the first ever Female Deputy Speaker since the creation of Kogi state.

In just one year in office, it has been so far so good at Ibaji and in Kogi State generally. Good enough, during her swearing in as a Member, she addressed her Ibaji people at a reception where she clearly hilighted her thematic areas of concentration to include seeking government intervention on Ibaji road; tackling the problem of education; seeking support on ameliorating flooding challenge; rural electrification project; constitiency engagement; and taking full advantage of Ibaji as the oil producing local government in Kogi State.

A cursory look at some of the thematic areas would justify the claim that Comfort is indeed a capable hand.

*Reviving* *Education*
With its difficult terrain, education was fast dropping to the point that one feared there would be no single functional school in Ibaji in the next five years if nothing was done. Rt Hon Comfort Nwuchiola swiftly set up a committee to fashion out patterns and modalities for the revival of education in Ibaji.

She acknowledged that the problem of education in Ibaji was hydra-headed, ranging from lack of interest on the side of pupils to lack of basic infrastructure and near zero motivation for the teachers. She observed that parents sent their children to schools in neighbouring Idah and Edo. The painful part was that some of the children were not old enough to stay on their own as students. Many of the females ended up in prostitution and all manner of abuse. The boys fell back on smoking and criminality.

Consequently, she gave marching orders to the committee chaired by the Ibaji Development Association President, Godwin Onuh, to come up with lasting solutions to the problem. As we speak, the committee has had many sessions and there has been positive indications already. For instance, it has been proposed and adopted that any child of school age found in the farm or at home during school hours should have his or her parents punished by fining.

Also, the committee has mapped out strategies to encourage children to go to school. Every strategy is with particular consideration of Ibaji people, their culture, the terrain and the economy.

This is aside using her good office to push for educational infrastructure in Ibaji. Recently, the traditional and social media outlets were awash with Rt Hon Comfort Nwuchiola’s story seeking the state government’s efforts at providing infrastructure in schools in Ibaji.

*Uniting* *Ibaji*
When she assumed office, one of her first assignments was to unite every war-torn part of her area. There had been conflicts over lands, kingship and fish ponds in Ibaji. Rt Hon Comfort Nwuchiola engaged all relevant stakeholders to put every conflict behind. Today, we are proud to see a United Ibaji courtesy the efforts of the Deputy Speaker.

A major strategy in the unity effort was the town hall session she organized at Onyedega, the Local Government Headquartres on 24 February, 2024. The Town Hall meeting attracted very eminent people of Ibaji across all political and regional affiliations. It was the first of its kind to be organized by any law maker in that capacity in the history of Ibaji Local Government area.

From the town hall meeting, different shades of opinion on how to move Ibaji forward were accessed and harmonized for adoption. Some of the resolutions are at work today.

*Support to Constituents*
Rt Hon Comfort can be properly described as a woman in possession of the milk of human kindness in every ramification. At the last May Day celebration, she made cash donations to youths, the aged and women of Ibaji to cushion the effects of the present economic hardship on them. The beneficiaries who cut across all the wards in Ibaji went home smiling. This is just one of the numerous examples of her kind gesture towards people.

It must be added that on Saturday 8 June, the Rt Hon Deputy Speaker was at Onyedega, Ibaji, where she addressed a mammoth crowd of supporters on her first anniversary.

On that occasion, she gave cash support to all the party faithful from across the ten wards in Ibaji.

*Bills Sponsored*
The primary role of a state legislator is to push for laws that have direct positive impact on the citizens. The Deputy speaker, better described as daughter of grace, has scored high in terms of promoting bills on the floor of the House. Some of them are:
*Bill for Kogi State Oil Producing Commission*
This was a major legislative breakthrough for the Rt Hon Nwuchiola. The moment she assumed office after her fact finding trips to Edo, Delta, Ondo and Imo States, she presented a bill for the establishment of this all-important commission. To the glory of God, the bill sailed through.
*Appeal for Ibaji Road Construction and Rehabilitation*
This has been a recurrent request from the Deputy Speaker since assumption of office. She has sought the support of Members to seek the state government’s commitment to the construction and rehabilitation of road in Ibaji. While we await the result of this effort, it is answerable to commend her push in this direction.

All these within just a year in office. Indeed, there is hope for a better Ibaji in particular and Kogi State in general, given these success stories of Rt Hon Comfort Ojoma Nwuchiola Egwaba, the Deputy Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly.

As we celebrate the enigmatic and achievement-personified Ibaji leader and Kogi’s number 2 legislative parsona, we need to rally round her, pray for her and give all necessary supports to make her succeed.
*Awards and Appointments by Non-Governmental Organizations*
In recognition of her purposeful and people-oriented leadership qualities, Rt Hon Comfort Nwuchiola has bagged some awards and appointments. Some of them include:
1. Award as the Most Proactive Deputy Speaker in North-Central Nigeria by the Nigeria House of Dream Parliament.
2. Award of Excellence in recognition of her services to society and the development of Ibaji by the Ibaji Unity Forum (IUF).
3. Appointment as the Patroness of Young Women in Politics Kogi State Chapter.
4. Appointment as Matron by the Kogi State Chapter, Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC)
The list within the one year is endless. And now, one wonders if it was possible for a woman to attain all these within one year. Yes, it was and she has done it.

Finally, one year as a state legislator with such a high score calls for celebration and expression of optimism for the future of Ibaji Local Government and Kogi State at large. We truly rejoice with our own.

The Media Team

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