– Right of Reply
For some time now, Hon. (Ms) Evelyn Oboro has been labouring in the media to disparage and vilify the People's Most Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (The Obarisi of Urhoboland) for his role in the Federal University of Petroleum Resources Effurun (FUPRE) Act. The main reason for Oboro’s unprovoked vituperations against The People’s Senator is that she, Ms Evelyn, owns a “copyright” to “the Bill” leading to the establishment of FUPRE and that this her "copyright" was infringed by Senator Omo-Agege.
Without much ado, we state that Ms Oboro’s claim to some fantasy “copyright” is probably the worst form of public exhibition of legislative illiteracy, meagre legal education (if at all), rascality, mischief, dishonesty, and dishonor. We believe the Urhobo Nation deserves far better from a legislator.
Before dealing with Oboro’s fantasy “copyright” claim, it is pertinent to note that except for this singular claim, Oboro has not and cannot lay claim to any other major Bill in the House of Reps. In other words, she has been virtually idle in the House of Reps for over 6 years. That is alright!
In sharp contrast, it should be noted that in just about 2 years, Senator Omo-Agege has the following Bills to his credit and there cannot be any respectful basis for a competition between Omo-Ageg and an idle legislator:
1. A Bill for an Act to Prohibit Sexual Harassment in Educational Institutions Prohibition, 2016;
2. Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2016;
3. Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Amendment) Bill 2016;
4. Court of Appeal Act (Amendment) Bill 2016;
5. National Industrial Court Act (Amendment) Bill 2016;
6. A Bill for an Act to Amend the Company and Allied Matters Act (Amendment) Act and Establish States Corporate Affairs Commissions, 2016;
7. Dormant Accounts Bill, 2016;
8. Compulsory Haemoglobin–Genotype Screening Bill, 2016 – co-sponsored with Senator Ahmed Ogembe (Kogi Central); and
9. A Bill for an Act to Establish the National Electoral Offences Commission Establishment and for other Matters Connected Thereto, 2017 – co-sponsored with Senator Abu Kyari (Borno North)
Ms Oboro’s attempt to create some form of unfounded equivalence with the People’s Senator is reprehensible and we will not tolerate it all. Even if she wants to disguise her obvious idleness and create a false impression of legislative ‘busyness’, Oboro should not feel that the best approach is to cling to extreme disrespect, dishonor and immaturity unbefitting of a federal lawmaker. We are resolved not to allow her to get away with unprovoked rudeness to her senior and better. It is not our style to launch media attacks on people but it will always be a grave mistake for mischief makers to take this as a weakness.
In the circumstance, this is our response to Hon. Evelyn Oboro’s recent media misadventure against The Obarisi of Urhoboland:
1. First, it is well-known that Bills establishing educational institutions often derive from generic templates. A simple look at Acts establishing federal universities will show they are similar. Their uniqueness only lies in their names, dates of passage, establishment dates, academic/research focus, and date of assent.
2. Next, it is a fact that Distinguished Senator (Professor) Adego Eferaykeya first sponsored/introduced the FUPRE Bill in the National Assembly during the 6th Senate but his Bill was not passed.
3. With the non-passage of the Eferakeya Bill, former President Goodluck Jonathan commendably re-sent the Bill to the 7th National Assembly in 2012 as an EXECUTIVE BILL (which is different from a Senator’s or a Member’s Bill). We are aware that our brother Distinguished Senator Pius Akpor Ewherido of blessed memory used his special relationship with the then President for the Bill to be presented as an EXECUTIVE Bill. Although this Bill was passed in 2014 by the National Assembly, curiously it was not assented to by President Jonathan as at when he left office in 2015. Without assent, it meant the entire legislative process had to be done afresh.
4. We note that Hon. (Ms) Evelyn Oboro was first elected to the House of Reps in 2011 after the Eferakeya Bill had been presented. Oboro claims that she sponsored the 2012 FUPRE Bill that was passed in 2014 but not signed by former President Jonathan. No record whatsoever supports this claim. On the contrary, Jonathan simply re-forwarded the Eferakeya Bill to the National Assembly for fresh legislative action, with late Senator Ewherido leading the way. In content, the Eferakeya Bill is almost the same with the Jonathan EXECUTIVE Bill. Being so, how can Ms Oboro then claim to have sponsored a FUPRE Bill in 2012? Did she sponsor an EXECUTIVE Bill?!!!
5. An EXECUTIVE or a Concurrence Bill cannot stand in Oboro’s name. Those Bills only stand in the name of the LEADER of the Chamber concerned. The conclusion must therefore be that Oboro LIED that she sponsored a FUPRE Bill in 2012. This is disgusting. Our women and mothers are not barefaced liars. They mold society with the power of truth and good character.
6. Furthermore, it is elementary that our National Assembly is a bi-camera legislature – Senate and House of Reps. Often, there are Senate Bills and House Bills that are duly gazetted. The Senate Bill (SB) gazetted in respect of FUPRE Bill, 2016 is SB 226 and stands in the name of “Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege”.
7. SB 226, sponsored by Senator Omo-Agege, built significantly on the Eferakeya Bill and Jonathan (Executive) Bill in one significant area. Manifestly brilliant and bold, Senator Omo-Agege reasoned with the authorities of FUPRE that it was necessary to push for better funding for FUPRE from oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta rather than rely solely on federal allocations and internally generated revenue by the institution. This bold introduction in his Bill (SB 226) became a major issue for negotiation and lobbying/counter lobbying. The oil companies did not want it. Senator Omo-Agege stood his ground. In the end, some reasonable compromise was reached.
8. So, Senator Omo-Agege did not just represent the FUPRE Bill (which he could have done in his capacity as the Senator for Delta Central). He added great value to the original generic type of bill. He saw the university as a specialized one and needed to be funded accordingly so that it may deliver efficiently on its statutory mandate. That proposed value though reasonably negotiated is now reflected in the Act now commendably assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
9. On the premise that oceans hold enough water for all fishes to swim, Senator Omo-Agege consistently advised FUPRE authorities to ensure proper complementary action on the FUPRE matter in the House of Reps. This is because under our bi-cameral system, we need both Chambers to pass a law. Senator Omo-Agege initially wanted to work with Hon. Solomon Ahwinahwi but when it was suggested that it was better to work with Hon. Oboro who is from Uvwie LGA (where FUPRE is located), he agreed easily with the suggestion.
10. In fact, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai (Ndokwa/Ukwani Constituency) played a tremendously commendable role in the House of Reps on the FUPRE Bill. Maybe Hon. Ossai (a non-Urhobo) is calm because he is not an idle legislator who achieves success only by making disrespectful and empty noises. Whatever Ms Evelyn did, even if meagre, one would have thought she did it for the god of our people. If her unserious inputs were made to disparage Senator Omo-Agege who moved the Senate to hold a successful public hearing and visit the institution, then she has a problem that must be cured by all means necessary.
11. It is troubling that Hon. Ms Oboro appears completely ill-informed, illiterate maybe, on the topic of “copyrights” in Intellectual Property Law. If so, then it may help to educate her here for free. The World Book Encyclopaedia (c2000, vol. 4, page 1046) defines a “Copyright [as] … a body of exclusive rights that protect the works of authors … and other creative people against copying or unauthorized public performance. Copyright generally extends to original works of … intellectual expression.” For emphasis, Black’s Law Dictionary (c1990, page 336) defines “Copyright” as “[t]he right of literary property as recognized and sanctioned by positive law. An intangible, incorporeal right granted by statute to the author or originator of certain literary or artistic productions, whereby he is invested, for a specific period, with the sole and exclusive privilege of multiplying copies of the same and publishing and selling them.” Simply put, copyright is a form of legal protection for authors of “original works of authorship” including intellectual assets or works. We shall return to this.
12. Given the academic definitions of the term “copyright” above, what “copyright” does Oboro have over any FUPRE Bill? Is it the Eferakeya Bill that she holds a “copyright” over or the Jonathan (Executive) Bill? Is her “copyright” held over the generic template for drafting Bills establishing tertiary academic institutions? Can she tell the world what constitutes her ‘original work of authorship’ in Senator Omo-Agege’s Senate Bill 226? Does Oboro even know what is in the Bill (now Act)? How can she have “copyright” over a Bill she added nothing to, even ‘is’? If her “copyright” is fringed and she does not know her options in law, is that a sign of being ‘learned’?
13. If we may ask further, can Oboro, we mean Evelyn Oboro the Honourable, even articulate the dynamics of the Act, especially the funding issues? Why is she playing to the gallery on issues she obviously lacks the capacity and sophistication to handle?
14. Even more questions. Why is it that it is only the FUPRE Act that she is talking about? Is she forbidden from working on other Bills to increase her so-called ‘copyrights’? Why would a person of minimum intelligence or one who loves Urhobo choose to disrespect Senator Omo-Agege for championing the FUPRE cause as it should be? Why was it not convenient for Oboro to disparage and vilify Chief Ighoyota Amori when he sponsored the same Bill as a usurper of Senator Omo-Agege’s electoral mandate?
15. Again, why is Oboro ranting over a Bill that was duly passed by the entire Senate of the Federal Republic and sent to the House of Reps for concurrence/conference reconciliation? Is she not mocking herself for knowing so little about the intricate legislative processes of the National Assembly despite being there for 6 years? When Senator Omo-Agege rendered what has become probably the most well-researched Lead Debate on the FUPRE Bill, where was Oboro? Can Oboro publish her own Lead Debate in the House of Reps? Can she publish the details, including photographs, of any Public Hearing that took place on account of her actions on the FUPRE Bill in the Reps? Where her actions in secret?
16. Indeed, where was Oboro when the heat was raging during the negotiation of the special funding status for the University? Where was she when His Royal Majesty, Abe 1, The Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, alongside with the Management of the University, led a high-powered delegation to the Senate for the public hearing on the FUPRE Bill sponsored by Senator Omo-Agege? Where was Oboro when the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund visited FUPRE with Senator Omo-Agege for on-the-ground assessments – a key part of the Senate’s legislative process?
17. Finally, whatever is driving Hon. Evelyn Oboro to believe she can create any equivalence with the Most Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege on the legislative turf (or any turf at that) is ill-conceived, foolish and a journey of self-destruct. Having, by her idle 6 years in the Reps, proven that she has no capacity to articulate and pass even one Bill, she makes herself a laughing stock for daring to suggest that there is some fantasy infringement on her so-called “copyright” on the FUPRE Bill duly passed by the National Assembly of the Federal Republic and assented to by the President and Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari. That is why we must re-echo the Latin maxim, “nemo dat quod non habet” because having nothing, Hon. (Ms) Evelyn Oboro could not and did not give anything of value worth taking.
Aruviere Martin Egharhevwa
For: Media & Strategy Team in the Office
of Distinguished Senator Ovie Omo-Agege
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