By Nnaemeka Oruh

31st December 2023

As the mild Umuahia December sun was parting through the hazy harmattan curtain that has become synonymous with 31st Decembers in Umuahia, Rep. Sam Onuigbo was seated in his inner Sitting Room, with his family and a few political allies and staff. There were words of prayers here and there. Jokes thrown around, and a few heads bowed in introspection. 

A confidante remarked that the year has been a rollercoaster for many including the former National Lawmaker who recently lost his elder brother.

In his usual calm mien, Sam Onuigbo smiled and said: “God has been faithful through it all,” and goes ahead to list the many things God did for him within the year. 

Oftentimes, we let the few challenges that we faced in a year overshadow the many blessings God has graced us with. It should not be so. In what follows, we look at the key highlights of Rep. Sam Onuigbo’s 2023.

1. Supreme Court Victory

On January 27, 2023, the Supreme Court affirmed Rep. Onuigbo as the legitimate candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Abia Central Senatorial District election which took place on February 25, 2023 during the Presidential and National Assembly Elections. This followed months of relentless battle to stop the well coordinated evil plan of snatching away the legitimate victory he won on May 29, 2022 as the candidate of the party at the Abia Central Senatorial District Primary Election. 

On 27th November, 2023, Rep. Sam Onuigbo was recognised by New York-based Business Insider as one of the 30 Global Leaders on Climate Change.  The recognition which is part of the Climate Action 30 list recognises 30 of the top global activists, business leaders, academics, community leaders, and others from around the world who are working toward climate and environmental solutions.

3. Worthy Ambassador of the House of Representatives

During plenary on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, Rep. Sir Sam Onuigbo was acknowledged by the House of Representatives led by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas PhD, as a worthy Ambassador of the House of Representatives in recognition of his emergence as one of the 30 Global Leaders on Climate Change in 2023.

4. NEDC Appointment

Following the expiration of Rep. Onuigbo’s time at the House of Representatives on 12th June, 2023, he was appointed by His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR  as the South East representative on the Governing Board of the North-East Development Commission, NEDC on 19th July, 2023   The Board will go on to appoint him the Chairman of the Committee on Security, Climate Change, and Special Interventions. 

5. 9th Assembly MVP Hall of Fame Award 

In May, 2023, and In recognition of the quality of his representation, and the intergenerational nature of the Climate Change Bill which he sponsored, Rep. Onuigbo was the only Southern Legislator of the 9th Assembly inducted,  among four others from other parts of the country, into the Most Valuable Parliamentarian Hall of Fame of the 9th Assembly. 

6. History-maker with Ikwuano/Umuahia North/Umuahia South Federal Constituency

On 12 June, 2023, Rep. Onuigbo became the first person to successfully represent the great people of Ikwuano/Umuahia North/Umuahia South Federal Constituency of Abia State twice. He was first elected in 2015, and re-elected in 2019

7.  Knighthood

Many years of service to humanity and in the Lord’s vineyard by Rep. Sir Sam Onuigbo KJW and his beloved wife, Pastor Dame Princess Chinyere Onuigbo JP,KJW, were recognised by the Methodist Church Nigeria, as they were conferred with the Honorific Award of Knight of John Wesley (KJW) in their own right.

8. Championing Pan-African Parliamentary Action on Climate Change

In May 2023, Rep. Onuigbo made an impassioned presentation before African Parliamentarians and other climate change stakeholders during an event co-organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, National Council on Climate Change, and the African Group of Negotiators Expert Support (AGNES) which featured participation by Parliamentarians from West Africa, Climate change experts, the academia, among others, where he called on African parliamentarians and parliamentary staff to mainstream climate change considerations in their parliamentary activities. Onuigbo emphasized that doing so is the only viable pathway for Africa and sustainable development hence Members of Parliament and other stakeholders owe that to the future generation of Africans. 

9. Nigeria’s Energy Future, and Presentation at the Kenyan Parliament 

During the Africa Climate Week which held as part of the inaugural Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, which took place between 4-8 September, Onuigbo made an impassioned presentation on 6th September, at the Kenyan Parliament calling on renewable energy investors to take advantage of Nigeria’s Electricity Act 2023, and the huge energy market available in the country and invest immensely in renewable energy in Nigeria. 

10.  Fêted by University Dons

Impressed by Rep. Onuigbo’s selfless display of leadership and unrelenting drive for climate action in Africa which earned him recognition as one of 30 Global Leaders on Climate Change in 2023, a group of university Professors from across different disciplines and regions celebrated Rep. Sam Onuigbo in a statement released nationwide on 22nd December, 2023, as a worthy achiever. 

11.  A Visionary Leader Calls on Africa to Key into the Future

Acutely aware of the role that fossil fuels play in exacerbating the climate crisis, Rep. Onuigbo in November 2023, published a detailed article outlining why African countries must key into the necessity of phasing out fossil fuels in a just, equitable, and time-bound manner. He stressed that doing so strategically will prepare the continent for the future. This received widespread applause from across the world particularly as it preceded the global resolution at COP28 to phase out fossil fuels. - why-africa-must-accelerate-transition-from-fossil-fuel-t/

12.  Conferment of the Title of High Chief Samuel Ifeanyichukwu Onuigbo, Odozi Obodo Gburugburu

It is only fitting that we end this list with the first of them all, which was the conferment of the title of Odozi Obodo Gburugburu to Rep. Onuigbo, on 2nd January, 2023. This title which literally translates to “the one who makes everywhere better” is a fitting description of the path of Rep. Sam Onuigbo. From his tiny village, through his federal constituency, state, nation, continent, to the world, Rep. Onuigbo has continued to champion efforts to make the world a better place not just for now, but for the future. 

 We wish him greater exploits in 2024! 

Oruh is the National Coordinator, GLOBE Nigeria