The show of shame in Imo Assembly

Posted by News Express | 14 November 2021 | 610 times

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•Gov Uzodimma

 

AMBY UNEZE writes on the current crisis rocking the Imo State House of Assembly, where inordinate ambitions override the rule of law in the removal and election of principal officers

 

Since the Supreme Court judgment of January 14, 2020 on the Imo State governorship election petition, the state House of Assembly has been playing the winner-takes-it-all game. As soon as Governor Hope Uzodimma was sworn in on January 15, 2020, in compliance with the apex court’s judgment, nine Imo State lawmakers elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) immediately defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party favoured by the court judgment.

Without shame, the Imo lawmakers, in less than two years, displayed the highest level of desperation for relevance, jumping from one political party to the other.

When former Governor Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP took over, Mr. Collins Chiji representing Isiala Mbano, abandoned his former party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and declared for PDP in order to grab the speakership.

But as soon as the apex court sacked Ihedioha, Chiji quickly announced his defection to APC in order to retain his speakership position. While Chiji and majority leader, Mr. Chigozie Nwaneri, announced their defection on the floor of the House, others wrote letters of defection.

They are: Chyna Amara Iwuanyanwu (Nwangele LGA); Innocent Egwim (Ideato North LGA); Chidiebere Ogbunikpa (Okigwe LGA); Obinna Okwara (Nkwerre LGA); Paul Emeziem (Onuimo LGA); Ekene Nnodim (Orsu LGA); Duru Johnson (Ideato South LGA); Ngozi Obiefule (Isu LGA) and Herculus Okoro (Ohaji-Egbema LGA).

Few days later, the likes of Eddy Obinna (Aboh Mbaise), Samuel Otibe (Ahiazu Mbaise) and Uche Ogbagu (Ikeduru) all of PDP, defected to APC.

However, sensing that his job is on the line due to the new political order brought about by the Supreme Court judgment, the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Okey Onyekamma (Mbaitoli, PDP) decided to resign his position as a principal officer of the assembly.

He chose this honourable path instead of engaging in the show of shame of his colleagues who defected to the ruling APC to negotiate a better deal.

The Minority Leader, Ekene Nnodumele (Orlu, APGA), was one of those who also resigned their positions, and then defected to the APC.

However, Nnodumele has since gone back to PDP to rejoin his other eight colleagues. It is pertinent to note that there are 27 legislators representing the 27 LGAs.

At the inception of Ihedioha’s seven month’s regime as governor, PDP had the majority members in the house. But as soon as he was removed by the Supreme Court, APC moved to majority as some of the PDP members defected to APC, leaving a die-hard nine members of PDP to play the minority.

The six uncompromising lawmakers that remained in PDP ab inito include the former deputy speaker, Okey Onyekamma (Mbaitoli), Frank Ugboma (Oguta), Anyadike Nwosu (Ezinihitte), Tochi Okereke (Ngor Okpala), Philip Ejiogu (Owerri North) and Solomon Anukam (Owerri Municipal).

Months later, the leadership of the house was changed as Mr. Paul Emeziem of Onuimo replaced Collins Chiji of Isiala Mbano as speaker, while Amara Iwuanyanwu became the deputy speaker.

One of the inglorious actions of Emeziem, according to political pundits was the sudden and unceremonious suspension of six active members of the house by the speaker.

Those suspended were four APC members and two PDP members. They included: Uche Ogbuagu (APC, Ikeduru LGA), Anyadike Nwosu (PDP, Ezinihitte LGA and Minority leader), Ezerioha Dominic (APC, Oru West LGA), Philip Ejiogu (PDP, Owerri North LGA), Micheal Onyemaechi (APC, Ihitte Uboma LGA), and Kennedy Ibe (APC, Obowo LGA). The former speaker had attributed reasons of suspension of the six members to “unparliamentary conduct”.

Pointedly so, because of the inordinate and inundated ambition for power and position in the house, members had been busy planning on how to outwit each order in order to come on top to lord it over other members. Based on this scenario, therefore, attempt was made to remove the deputy speaker, Iwuanyanwu last Tuesday. Already, 18 members out of 27 were said to have signed the sack notice as claimed by the former speaker, Emeziem.

However, this action did not go down well with the Government House, which opposed it, and efforts were quickly made to reverse the trend.

The planned removal of the deputy speaker subsequently led to the sack of the speaker, Emeziem on Monday.

Invariably, it was the period of the recall of the six suspended members and superior power carried the day as Emeziem was subsequently sacked as speaker because he was allegedly accused of working with a top APC chieftain and former senator in the state to remove the governor.

One of the recalled members, Kennedy Ibe of Obowo was subsequently elected by his colleagues as the substantive speaker while Iwuanyanwu was returned as deputy speaker of the house. Nineteen out of 27 members were said to have signed the notice of the removal of Emeziem.

He was immediately suspended over claims of alleged forging of the signatories of some of the members that he claimed signed for the removal of Iwuanyanwu. Two other members: Onyekamma and Ekene Nnodim of Orsu were also suspended.

Receiving the new speaker to the Government House on Tuesday, Uzodimma challenged members of the house to work as a team and trust each other if they wanted to make the desired impact.

He also reiterated that he would not interfere in their independence as an arm of government but rather partner them on how to serve Imo people better.

The governor congratulated the lawmakers for resolving to elect the speaker of their choice peacefully without external interference, saying “what happened that resulted into a peaceful and democratic election of the new speaker is a victory for democracy.”

He called on them to work towards a united house where there will be mutual trust. “Imo State needs a united, functional, effective and efficient house of Assembly that will work towards giving the people the desired dividends of democracy.” While noting that as a democrat he submits to the doctrine of separation of powers, insisting that “when this is fully applied the three arms will surely deliver on their mandate.”

Uzodimma urged the members to imbibe the spirit of team work, requesting that they “forgive each other and forge ahead, “emphasising that all the arms of government must strive to contribute their quota to serve Imo state better, noting that “whether as an executive, legislature or judiciary member if government succeeds it is for all of us, and when it fails they have all failed.”

Regrettably, Imo people believed that members of the state House of Assembly for the past 10 years have not lived up to the expectations of the people who they represented. The house had remained an offshoot of the executive arm. During the administration of the former governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha, it was alleged that there were virtually no ideal people-oriented programmes or policies initiated and carried out in form of making laws to the growth of humanity. The lawmakers have been focusing solely on the needs of the Government House (governor) and doing his dictates instead of spreading their tentacles to make laws for the good of the people.

According to a group, Concerned Imo Citizens for Good Governance, the House of Assembly was there and their people were being massacred in their hundreds by hoodlums. “Even security agencies were allegedly accused of being the masterminds of most of the killings in the pretence that they were fighting the unknown gunmen. As Imo people cried and called on the government and the house members to intervene in curbing the reckless killings, they looked the other way.”

It took some concerned personalities like His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, and Archbishop of Owerri to send a powerful message to the governor to intervene in the killings, urging him to convoke a stakeholder’s dialogue. In his message of June 3, 2021 titled: “Stop the killings, convoke a ceasefire meeting”, the archbishop expressed concern about killings of innocent citizens by “known and unknown gunmen and called on the governor to stop the killings.

“Lives are at stake as killings of Imo people are taking place in broad daylight and at nights by both official and unofficial armed men. Imo people are on the run from known and unknown gunmen. There is scare in the air and anxiety on the ground. Imo people are hiding, living in fear. Reports of indiscriminate arrests for no clear reasons and killings as a show of power or in alleged retaliation continue to spread,” the Bishop explained.

It is the wish of the people of Imo State that this latest changes in the leadership of the state House of Assembly should be the last so that the lawmakers can deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.

As the governor rightly pointed out, it is time the members of the house put their differences behind and work as a team to deliver the goods for the well-being of their constituents.

 

(Adopted from THISDAY)

 


Source: News Express

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