Imo House of Commotion, Absurdity II, By Harry Awurumibe

Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma

Unlike the Nigerian politicians who will not keep to their promises, I am keeping to the promise I made last week to our esteem readers that I will write a follow up to the last week topic: Imo House of Commotion, Absurdity.

It is no longer news that Imo State has been constantly in the news in the recent time but only for the wrong reasons.

It started in 2011 when, against all expectations, a certain Professor who was the Independent National Electoral Commission () Returning Officer for Imo State Governorship Election declared the said election “Inconclusive”.

It was the first time in the country’s elections that a governorship election was declared “Inconclusive” but it started in Imo state in 2011.

The surprise was that the incumbent Governor, Chief (Dr.) Ikedi Godson Ohakim of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was then leading in many Local Government Areas (LGA) out of the 27 in the state against the few LGA won by his challenger, ex-Governor Ethelbert Anayo Okorocha of then All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).

That singular action by the Returning Officer ensured that a Second Ballot was ordered in Imo state and before you say “Jack Robinson”, the second placed candidate in the First Ballot became the first after he was said to have won more votes from three LGAs.

It was said that Okorocha of APGA got the votes that made him the next Governor of Imo state in 2011 from Ngor-Okpalla, Mbaitoli and Oguta LGAs.

Okorocha’s administration however brought more regrets for Imolites as he ruled with iron hand just as his regime enthroned nepotism in the governance of the state.

Apart from introducing familiocracy in Imo state, he became the “Apostle of Iberiberism Government”, just as he tried to become an “Emperor” not a Governor in the state by dominating the indigenes of state for eight years.

The former Governor collapsed Three Arms of Imo state government- Executive, Legislative and Judiciary- into one, even as the Imo State Legislature especially from 2011 to 2019 became the appendage of the Executive arm of Imo state government during Okorocha’s regime.

The trouble bedevilling Imo State House of Assembly today, the frequent removal, replacement and
decampment, started in 2011 but has over the years assumed deadly dimensions with gun shots fired in the hallowed chamber early this July.

In 2011, Imo State House of Assembly was dominated by opposition PDP and to ensure he was not impeached by PDP, the then Governor penetrated the ranks of PDP House Members and expectedly the majority of them “jumped” ship to join the Governor in APGA and from their they followed him to All Progressive Congress (APC).

This has been the lot of Imo State House of Assembly ever since, and the bubble burst in
November 5, 2018 when a court quashed a suspension of four members who were axed, describing the suspension as unconstitutional.

The court also jointly awarded the applicants, Dr Uche Oguwuike (Ikeduru APC), Chiji Collins (Isiala Mbano APC), Israel Nnataraonye (Mbaitoli) and Nkenna Nzeruo (Oru East APC) the sum of eight million naira in damages and 100,000 in legal fees.

Justice Goddy Anunihu in his ruling on the matter also directed the Speaker of the House and the Imo House of Assembly who were the first and second respondents to pay the applicants their salaries, allowances and emoluments for the period they were suspended.

Also, on November 13, 2020, Imo House of Assembly removed then Speaker, Collins Chiji, representing Isiala Mbano, who became the House Speaker on the ticket of PDP but when the Supreme Court removed ex-Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Chiji decamped to APC to join Governor Hope Uzodinma of APC.

He was impeached during a special sitting of the House presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Amarachi Iwuanyanwu, APC-Nwangele, just as Paul Emeziem of Onuimo State Constituency was elected the new Speaker and was sworn in by the Clerk of the House, Mr Chinelo Emeghara, at the session.

The impeachment motion moved by Ekene Nnodumele (APC-Orsu) and seconded by Michael Njoku (APC-Ihitte Uboma) cited gross incompetence, parliamentary ineptitude, financial impropriety and high handedness as reasons for the impeachment.
“We the undersigned representing over two-thirds majority of the members of the house do state our unequivocal resolution to remove Collins Chiji as the Speaker of the House for gross incompetence, parliamentary ineptitude, financial impropriety and high handedness.”

The motion for Chiji’s impeachment was signed by 19 members of the Assembly. They were Amarachi Iwuanyanwu (Nwangele), Ekene Nnodumele (Orsu), Arthur Egwim (Ideato North), Emeka Nduka (Ehime Mbano) Kanayo Onyemaechi (Owerri West), Michael Njoku (Igitte Uboma), Uju Onwudiwe (Njaba), Ngozi Obiefule (Isu) and Paul Emeziem (Onuimo) all of APC.

Others are: Johnson Duru (Ideato South), Chigozie Nwaneri (Oru East), Uche Ogbuagu (Ikeduru), Kennedy Ibeh (Obowo), Tochi Okereke (Ngor Okpala) and Chidiebere Ogbunikpa (Okigwe) all also of APC.

The rest are the PDP Assemblymen: Okey Onyekamma (Mbaitoli), Frank Ugboma (Oguta), Solomon Anukam (Owerri Municipal), and Anyadike Nwosu (Ezinihitte).

Meanwhile, on
March 4, 2021, Speaker Emeziem, APC Onuimo, announced the removal of Uche Ogbuagu representing
Ikeduru, who won election on the ticket of PDP but decamped to APC to join Gov. Uzodinma, and was rewarded with the post of Majority Leader of the House.

Ogbuagu was promptly replaced with the Member representing Owerri West, Kanayo Njoku, also of APC.

Speaker Emeziem also said that APC Members in the House have declared total support for the state governor Uzodimma for his “capacity and sagacity’.

“After a meeting of the APC caucus of the Imo House of Assembly, the members declared unalloyed support for Gov. Hope Uzodimma for his capacity and sagacity in the leadership of the APC and the state at large.

“We also want to notify the House that Uche Ogbuagu is now a former Majority Leader while Kanayo Onyemaechi is the current Majority Leader,” the Speaker said.

Perhaps, the July 2021 suspension of the same Uche Ogbuagu by Speaker Emeziem was a continuation of vendetta by the Speaker against Ogbuagu who may be regretting abandoning the PDP that gave him ticket to run for the House of Assembly post in 2019.

Therefore, for Ndi Imo (Imolites) the pandemonium that occurred at the hallowed chamber of the Imo State House of Assembly in Owerri on Thursday, July 8, 2021, was not the first time this “comedy of errors” have happened in the House.

This kind of Commotion and other incidents worse than the present one have happened in the House since 2011 even as the incumbent Speaker who announced the suspension of six Members of the House has himself become notorious for unparliamentary conducts as alleged by Members.

The current fued between Speaker Emeziem who had serious altercation with the suspended Member, Hon. Uche Ogbuagu, APC Ikeduru, is capable of resulting to unpleasant consequences to both men in particular and the state in general if the State Governor, Hope Uzodinma fails to intervene.

However, it has not been this bad since 1999 because the reign of Chief Achike Udenwa (PDP), eight years and Chief Ohakim (PPA/PDP), four years, did not witness as much storm in Imo State House of Assembly as witnessed since 2011 to 2021.

In all, Imo State has not been blessed with the so-called Dividends of Democracy which cooperation between the Three Arms of Government willing guarantee especially if there are Check and Balances amongst the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

But, untill this is the case, Imolites will continue to hold the short end of Democratic Dividend stick as their elected representatives look for their selfish interests, not that of the electorates.
This is what it is.

Harry Awurumibe is a Current Affairs Analyst/Author

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