Imo Assembly: The Need For Rule Of Law And Stable Leadership

By Amaefula Amadi

The gossips about who among the Speakership contenders in the State, is loyal to Governor Okorocha or is being sponsored by Senator Ararume is inconsequential and an attempt to swindle the Governor into abandoning merit and his fatherly role of loving all his children to favor a particular candidate, because all the contending candidates for the plum job are members of his political family, the All Progressive Congress APC, who has before the entrance of Senator Godwin Ararume into the party played sacrificial and committed roles for the sustenance and continued existence of the Rescue Mission government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha.

The vivid memory of how one of the contenders, who was at the verge of his sit being declared vacant because of his defection to the Governors party, was credited as saying, ‘’ I am ready to lose my sit as a member of the Imo State House OF Assembly if it is the price I will pay for my resolve to work with Governor Okorocha to move Imo forward.’’ And the nostalgic recollection of the Governor’s promise to people of Okigwe local government area while campaigning for his second term bid. It was widely reported that the Governor promised to reward the loyalty of the APC candidate for Okigwe House of Assembly sit, by supporting him for the Imo state Speakership position, if Okigwe LGA people widely vote him the second time.

In line, with the promise of the Governor as well as the acknowledgement of the fact that the Governor has the tendency of keeping to his campaign promises, even as it is common knowledge that he kept all the campaign promises he made to Imo people in his first term. The people of Okigwe local government voted en mass for the All Progressive Congress.

However, ahead of the inauguration of the state Assembly tomorrow, a serious question begging for answer is who succeeds Rt. Hon Benjamin Uwajumogu as the Speaker of the state assembly. Going by the zoning formula that is already existing in the state, Okigwe zone is favoured to produce the next Speaker, since the Governor who is from Orlu zone and the Deputy Governor who is from Owerri zone retained their positions.

A newly elected member from Okigwe south, who doesn’t want to be mentioned, said party leaders should abide by merit and allow Okigwe north to produce the new Speaker: ‘’ the filling of the principal officers of the state Assembly, especially the position of Speaker must be done in a manner that can help the party actualize its desired reputation rather than impose perceived cronies whose loyalty and dedication to the rescue mission government has not been tested with independent offices. If caution is thrown to the wind in electing the Speaker of the 8th Assembly, it could send damaging signals’’

The point must however be made that the Okigwe zonal sharing formula and the state House of Assembly ranking rules must be considered and adopted in determining who takes over from Uwajumogu who is from Okigwe south of the zone, to ensure rule of law, justice, equity, fair play.

Before we go into the ranking membership issue, let me remind the only Speakership contender from Ihitte-Uboma,Okigwe south block of the zone, that the outgoing Speaker of the Assembly is a native of Ihitte-Uboma local government, in the same Okigwe south block of the zone where she comes from, and as such she does not have the moral justification to vie for the position, unless she wants Okigwe people to understand that she does not appreciate the political sharing formula of the zone or do not care about the aspirations and the yearnings of the people for equitable distribution of political offices among its blocks of Okigwe south and north.

Another critical factor that must be considered in this piece is the House standing order which states that: ‘’ NOMINATION OF HONORABLE MEMBERS TO SERVE AS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE SHALL BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RANKING OF MEMBERS’’. Aside from this, Okigwe local government remains the most qualified to produce the new speaker.

In determining ranking, the following other shall apply, Members returning based on numbers of time re-elected, Members who has been members of the Assembly and Members elected as Honorable Members of the state Assembly for the first is therefore not in contention as the rule states that only Honorable Members who have returned based on the highest number of times re-elected should vie for the position of the Speaker.

Although the arrangement of zoning political positions among the political zones of the state is a welcomed one indeed but the struggle by every Dick, Tom and Harry, and gossips, back biting and blackmail by some elected politician in order to attain positions should be checked by the leadership of the party to control rascality, indiscipline and bickering among party faithfuls.

This commentary is not aimed at soliciting support for any Speakership candidate but to ensure that due process is followed in electing the new Speaker. Observing due process and rule of law, Hon Acho Ihim from Okigwe local government is the most qualified for the position as he remains the only ranking Member from the zone.

Other members who are contesting the Speakership from Okigwe zone includes, Mr. Chinedu Offor, a fine looking man whom in my opinion would go far in politics, if he would be wise enough to take advantage of his first term in the legislature to learn the processes of lawmaking and imbibe character traits like, humility, good understanding of the politics of the legislature and the state, team work, communication in Igbo language, accessibility, maturity, generosity and kindness, needed to stabilize the legislature for the good of the executive and Imo people and Mrs. Uche Ejiogu, whom I appreciate her boldness in attempting to vie for Imo Speakership but incidentally, being that she is not a ranking member and considering the fact that the outgoing speaker comes from her Ihitte-Uboma constituency she does not have the moral right to continue struggling for this position.

Being that Hon Acho Ihim remains the only ranking member from the zone, his political track record and antecedents gives Imolites hope that the state is underway to witness another round of stability, team work, experienced and purposeful leadership that will move Imo forward. I have no doubt that Governor Okorocha as usual will fulfill his promise to Okigwe people and support the candidature of Hon Acho Ihim. I also do not doubt that the incoming Members of the house will be guided accordingly in performing their legislative duties.

The records are there, Hon Ihim has experience, having been in the Assembly for four years. He understands the do’s and don’ts of the House. He worked with the outgoing Speaker and across party lines and his experience has been that of team work, exposure and capacity.

Imo State needs an Assembly that is led by an experienced and tested personality like Hon Acho Ihim, so that within the system the tendencies that go towards destabilization and confusion will be curtailed. Imolites are also expecting the Governor to take a decisive stand where merit will not be compromised.