Posted by Prince Clinton Uba | 10 May 2015 | 5,721 times
The die is cast and the battle is raging as some interest groups are poised to pick who would eventually emerge as the new Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly. There are precedent and unwritten factors that usually combine to determine who would become the Speaker of a State Assembly. Contrary to the view of some not well informed persons, it is not constitutionally or legally binding that such a person must be a trained or certified lawyer. Rather, the first consideration is either Senatorial or geo-political zoning. For instance, if the governor is from the North, and the Deputy is from the South, it would amount to a political genocide to still allow the Speaker of the House to emerge from the same enclave. In this case, it is only normal, for the sake of equity, justice and fair play, to get a Speaker from the Central and all other things will fall in line with normal democratic ethos.
The other considerations in settling for the position of Speaker are usually the experience of the lawmaker – that is; his ranking in the house. Is he a first, second or third timer? What are his legislative backgrounds? Does he have grasps of what lawmaking is all about? In some instances, the academic qualifications the candidates are also put into consideration just as their political leanings or inclinations are equally not totally ignored.
Another factor that power brokers consider would be the stability of the government in power. There is no President or Governor anywhere in the world that would love to preside over a state with threats of Executive-Legislative face off. With the gale of impeachments that litter Nigeria’s democratic landscape, induced by personal interest not, gross misconduct as stipulated by the constitution, it is imperative that some measure of caution should be taken to avoid stroking up ambition that may lead to betrayal and the repeat of history and there are ready examples in this democratic dispensation.
Let us also take a historic excursion to the events that led to the Nigerian Civil War. It is on record that both ADC to late Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, Lt. Umoru, and that of late Gen. Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi, Lt. Sani Bello, were alleged to be aware of the plot to assassinate their masters. Even a driver of 10 years to the late Head of State, Garba, was reported to have earlier taken excuse to send his wife and children to the hospital and was never ever seen even after the killings.
The outgoing President, Goodluck Jonathan was surrounded by people he could not fully ascertain their trust and loyalty. But because of power expediency, he kept them close while they also pretended they were working for his re-election. He would soon be voted out of power before the scale of deceit by his kitchen cabinet members, fell off his eyes.
The two scenarios above point to the fact that caution must be taken to choose the number three citizen, a kitchen cabinet member, no matter any political arrangement. While Goodluck Jonathan sacrificed his position, late Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi and Col. Fajuyi and many other senior army officers paid with their lives.
In the current dispensation in Abia State, the Governor-elect, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, is from Ukwa Ngwa, Abia South Senatorial Zone. His deputy is the current Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ude Oko Chukwu, a native of Ohafia in Old Bende, Abia North Senatorial zone. In line with tradition, the Speaker is naturally zoned to the Abia Central Senatorial district. There is no contention to this arrangement. However, there are contentious issues as it concerns Abia Central Senatorial zone. There are two political divides; we have three Ukwa Ngwa LGAs in the zone and three LGAs from Umuahia (Old Bende), making up the six LGAs in Abia Central Senatorial zone. So, the question begging for an answer is; will it be right to cede the Speakership to the Ukwa Ngwa elements in the Abia Central as the Governor-elect is from Ukwa Ngwa zone? Or will it be more politically correct to look for Umuahia (Old Bende) as it concerns Abia Central for the Speakership position? Ordinarily, either of the two components will be a path worth toeing. But the central issue here, as a political analyst, Chief Madubuike Akachukwu, puts it, is; “If you take a look at the politics of Abia and what happened during the elections, you will agree with me that this issue is far beyond political ambition. If we have to get Abia working, some concessions must be given and historical factors must be considered. By concessions, I mean that the two candidates from Umuahia axis who are of the PDP are new timers. In this case, can we allow somebody who has not had any legislative experience to be elected to the position of Speaker of the House of Assembly in a state like Abia that needs very urgent fast tracking, socio-economic and political re-engineering? Like this edited qoute;
“We can meet the challenge of reconciliation and development but it will take full determination and common leadership partnership.” We have reached a critical point in Abia political chessboard that the path to change is fragile and uncertain but it is far too narrow to turn back. We must summon the political will to make lasting change. Let us look beyond political differences and interest to address the larger interest of Abia people. Much work needs to be done to achieve peace, political stability and set pace for development.
“With dwindling revenue from federation account in the midst of huge salary bill, we must let go allied political conspiracy, calculated campaign of physical intimidation, psychological warfare, political blackmail and perpetual terror to take a front seat in this new Abia re-birth project.
“My reading of these various factors therefore, is that, since the PDP, who are in majority in the House, will most likely produce the Speaker and unluckily for the party, its two members from Umuahia, that is, Abia Central where it has been zoned, are new comers, the theory of ranking and experience will naturally come into play. In football when two leading teams are tied on points, the next consideration is goal differences. As we now have it in Abia, there is tie in zoning, so, the next factor is ranking and experience and this is why the Speaker should be encouraged to shift from Old Bende axis to Ukwa Ngwa bloc where we have two ranking legislators. The most important factor is that it is still within the conclave of Abia Central and that is democratic both in principle and in practice. Again, we cannot afford to be experimenting after 16 years of politics with so much to be done. We have come to a point where we can no longer discuss the problems of Abia in hushed tones.”
Exploring further where Akachukwu stopped, a Political Scientist and commentator, Dr. Nwadi Onyedinaobi, said: “I can tell you that there is nothing absolutely wrong for an Ukwa Ngwa man from Abia Central to be the Speaker of the Abia House of Assembly in this dispensation. This is so because, historically, in 1999, the then governor, Orji Kalu, was from Igbere, Bende LGA (Old Bende). His first Speaker out of the four or five he had been from Old Bende, an example is the late Rt. Hon. Nkem Ike, from Umuahia South. It is on record that during the administration of Kalu, the only Ukwa Ngwa from Abia Central who became Speaker at some point was Hon. Chris Enweremadu. Rt. Hon Stanley Ohajuruka who later became a Speaker is from Umuahia North (Old Bende) as Orji Kalu. Even the outgoing governor, Chief TA Orji, who hails from Old Bende zone, had two Speakers; Rt. Hon Agwu .U. Agwu from Arochukwu LGA and Rt. Hon Ude Oko Chukwu, Ohafia LGA both in Old Bende.
There are also some facts to buttress that Ukwa Ngwa LGAs in Abia Central made up of Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South and Osisioma had in the past made sacrifices in favour of the other LGAs from Old Bende within the same Abia Central zone viz; Umuahia North, Umuahia South and Ikwuano. For instance, Gov. TA Orji’s second tenure was conceded to him by Ukwa Ngwa from Abia Central that should have challenged him. It is on record that the current Minister of State for Defence, Col. Austin Akobundu who doubles as the South East Chairman of PDP is also from Old Bende zone of Abia Central. The Old Bende zone of Abia Central has held the governorship for 8 years and now the Senator representing the zone, Chief TA Orji. The three LGAs of Ukwa Ngwa block gave the incumbent Governor, Chief TA Orji massive support during the March 28th elections that saw him emerge as a Senator of the Federal Republic.
However, whichever way the game of the new Speaker will finally play out, it has to be any of the following lawmakers elected into the 6th Abia Assembly that will emerge: Hon. Emeka Alozie (Osisioma Ngwa South); Hon. Kennedy Njoku (Osisioma Ngwa North); Hon. Chikwendu Kalu (Isiala Ngwa South); Hon. Martins Azubuike (Isiala Ngwa North); Hon. Chinedum Orji (Umuahia Central) and Hon. Chukwudi Apugo (Umuahia East). There will be a rundown of the profile of all the above mentioned PDP lawmakers in the part two of this analysis with details of their strengths, weaknesses and chances.
•Uba, whose photo appears alongside this piece, is the Publisher/CEO of News Mirror Magazine.
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