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Is Anambra State House of Assembly Gov Obiano’s House of Stooges?

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obianoThe 6th Assembly of Anambra State House of Assembly which comprises of 30 members drawn from thirty constituencies out of the 21 Local Government Area

of the State was officially inaugurated on Friday, June 12, 2015.

[Photo: Obiano’s inauguration]

Among the 30 legislators are 3 PDP members and 27 APGA faithful, out of whom were 13 5th Assembly re-elected members coming for second and third tenures, a member of 4th Assembly voted for second tenure, and 16 new members.

The re-elected 5th Assembly APGA members are Ume Ikechukwu and Ikemefuna Uzoezie of Aguata 1 and 2 constituencies; Chris Emenaka and Victor Jideofor Okoye of Anambra East and West; Harford Ikechukwu Oseke of Awka south 2; Iruba Kingsley and Rita Maduagwu of Nnewi South 1 and 2; Benson Nwawulu (3rd timer) of Ogbaru 1; Chugbo Enwezor Onitsha North 1; Romanus Ugochukwu Obi, Orumba North; Beverly Ifeanyi Nkemdiche, Onitsha South 2; Nikky Ugochukwu, (3rd term) Orumba South; and Vivian Okadigbo of Oyi constituencies.

The new members were three PDP members namely; Onyebuchi Offor, Ekwusigo; Francis Okoye, Anaocha 1; Charles Ezeani, Anaocha 2; while the APGA members among them were Boniface Okonkwo, (member of 4th Assembly via PDP elected for second missionary journey under APGA) Awka North; Uche Okafor, Ayamelum; Nnamdi Okafor, Awka South 1; Lawrence Ezeudu, Dunukofia; Mmegbuanaeze Tochukwu, Idemili North; Ezenwune Fabian, Idemili South; Udemadu chidi, Ihiala 1; Agbodike Paschal, Ihiala 2; Timothy Ifedioranma, Njikoka 1; Peter Ibida, Njikoka 2; Anazodo Kenneth, Nnewi North; Udeze Somtochukwu, Ogbaru 2; Ibuzo Edward Obi, Onitsha North2; and Patrick Aniunoh, Onitsha South 1.

As they settled down for business of legislation, the author looks at their activities with a view to ascertaining the possible ways they could surmount the enormous challenges awaiting them.

This is even as it has been alleged that the worst of what transpired on 5th Assembly is likely to repeat itself as a result of the Honourable members currently in the Hallow Chamber, most of whom gained party flags in alleged marred and manipulated party primaries elections; occasioned by the power that be.

According to onlookers, the inability of ranking honourable members of 5th Assembly to present and pass even single private bill depicted that majority of them were yet to understand the responsibilities of being a representative although some of them were ushered in for second and third terms. About 99.9% of the bills passed by the 5th Assembly, news48hrs.com reliably gathered were Executive (bills that emanated from the Executive arms of the government))that merely demanded correction of sentences and subsequent approval by the House.

One of such bills, to be precise, was the bill that banned the then Senatorial Candidate of PDP, Senator Uche Ekwunife from campaigning as the PDP flag-bearer for Anambra Central as a result of paralleled primary that produced her and others. The bill, which made the 5th Assembly the most unarticulated, insensitive and script-player since the inception of State Assembly of the new Anambra State was hurriedly introduced on the floor by Governor Willie Obiano through the then Majority Leader, Harford Oseke, and was hurriedly passed into law, and ascended to same day.

Other reason political analysts say would prevent the incumbent Assembly from according quality representation to their respective constituencies were the manners in which the lawmakers ‘elected’ Speaker, Deputy Speaker and other principal officers.

The Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Rita Maduagwu was allegedly imposed on the 5th Assembly as a stooge of Governor Willie Obiano in a similar way the erstwhile Peter Obi imposed the Former Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chinwe Nwaebili on the chamber, to avoid possible impeachment always witnessed in the Assembly controlled by men as Speaker.

Speaker Maduagwu, who represents Nnewi South II constituency, is a second tenure member yet she emerged unopposed after Governor Obiano and his wife, Ebele allegedly pressurized the high ranking and experienced members like Chugbo Enwezor (3rd term and the most articulated and vocal member), Benson Nwawulu (3rd term but vocal and experienced), Nikky Ugochukwu (3rd term), Ikemefune Uzoezie (vibrant and experienced 2nd term), to step down. 

Our sources in the government claimed that while the likes of Enwezor (Onitsha North 1) and Nwawulu (Ogbaru 1) were pressed to forgo their ambition having held from Anambra North Senatorial zone, which is where Governor Obiano and 98 percent of his Commissioners, SAs and SSAs including the Chief of Staff hail from; Nikky Ugochukwu of Orumba South and Uzoezie of Aguata 1, both from Anambra South where APGA claimed to have zoned the Speakership to, were also rejected because of their closeness to ex-governor Peter Obi and Chief Victor Umeh, the immediate National Chairman of APGA.

They further alleged that Ebele Obiano, the First Lady rejected Nikky Ugochukwu because she was so charming and might easily use her office as ‘Speaker’ to snatch away her husband, Obiano; while the governor on the other hand feared that his predecessor, Peter Obi might use same Ugochukwu to impeach him in the same vein Rt. Hon. Eucharia Azodo, the first female Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly was used to impeach Dr. Chris Ngige when he was battling Chief Chris Uba’s godfatherism.

Ugochukwu, it would be recalled, came to the hallow chamber thrice due to her closeness to Obi and was reportedly seen in the front chair of the former governor Obi throughout his tenure till date, just like Uzoezie, the son of Dr. Ego Uzoezie, who is the current Provost of Nwafor Orizu College of Education and former Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, related to Chief Umeh, whose relationship with the incumbent government has been strained.

Also, Governor Obiano allegedly perfected this game plan after pleading the current Deputy Speaker, Hon. Harford Oseke of Awka South 2 to step-down his ambition of becoming speaker. The governor, our sources alleged, had informed him to remain Majority Leader of the House which he was at the 5th Assembly, while either Hon. Emeneaka of Anambra East (Obiano’s LGA) or Hon. Victor Jideofor Okoye of Anambra West become Deputy Speaker to protect their brother from possible impeachment, but as a power hungry Awka man, Oseke categorically told him that he wanted ‘something higher, forward ever and not stagnancy’.

Having successfully imposed Hon. Rita Maduagwu as 3rd female Speaker of Anambra State House of Assembly unopposed, after Rt. Hon Chinwe Clara Nwaebili of Ogbaru II constituency, and Rt. Hon. Eucharia Anazodo of Aguata constituency, who were second and first female Speaker without sweats; Hon. Harford Oseke of Awka II constituency was elected Deputy Speaker, while Hon. Jideofor Okoye of Anambra West constituency emerged Majority leader.

Other principal officers of the 6th Assembly include Hon. Lawrence Ezeudu of Dunukofia State Constituencies as Deputy Majority Leaders, younger brother of Sir Emeka Offor, Hon. Onyebuchi Offor, Ekwusigo constituency, Minority Leader; Hon. Beverly Ikpeazu, Chief Whip; while Hon. Chugbo Enwezor emerged the Chairman, committee of the 6th Assembly Agenda; Francis Okoye, Anaocha 1 and Hon Charles Ezeani of Anaocha 2 were assigned portfolios of Deputy minority Leaders and Minority Whip respectively; thereby sidelining Nikky Ugochukwu and Uzoezie as well.

The swearing in ceremony had the attendance of who’s who in Anamnbra State including Governor Willie Obiano, chief judge of the state, Justice Peter Umeadi, former Secretary to State Government, Chief Henry Oseloka Obaze, captain of industries and host of others, depicting another foul play.

In a swift reaction after the swearing in, the member representing Ihiala II constituency, Honourable Paschal Agbodike expressed optimism that the peaceful co-existence between the legislature and the executive arms of government in Anambra State during the 5th Assembly would replicate itself in 6th Assembly.

To further showcase that the principal officers were deliberately constituted to instill hatred among the legislators, the current list of Committee members of the Assembly as recently announced by the Speaker tells it more as Chris Emenaka of Anambra East emerged Chairman of the Committee for Financial Appropriation and Budget Control so as to easily fast-track approval of any budget sent to the Assembly by his brother, Governor Obiano; while Kingsley Iruba of Nnewi South 1, became Chairman of Information, Culture and Tourism to protect the image of his sister, the Speaker (Nnewi South 2) and the Governor easily.

Also, the Chairman, Committee on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was given to Patrick Aniuno of Onitsha South 1, the brother of Olisa Aniuno from Umuoji in Idemili North LGA, whom Obiano is projecting to win the Chairman of Anambra State FA; Harford Oseke, Screening; Fabian Ezenwunne, Public Petitions & Conflict Resolution; Kenneth Anazodo, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR); Chidi Udemadu, Rules and House Business; Victor Jideofor Okoye of Anambra West, Police & security; Chugbo Enwezor for Judiciary and Justice; Ikechukwu Umeh for Works; Peter Ibida, Commerce and Industries; Francis Mmegbuanaeze, Housing Development; Somto Udeze, Agriculture; Ikemefuna Uzoezie for Lands, Survey and Town Planning; Romanus Ugochukwu Obi, Tenders Board; Lawrence Ezeudu, Environment; Edward Ibuzo, Transport; Vivian Okadigbo, Education; Timothy Ifedioramma, Ethics, Religion and Pilgrimage; Beverley Nkemdiche, Science & Technology; Boniface Okonkwo, House service; Benson Nwawulu, Political, Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters; Princess Nikky Ugochukwu, Women Affairs & Social Development; Paschal Agbodike, Youth and Sports; Onyebuchi Offor, Petroleum Project and Solid Resources; Nnamdi Okafor, Health; Uche Okafor, Public Utilities; Charles Ezeani, Election Matters; Francis Okoye, Public Accounts;

In view of these, critics alleged that it would be impossible for the 6th Assembly to do well in her legislative work deducible from how they wasted several weeks for vacation or break after inauguration, including 4 days holiday of training they enjoyed at Western Meloch Hotel, Awka; 1 week yet another training of all government functionaries organised by Obiano at Oliva Hotel (formerly Tourists Garden Hotel, Agu-Awka); and another 1 week training at Owerri, Imo State under the sponsorship of Save Accountability Voice Initiative (SAVI).

A situation whereby the hallowed chamber would stay idle apart waiting for executive bill could be best described as legislative incompetency and insensitive to the representation responsibility.  But some of their major achievements since inauguration and first sitting till date include calling on ARMA to repair portholes, calling on ASWAMA to evacuate dustbin, thanking His Excellency for his support during the last NASS and State Assembly polls, passage into law of an executive bill to establish and regulate the operation of Anambra State Housing Corporation and other related matters, which hurriedly came to the chamber same day and was hurriedly passed same day after amending some sentences in clause 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 16, and 17; and the much humiliated motion moved by Hon. Vivian Okadigbo, calling for the synergy between the three arms of government which was later oust of the chamber due to its incompetency. And all these motions and the passed executive bill were co-sponsored by almost the lawmakers, showing that they have nothing to offer.

It was even alleged that at eve of every sitting, the honourable members find it very difficult to raise their hands up let alone to stand-up and contribute for a second.

People started asking why was it that the legislative office started by previous administration of Mr. Peter Obi even during his first tenure is yet to be completed. Sources close to power that be, who pleaded anonymity, alleged that the major contractor of the edifice is members of the house who did not want to have office to avoid the influx of their constituencies.

Okechukwu Onuegbu

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