The recent altercations leading to suspensions, impeachments and diverse disagreements in the Imo State House of Assembly are not unusual but show a House that is vibrant and Independent of the Executive arm of the Government.
GACIY views these developments as good for our democracy.
Several months ago, Members of the House of Assembly in their wisdom effected a change of guard leading to the removal of the erstwhile Speaker, Chiji Collins. His removal brought in Paul Emeziem as Speaker.
Things went on well in the House until we learnt of the removal of the Majority Leader of the House who GACIY considers a brilliant lawmaker and outstanding philanthropist, Hon. Uche Ogbuagu. He was suspended alongside five others on July 8, 2021. On November 2, the House in their wisdom recalled the suspedendd lawmakers and we sang Hallelujah! Then, the Deputy Speaker, Amara Chyna Iwuanayanu, was purportedly impeached. In all of this, the Executive respected the Independence of the House and said nothing, did nothing, believing they would resolve their internal issues. Yes. They did resolve the issues with the recall of the suspended lawmakers. Even when Deputy Speaker Iwuanayanu was purportedly impeached, we noticed the Executive maintained their cool, believing also that they would resolve their issues. This Monday they resolved their issues with the impeachment of Paul Emeziem and his subsequent suspension alongside three others, election of new Speaker and reinstatement of Deputy Speaker Iwuanyanwu.
We saw joy return to the Hon. House Members. We saw them back again together.
That is the beauty of democracy.
It is normal that a State Assembly peopled by persons with varied backgrounds and persuasions would witness the kind of frictions that had characterised the Imo State House of Assembly. This is moreso when the House is independent. House Members could fight over positions or over legislative matters such as motions, bills, appropriations and oversight functions. Some people call it House rascality. It is not strange.
As a Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hope Uzodimma, now Governor of Imo State, appreciates the strategic neccesity of an independent legislature. He knows that independence may breed altercations, but in the end those altercations are good for our democracy, because the House Members would come out better and stronger. That is what is playing out. And we thank God.
The Imo State House of Assembly could not have had the kind of altercations they have had in recent time were they under the influence of the Executive. In that case all Members of the House would file in and take orders from the Executive. All the Executive needed to do was to dangle the carrot before them.
“Who no want better thing?”
We saw how bad things could go when the House is under the control of the Executive during the Rochas Okorocha and Emeka Ihedioha administrations. In the case of Okorocha, House members were members of various committees set up by the Executive. They were also in charge of the various local governments – almost as Interim Management Committee Chairmen (IMC). On some occasions, we saw House members kneel before then Governor Rochas Okorocha at the Government House. Of course, he reportedly got a four-year rolling budget from the compromised House. That shambolic House unjustly impeached two Deputy Governors and in one instance approved the office of Deputy Governor-Designtae. It was such a shame.
In the case of Ihedioha, he was the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Governor rolled into one. He would storm the House and issue orders to the Speaker of the House. Legislative matters were raised and determined in his private house. State budget was approved in his House. He got a supplementary budget just by declaration. He made the Speaker of the House his errand boy.
GACIY commends the maturity, experience and disposition of Governor Hope Uzodimma in matters concerning Imo State House of Assembly. He has proved that he is a leader and father.
Those genuinely worried about the recent activities of the House should calm down and appreciate that freedom or independence comes with its own challenges. The House is grappling with the challenges rising from its independence of the Executive. They will be better for it.
We call on the House Members to realise the huge expectations on them and ensure that they have finally resolved their issues, put the past behind them and forge ahead. We cannot afford to have an Assembly that is unable to self-resolve internal issues.
Collins Ughalaa KSC
November 9, 2021.