Controversy: Abia Richest Man Bids For Assembly Speakership

Chika Nwabueze

He could easily pass as the richest man in Abia state today on account of his numerous philanthropic works in the state, which have endeared him to the hearts of many people. His youth empowerment programme is equal to none in the history of the state, just as he singlehandedly created the condition that led to the emergence of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as governor in 2015.

According to the former executive chairman of Umuahia North local government council, Revd Sam Ekeledo, ‘as far as political dynamics is concerned, Engr. Chinedu Orji has proved himself as a remarkable and extra-ordinary politician, who has retained in himself a striking leadership objective that can’t be waived aside’.

However, as the race for the speakership of the 7th Abia State House of Assembly heats up, the aspiration of Chinedu Orji, who hitherto is the Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly evokes so much interest and concern among the citizenry. At the last count, over 100 pro-groups are falling over themselves to drum support for the candidature of Orji, also known as Ikuku by political admirers.  Also, the social media is now crowded with emergency journalists of all shades canvassing for his election as the next speaker of the state assembly. Often, many of them can’t even say why they want him to become speaker except that he is a house hold name in the state.

Though there are few voices of dissent especially from the Ukwa-Ngwa bloc, the fact still remains that Orji’s bid has received more endorsements than any one could imagine both within and outside the People’s Democratic Party, PDP fold. His fellow assembly men who are equally qualified for the seat are visibly afraid to run against Ikuku our findings have shown.

For instance, the incumbent speaker, Rt. Hon. Chikwendu Kalu from Isiala-Ngwa is nursing the ambition to return as speaker, but by the time he realized it, even his close aides and leaders of Ukwa-Ngwa ethnic stock have started to declare their support for Orji, thereby leaving him to his fate with the remnants. Many arguments have been raised for and against the zoning of the speakership, but the Abia central senatorial zone is highly favoured to produce the next speaker.

During the 6th assembly that is about to end, the speakership position went to Isiala-Ngwa in Abia Central senatorial zone despite the fact that an Ngwa indigene in the person of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu emerged as the governor, though from Abia South senatorial district. Political commentators are of the view that the election of Ngwa man as speaker then was because the Umuahia representatives of Abia Central had no ranking member among them for to occupy the seat.

Now, the lawmaker representing Umuahia North, Hon. Kelechi Onuzurike, lawmaker representing Umuahia East constituency, Hon. Chukwudi Apugo and lawmaker representing Umuahia central state constituency and Majority Leader, Hon. Chinedu Orji are all ranking members. This has put the Ngwa legislators of Abia central seeking to be elected as speaker in a difficult situation. Meanwhile, a new school has risen to argue for the speakership seat to be zoned to Ukwa Ngwa on the basis of Old Bende and Ukwa Ngwa political divide which was in existence previously.

The argument is that during Chief Orji Uzor Kalu administration, the speaker was from Umuahia in Old Bende the same with Kalu, likewise during the tenure of senator T. A Orji, who is also from Old Bende bloc. Another argument raised is that since the Abia Central senatorial seat is occupied by Senator Orji, it will not be politically correct to cede the speakership to his son representing Umuahia Central state constituency. They even went further to claim that after all PDP lost in Umuahia despite their presence.

But this argument can’t hold water according to a top PDP chieftain in the state, who described the arguments as baseless. He said it is the lawmakers that will determine who will lead them at the end of the day, adding that from all indications the majority members both incoming and old have endorsed Hon. Orji for the seat.

News Critic gathered that the member represent Ohuhu constituency, Hon. Onuzuruike, who many thought is being positioned for the office appears to have dropped  out of the race, so is Hon. Apugo who said he is not aspiring for the number three seat. But the Ohuhu council of Ndi Eze were said to have demanded that the speakership be zoned to Umuahia north since the Ikwuano/Umuahia House of Representatives seat eluded them. How far they will be able to push this demand through remain to be seen, as unfolding events have proved that the Majority Leader appears to have pocketed the seat.

Some notable voices in the state have spoken in favour of Ikuku, among them is Senator Adolf Wabara, former senate president.  He said that it is imperative that the speaker emerges from Abia central, but not from the Ngwa stock. Wabara who is of Ukwa-Ngwa declared support for Orji’s bid for speaker. But critics of Hon. Orji argue that apart from the fact that he does not stay in Umuahia often to do his legislative duties, Ikuku Oma Abia cannot really point to anything as his achievement as a legislator apart from his philanthropy which has seen him performing the duties of the executive which is not his constitutional duty. They also expressed concern if he will have the time to do the work of a speaker when elected.

However, speaking in a radio programme, Ugochukwu Emezue, media aide to governor Ikpeazu quoted Hon. Orji as saying, that the Abia House of Assembly will have good working relationship with the executive in order to ensure smooth governance. ‘’What he is saying is that in the next dispensation we will see good governance, he said. Emezue also said that Ikuku who is a native of Umuahia is standing tall in the contest in view of his youth empowerment programme, which he has used to touch the lives of many people in the state.

As Abians await the coronation of Hon. Orji as the next speaker of the state assembly, those who know posits that the man engr. Orji means well for the state, but fear that he might have overbearing influence on the executive. At the time of this report, no one has been able to speak precisely on the body language of Governor Ikpeazu, as it relates to who emerges the speaker. But a close source told this reporter that the governor said Ikuku has not told him (Ikpeazu) that he is running for the speakership of Abia House of Assembly. 

You may have missed

Leave a Comment