By: Wisdom Nwedene, Ogochukwu Isioma
UMUAHIA, ABIA, NIGERIA - The rumoured Political tussle between the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Chinedum Orji (Ikuku) seems to be taking a turn for the worse as the State House of Assembly yesterday, hurriedly passed a bill granting financial autonomy to itself, Igbere TV reports.
Igbere TV correspondent covering proceedings at the Assembly in Umuahia reports that the house within two days, 15th & 16th July, introduced and passed “A Bill for an Act to Establish the Abia State House of Assembly Service Commission and other Related Matters” personally sponsored by the Speaker.
The Bill has been subsequently forwarded to the Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu for executive assent, but as at press time, it’s yet to be seen what Ikpeazu will do.
Calls and text message sent to the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor, Chief Onyebuchi Ememanka were not replied.
Speaking on the implication of the bill when assented, a media assistant the the Speaker, Promise Uzoma Okoro said:
"When assented, this bill means the Legislature will no longer be dependent on the Executive to run her Assembly since the allocation from the Federal Government goes Direct into the Assembly account"
Prior to this move, there has been widespread rumor of ‘cold war’ between the state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu and the Assembly speaker, Chinedum Orji, generally known as ‘Ikuku’, over alleged plot by Ikuku’s family to weaken Ikpeazu’s political influence in order to wrestle power from Ikpeazu ahead of 2023.
Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji (Ikuku) is son of former governor of the state, and current senator representing Abia central senatorial zone, Senator T. A. Orji.
Within few days after his election as Speaker of the 7the Assembly, ‘Ikuku’ has set up several committees probing Ikpeazu’s appointees, Ministries, Agencies and parastatals of the Abia state government.
Before the current move for financial autonomy, Igbere TV reports that the House of Assembly had on June 11 slammed Abia state Government over what it termed ‘Environmental Decay’ in Aba and Umuahia under Ikpeazu’s administration and subsequently summoned the General Manager of the State Environmental Protection Agency ASEPA to appear before it within 24 hours.
The summon followed a motion raised by member representing Umuahia North State Constituency, Hon. Kelechi Onuzuruike during plenary on alleged poor waste management in Umuahia and Aba by the agency.
Supporting the motion, member representing Umuahia South State Constituency, Hon. Jerry Uzosike said the agency had been generating much revenue for the state government but hadn't done “the needful.”
But some members of the State Assembly disagreed with the House, alleging that the Speaker plan on using the agency to settle “scores” with the state government.
A lawmaker of the Abia Assembly, who craved anonymity, said that the speaker is believed to have governorship ambition in 2023.
“Mr. Speaker has a personal interest in this issue. From what we have observed so far, it's not just about the said refuse but some personal issues with the governor.
“I think the issue started right from when he declared intentions to contest the Speakership position.”
On his part, a lawmaker from Abia Central, said his colleagues from the said Aba Constituency refused to contribute to the motion when it was brought to the House because they are also aware of the issues.
“You see, when my colleague raised the motion and made mention of Aba, our colleagues from the zone never contributed to it because they too are aware of the politics they are trying to play.”
He alleged that lawmakers from Umuahia had cause to contribute to the motion because they had been ’sorted out' by sponsors of the motion.
Another lawmaker, who did not want his name mentioned, lamented what he described as witch-hunting on the part of the Assembly, saying, “the governor had assured the House, last week, of maximum cooperation and support when he also promised to procure new trucks for the agency.”
“The issue of refuse is not the main thing, I have asked my colleagues not to hide under ‘oversight function’, in fighting the state government.
“Remember we (the House) had passed a bill which permits ASEPA to generate funds for the state government. The House leadership is angry that the agency had not regarded them since the bill was successfully passed.”
Contacted by Igbere TV, an official of the Abia State Environmental Protection Agency, ASEPA, dismissed the notion that the agency had not lived up to its responsibilities.
He accused the Abia State Assembly of being insincere, alleging that the House leadership had wanted some “favours” from the agency.
“That is not true. You can see things for yourself, I believe you are a journalist and know what is right.
“We know what is going on, at the right time, we all we speak. But I assure you, we will never succumb to their threats and pressures.”
He assured that ASEPA led by Hon. Victor Apugo, would always stand by the people and do what is right, insisting that “the agency has always lived up to its responsibilities.”
Meanwhile, some concerned Abians have cried out condemning the alleged plot by Senator T. Orji’s family to “cripple” Governor Ikpeazu and “take over the running of the state government through the back door”.
Reacting, an Obingwa High Chief, Nkem Nwosu, said he had it on good authority that the Speaker would in the next few weeks and months, move against more appointees of the Abia State government.
He alleged that the move by Ikuku, is to see to the sack of the appointees and influence the appointment of his loyalists.
According to him, “Ikuku wants to sack all Ikpeazu’s loyalists and replace them with his, those who will do his biddings.”
Chief Nwosu added that “the ASEPA General Manager (Victor Apugo), has been penciled as first victim of the legislative onslaught.
Igbere TV will continue to keep a close eye on the development and bring you updates as events unfold.
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