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254 Reps versus Emeka Ihedioha

As 254 Reps Ready To Sack Chief Whip Today, we ask again who is afraid of Emeka Ihedioha? As the House of Representatives resumes plenary today, 254 lawmakers have allegedly appended their signatures to the impeachment of the chief whip, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, over  allegations of misappropriation of funds meant for the 10 years of democracy anniversary celebration. Majority leader of the House, Hon. Tunde Akogun, is also facing similar allegations.  

This is coming barely two days after the south-east parliamentary caucus in the House passed a vote of confidence on the chief whip, advising those leading the campaign to unseat him to desist from the act.

While Akogun is accused of mismanaging N160 million earmarked for the retreat) organized for members of the House in Uyo and Kano respectively, Ihedioha is alleged to have misappropriated N150 million voted for the celebration. Adressing a joint press conference yesterday in Abuja, four lawmakers, who claimed they were out to cleanse the House of its ‘battered image’ as a result of corrupt practices by some of thel colleagues, insisted that the plot to remove the chief whip was irrevocable.

The lawmakers, Hon. Dino Melaye (PDP, Kogi) and Chairman, Committee on Information and National Orientation; Hon. Ehiogu

West-Idahosa (PDP, Edo), Hon. Lame Agoro / (PDP, Oyo) and Hon. Kamil Akinlabi (PDP, Oyo), said the public perception index of the House has descended so low that a drastic action had to be taken, which means that those culpable would have to give way.

Melaye said,” I want to assure you that we are men of character and integrity and no amount of intimidation would deter us. The battle is to clean up the House because the House has become laughable in the perception of the public. I can assure you that the on Tuesday June 23, 2009, no stone will be left unturned and we will surely clean up the system”.  

According to Melaye, the plot to remove Ihedioha is not only based on allegations of corrupt practices but due to his failure to carry other members of the House along, accusing him of ‘social sins, high headedness and arrogance’.

“You can remove a leader based on leadership style. If a leadership does not have the capacity to carry out other members along, we can on grounds of public relations ask the leader to leave”, Melaye submitted.  

Also speaking, West-Idahosa, who regretted the current ‘low rating’ of the House, said: “In my ten years in the parliament, never has the perception index of the House been so low. I have served under different speakers from Salisu Buhari, Ghali Na’ Abba, Aminu Bello Masari and Patricia Etteh but I regret working under this leadership”.

But when asked if the plot was targeted at Speaker Dimeji Bankole, Idahosa responded that “we are not dealing with that now; that situation has not arisen. We just want Nigerians to watch and see how we are going remove the area of concern for now, and these affected officers do not need a soothsayer to tell them to leave because their cups are full.  

Answering a question, Hon. Lame Agoro confirmed that there were concerned with only Hon. Tunde Akogun and Emeka Ihedioha because they no longer have confidence in the two.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) yesterday warned members of the House of Representatives against causing distractions in the lower chambers, saying the recent allegations against Akogun by Dino Melaye should be substantiated, so that innocent persons do not become victims of political attack. 

It a statement by its Senate President, Olalekan Smart Edward, NANS said, “We condemn unequivocally and in the strictest of terms, the recent allegation of corruption and misappropriation of N160m by the House Committee Chairman of Information and Communication, Hon. Dino Melaye, with the aim of smearing the image of the Majority Leader of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Tunde Akogun. We equally wish to implore the Leadership of the House to take drastic steps to investigate his claims and stop his excesses.”

It said the organization was pleased that young men and women have now risen to key positions of leadership at the national level, it would, however, not keep silent and watch these young people abuse and ridicule their positions, as this may rub-off on the entire youth of the country. It charged the legislative chamber to rise up to the task of proper legislation as several important bills were waiting to be debated upon and subsequently passed into law, including that of constitutional review.

NANS asserted it was not asking Nigerians to condone corruption in any guise.

“We strongly advocate for zero-tolerance to corruption. We, however, condemn a situation whereby the image and integrity of honest Nigerians would be attacked maliciously, under the guise of fighting corruption. We strongly challenge Hon. Melaye to come up with tangible evidence to incriminate Hon. Akogun in the act of corruption, if he has any.” 

The student body implored the House to set-up a special committee to investigate the allegations.

The question OMOBA and other Nigerians are asking is: whose bidding, or whose agenda is being championed by Mr Dino Melaye and his clique? If it is true that the Speaker, Mr Dimeji Bankole, approved the sum of N100 million, out of a proposal of N370 million for the organisation of democracy anniversary submitted by Mr Ihedioha, what is the role of the speaker in the whole saga?

It is an elementary dictum of law that a delegate cannot sub-delegate (delegatus non potest delegare – In constitutional and administrative law, the principle delegata potestas non potest delegari (Latin) states that ‘no delegated powers can be further delegated’. Alternatively, it can be stated delegatus non potest delegare, ‘one to whom power is delegated cannot himself further delegate that power’) If he does, the buck stops with him.

Therefore it is the primary responsibility of the speaker to organise the10th year celebration of democracy in the House but the matter was delegated to the chief whip, who was the chairman of the planning committee by the Speaker, in the name of the House.  In order words, the buck stops at the table of the Speaker, and the blame for failure if any, lies with him.

 

The House Committee Chairman on Information and National Orientation, Mr Dino Melaye was also quoted as saying that it was high time members cleaned up the mess in the House and laid the foundation for probity and accountability which, he added, the National Assembly required in their duty of oversight over the executive arm of government.

 

In that case, the rules of the House stipulate that such matters that borders on accountability and probity should be referred to the Ethics and Privileges Committee.

 

Why then, are these disgruntled members routing for impeachment without referring the matter first to the Ethics and Privileges Committee? Mr Melaye’s homily that “he who must come to equity must always come with clean hands” must first be applied to himself!

 

One member of the House said that the “failure of the House whip to carry essential members along sparked trouble for him, after the event”. And we all know what the Nigerian parlance, “failure to carry essential members along” actually mean in practice.

 

If as some members had complained, that what the whip and his team put together for the event was nothing to write home about compared with the approved sum, why don’t they wait for the committee that is mandated to present details of the total expenses which is yet to turn in their report, and then present their queries against it? In any case, the low keyed Democracy anniversary celebration by the House of Representatives was said to be ordered by the speaker, in consideration of the economic downturn.

The hasty nature of the plot and the rush to put finishing touches to the impeachment plot while Mr Ihedioha is absent on official trip to Europe suggests a sinister motive.

 

Mr Ihedioha, was elected Chief Whip in November 2007, after his predecessor, Hon. Bethel Amadi, was relieved of his position. What really do the plotters hope to achieve and what could be their agenda apart from the opportunistic tendency to rotate the office and the pull-him-down tendency of some (people) in the Igbo political class.

 

Who indeed is afraid of Emeka Ihedioha? What is his real or imagined sin? Is it his supposed “arrogance”? Or is it his inability to get along with Mr Independence Ogunewe, the Honourable member representing Ahiazu Mbaise/Ezinihitte Constituency. Emeka Ihedioha represents Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Constituency, and both are from Imo State.

Is local rivalry rearing its ugly head in our national affairs? Is political positioning being transmuted into a national crisis? Is the impeachment plot a handiwork of a few disgruntled South-Eastern members in the House who are envious of Rep Ihedioha’s political profile? And have they recruited some members from the other Zones to pull Emeka down?

Why must the South-East politicians always allow them selves to be used as pawns in the games of more strategically minded politicians from other zones? – The case of Chuba Okadigbo and Anyim Pius Anyim readily come to mind.

 

It is instructive to note that after the “resignation” of Madam Speaker Etteh that all the other zonal caucuses in the House returned their candidates except the South East zone that changed Bethel Amadi. Thus, the election of Emeka Ihedioha itself is a manifestation of this Igbo malady.

What is the position of other members of the South-East caucus in the whole saga? Emeka was elected by the South-East caucus and it is them alone that could remove him and not by any outsider. The members of the South-East caucus of the House should ponder this:

The House is facing a more embarrassing case of six billion naira REA power scam with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The Speaker of the House has been implicated in the shameful scandal. Why is the South-West Caucus of the House not pushing for his impeachment?

It is interesting to note that the Sunday Tribune revealed that the House Leader, Honourable Tunde Akogun may escape the hammer from his colleagues for his role in the House celebration of the 10th year of democracy since his accusers are said to be moderate in number.

Information coming to us says that some credible members from another South-Eastern State have commendably refused to be coerced into replacing the Whip.

The fight for accountability and ethical conduct should not be compromised on the altar of undue ambition, opportunism and political prostitution. The House should await the submission of the report by the Ihedioha planning committee before rushing to any conclusion.

dimokalu@yahoo.co.uk