The Ezesinachi N’ Ukpor and former Federal Commissioner, Public Complaints Commission, FCT, Sir Obunike Ohaegbu, KSJI, a Lawyer and PDP Chieftain bares his mind on the crisis in the House of Representatives Minority Leadership.
Sir, You Worked For Over a Decade in the House of Representatives, National Assembly, So You Are Familiar with the Intrigues There. What Is Your Take On The Minority Leadership Crisis In The House?
Well, I believe that it is normal political intrigue where people look for reasons to protect their political interests which are always fundamental in all political games like that. My only worry is that Anambra as a State lost in the entire scheme despite the fact that we had a former Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Chukwuma Onyema from the State who was supposedly re-appointed by my Party, the PDP.
Can You Explain to Me How a Personal Ambition is a Loss to the Entire Anambra State?
My brother, let me give you an example. By virtue of the position of a Deputy Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, Hon. Chukwuma Onyema was a principal officer of the House of Representatives. That automatically made him a Member of the Leadership of the House of Representatives. Such position comes with some benefits to the State. For instance, during appropriations, there is this general belief that the Members of the Leadership of the House have the concessions to make extra inputs in the Budget. If that belief is right, then, Anambra State must have lost that opportunity for some “extras” from the Federation account.
Sir There Was An Unverified Allegation That He Was Getting Over One Billion Naira Projects Annually But Never Carried His Colleagues Along?
If what you said is right then the implication is that Anambra as a State will lose over five billion naira worth of projects in the next four years for that singular act. It is unbelievable. It is sad. That is the more reason why he would have been allowed to pick that position.
Please, do not get me wrong. I have absolutely nothing against Hon. Toby Okechukwu who was eventually appointed by the Speaker on the strength of the alleged signatories of the Members of the Minority Party. He is no doubt a well experienced legislator. I knew him in the National Assembly around 2008 even before eventually sought to be elected as a Member of the House of Representatives. In the 8th Assembly; he was Chairman, House Committee on Works. Exceptionally a great Committee for someone in the opposition. He is a fantastic young man with a lot of potentials. I have maximum respect for him.
However, my grouse is why would a representative from Anambra lose that position with the obvious benefits to the State with the active participation of supposed Anambra representatives? Assuming without conceding that Hon. Onyema nominated projects for Ogbaru Federal Constituency when he was the Deputy Minority Leader, the natural question to ask is, where is Ogbaru? In Utokom or Manfe? Is Ogbaru in Kebbi , Yobe or Adamawa?
As I mentioned earlier, the eventual beneficiary was Chairman House Committee on Works. What are they things Anambra Representatives benefitted or better put, attracted to Anambra through him in the 8th Assembly which they could not get from Hon. Onyema?
But The Speaker Claimed That His Announcement Was In Accordance With the House Rules
Let me make myself clear to you. I have no problems whatsoever with what the Speaker did. As a lawyer who has spent about four terms in the House, he is one of the most experienced Legislators in Nigeria as at today. He rose through the ranks from the Minority Leadership to the Majority Leadership and now the Speaker. He should certainly be a master of the House Rules and can leverage on that mastery to his own advantage. He has my maximum respect.
However, my problem is with the representatives from Anambra State who were either too naive to understand the intrigues involved or were too selfish to think of Anambra State. The Anambra Representatives who signed for the Speaker to ignore the letter from the PDP Leadership have one question to ask themselves. What was in such action for the State they represent? What did Anambra as a State benefit in them signing a document that denied Onye Anambra leadership position?
The Speaker relied on Order 7 Rule 8(1) of the House Rules which states that:
“Members of the Minority Parties in the House shall nominate from among them, the Minority Leader, Minority Whip, Deputy Minority Leader and Deputy Minority Whip”
Even looking at the provision; you would be shocked that Anambra State lost out in the Minority Leadership because PDP which is the “major” Minority Leader had already nominated a representative from Anambra. The second minority Political Party in terms of numerical strength in the House is APGA with nine representatives as at my last count. So, how on earth did Anambra State lose out in such equation? Can you talk about APGA without reference to Anambra?
Surprisingly, the “beneficiaries” of our loss got the young man representing Idemili North/South Federal Constituency to defend that on National Television and his media aides were sharing that absurdity on all social media platforms. Are they that inexperienced and naïve? Your home State just lost about five billion naira in a “national power game” and you accepted to go on National Television to defend such? Really?
Instructively, there was unconfirmed allegation that the representative from Rivers State, Hon. Chinday Kingley lost the position of Minority Leadership to Hon. Ndudi Elumelu from Delta State because of the fact that the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus is from Rivers. So, why was that same standard not applied in the Deputy Minority Leadership where Hon. Toby Okechukwu is from Enugu State? Did they forget that the National Youth Leader of the PDP, Hon. Ude Okoye is from Enugu State? Ironically, he is a constituent of Hon. Toby Okechukwu. So, what is in it for ndi Anambra?
My brother, I am from Anambra State and I am worried that as a State, we are getting it all wrong. Someone said that Hon. Onyema could run for governorship if he got the appointment and I was very upset. So, it is all about Anambra governorship? So, why was another person from Anambra State not considered? There was even a strong allegation of monetary inducement but you know such allegations are common in Nigerian Political space. I will not rely on that allegation because it is not verified and usually not verifiable. For me, it is safe to assume that there was no bribery but the representatives from Anambra should explain their individual roles in the whole saga. Hon. Onyema is from Anambra North. So, he is from the same zone with the incumbent governor of Anambra State. How on earth do people believe that someone from that zone can get the ticket of the PDP for 2021 even if he was a Speaker considering the fact that the next governor of Anambra State will come from Anambra South?
As a State, we still have a long way to go in the National Politics. Yesterday, I read where some characters were attacking the Speaker for appointing Hon. Anayo Nnebe as his Special Assistant Political (South East).
Who did this to us? If the Speaker withdraws the appointment and announces someone from Abia or Ebonyi, the same characters will clap for the Speaker. Honestly, I need an answer. Who did this to us as Ndi Anambra?
I Know You Are Interested In the Governorship of Your State but You Are Not Sounding Politically Correct
It depends on what you mean by that but it would be irresponsible of me to keep silent when things are going the wrong way. I owe that as a responsibility to my State to speak the truth at all times. God is the only one that gives power to anyone He so desires and at whatever time He deems fit. EZESINACHI!
What In Your Opinion Should Anambra Do Now?
I know the Speaker of the House of Representatives as a fearless gentleman. I call on him, HE, Rt Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila to make public the list of the signatories on whose strength he ignored the letter from my Party, PDP concerning the Minority Leadership. Nigerians will like to know that for the records.
Also, I call on Hon. Ndubisi Nwobu,(Ogbuka-Awka), Chairman, PDP Anambra State to as a matter of urgency to set up a Panel to investigate the roles played by the people elected on our Party’s platform from the State on the matter. The Party should get them to explain their roles and possibly, disciplinary measures should be taken against them if need be.
Finally, I call on all the Federal Constituencies in Anambra State to invite their representatives to come back to the state and explain their roles in the entire saga. Steps should be taken for the recall of any representative whose signature led to denial of the leadership position in the House to onye Anambra. There must be a stop to all these. National Politics is not a tea party.