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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Okorocha’s LGA Tours And Imo Lawmakers – By Henry Ekpe

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When the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha commenced the
Tour of the twenty seven Local Government Areas in the State with a
visit to Ngor Okpala , nobody envisaged that the visits and town Hall
meetings with the people would open a can of worm that will remain
indelible in minds Imo populace.

Today, a harmless working tour by the Chief Executive of the state to
rapour with the masses and also take a look at the projects his
administration sited in such LGAs, has opened the underbelly of the
present crop of politicians that populate the Imo legislature.
Rather than the Okorocha visits turn a celebration for the masses, it
has become a journey of revelation and regrets on how the politicians
the various constituencies sent to the Imo House of Assembly to fight
for their political dividends have got to Owerri and turned to
contractors, enmeshing themselves in easy lucre, leaving the men and
women who stood in the sun for hours to vote for them, to remain in
squalor in the villages.

I had reported the activities of Imo House of Assembly from 2000 to
2009 as a Journalist, but in the history of the state legislature, I
have never seen such set of “Lawmakers”.
The current Imo Lawmakers lack maturity and conduct. They have no
focus and vision. There is no comparism between them and their
predecessors, right from 1999 till date.
The Okorocha LGA visit threw up in the open, what many people had
known all these while, but were being whispered in their homes.
It was a shame that in each of the stops, Okorocha was able to confirm
that the current Imo lawmakers are an extension of his Executive, who
give and execute contracts. The Governor openly lampooned Lawmakers
for dabbling into contract executions, and even ordered for the arrest
of some Imo Lawmakers.

It was even more incredible that the Peoples Representatives, who
ought to disturb the Executive arm of the Government to site projects
that will improve the poor conditions of their constituents, were
being accused by the Governor of pocketing money meant for the
improvement of infrastructure in their LGAs nay constituencies.
From the revelations coming out from the Okorocha’s tour, this set of
lawmakers cannot be trusted to deliver and cannot bite because they
have compromised their offices by allowing the Executive, another arm
of Government, to dictate its pace, when it should be the job of the
Legislature to monitor the Executive.
No wonder, the present Imo state has turned to a private Estate of an
individual, because checks and balances have fled through the window,
because Imo lawmakers are now lame Ducks and cannot carry out
over-sight factions.
Let me state here that even though the past legislators in the state
may not pass a transparency test, over inducements from the Executive
to dance to its tunes, but whatever transpired then between the
Legislature and Executive was done in the dark, which left the
populace guessing. But Okorocha has broken the “Nsukpe Coconut”, as it
was never heard before where a contractor will in an open meeting
point at a lawmaker, accuse him or her of asking for “kick-back’
before a contract was executed.

One contractor was bold enough to confess that he used part of
contract fund given to him to roof a house belonging to an Imo
lawmaker.
What these lawmakers forget is that the electorate have the right to
recall any lawmaker who gets to Owerri and thinks he is there only for
himself and family.
In the first place, lawmakers have their jobs out-lined for them;
which is lawmaking. Therefore, in a right clime, it is a
constitutional breach for any legislator to engage in contract Award
or execution.
Instead, it is the duty of the Executive to budget funds, while the
legislature appropriates the projects, which is then put across to the
Executive again to sign into law, and execute.
This is the reason why the Federal Lawmakers usually hide behind
contractors for the constituency projects, as they do not get involved
in the “real” execution of the projects, even though the can pass the
appropriation Act.
Governor Okorocha has succeeded in “demystifying” Imo Legislature
after “devaluing” most of them in the presence of their constituents,
which is the worst  thing that can happen to a politician.
But how did Imo legislature arrive at this notorious ugly stead? From
the beginning, the foundation of the present legislature in the state
was built on treachery. Therefore the foundation will always be
shallow.

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At the inauguration of the present House headed by Rt Hon Benji
Uwajumogu, political treachery was elevated to another level when five
members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, including the new
Speaker, dumped their party and joined the All Progressives Grand
Alliance, which led APGA to form the majority party in the House.
Today, Okorocha who lured them into APGA has abandoned the party and
joined APC, leaving the treacherous lawmakers confused and lost.
Today, it is still a big question to many; which political party is in
majority in the House of Assembly? Is it PDP, APC or APGA? This is the
kind of House of Assembly Imo people are confronted with in this
dispensation. Every thing happening in the present legislature have
left many people confused, to the extent that the electorate can not
even swear which party their representatives belong to.
However, the Imo electorate cannot exonerate itself from this ugly
scenario playing out at the present Imo House of Assembly.
In 2011, out of anger, the Imo electorate threw away the baby with the
birth water by voting in people they did not know too well into the
legislature, and therefore that mistake is boomeranging on the masses
now, with the strange stories pouring out from the House.
For instance, like the Lawmaker representing Ngor Okpala LGA. It is
incredible that I never knew Hon Emeka Nwafor before until I heard he
has won the Imo Assembly seat.
With all humility, I want to state here that there is no politician in
Imo state that worths his salt that does not know me in first name
terms. I have been a practicing Journalist here close to fifteen years
now. So I know them, they know me. But I did not know my
representative at the Assembly until the burial of Hon Dan Ikeazu’s
mother at Agbala where I asked him to please show me the man they said
is representing me. I had known Ikeazu when he was a Councilor in
Owerri North LGA.

Nwafor has since three years now not called one constituency briefing.
I have never heard his voice in moving or supporting any motion.
But he is cool with himself. He has used Ngor Okpala state
constituency to find his “Level”. All of now are his mugu. But time
will tell.
What is happening in Ngor Okpala is nearly the same scenario in other
LGAs, where the constituents have not set eyes on their lawmakers,
until Okorocha’s tour dragged them home. Some of them even absconded
from the Town Hall meetings in order to avoid peoples anger.
How many Bills have this House passed? Even the focused ones among
them have been cowed and muscled to the ground by Okorocha. There is
the rumour that the Governor has resignation letters signed by some of
them, which will be presented when any of them moves out of line. What
a Legislature!
If things were moving fine in the House some of them would not have
smuggled in a draconian and wicked law on ambition, yet the rest did
not know, until Imo people shouted them selves hoarse before the law
was repealed.
Much as the legislature cannot function well without the Executive
that funds it, but the House can still retain its respect and dignity
and yet make the executive meet its obligation on the legislature.
The present Imo House of Assembly need to realize that the legislature
has enormous power and operates on the same level as the executive and
can even put the Governor on the spot if they put their acts together.

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I had worked under a Governor before, and aware that the legislature
can tame a Governor to fear that arm of Government, and therefore give
it the due respect. But Okorocha has decimated the present Imo
Legislature into camps, which serves the Governor better, as they
House cannot speak with one voice now. Okorocha has put them where he
wants them
Any way, the present crop of Imo lawmakers lack men who can look a
lion into the eyes and damn the consequences. Before, Imo House of
Assembly was the potpourri of Imo politics, because of the level of
vibrancy and robust discussions in the chamber.
As a cob reporter in this state those days, one will not be happy to
miss the plenary of Imo Assembly. A visit to Imo Assembly then will
make your day.
As usual, conspiracy, which is part and parcel of politics, was in
existence then. Groups plot against each other for the betterment of
the entire House, not to gain the leverage and become appendage of the
Executive. The House then cherished its independence, which was why
that era had a vibrant House that cannot be messed up by any Governor.

I am talking about the Imo Assembly with the likes of late Oliver
Akpaka (Nwangele), Chief Onyeama (Nkwerre) CNC Onuoha (Isu), Gozie
Nwachukwu (Ngor Okpala) Dan Nwagwu (Obowo) Stanford Onyirimba (Ehime
Mbano) Jeff Ojinika (Orsu), Ethelbert Nnanna (Ohaji Egbema) Alex
Emeziem (Aboh Mbaise) Prof Ezeadi O Ezeadi (Okigwe) Jasper Ndubuaku,
(Isiala Mbano) Hon Goddy Dikeocha (Aboh Mbaise) Noel Agwuocha
Chukwukadibia (Ezinihitte) Ken Obichere (Owerri North) Dr Ukaegbu
(Ikeduru) Enerst Ibejiako (Owerri Municipal), Late Agaptus Egwueogu
(Isu), Charles Uba (Ideato South) and others.
Then, Governors spoke to the legislators as men, not as kindergartens.
They roar in the Assembly, and the Executive shivers. Each arm of the
Government respected each other; Executive, Judiciary and Legislature.
No Governor can look these set of men in the face and command them to
join his party or. Then the Lawmakers realized that it will benefit
democracy and their constituents more for them to remain in their
political parties and “control” the Executive and not only gain
respect, but still “corner” other things, by mutual respect and
understanding, which the present House lacks because it reduced itself
before the Governor.
If not for Okorocha’s magnanimity to site roads in the constituencies
and asked the lawmakers to “supervise” them, none of them can look
Okorocha in the eyes and demand any thing for their people.

I sympathize with the likes of Hon Sam Daddy Anyanwu, (Ikeduru), Hon
Simeon Iwunze (Isiala Mbano), Hon Kingsley Dimaku, (Ehime Mbano), Hon
Dan Ikpeazu (Owerri North), Hon Eudora Igwe (Ideato South) Hon Ndunagu
(Mbaitoli), Hon Okemili (Oru East) who have all lived up to
expectation in such a hostile and treacherous atmosphere.
I sympathize with them because when the history of the present Imo
House of Assembly will be recorded, there names will appear as being
among this set of Legislators that went for “sight seeing” at the
chamber for four years, and only executed contracts for Governor
Okorocha’s cabinet which benefited them individually. The achievements
of members who did well will not be noted, because as they will always
say in the chamber, the majority poor performance has the “aye” vote
in the Imo House of Assembly of today.

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