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Friday, April 19, 2024

2023: Ayamelum Stakeholders Clear Air on Anambra Speaker’s 3rd Term Bid



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By Izunna Okafor, Awka

Ayamelum Leaders of Thought, the apex leadership body in Ayamelum Local Government Area of Anambra State, which is the local government area and constituency of the incumbent Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Uchenna Okafor, has reaffirmed that their decision to allow the Speaker contest again in the forthcoming general election is sacrosanct.

The Chairman, Ayamelum Leaders of Thought, Chief Sir Tony Chinedu affirmed this in an interview with newsmen in Awka, Anambra State capital, while clearing the air on the true position of the stakeholders over who should represent the Constituency in the state’s House of Assembly come 2023.

It would be recalled that Ayamelum is a local government and constituency made up of three regions —Ayamelum North, Ayamelum South, and Ayamelum Central.

It would also be recalled that the current Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Uchenna Okafor who hails from Ayamelum North, has represented the Constituency for about 8 years now, having served his first 4 years in the House as a member, and currently serving his second 4 years as a Speaker of the House.

However, as 2023 general election approaches, it was gathered some group of people from the Constituency are allegedly wagging their heads and using the various media platforms to kick against voting the Speaker to the House for third term, citing zoning arrangements in the Constituency and underperformance as of their reasons.

Howebeit, speaking with newsmen, some of the stakeholders from the Constituency, under the umbrella of Ayamelum Leaders of Thought, refuted the claims and reasons cited by the critics and also made their position and resolution known on the matter.

According to the Leaders of Thought Chairman Chief Tony Chinedu, a meeting was recently held by the stakeholders where it was cleared and established that there is no rotational zoning arrangement in the Constituency for now. He explained that what was existing before was a form of zoning arrangement by political parties, in which different political parties would rotationally zone their tickets to the various regions in the Constituency.

While emphasizing that the political parties’ zoning arrangement was never a general zoning arrangement of Ndị Ayamelum; he also revealed that even the said parties’ zoning arrangement was not even being respected or adhered to by members of the various political parties.

He therefore wondered why some people would cite a non-existent zoning arrangement as a reason why the current Speaker, Rt. Hon. Okafor who currently represents them should not be voted to the House.

He explained that the stakeholders gave consent to Rt. Hon. Okafor’s third term aspiration when he consulted and informed them about it, which he said they approved on the ground that he has performed excellently well in two tenures he has represented them.

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Chief Chinedu also revealed that other major reasons why they approved Rt. Hon. Okafor’s third term aspiration was because of the numerous things the people of the Constituency have individually and collectively benefited from him, especially through his position as the Speaker of the House; what they stand to benefit further if he returns to the House; as well as his very high chances of retaining the Speakership position if re-elected the third time, being a Ranking Member in the House.

“The likelihood of retaining that position as a Speaker is about 95 percent; and so, we can’t afford to allow that position to elude us,” he said.

In their separate remarks, the President-General of Ifite-Ogwari and Chairman of all the PGs in Ayamelum, Barr. Oliver Okonkwo; the immediate-past Transition Committee Chairman of Ayamelum Local Government Area, Hon. Barr. Benjamin Onyeabor; and the Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Ayamelum Local Government, Hon. Livinus Onyenwe faulted the claims by some people kicking against the Speaker’s re-election on the ground he didn’t construct roads and other developmental projects in the Constituency, and reminded such people that the primary duty of a legislator is to make laws; and not to construct road or projects.

They however, highlighted some of developments and developmental projects facilitated or attracted by the Speaker to include liberating the constituency from over ten years of total blackout by restoring electricity in the area; periodic distribution of farm inputs and seedlings to the people of the agrarian constituency who are predominantly farmers, periodic youths empowerment programs for the constituents, as well as facilitating the construction of the Onitsha—Aguleri—Omor—Adani Federal Road, among others.

On his own part, a former Secretary to the State Government in the state and Executive Secretary, Anambra State Emergency Management Agency (ASEMA), Chief Paul Odenigbo, went memory lane on how various political positions at state level are being distributed and held among the three zones in the local government area.

According to him, Ayamelum Central (made up of Omor community) has been holding the Local Government Chairmanship position; the Ayamelum South (made up of Umumbo, Umuerum and Anaku) has been holding the Commissionership positions, Special Adviser, and some other similar appointive positions; while Ayamelum North (made up of Omasi, Umueje, Ifite-Ogwari and Igbakwu) occupies the House of Assembly position.

He further said a very crucial meeting was held in 2018 by stakeholders in Ayamelum, to discuss the zoning arrangements of the various positions, and during which it was suggested that the Constituency’s representative in the state’s House of Assembly, Hon. Uchenna Okafor then (who hails from Ayamelum North) should be allowed to go for second —a suggestion, Chief Odenigbo said, was rejected by some people who still went ahead to contest against Hon. Okafor then, both at the primary and main election, but eventually lost the election.

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Chief Odenigbo, who is also the APGA Leader in Ayamelum said a similar meeting was also held just last month in Awka, by the Ayamelum Leaders of Thought, where a consensus could not be reached on a new zoning arrangement, and it was therefore resolved that the status quo should be maintained, whereby every region should retaining the position it occupies, pending when a consensus and generally-acceptable zoning arrangement would decided and formally approved, hopefully after the 2023 election.

According to him, this latest documented agreement by the Leaders of Thought implies that they approved the third-term bid of the Speaker who comes from Ayamelum North, which is the region that has been holding the House of Assembly position. He also said someone from Ayamelum South was recently appointed a Commissioner by Governor Soludo; while the immediate-past Transition Committee Chairman for the Local Government hails from Ayamelum Central, in line with the existing arrangement.

He also underscored the numerous advantages of having Okafor represent the Constituency again, being a manking member and Speaker of the House, which he said will not be same when a new person is sent to represent the Constituency.

Earlier speaking, the Traditional Ruler of Omasi, H.R.H. Igwe Dr. Benjamin Onukwube Okeji, who is also the Chairman, Ayamelum Traditional Rulers Council and Deputy Chairman, Anambra North Traditional Rulers Council, said Rt. Hon. Okafor has performed well in the last eight years as their representative, and expressed optimism that he will perform better if voted back to the House.

He said: “The Speaker tried all his best by attracting the government’s presence to our local government and ensuring that our dividends of democracy gets to us, as our representative. And with his wealth of experience, we are certain and convinced that he will do better and attract more things to us than before, if we send him back to the House,” he said.

“All I’m telling you is that since we have agreed on that and endorsed him, we don’t have argument anymore about who is going to represent us in the House come 2023. Anybody who is ready to contest should come out, and that person is going to fail.

“We have endorsed him; and when we endorse him, it’s final. Any other person that comes out to contest against him in Ayamelum must fail,” he added.

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