At a period of a stern test of the integrity of the Seventh House’s lofty legislative agenda, Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha turns 47 today. LOUIS ACHI attempts a deconstruction of an unassuming ‘rebel’ and key driving force of the current House of Representatives.
“We will be responsive, transparent and accountable in all we do. My period of service as the Speaker of this hallowed chamber will restore the House of Representatives as an institution where the will of the people is done.”
From ‘Time To Remake Nigeria,’ the inaugural speech of Rt. Hon. Barr. Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker of the 7th House Of Representatives
Out of the fog that enveloped the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the controversial emergence of Acting President Goodluck Jonathan as the party’s presidential flag-bearer, a scenario perceived as against the party’s core rotation principle, a sense of injustice understandably enveloped a section of Africa’s largest party.
This willy-nilly set the stage for the making of history in the unconventional emergence of the leadership of the nation’s 7th House Of Representatives.
Against the stern position of the presidency and PDP which insisted on its already breached zoning principle, the nascent Seventh Session House of Representatives served notice that the era of imposition of its leadership was over. In something akin to a revolution, it enforced the new thinking through a populist, multi-partisan consensus.
Looking back now, the emergence of Hon. Aminu Tambuwal as Speaker and Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as Deputy Speaker is being seen as a natural antidote to the subsisting confusion then.
Clearly, the ascendancy of the duo of Speaker Tambuwal and Deputy Speaker Ihedioha represented a defining political milestone of 2011. Their victory, a pan-Nigerian mandate, essentially trumped the ruling PDP’s controversial position on zoning by defeating the party’s effort at imposition of its leadership, hitherto, a favoured course.
Subsequently, the House leadership’s proclamation of a reasoned, activist parliamentary agenda for the Seventh House is also a noteworthy point in the nation’s troubled political evolution.
Today, the leadership of the duo of Tambuwal and Ihedioha has provided remarkable stability in the Lower House and significantly imbued it with the aura of taking populist positions on major issues of public interest. The latest being the fuel subsidy regime termination controversy and the swift manner it is handling the Hembegate scandal.
A striking point in this new legislative journey is the fantastic working relationship Hon. Ihedioha enjoys with the speaker and other principal officers. And more, he is a rising political star of the younger generation and becoming significantly prominent in the affairs of the ruling PDP. As he marks his 47th birthday today, it’s worth tracking back to capture the highlights of his fairy tale life journey.
Ihedioha At 47
Sir Chukwuemeka Ihedioha was born on March 24th, 1965 at Mbutu, Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area in Imo State, South-East Nigeria.
He had his secondary education at St. Ephraim’s Secondary School, Owerrinta and his tertiary education at the University of Lagos, Akoka-Yaba, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1988.
Versatile, intelligent and knowledge-driven, Ihedioha took his search for knowledge to different parts of the world, certifying and specialising in several fields of human endeavour that have made him a rounded professional, administrator and consummate politician of towering repute.
Among others, he undertook an Executive Certificate Course in Financial Management from Stanford University, and a Leadership Certificate Course from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, both world-renown, prestigious Ivy-league institutions in the United States of America (USA).
Thirsting for more, Ihedioha delved into practical post-graduate training as a communications and public relations specialist. As a communication expert, he worked with various top-rate organizations and consultancy firms before responding full-time to the call of his natural love and vocation, which is politics. And in this field of public service, he has built a rich background of experience from various high calibre positions that afforded him opportunity to serve his fatherland.
In 1992, he was appointed Press Officer to then President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Iyorchia Ayu. Barely a year later, he was appointed as Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Senate President of that era.
Following military intervention in the polity in November 1993, Ihedioha returned to his communications practice as Chief Executive Officer of First Page Communications. However, by 1995, when the whistle for transition to civilian rule was blown, he readily found his sails in the familiar waters of politics.
He promptly connected with the mainstream and became the Director of Publicity of the newly formed Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), the forerunner of the ruling People Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998. Suffice to say that in that capacity, he played very crucial and prominent roles in the emergence of the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 1999.
Accordingly, Ihedioha was appointed into certain key positions in the budding democratic dispensation including the following: Special Assistant to the Presidential Adviser on Utilities (July 1999); Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President of Senate (November 1999); and eventually Special Assistant on Political Matters to the Vice President (September 2001).
It was from this last assignment in the Office of the Vice President that he contested election and won a seat into the House of Representatives as Member representing Aboh-Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency of Imo State in 2003.
Between 2003 and 2007, he served as Chairman, House Committee on Marine Transport, where he brilliantly coordinated legislative oversight functions over Nigeria’s maritime sector.
The passage of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act, 2007, a key legislation in the reforms of the maritime industry, is generally credited to the sterling, committed and determined efforts of Ihedioha. In the sixth assembly, he served first as Chairman, House Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa before he was later elected Chief Whip of the House, a position he held till the expiration of that term.
In the last two sessions (2003-2007 & 2007-2011) that Ihedioha has been in the National Assembly, he has garnered an enviable record of service that stands him tall among his peers and contemporaries.
Renowned for his political savvy and legislative dexterity, Ihedioha has played very notable roles as a stabilizer, synthesizer, and great mobilizer both in the House and the PDP in Imo State and the country at large.
In the course of his service to fatherland, Ihedioha has been conferred with several recognitions, awards, and fellowships. He was conferred with the national honour of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) by President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, on November 14, 2011.
A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Shipping, he was awarded the Most Outstanding Maritime Legislator by the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria; Distinguished Service Award from the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations and has been recognised as One of Nigeria’s 50 Most Outstanding Legislators (1999-2009).
He was recently recognised as a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST). A committed family man, Ihedioha, Nigeria’s number six citizen in the protocol list, is married and blessed with four children.