The power tussle for the soul of Okigwe senatorial zone in Imo state between two gladiators in the state, the governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume is heating up. But the battle has already produced its first major victim, the hitherto Speaker of the Imo state House of Assembly, Hon. Collins Chiji. The former speaker appears to have emerged as the first scape goat in the battle of supremacy between Uzodimma and Senator Araraume. Chiji is Araraume’s political ally. The former speaker briefly parted ways with Ararume when political position was made available to him. However, following an indication that Chiji has reestablished relationship with his long–time political benefactor, he was dethroned as speaker it was gathered.
Chiji who represents Isiala Mbano State Constituency was impeached during a special sitting of the House presided by the deputy speaker, Amarachi Iwuanyanwu (Nwangele APC). In his place a new speaker emerged in the person of Paul Emeziem, representing Onuimo constituency. He was immediately sworn in by the Clerk of the House, Barr Chinelo Emeghara at the session. The impeachment motion moved by Ekene Nnodumele, representing Orsu state constituency was seconded by Michael Njoku of Ihitte-Uboma state constituency.
The members cited gross incompetence, parliamentary ineptitude, financial impropriety and high handedness as reasons for the impeachment. “We the undersigned representing over two third majority of the members of the house do state our unequivocal resolution to remove Collins Chiji as Uzodimma Okorocha the Speaker of the House for gross incompetence, parliamentary ineptitude, financial impropriety and high handedness”, it was quoted.
The motion was signed by 19 out of 27 members representing over two third majority of the House. Members present at the sitting were Amarachi Iwuanyanwu (Nwangele APC), Ekene Nnodumele (Orsu APC), Arthur Egwim (Ideato North APC), Emeka Nduka (Ehime Mbano APC), Kanayo Onyemaechi (Owerri West), Michael Njoku (Ihitte Uboma (APC), Uju Onwudiwe (Njaba APC), and Ngozi Obiefule (Isu APC) Others are Paul Emeziem (Onuimo APC), Johnson Duru (Ideato South APC), Chigozie Nwaneri ( Oru East APC), Uche Ogbuagu (Ikeduru APC), Kennedy Ibeh (Obowo APC), Tochi Okereke (Ngor Okpala APC), Okey Onyekamma (Mbaitoli PDP), Frank Ugboma (Oguta PDP), Solomon Anukam (Owerri Municipal PDP), Chidiebere Ogbunikpa (Okigwe APC) and Anyadike Nwosu ,(Ezinihitte PDP). To consolidate the change of guard, principle officers of State Assembly presented Emeziem to the governor as the new Speaker of the 27 member House. The governor was told that Emeziem, was enthroned in a rancour-free exercise at a special session to replace the former speaker, Collins. Receiving the Assembly members at the state’s Executive Chambers, Governor Uzodimma told them to see themselves as servants of their colleagues and to bear in mind that all of them were elected on equal ticket. He described the change as a normal thing in the legislative arm and that there is need to continue to encourage the House of Assembly to always look out for the best. Uzodimma said:
“Every House will continue to search for quality and brilliant leadership that will help grow the democracy.’’ He therefore charged the lawmakers to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship and service to their colleagues, state and nation at large. The governor said “once the followers and/or colleagues of a leader express discontent about the leader, the leader should either address their concerns or flow with them.” He welcomed the new speaker, his principle officers and colleagues and urged them to “see themselves as brothers and sisters that they have always been.”
He reminded them that government is a continuum saying, “you serve in one capacity today and in another tomorrow,” and advised them to have the fear of God and to tolerate one another “and they will excel in all positions they find themselves.” The governor also pledged to work with the new speaker and the entire Assembly to grow democracy in Imo State and Nigeria in general. In his remarks, the new speaker, Emeziem expressed gratitude to his colleagues for finding him worthy to lead them at this point in time, saying he is overwhelmed with joy. While presenting the new speaker to the governor, the deputy speaker, Iwuanyanwu, explained that the House unilaterally decided to effect a change to save the APC members who are in the majority in the Imo House from imminent danger as a result of poor leadership and legislative inexperience from the former speaker.
He said 19 out of the 27 members were in support of the former Speaker’s removal. The battle… As things stand, the battle line has been drawn between the governor and Araraume on who emerges victorious in the senatorial race between the latter and the candidate of the governor, Hon. Ibezim. Senator Araraume is poised for a showdown with the governor and has vowed not to leave any stone unturned ahead of the Okigwe senatorial bye-election slated for December 5, 2020.
Uzodimma, working in close collaboration with the minister of state for Education, Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba has perfected plans to install Hon. Frank Ibezim, thereby wrestling power out from Araraume and depriving him of the APC senatorial ticket. However, as a dogged fighter, Araraume has bounced back to reclaim the APC Imo North senatorial ticket from the governor’s camp through the instrumentality of the court. As the fight rages on, Imo citizens watch with bated breathe who blinks first between the governor and Senator Araraume. The battle is all the more intriguing as Uzodinma, Araraume and the former governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha forged a united front of sorts to dislodge former governor Emeka Ihedioha. Sources close to LEADERSHIP revealed that Uzodimma, Araraume and Okorocha had an agreement on how to share the spoils of office and adequately compensated when the deal was consummated.
The APC in the state stood on the legs of the camps led by the three titans. But as it stands, things have fallen apart and the center seems to have come unhinged within the APC in the state. So far, Araraume and Okorocha have continued with their alliance in opposition to the governor who is scheming to dislodge them. This battle has raged over the chairmanship of the party in the state as Okorocha is scheming to position his political son, Dan Nwafor as the state chairman of the APC to the detriment of the governor.
Uzodimma however, is battling to ensure his camp retains APC chairmanship in the state, under Marcellinus Nlemigbo. Be that as it may, Okorocha has cautioned Uzodimma not to take his peaceful disposition for granted, indicating that as an elder statesman, he has decided to allow peace to reign despite insults and blackmail in the interest of the state. “I have remained quiet in the face of insults and blackmail in the interest of the state”. The former governor who now represents Imo West Senatorial District said that, the Rescue Mission Political Structure would work with the APC n the state and other political structures, including the Destiny Organization, to ensure that Araraume, the APC Candidate in the Imo North Senatorial Bye-election wins the election resoundingly. Senator Okorocha who spoke while meeting with his former commissioners, APC state executives and selectedleaders from each local government in the state, in Owerri, regretted that, Araraume didn’t take his advice in 2019 when he had told him to go for the Senate. He said if Ararume had taken that advice, he would have become the Deputy Senate President.
The former governor also explained that the decision to work assiduously for the victory of Senator Araraume in the bye-election, does not mean the collapse of the individual Political Structures, adding that after Araraume’s victory, the structures would return to their respective bases. He also explained that the APC in Imo does not have problem again, adding that the picture about the fate of the party has now become very clear, noting too that truth does not die, but what dies, with time is falsehood or deceit.
The chairman of the Senate committee on Culture and Tourism told Uzodinma not to take his quietness or peaceful dispositions for granted, stating that he has remained quiet in the face of insults and blackmails in the interest of the state He commended his former appointees, and all the members of the Rescue Mission Political family, for their steadfastness. As an indication that he is poised for a fight, Okorocha highlighted that APC now has an authentic candidate in the person of Araraume, stressing that all APC structures in the state should work assiduously towards the victory of Araraume in the forthcoming Imo North senatorial election.
This development would not to go down well with the governor, who is set to assert himself as party leader in the state. Uzodimma who already has a candidate, Hon. Ibezim of the same APC extraction, even though his candidature was nullified by a High Court, thereby positioning Araraume as APC candidate for the Imo North Senatorial election