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Opinions of Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Columnist: Gabriel Amalu

Jokes on Imo

Hope Uzodinma Hope Uzodinma

This is not a great time for Imo indigenes, particularly if one is a politician, and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to boot.

Admittedly, in other places, many politicians stand for nothing, and that reflects in the way they jump from one political party to another, in search of stomach infrastructure, apologies to former governor Ayo Fayose, of Ekiti State, who defended the phrase as the very essence of participation in politics.

The joke is on ndimo, because of the way members of the PDP have been struggling to outdo each other in denying the sacked government of Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, which they claimed few weeks ago was the best thing to happen to Imo.

If the happening in Imo were to be a nollywood movie (many have claimed it is), the author could ingeniously return Emeka Ihedioha, to the Douglas House, just for the viewers to enjoy how the PDP turncoats would lick their spittle, and limp back with the floor strewn with their faeces.

Portraying themselves as completely vacuous, the speaker of the state house of assembly, and the PDP members who had control of the house, in a fit of political chicanery, announced their mass defection to the All Progressive Congress (APC), the party of Governor Hope Uzodinma, returned by the Supreme Court, as the winner of the 2019 governorship election, in a verdict that has raised a lot of dust.

Since the matter is back to the Supreme Court for a review, an onerous task, it is prejudicial to express any opinion on the matter.

But while it is within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to interpret the laws of the land, it is remiss for those who ordinarily would be considered the leading lights of a political party in the Imo State House of Assembly, to only think through their stomach, without any regard to honour.

The speaker, and his colleagues, has made a joke of the honorary title of honourable members of a state assembly.

If honour is scarce amongst the former PDP members in the state House of Assembly in Imo State, why should our laws allow the badge of dishonour to be worn with pomp in a place ordinarily referred to as an honourable house? Of note, section 109(1)(g) provides: “A member of a state House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if – being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected.”

The section goes ahead to make a proviso: “Provided that his membership of the later political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.”

On the face of the above provision, the aggrieved members of the PDP would have threatened the defectors with an action in court to declare their seats vacant.

Indeed, it was reported that upon being confronted by a potential sack, the defectors recoiled and denied jumping the ship.

While that recoil has not been openly confirmed by the defectors, the possibility of declaring their seats vacant is made more complicated by the provision of the constitution. Section 109(2) provides: “The speaker of the House of Assembly shall give effect to subsection (1) of this section, so however that the speaker or a member shall first present evidence satisfactorily to the house that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of the member.”

The provision of section 109(1) in essence is supposed to be given impetus by the speaker of the house of assembly, who in the present instance in Imo State is one of the defectors.

Even more interesting is that by some reports, all members of the PDP, except one, have moved over to the new ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC).

So since the defectors are in the overwhelming majority, there is little likelihood that the provision of the law would be tested, how much more given effect by the speaker.

But the wave of abandoning the recently sacked PDP government has overwhelmed the entire state, with the traditional rulers being the latest to invariably condemn their past endorsement of Emeka Ihedioha and leap frog to a new endorsement in favour of the new governor, Hope Uzodima.

Before them were various state-based youth organisations, including the Ohaneze youths, who hailed the Supreme Court judgment and said that the new government was the best thing to happen to the state.

Interestingly, the sacked Emeka Ihedioha-led government was hailed by these same groups and touted as the best thing to have happened to Imo State after Sam Mbakwe, the beloved second republic governor of Imo State.

While this piece is not about which of the two gladiators, Emeka Ihedioha or Hope Uzodima, that is preferable, the concern is the absolute lack of principles by the turncoats.

Of course, as I said earlier, while it has become common for elected officials to move from one party to another in this dispensation, I doubt if such wholesome abandonment of a party has taken place since 1999, in any other state.

In the run up to the 2015 general elections, it was the so called new-PDP whose majority members at the National Assembly left their party in similar disarray and joined the APC.

As expected, after bringing their former party to ruin, they attempted to do the same to the APC, but couldn’t. Thoroughly beaten by the weather, the ring leaders led of the rebellion by the former senate president, Bukola Saraki, are back in the PDP, shell-shocked by their losses.

Perhaps the Imo State APC should be wary of the PDP members who couldn’t even wait for a proper burial of their party’s governorship tenure in the state, before discarding their mourning garments and offering themselves as brides to the party.

Even if they will serve the immediate need of orgasmic release, their haste to jump ship depicts them as dishonourable, and there is no greater danger than hunting with unscrupulous members in the same boat.

While the losers lick their wound and the winners their lollipop, there is the need to use the laws to curb the ambition of dishonourable members of the legislative assembly.

Without doubt, the people of Imo State are represented in bad light by the inordinate ambition of the members of the state house of assembly, who jumped ship without scruples.