The incoming 9th Imo State House of Assembly may be robust and active considering how members elect have emerged. Many expect a non complacent legislature that will truly stick to its constitutional responsibility by keeping a check and balance on the Executives and cease to be their apron strings as it was in the past.
For the first time since democracy berthed in Nigeria in 1999, the ruling party does not have absolute control of the Imo State House of Assembly. Two opposition political parties, the Action Alliance and All Progressive Grand Party, APGA collectively have 14 members (AA 8, APGA 6).
The Peoples Demoratic Party, PDP which produced the Executives have more representatives with 13 members elect giving it a slight majority. The All Progressive Congress, APC which had over 20 members in the outgoing Assembly at the moment have no single lawmaker in the incoming House.
The race for Speaker of the House is the first litmus test for the new members elect. Some analysts say the opposition parties stand a chance of producing the Speaker if they unite against the PDP. This will be a major challenge for the incoming Emeka Ihedioha administration which will be seeking for a “friendly” legislator to propel the “Rebuild Imo Agenda”
The PDP cannot produce a Speaker of the House because it is shut out by the factor of zoning. The party has no elected member from Okigwe zone which is expected to produce the Speaker after Owerri and Orlu zones had produced Emeka Ihedioha and Gerald Irona as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively.
In Imo, the principle of zoning is strongly adhered to, to promote equity and fairplay among the zones. The race for the Speakership of the House seem to favour members from Okigwe zone mainly the AA and APGA members except strings are pulled to get one of the members from Okigwe zone decamp to the ruling PDP.
Ranking members are said to be considered but how this plays out remains a puzzle. Two or three names have continoulsy dominated the media as possible Speaker of the House. Hon Lawman Duruji (AA, Ehime Mbano) and Hon. Kennedy Ibe (AA, Obowo) are said to be higly favoured. They are returnee members.
However, there is no rule that makes it imperative that a Principal Officer of the House including the Speaker must be a “ranking member”
Certainly, Ihedioha, the Governor Elect will desire a “friendly legislature” and entrusting the Speaker in the hands of the opposition may not just be too good for him in a State so many banana peels litter the political landscape.
He knows how to pull the strings in such dicey political puzzle when one remembers how he and Aminu Tambuwal, now Sokoto State Governor, upstaged the applecart to emerge Deputy Speaker and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively in 2011.The Governor’s elect legislative background gives him the cutting edge in the entire mix.
But Political analysts contend that democracy is at work in Imo as the present composition of the incoming House of Assembly provides a fertile ground for a legislature that will be alive to its functions and cease to be a plaything of the Executives as it was in the past.