BY: RALPH EJIMKONYE
The Imo Awareness Coalition, IAC has said that the next Speaker of the incoming 9th House of Assembly can emerge from any of the three geo political zone in the State.
The position of the group is coming on the heels of speculations that Okigwe zone may lose the Speaker of the incoming Imo State House of Assembly to Orlu zone.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which will be in the majority in the next Assembly has no elected lawmaker from Okigwe zone thus raising concern that the incoming Ihedioha administration which is of the PDP, may be “uncomfortable” with a non PDP Speaker from Okigwe zone.
According to Emmanuel Okwu, President of the ICA who spoke to this newspaper in Owerri, he said it is the right of the incoming lawmakers to produce the next Speaker and other principal officers of the House from any of the geo political zones in the State.
He added that the office of the Speaker of the State legislature is not subject to zoning as the Imo Charter of Equity never pencilled down the position for zoning or rotation.
” This is the first time we hear of zoning the office of the Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly. It is strictly a parliamentary affair and not subject to any external debate or influence
” Zoning (if it really exists) applies to Executive positions such as the office of the Governor and not for the office of the Speaker.
“We wonder why the hullabaloo that a Speaker must emerge from a particular zone in the State.
“Cajoling or pressuring the incoming Governor to meddle in the affairs of the incoming House of Assembly by influencing who becomes Speaker of the House from a particular zone is also an invitation to the Executives to gradually begin the process of strangulating the legislature as witnessed during the era of the outgoing government
He recalled how the Governor Elect, Emeka Ihedioha and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal in 2011, then as members of the House of Representatives, defied the PDP arrangement on zoning of Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
“They were uniamously elected by their colleagues for the two positions defying attempts by the Executives and the party leadership to muscle the House of Representatives
Okwu said the issue of zoning should not be applicable to unfolding drama in the incoming State Assembly, stating that such sentiment if necessary can only be a basis for argument in the scramble for the office of the Governor.
“Even when the issue of zoning was used by Owerri zone to sympathy in its quest to produce the State Governor, nobody listened to them. Even Governor Okorocha said zoning is dead in Imo State.
“Owerri zone agitated for the governorship of the State since 1992 after the demise of Late Evan Enwerem. Despite the general consensus that it is the turn of the zone to have a Governor, other geo political zones, Orlu and Okigwe always joined the fray to produce a Governor. This led to the emergence of Ikedi Ohakim as Governor in 2007 (Okigwe zone) and Rochas Okorocha in 2011 (Orlu Zone)
“Owerri zone waited for more than 20 years to achieve this feat despite the fact other zones fielded candidates in the governorship election
He argued that the office of the Speaker is purely a legislative matter and therefore the incoming lawmakers should be allowed to choose their Speaker from any of the three geo political zones since members elect were duly elected and are citizens of Imo State.
He noted that one key factor that influence and shape the choice of a Speaker and principal officers of a legislative House is the choice of the lawmakers and not a mundane issue as zoning.
“If we want a vibrant House, an Assembly that will really put a check and balance on the incoming Executives, we must allow the best of legislative dynamics to play out in the incoming House.That is the beauty of modern democracy.