BETWEEN CHIKE OKAFOR, EMEKA NWAJIUBA AND OKIGWE SOUTH ; A TALE OF TWO BEAUTIFUL BRIDE AND ONE GROOM, Part two
By Ngozi Chinedu
Once again, let's re-examine the forthcoming election for Okigwe south federal constituency seat by focusing on the claim by two top contenders, that they are likely to emerge as the next speaker of the house of Representatives.
What makes this drama interesting is that both candidates are seeking re-election. While honorable Deacon Chike Okafor who is the incubent would end his first tenure on the 6th of June 2019, Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba represented Okigwe South between 1999-2003.
Now let's dissect this issue for proper consumption.
- THE SPEAKER POSITION
The speaker is the leader in the house of Representatives. He is chosen by an indirect election conducted within the house. The speaker is third in line for succession to the Nigerian presidency, after the president of the Senate and vice president. One of the qualifications ,according to the house orders to become a speaker is to be a ranking member. The speaker can at ease attract the federal government presence to his constituency. The speaker is voted through a first-pass-the-post system and is voted by both members of the rulling party and opposition who makes up the house.
- CAN OKIGWE SOUTH PRODUCE A SPEAKER?
It is most certain that since the north west and south west would produce the president and vice president, the two zones are likely not going to feature any candidate for the speaker position. The North Central too may likely not feature a candidate as the Senate president remains there. Therefore it seems to be a straight Battle for the south south, South East and north East. This arrangement would likely favour the South East as she is the only Zone yet to produce a speaker. The last time an Igbo man became the speaker of the house was in 1979 Edwin Ezeoke ,but before us is 2019 election, another opportunity and the ball is in Okigwe south.
Presently, APC has only four house of Representatives members from the South East with Chike Okafor ( Okigwe South) whose approval rating is high, tipped as the next speaker. With a Victory for Chike Okafor,then Okigwe South can produce the next Speaker.
It all looked like a smooth ride for Chike Okafor, he is already tipped as the next speaker even in Abuja till the emergece of Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba. Like a cat with nine lives, Nwajiuba has re-emerged on the political scene, this time around not contesting for governor but the position he left he left fifteen years ago . Okigwe South APC, the party whose candidate would likely retain the seat is caught between two brides who have argued that they could bring home the speaker position.
HOW DOES A SPEAKER EMERGE?
A speaker is nominated and voted for within the house in an election that would be presided by the clerk of the national assembly. The house member elects among themselves their leaders without interference from the executive.
WHO STANDS A BETTER CHANCE?
Chike Okafor has a better chance of emerging as the speaker , this is because the banker turned politician enjoys the Goodwill of the members of the current house, of which about forty Percent of them would return in 2019 and vote in the election that would produce the next speaker. Chike Okafor also understand the politics of the national assembly, as a first timer, he led a cacus of the green horns in the house,to produce the current speaker. At exactly 01:06pm on the 6th day of June 2015, Chike seconded the nomination of Yakubu Dogara and stood as his agent in the election that produced him.
Of over ninty committee Chairmen in the house, Chike Okafor is the only First timer to get a committee chairman position.
Chike Okafor has taken advantage of his pedigree, powerful contact, ability to lobby and his good relationship with the speaker to attract key infrastructure , empowerment, employment and developmental projects. He commands respects amongst his colleagues and has used his position to make critical decisions for the country.
Amongst the delegates, Chike also has cult followership. Their support for him is like the rock of Gibraliar or Zuma rock which cannot be moved. No doubt, Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba is not a push over, the fine gentleman and highly intellectual former lawmaker has contested for governorship twice under ANPP and CPC same time with Buhari. His loyalty to Buhari earned him his appointment as the executive secretary of the tetiary education trust fund , this same loyalty is what his followers believe would earn him the speaker position.
One thing is certain, Buhari do not impose candidates on his party, infact his recent decision to withdraw his support for the tenure Elongation of APC excos shows he is a real party man who knows how a party should work. Haven established this fact, another setback that Emeka Nwajiuba camp is likely to suffer is Ben Uwagumogu failure to emerge as deputy speaker. Ben Uwagumogu attracted sympathy to himself and won the votes of Okigwe Zone on the promise of connecting the Zone to the national grid by emerging as the deputy senate president. Years after, senator Ben is yet to head a committee in the house. Nwajiuba supporters have actually placed the hopes of Okigwe South voters high, but if the truth must be told majority of the delegates and people would support Chike Okafor to get the Speaker position, which is more obtainable than Emeka Nwajiuba whose ambition is built on his relationship with the the president.
Those who know history never repeat history. After the resignation of Patricia Etteh , the PDP presidency had wanted to impose Hon. George Jolaoye but Dimeji Bankole won with 304- 20 votes. Then in 2011, the PDP wanted to impose Adeola Akande but Tambuwal waziri won with 252 votes. In 2015 the APC came and the Powers that be in the party wanted to Impose Femi Gbagamiala but Yakubu Dogara won , anyone who thinks Buhari who has never interfered in the party guber primaries would suddenly become interested in a federal constituency seat in order to impose a speaker must have a re-think. The house votes her leadership and not the presidency. All hope is not Lost as Hon. Emeka Nwajiuba is currently occupying a five years term office, renewable for another four years. Emeka Nwajiuba supporters would have a lot of work to do as this assertion of theirs, especially their claim to the speaker of the house may not fly in today's politics.
Writes from Umualumaku/Umuihim
Ehime MBANO LGA