By Gideon Njoku
Behind the crisis rocking the Imo House of Assembly which has culminated in the suspension of its Speaker, Acho Ihim, is a whooping sum of Four Hundred Million Naira given to members by out-going Governor Rochas Okorocha.
The 27-members House, after a rowdy session on Wednesday, May 16, 2019 suspended Ihim, even after he ran away with the Mace.
Appointed in his place is an Interim Speaker, Hon. Chinedu Offor, representing Onuimo Federal Constituency. 21 members signed the impeachment notice served Ihim.
Also affected is the Majority Leader, Hon. Lugard Osuji. Supported for impeachment by 14 members, Hon. Lloyd Chukwuemeka was put in his place. All the characters are of the Action Alliance, AA.
Trouble started immediately after an executive session presided over by Ihim.
Members had come out, angry, accusing Ihim of unilaterally recalling the 27 LGA Chairmen suspended from office by the House recently.
They were suspended for shunning an invitation to appear before the House to update members on the status of finances of their LGAs. One of the suspended Chairmen confided in this magazine that “These men are lame duck. A new House will be inaugurated in June. It will be controlled by the PDP, not the AA or the APC. They are looking for money. We will not oblige them.” Indeed, only six members of the 27-member House will return in June.
But behind the drama, this magazine gathered is the sum of 400 million Naira, released to the members by Okorocha. The money is a lump sum owed the members by the government.
For most of his time in office, Okorocha had underpaid Imo workers, including House members, by 30 per cent each, thus paying them only 70 per cent.
But a couple of weeks to the end of his tenure in office, Okorocha released the lump sum of 400 million Naira to the members. The Source was told that only 18 members shared the money, denying nine members of their share.
The nine members denied their share were those illegally suspended, indefinitely, by members. The suspension has since been quashed by the Courts, and the nine members recalled. Why they were not given their entitlements is a question only the House leadership can answer.
The bubble burst when a female member, pleading her conscience, appealed to his colleagues to tell their disenfranchised colleagues the truth about the money, instead of giving the impression that it is still intact.
While some members agreed to part with a paltry sum of two million Naira, each, for the benefit of their colleagues, some others say they would part with no Kobo. This created mistrust among the members, most of whom now accuse their leadership of incompetence.
Meanwhile, most members who spoke to The Source insist that only a resignation would save Speaker Ihim from impeachment.
In a bid to save him from humiliation, Ihim adjourned proceedings to May 21, 2019. And has been running helter-shelter pleading to be spared.
Unconfirmed reports told this magazine that Ihim has been advised by Okorocha to resign, a situation which shocked the embattled Speaker, as he has just realised how powerless the governor has suddenly become, a man whose interest he served to the detriment of Imo people.
Meanwhile, rattled by the wind of change blowing in the House, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ugonna Ozuruigbo has resigned from office. The strong opinion is that Ihim should do the same.