By Gideon Njoku
A surprise is waiting for Imolites on the day the state Governor, His Excellency, Hon Emeka Ihedioha will inaugurate the House of Assembly.
Same day, members will also elect their presiding officers – Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
The Assembly held its Valedictory session on Monday, June 10. It was presided over by its less- than one month Speaker, Hon Chinedu Offor.
It was at that session that the foundation of who will be the Speaker when the new Assembly is inaugurated was laid.
Six Lawmakers decamped from their political parties to the ruling party in the state, the PDP. Five of them were from the Action Alliance, AA, a party founded by the out-gone governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and under which his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu contested for the governorship election. He was defeated by Ihedioha.
The members who decamped from the AA are: Mike Iheanaetu (Aboh Mbaise), Ukoha Bruno ( Ezinihitte Mbaise), Victor Onyewuchi (Owerri west), Ken Agbim (Ahiazu Mbaise), and Lloyd Chukwuemeka (Owerri North)
The sixth decampee, Chiji Collins, (Isiala Mbano) is from the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. He is the star decampee.
His defection to the PDP did not just happen, this magazine gathered. It was a strategic well-thought out plan, a reliable source disclosed. On the day of inauguration, bearing any last minute changes, Hon Collins will be elected the Speaker of the Assembly, and automatically, the state’s number three man.
What cleared the path for him is that the three top positions in the state – Governor, Deputy Governor, Speaker of the House – are usually shared between the three Senatorial zones of Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe.
In this dispensation, the governor, Ihedioha, is from Owerri. His deputy, Hon. Gerald Irona, is from Orlu. Unfortunately, the ruling party, the PDP, won no seat in Okigwe zone. Most, of the seats were won by APGA, thanks to its governorship candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, who comes from the zone.
For Okigwe to produce the Speaker, therefore, somebody needed to defect from APGA to the PDP, otherwise, the PDP leadership in the state was already considering giving it to Orlu zone, we were informed.
The mantle fell on Collins to rescue his zone. Incidentally, The Source was told that Collins is no stranger to the PDP. It was his party before he decamped to APGA. The magazine also gathered that for his stand on many issues, he was one of those singled out for persecution by the out-gone Rochas Okorocha administration, in connivance with former Speaker Acho Ihim regime.
Collins was one of those suspended for ten months to enable the former Assembly take some of its untidy decisions. Along with others, he was recalled to the Assembly recently.
Now, all seems set for him to reap the benefits from his persecution, and the luck of coming from the right zone, Okigwe.
Orlu is likely to produce the Deputy Speaker, since the Secretary to the State Government, Uche Onyeagocha, Esq, comes from Owerri zone.