ColumnsNigeriaOpinionPoliticsThe Coming Anambra State House of Assembly from a Historical Spectacle

“As recently as in the 6th Assembly which lasted between 2015 and 2019, Anambra Assembly remained a fertile ground for fireworks of sorts,” —Ebuka Onyekwelu

From the days of Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju, the Anambra State House of Assembly has been significantly dramatic, either caught in the crossfire between ‘federal might’ against the state government, or in a struggle with the state executive.

Throughout Nigeria, Anambra Assembly is one of the most ‘hot-headed’ and one of the very few with a history of impeaching a sitting governor. The 3rd Assembly which lasted between 2003 and 2007 was one of the most vibrant, and unstable Assemblies in the history of the state. Within the period, the then state Governor, Peter Obi was impeached by some members led by Rt. Hon. Mike Balonwu, who was the Speaker of the House at the time. On the other aisle, some members led by Rt. Hon. Benchuks Nwosu opposed the impeachment. It was a divided House notwithstanding that they were all members of the PDP. Eventually, a semblance of normalcy returned only after the impeachment of the governor was reversed by the court.

As recently as in the 6th Assembly which lasted between 2015 and 2019, Anambra Assembly remained a fertile ground for fireworks of sorts. The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Rita Maduagwu was impeached more than once. Although the impeachments were unable to be effected, the division kept the House divided, suspicious, and rancorous. Although APGA had absolute majority membership of the House, yet, the fault lines were visible till the end of that House.

It would appear that since the return to democracy, the 4th Assembly led by Rt. Hon. Anayo Nnebe, 5th Assembly led by Rt. Hon. Chinwe Nwaebili and the current Assembly led by Rt. Hon. Uche Okafor, is the three most peaceful Anambra Assembly, ever. No leadership tussle, differences were, and are managed amicably and interests were, and are also harmonized. Notably, Anayo Nnebe’s led Assembly saw the transition of power from Andy Uba to Peter Obi, while the Nwaebili led Assembly saw the transition of power from Peter Obi to Willie Obiano. Also, the Uche Okafor led Assembly saw the transition of power from Willie Obiano to Chukwuma Soludo. These events are important because, they will shape the leadership of the coming Assembly and by far, how the House turns out in the cause of its lifetime. By this arrangement, the coming Assembly will have a Speaker from Anambra North zone or from Anambra Central zone, based on definite indices and prevailing political certainties that we shall subsequently examine closely.

In terms of quality of argument and contributions, every Assembly has only a handful of members who are passionate about the job and are grounded in the business of lawmaking. Most of those in this category are not in the leadership of the House, but they still exercise considerable influence over the House because of their deep knowledge of the business of the House.

Already, the coming Anambra House of Assembly will be the 8th Assembly, and the most colourful in terms of the different political parties represented in the House. Remarkably, none of these political parties have less than three members elect. Given the configuration of the coming Assembly which is unique, it is only perceptible that the Assembly might not be anything that has been seen before. This is because, there is going to likely be group interest inside the Assembly group interest. The four different political parties that will feature in the Assembly will have their own group interests that are party based. Considering that APGA does not have an absolute majority of the House membership, the only option for getting things done will be to harmonize with other House members who are not APGA members. Therefore, the coming Assembly will require skillful leadership and would likely be made or marred by its leadership. If for anything the Assembly experiences the kind of leadership hitch experienced in the 5th Assembly, then, my prediction is that it would be far more consequential on the House and the government of Anambra State. Therefore, the coming House must have a leadership that harmonizes interests, and one that is able to carry members along, as well as one that is committed to the group’s interest of the Assembly, or it risks being infected and derailed by tense competition and instability, with severe consequences on the government and people of Anambra State.

Ebuka Onyekwelu (Staff Writer)
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