Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives is in many respects the pearl of Imo State. Apart from being the highest political office holder from the state and second in the entire South East geo-political zone, his astronomical, consistent rise in politics, open-mindedness, liberal political ideology evident in the many projects he has attracted to the state are instructive of his political forthrightness and indeed the pride of the state.
After being a top aide to key political office holders such as Atiku Abubakar when he was Vice President and late Chuba Okadigbo as Senate President, he was elected into the House of Representatives in 2003 to represent Aboh Mbaise and Ngor-Okpala Federal Constituency on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party. His deep political experience and sterling attributes earned him the headship of House Committee on Marine Transport, a Grade A Committee of the House reserved only for cognate members. He distinguished himself exceedingly in the committee. It is on record that the committee under Ihedioha churned out more bills than any other committee of the House. The result was that his efforts had a far reaching effect in consolidating and stabilizing the marine sector of the economy.
His reward expectedly came months after he was awesomely re-elected into the House in 2007 by both Ngor-Okpala and Aboh Mbaise people, an election adjudged free and fair by many and had a huge blessing of the people and all the traditional rulers of Ngor-Okpala, given that all the monarchs in Ngor-Okpala came together to endorse his candidature. His colleagues especially those from the South East rallied to elect him Chief Whip of the House. Again, he injected colour, robustness and dexterity into the office of Chief Whip. He was one of the principal officers of the House that provided focus and direction to the House business. After three and half years’ stint in the office he left a rare legacy that made him stand out among those who occupied the position before him.
When some House members who were disgruntled over the strict manner he handled the fund given to his committee to organize the 10th –year anniversary of democracy in the House in 2009 erroneously accused his committee of mismanagement, he was exonerated by the House and given clean bill of health. The nation was shocked to learn that his committee was not given up to N150m alleged to have been mismanaged. An infuriated House later punished the rumor-mongers accordingly. Consequently, he came out clean and much stronger. Thus, not a few political pundits predicted a higher political career for him.
They were right. For, two years later, precisely June 6 2011, he was unanimously elected by his colleagues to emerge as Deputy Speaker. His election and that of Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal marked a great turning point in the election of presiding officers in the National Assembly and a consolidation of parliamentary democracy. It was the first time legislators would collectively shun external manipulation and imposition of leadership by political gladiators bent on controlling and destroying the legislature.
Tambuwal and Ihedioha thus became the symbol of this remarkable change. Whenever the history of National Assembly is written, the names of Tambuwal and Ihedioha would be embossed on marble for being the heroes of this political struggle. The glory, to be sure, does not go to Ihedioha but his home state Imo and South East geopolitical zone.
Since assumption of duties the duo have given the House a fresh breath, new direction that has put the legislature in an excellent shape for enhanced performance. The success story emanates from the House’s Legislative Agenda put together shortly after inception by an ad hoc committee headed by Ihedioha. In its one year of existence and determined to enhance service delivery in the public service, Tambuwal and Ihedioha leadership has resolutely and evidently taken on the executive. This has in no small forced the executive to work.
Tambuwal and Ihedioha are paying for the pressure the House is exerting on the executive to perform for the benefit of all Nigerians. For instance, when a House member, Farouk Lawan was involved in a bribery scandal over report on oil subsidy, efforts were discreetly made by the executive to rope in both Tambuwal and Ihedioha to discredit them. The events that unfolded proved these efforts futile as it became obvious that they were mere campaigns of calumny. Tambuwal and Ihedioha are today walking even taller and firmer on their duties.
However, it is well known by Imo State indigenes that Ihedioha has not in any way declared his interest to contest for Imo gubernatorial election in 2015. It is common knowledge that Ihedioha has used various political positions he has occupied to attract many projects to Imo State and still attracting.
Although this piece is not meant to compute the many projects Ihedioha has brought to the state and South East zone, the record of his road infrastructure, electricity projects, education facilities, water projects, hospital facilities is significant and verifiable. For instance, Ihedioha got NNDC to award contract for OKpala-Igwuruta Road, linking Imo to Rivers with the first phase costing N4.2b; facilitated award of contract for the dualization of Owerri-Elele (Omayelu) 35-kilometre road at N23b. He also attracted contract for the design of the famous 63-kilometre Mbaise Ring Road cutting across three local councils at the initial cost of N1bn.
Besides, Ihedioha facilitated the award of N5bn contract for the award of construction of roundabout at Ahiara junction along Owerri-Umuahia Road with two spurs and got the Federal Government to take over the construction of Airport Junction, Umuohiagu-Uvuru Road. He also initiated the process of constructing N1b jetty at Imo River and construction of a giant size 133x333KVA substation at Mbaise located between Nguru and Ibeku with initial contract cost of N2.2b. These are just a tip of an iceberg as Ihedioha single-handedly attracted so many projects to the state because of the love he has for his people. It is therefore perfidious and evil to insinuate that someone who adores his people so greatly that he put his feet down to consciously bring these quantum of projects to the state would turn around to tamper with the electricity power station project he attracted and located at Mbutu, Mbaise for his people and was commissioned by the Minister of Power, Prof Barth Nnaji last December. If there is any technical challenge with the project it will surely be rectified in no time.
Ihedioha has also ensured that many Imo indigenes obtain political appointments and civil service jobs at federal level. He has made a lot of inputs into the yet to be released federal boards appointments list towards ensuring that it favours Imo and South East. He has also assisted many young politicians in many ways to consolidate. These are veritable facts. Such a broadminded and cooperative man cannot be said to be selfish, sectional and mean. It is flawed and wicked to say the least. It is therefore criminal for anyone to cast iota of doubt about Ihedioha’s excellence, deep concern about the progress and growth of Imo People and sign posts of excellent political performance.
Stanley Dozie writes from Imo State
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