Following the Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, that upturned the victory of Emeka Ihedioha of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and enthroned Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC), analysts have seen two likely scenarios, one of which could play out soonest.
Beyond the jubilation that has attended Uzodinma’s victory and the condemnation that has greeted the Ihedioha’s sack, analysts believe that the ball is in the court of the state House of Assembly, and that it is only the lawmakers that can now decide who effectively stays there as governor in the next few months.
One of the scenarios is the possibility of the House sacking Uzodinma since he has nobody in the chamber.
There are 21 seats that are being occupied by lawmakers in the Imo State House of Assembly. The representation on party basis is as follows: PDP (13), Action Alliance (8), All Progressive Grand Alliance (6) and APC (0).
Anthony Nnadi, a legal practitioner, told BusinessDay that the state House of Assembly can determine what happens in the next few months.
“In this country, we have seen where few members of a House of Assembly sacked a sitting governor. The situation in Imo is very easy to achieve that. If a governor does not have a lawmaker from his party in the House, how does he hope to work? We are talking about a country where bad politics is played; party politics is everything, and nobody is making pretences about it. Don’t forget that the speaker is of the PDP and the number can get the support of other colleagues to impeach the governor and his deputy,” Nnadi said.
Nnadi alluded to the recent impeachment trial of President Donald Trump of the United States, saying, “We can see how each party is pushing it depending on what they want and the party that leads each of the bicameral houses. We can see what the Democrats want, and how the Republicans are handling it also. Anywhere in the world, party interest matters a lot, and we may see that play out in Imo State House of Assembly very soon.”
“The governor himself is not oblivious of this possibility. The other day, I read a story where he alleged that there was a plot by the PDP to initiate impeachment proceedings against him. In that press statement, signed by his Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser, Oguwike Nwachukwu., the governor, said: ‘We know the game plan of the PDP because we are aware that they have been secretly inciting Imo State House of Assembly members to think of how to impeach the governor. So, they are trying to rake up anything they can, even falsehood, to incite the public’. So, you can see that there is no smoke without fire,” Nnadi further said.
He further noted that every governor is concerned about the constituents and leadership of the house. “The fight in Edo State is predicated upon the struggle over who controls the House between Governor Godwin Obaseki and his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole. It is not for nothing. Power is not served ala carte. It is a war; a contention,” the lawyer said.
Speaking to BusinessDay on condition of anonymity, a former presidential aspirant advises Uzodinma to move in quickly to curry the favour of the House.
“I expect Governor Hope Uzodinma to move swiftly. That he has no member of his party in the House is a huge deficit. But he should move speedily by visiting the members from house to house and by sending emissaries to them. Initially, he might meet hostile responses, but with time, things will relax and get better. He can work with the House amicably depending on how he handles his consultations. I think the best language here is money,” the politician said.
Silas Mbah, an analyst, sees the possibility of lawmakers’ defection to the APC for personal gain.
“Apart from the possibility of PDP getting its members in the House to initiate an impeachment proceeding, there is also the possibility of members jumping sheep. You know, in this part of the world, many of our politicians are not moved by ideology. Parties also do not have ideology; so, you find that what essentially drives politicians is what they can gain,” Mbah said.
According to him, “Many of the politicians we have today are not in the business to serve, they are there to be served; call it politics of the stomach. Once things appear to be slipping off their hands, they join the next available band. We saw that recently when some supporters of those who lost one election or the other last year turned their back and joined the ruling party, when those candidates decided to pursue their case at the tribunal or Supreme Court. I cannot rule out such behaviours this time around in Imo.”