Igbuya’s Rough Road To Delta Speakership | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Igbuya’s Rough Road To Delta Speakership

Posted: Jun 10, 2015 at 12:05 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Felix Igbekoyi  –  Asaba


Tension in the Delta State House of Assembly, DSHA, over the choice of the next Speaker for the 6th Assembly was subdued Monday, 8th June, 2015, at the main chamber of the assembly as the lawmakers voted Hon. Monday Igbuya, coupled with the inauguration and proclamation by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.

Three contenders for the Speaker of the Assembly on April 11, 2015, were Hon. Samuel Mariere, Dennis Omovie and Monday Igbuya. Before Monday, Igbuya, third timer legislature, told those who cared to listen that he has paid his dues in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and deserved to be Speaker while Mariere, a lawyer, from Ughelli North banked his competence on his intelligent and constructive contribution to debates just as Omovie, an Urhobo man representing Warri South Constituency, contended with the area he is representing which falls to Delta South when the position was zoned to Delta Central.

As destiny would have it, Igbuya, representing Sapele Constituency, was finally elected the Speaker following the unanimous adoption of his nomination by the member representing Ughelli North 1, Hon Samuel Mariere and seconded by Hon. Tim Owhefere, Isoko, North. The nomination of Hon Friday Osanebi by the immediate Speaker of the house, Hon Peter Onwusanya, seconded by Hon Dennis Omovie, Warri South 2 was also unanimous as no other nomination were made.

The Clerk of the house, Mrs Lyna Ocholor, who read the Governor’s proclamation letter also immediately presided over the elections and swearing in of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. The oaths of office were administered on the new elected Speaker and Deputy Speaker by the Clerk of the House. First to take oath of office was Osanebi, and immediately followed by Igbuya.

Igbuya who in his acceptance speech said he has gathered experiences to pilot the affairs of the state legislature, called for maximum support of all stakeholders to succeed in the task ahead, assuring that Deltans would remain first in the activities of the house. The Speaker stated that he is the first among equals, saying that he will do his best to provide the required leadership of the house and that the house will perform it constitutional duties diligently and without fear or Favour.

Meanwhile, Urhobo leaders have expressed profound appreciation to DSHA members and the leadership of the PDP for finding Igbuya credible to be elected the Speaker. Spokesperson of Union of Urhobo People (UOUP), Dr. Joseph Oki, in a statement issued in Mosogar, Ethiope West Local Government applauded the lawmakers and others for selecting a proven leader, pledging to support Igbuya in his new assignment.

“We are proud to be associated with you and shall provide all support you shall require for the success of your tenure as Speaker. They urged Igbuya to bring his extensive knowledge and understanding of law making to the service of the state. We trust that, like those waiting to see changes in the state, Hon. Igbuya will demonstrate a commitment to moving the state forward.”

The journey was not easy for the former Majority Leader despite the fact that he assured his people, during his campaign, of enhanced services in the sixth assembly, stating that his re-election was a vote of confidence by the people of Sapele constituency, promising never to relent in his efforts towards attracting dividends of democracy to the area.

Then he has to defend his actions in so many campaigns against him, especially the controversial contract for the construction of Ibada-Elume internal road, Iretor and Adeneyi roads in Sapele which he denied were not awarded to him contrary to speculations making the rounds. He described those behind the speculation as mischievous, decrying that the speculation was a calculated attempt by his political opponents to tarnish his reputation.

Explaining that as a legislator his duty was to ensure that projects were listed, funded in his constituencies during the preparation of the State annual budgets, he said; “for somebody to say the contract for the construction of Iretor and Adeneyi roads were awarded to me nine years ago is laughable. I was not in the House of Assembly nine years ago; I was a council chairman.”

While urging his constituents to disregard the speculation, Igbuya said PDP was the only party that could address their needs. Speaking further, he appealed to the people to vote for all PDP candidates in the forthcoming elections.

Even after the primary, Mr. Tobechukwu Okonkwo, Returning Officer, had to disclaim the report in a national newspaper that declared one Chief Felix Anirah as the winner of the PDP primaries in Sapele Local Government Area. Anirah was said to have conducted a parallel primaries where he allocated votes to all the aspirants and declared himself winner with highest votes, when the approved venue by the party was the Sapele Township Stadium. But Okonkwo in a statement said, the published report was totally misleading and do not portray how the primary was conducted in Sapele LG area, which was adjudged by the delegates as peaceful.

Okonkwo said 66 eligible voters participated in the PDP primary election that was conducted at the Stadium, out of which, 62 were accredited, where 61 delegates voted for Igbuya, while Anirah scored one vote, just as the third aspirant, chief Ayemonor Lucky, scored zero. He claimed by the result, Igbuya was declared winner, saying the result has been handed over to the state Returning Officer for the House of Assembly primaries election.

When contacted, Igbuya, said an aspirant cannot declared result of an election, when the party has assigned a Returning Officer to conduct the election. He condemned the misleading report in its entirety, urging politician to play the game by the rules. Hon Peter Onwusanya, former Speaker corroborated commended the peaceful conduct of the primaries.

The development infuriated the party executives in the state, threatened to sanction any party member involved in the circulation of fake results of the party primaries conducted across the 29 constituencies in the state. Chief Edwin Uzor, State Chairman of the party, warned against further circulation of such result, particularly in Sapele State Constituency, saying that anybody apprehended would be prosecuted. He expressed displeasure over the development, describing it as total disregard to lay down rules.

He said such publication was against the PDP election guidelines, saying that there were procedures of announcing results of every election conducted by the party, particularly on the case of Sapele, wondering why some persons should gathered themselves at a place outside the approved venue for the conduct of the primaries, organized a parallel election and start announcing results at the end of such illegal gathering, claiming that any election conducted outside the party approved venue is null and void.

According to him, Sapele Township Stadium was the approved venue for the Sapele Constituency primary, maintaining that officials of the party sent to conduct the election, reported a free, fair and peaceful conduct with the incumbent occupier of the seat and Igbuya emerging the winner. He warned against further public misinformation on the Sapele primary election or in any part of the state, maintaining that the results of the primaries of the party as read out by him, have been ratified by the National Leadership of the party after the adoption of the report of the high powered committee deployed to the state to conduct the primaries.

Another hurdle for Igbuya was the delay in getting his Certificate of Returns. According to Ikiowak, Igbuya’s name was forwarded to Abuja as winner for the Sapele Constituency election, alongside others for the issuance of the certificate of return and wondered why his certificate was not signed. But in his brief remarks that preceded presentation of the certificate to Igbuya, he congratulated him for his victory at the polls. Apologized to Igbuya for the embarrassment caused him by the delay in presentation of his Certificate, saying that there were no issue that could have caused the delay in the first place. He charged him to be magnanimous in victory and to strive to bring development to their people.

But all that suddenly became history. Igbuya, after reading his acceptance speech, immediately swore in other members in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.