There are indications that Imo State governor, Hope Uzodinma, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, are heading towards an angry showdown, with the former accusing the latter of promoting a member of the House from his state, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, to undermine him and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
Uzodimma is said to be unhappy with Abbas for allegedly encouraging and promoting Ugochinyere, who is a member of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), by appointing him as the chairman of House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream).
It was gathered that Uzodinma, who is chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) had protested the appointment of his arch-rival in the state as head of a grade A committee in the House, since it was made public on July 27.
LEADERSHIP learnt Speaker Abbas incurred the wrath of Uzodinma who believes that the appointment would accord Ugochinyere undue prominence and visibility in the polity.
Besides, it was gathered that the governor considered the appointment of the lawmaker to head the juicy committee as an undue empowerment of an opposition politician and an affront on his status as governor of the state and chairman of the PGF.
Sources within government circle in Owerri, the state capital, said the governor was angry that the appointment of Ugochinyere deflated his ego as governor of Imo State.
Uzodimma, according to one of the sources, is worried that Ugochinyere’s leadership of the strategic House committee has added value and enhanced the status of the opposition politician in the state’s political firmament.
Our source, a top government official, said Uzodinma’s fears about the perceived undue patronage of Ugochinyere at the federal level was further accentuated by the appointment of his arch-rival as director general of the PDP’s gubernatorial election campaign council in the state.
This newspaper gathered that the governor was irked when PDP’s governorship candidate in the November election, Senator Samuel Anyawu, announced Ugochinyere as the director general of his campaign council.
The source said his principal felt that an undue patronage and empowerment of the opposition elements, especially someone of Ugochinyere’s political standing, by the federal authorities could be detrimental to his re-election bid and fortunes of the ruling party in the forthcoming election in the state.
Though the election of Ugochinyere was later voided by the election petitions tribunal, sitting in Nasarawa State, the lawmaker has indicated his resolve to challenge the ruling at the appellate court.
Ugochinyere remains a member of the House until his fate is determined by the appellate court.
LEADERSHIP gathered that Uzodinma had made futile attempts to persuade Abbas to rescind the appointment.
The House Speaker was reported to have rebuffed the embattled governor.
LEADERSHIP further learnt that already, Uzodimma has dragged Abbas before President Bola Ahmed Tinubu over the contentious issue.
The warring duo are expected to be invited by the president for a possible truce upon his return from foreign trip.
One of the sources who craved anonymity said, “The governor of Imo state, Senator Hope Uzodinma and the Speaker of the House of the House of Representatives, Mr. Tajudeen Abbas are in for a serious fight, which has been brought to the attention of the Presidency. The governor is unhappy that Mr Speaker appointed a cantankerous politician from his state, Ugochinyere as chairman, House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream).
“To the governor, this is not a wise decision to take by the Speaker. How can an astute opposition element in Imo State like Ikenga be given such a strategic appointment in the House? This is an election period and the House is patronising the opposition politicians from the state so that they can have the impetus and resources to fight us.
“This is the same Ikenga, who has been rubbishing the governor and saying all kinds of nonsense about our party, APC and he is the same person they are patronising with this juicy job by a top ranking official of an APC’s government. This is unfair and insensitive. How do we grow a party this way?
“They are giving positions, meant for APC members to the opposition lawmakers. To worsen the situation, the person Mr. Speaker is patronising in Imo state has now been appointed as DG of the governorship election campaign council of the main opposition party, PDP.”
Another reliable source in the Uzodimma cabinet lamented that the appointment has given Ugochinyere undeserved prominence and visibility in the state.
He lamented that Abbas ignored pleas by Uzodinma to rescind the appointment of the outspoken politician.
The source further hinted that the adamant posture of the presiding officer of the House forced the governor to cry to the president.
“The governor has been appealing to the Speaker to withdraw the appointment of Imo Ugochinyere as chairman of the petroleum committee since it was made public on July 27 but he called the governor’s bluff. How can Mr. Speaker humiliate the chairman of PGF this way?
“This situation has compelled the governor to bring this development to the attention of Mr. President. We expected the President to call the Speaker to order when he returned from his foreign trip. Ugochinyere must be removed and his ego must be deflated. Continuous patronage of the opposition elements by our leaders at the national level is an attempt to kill the party,” added the source, who craved anonymity.
Uzodimma’s chief press secretary, Oguwike Nwachukwu, in a chat with LEADERSHIP, said his boss was not prepared to glorify Ugochinyere by engaging in a discussion concerning the lawmaker.
Nwachukwu said Ugochinyere was no longer a federal lawmaker having been sacked by the elections petitions tribunal penultimate weekend.
He added that the lawmaker was not qualified to be elected into the federal parliament in view of his antecedent.
“Is Ugochinyere still a lawmaker? Has he not been sacked by the tribunal? He was not qualified to be in the House in the first instance because he doesn’t have the temperament of a lawmaker. He should go and face his challenges in court and leave Uzondima alone,” Nwachukwu said in a telephone interview with LEADERSHIP.
Also, in his reaction, Ugochinyere asked Uzodinma to excuse Abbas from his political travails in Imo State.
The embattled lawmaker, in a telephone interview last night, said he won’t require “the support and empowerment of Mr. Speaker to trounce Uzodinma in the forthcoming election in the state.”
Describing Uzodimma as “Political Lilliputian”, he said, “We are going to disgrace and rubbish Uzodimma in the November governorship election the same way dealt with him in the May elections.
“Uzodimma is dropping and shouting the name of Mr. Speaker because of inferiority complex. He is a governor but he is of no political consequence in Imo state today. Was Abbas Speaker when I defeated him and his candidate in the 245 out of 246 electoral wards to win my election in my constituency? He is afraid and crying wolf because he knew that I will repeat the fate to install a PDP governor to replace him in the November election.
“We don’t need any gratification from the House Speaker and Uzodimma’s imaginary APC empowerment to flush him out of the government house. We have done it before and we are doing it again in November. Let him take Abbas out of his political woes because Mr. Speaker has done no wrong,” Ugochinyere added.