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Imo Lawmakers And Abandoned State House Of Assembly Building

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By Sampson Uhuegbu

Among the three tiers of government in Nigeria, Legislature remains clearly prominent. Its roles in the day- to- day affairs of the governance cannot be over emphasized; and that is why the cordial relationship existing among the three organs; Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, has been a commendable cause.

In the month of February, 2020, Honourable members of the Imo State House of Assembly, under the Speakership of (now impeached), Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, relocated to the makeshift Ikemba Ojukwu Convention Centre which was built by the former Governor Rochas Okorocha for the central purpose of promoting Igbo language. Reasons for their change of venue was because of the terribly deplorable state of the parliamentary building that is now on the verge of collapse. One may wonder
why that magnificent edifice had been abandoned to rotten by our legislators who ordinarily should have been stampeding upon the Governor to approve the renovation of that Assembly complex.

It could be risky for our lawmakers to move into a collapsing building that a comprehensive rehabilitation has never been effected on. Only total overhauling of the structure would only guarantee safety of staff of the Imo State House of Assembly Service Commission, Honourable members and their Aides.

I challenge our lawmakers to probe Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha for claiming that 500,000, 000 Million naira was used on renovation of the Assembly complex. Is it not a funny assumption that the building being claimed to have gulped such whooping amount of money is still abandoned by its occupants for which it was built? Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim (Member for Okigwe State constituency), who was then Speaker, should also be invited to explain to Imo lawmakers how the money was spent. Even the late Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu who was Speaker during the first tenure in office of Owelle Okorocha should not also be immune from questioning. If the Senator is alive, he would have been summoned. His Deputy, Pharm. Donatus Ozoemena, who represented Oru West, can also attest to the fact that the building had been in a bad shape. Frankly speaking, 7th and 8th house members of the Imo Assembly failed to carry out their responsibilities as reasonably as expected. They were unable to speak up to the Governor about the building. Former Speakers and their Deputies; Rt Hon. Chiji Collins, Mr. Okey Onyekanma (Representing Mbaitoli), Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim and Rt. Hon. Ugonna Ozuruigbo do not deserve any applause from people of the state because of the misusage of opportunities they had to have given the building a facelift.

It is on record that the Imo State House of Assembly is one the well- built parliamentarian edifices in the South- East and South- South Nigeria. But unluckily, lack of maintenance culture has become a bane of which the complex is suffering today. Sadly, throughout the 8 years Senator Okorocha spent in office as Imo Governor from 2011 to 2019, the building was never used for at least a year long legislative activity by the Imo lawmakers. That Ikemba Ojukwu Center, the second venue for legislative sittings of our legislators, had occasionally been on use by the Lawmakers since 2012. More so, it appears they are not bothered to rehabilitate the deserted building which is now being occupied by lizards, snakes and cockroaches as a result of parliamentarians who have deserted their offices for safety. It is dangerous to still stay in a building whose walls and pillars are heavily cracked hence- their relocation to the present venue with offices that unfortunately, are not spacious enough to accommodate their aides and visiting constituents. That Ikemba Ojukwu Center is not even befitting for our Honourable members’ legislative sittings.

The present Speaker of the Imo House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Paul Emeziem (for Onuimo State constituency), his Deputy; Rt. Hon. Chyna Iwuanuanwu (Nwangele LGA) and other principal leaders of the Imo legislature should invite those that were directly linked to the renovation issue for an interface at the floor of the whole house. It is unnecessary for them to keep basking on the euphoria of leadership positions whereas the needful that is ought to have been done remains unattended to.

This is one of the challenges before the present administration which they unavoidably inherited from the Rescue mission government of Chief Rochas Okorocha. They should not keep quiet while the edifice is about to completely pull down. The Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma should please quickly intervene. Imo State House of Assembly complex should be Rehabilitated, Reconstructed and Recovered now and save it from the brink of collapsibility. Our lawmakers are now laughing stocks to her sister legislators in other states over the decaying condition of that wonderful edifice which was well- architecturally built during the creation of the state. It is the duty of the Imo parliamentarians to meet the Governor to on the forward to overhaul their offices. It would be an aberration if the people of Ehime Mbano, Ahiazu Mbaise, Ezinihitte Mbaise, Aboh Mbaise, Okigwe, Onuimo, Isiala Mbano, Ihitte- Uboma, Obowo, Ngor- Okpala, Oguta, Njaba, Nwangele, Isu, Ideato South, Ideato North, Ohaji/Egbema, Nkwerre, Orlu, Oru East, Oru West, Orsu, Mbaitoli, Owerri West, Owerri North and Owerri Municipal Local Government Areas are perhaps, asked to contribute funds for that purpose. Former Governor Emeka Ihedioha during his administration, had an inspection tour of the building and assured its renovation. Therefore, there is need to start disturbing our amiable Governor to release fund appropriated for the rehabilitation.

I have shockingly observed that ever since our lawmakers shifted their base to that makeshift complex, they seem to have forgotten that Ikemba Ojukwu Center is also dilapidated too. However, the 7th and 8th House Committee Chairmen on Works could be queried to give account of what happened to the money meant for renovation. The sum 500,000,000 is whooping; and there is no way it would have been spent on a building that it won’t be noticeable. Ndi Imo should be made to understand that something good can still come out Nazareth. In the Holy Bible, it was said to be a place that was lacking “milk and honey”, a city that was totally disregarded due to bad stories that were associated with it.

Rt. Hon. Emeziem should avoid being used as a stooge in that office. His predecessors failed in their duties to push Imo Assembly to enviable heights. Rehabilitation of that building is a herculean task that must be accomplished. Imo Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Chyna Iwuanwuanwu should, based on his deep relationship cum friendship with the Governor, make case for the immediate commencement of repair on that complex. It may not depict Imo State House of Assembly members in a good light if they feel less- concerned about the present situation. The former Governor Emeka Ihedioha’s year 2020 budget for renovation of the building was 2.3 Billion. The amount can not be said to be too big or small to accomplish that purpose but what matters is ensuring the work is perfectly done to enhance effective legislative services.

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