Drama in Akwa-Ibom Assembly as 5 members elect new speaker

Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel
Udom Emmanuel

Five lawmakers in the Akwa-Ibom House of Assembly said on Monday that they had elected Nse Ntuen, representing Essien Udim Constituency, the new Speaker of the house.

The seats of the lawmakers, who defected from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state to the All Progressive Congress (APC), had earlier in the day been declared vacant by the assembly.

Speaking to newsmen in Uyo, Ntuen said that their decision to change the Speaker of the house, Onofiok Luke, followed members’ lack of confidence in his ability to lead the assembly.

He described the process that led to their purported sack as illegal, null and void as there was a subsisting court order restraining the assembly from declaring their seats vacant.

The new speaker said also that the house rules and procedures were not duly followed in making the declaration.

“In the first place, no such action as declaring our seat vacant took place because there was no mace.

“The former speaker did not follow due legislative procedure of being announced into the chamber by the Sergeant at Arms; rather he came in through the back door.

“What happened in the house today was a normal legislative thing. We were supposed to sit on Tuesday.

“But yesterday (Sunday) we got notices that the sitting had been rescheduled for today because of the public holiday on Tuesday and nobody objected to that.

“Unfortunately this morning when I came to the house, the gate was barricaded and we were not allowed to go into the premises.

“Moreover, the purported action was not in the order paper for today’s plenary.

The two items in the order paper were the consideration of the appropriation bill sent to the house by governor Udom Emmanuel and a commemorative sitting for ex-governor, Victor Attah.

“So in the light of these anomalies, members sat and elected me as the new speaker. We will reconvene on Wednesday when other positions will be filled.

“This will not be the first time a minority member will be elected as head of a legislature. The Senate President of the Nigerian Senate is a minority member,” he said.

Ntuen wondered why Mr. Luke would unilaterally declare their seats vacant when that of a member who defected to the PDP from APC last year was not given the same treatment.

He said, “So we elected a new speaker because Luke is not good enough to be speaker. He is incompetent and being teleguided by the executive against our quest to be independent.”

He called on the people of the state not to see their action as confrontational but that which would make the legislature stronger in the discharge of its responsibilities.