Onyekanma: The Rising Star and the Mud Slingers. - AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARY NEWS



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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Onyekanma: The Rising Star and the Mud Slingers.

By Justice Chukwunatu Nwafor

The good people of Imo State have something going for themselves: they are characteristically discerning. They are wise, questioning and inclined to verify any information before lending it credence. They are not in the least credulous or gullible. 
The fellow who wrote a fictitious story alleging that the purchase of official vehicles for incumbent members of Imo State House of Assembly was beset by sharp practices had the wrong end of the stick. He did not reckon that Imo people are impervious to disinformation. Had he figured that prudence is the second nature of Imolites, he would not have agreed to go on the fool’s errand of conjuring up and peddling a fake scandal that would be laughed out of court by the audience he had intended to deceive with his hatchet job.
The ludicrous story, as published in local dailies, claimed that the Deputy Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Okey Onyekanma, placed his thumb on the scale of a recent procurement activity and cheated his colleagues of 10 million naira each on the 27 vehicles bought by Imo State government for the smooth running of the state legislature.
This narrative is false in substance and fact and it flies in the face of reality. It would take suspension of disbelief to entertain the idea that Hon. Onyekanma acted as he was falsely accused in the said publication. Firstly, procurement is not within the purview of lawmakers. It is a purely Executive function. Secondly, Hon. Onyekanma is a lawyer by profession and has never at any time moonlighted as a vendor or car dealer. How, then, could he have performed the magic of hijacking the procurement of the official vehicles and cheating his colleagues to the bargain? 
The truth is that the Deputy Speaker did not have the remotest involvement in the procurement of the vehicles. Although he doubles as the Chairman of House Committee on Rules and Business, his role was limited to communicating to the Executive the need for honourable members to be adequately equipped with suitable vehicles to motivate them to perform their legislative duties with diligence, enthusiasm and dispatch. 
The State Government saw merit in the request Hon. Onyekanma made on behalf of his colleagues and consequently approached a commercial bank for a loan to fund the purchase of the vehicles. The bank granted the loan and conducted the purchase. 
It, therefore, beggars the mind how somebody could fabricate the lie that he took over the procurement and made a fortune out of it.
The malicious story is a product of the flight of fancy. The author of that ludicrous fiction is a hungry soldier of fortune hired to assassinate the character of Hon. Onyekanma. He was rented by individuals who feel both intimidated and eclipsed by the rising profile of Hon. Onyekanma. 
Given that the buzzword of the Buhari administration is fight against corruption and that His Excellency Governor Emeka Ihedioha is a stickler for due process, the detractors orchestrated this smear campaign to tarnish the image of the Deputy Speaker, a rising star with bright prospects in Imo and national politics. They were under the illusion that they could pull the Hon. Onyekanma down by hanging the millstone of a corruption hoax around his neck. 
The failed attempt to incriminate Hon. Onyekanma is also explicable in the context of the unease of enemies of Imo State about the harmony, stability and productivity of the 9th Imo State House of Assembly.  In the aftermath of the hotly contested house of assembly elections which saw AA, APC, APGA and PDP winning seats, some cynics predicted that the configuration of the House would make it a theatre of war and waited on the wings to cash in on the chaos they imagined would inevitably ensue.
However, members of the House have disappointed the perpetually salivating crisis entrepreneurs. From the onset, the legislators turned their back on partisanship and resolved to put the interest of the state first. In the House, cohesion, harmony and regard for the public good prevails. This explains why Imo State House of Assembly ranks as the most prolific state legislature in the country, having passed 18 bills since its inauguration in June 2019 to date.
The brains behind this fake news are on a mission to sow seeds of discord among members of Imo State House of Assembly. Fortunately, the lawmakers know what is at stake. They are cognizant that, the state has suffered 8 long years of scorched earth maladministration, they are obligated to do their level best to support the Rebuild Imo administration of Governor Ihedioha. They signaled that they are committed to defending the unity of purpose among themselves by passing a vote of confidence on the Speaker of the State House, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, and his Deputy, Rt. Hon. Okey Onyekanma, in response to the fake scandal. This is bold warning that they are a united house: no external force can ever crack their wall with divide and rule tactics. 
The Deputy Speaker, the object of this unwarranted libel, served for 12 years as Senior Legislative Assistance and Chief of Staff to the late Hon. Bethel Amadi who rose to become the President of Pan-African Parliament. Hon. Onyekanma’s cumulative exposure and experience have positioned him as a unifying factor in the House. Humble, personable and gentle, he goes out of his way to ensure that his colleagues have a sense of belonging. 
The Deputy Speaker has a thick skin. He knows that unfair criticism is part of the burden of public office. He will remain unmoved by the desperation of his hecklers. His eyes are fixed on his actualizing the deliverables for which he ran for office. And he will never drop the ball. 
The mud slingers may well find another obsession because they cannot stop the shining of the rising star.

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