…demand payment of owed allowances before listening to gov’s budget presentation
Suspend clerk for allegedly being Okorocha’s mole
Members of the Imo State House of Assembly may have declared war against Governor Rochas Okorocha over his alleged lukewarm attitude to their welfare, especially the alleged non-payment of their entitlements.
Consequently, the lawmakers have refused to be part of the governor’s budget presentation, which has been put on hold indefinitely.
Following the development, our correspondent learnt that the 2018 budget, which was ready for presentation to the Assembly last Tuesday, had to be postponed indefinitely as attempts by Okorocha to present the 2018 Appropriation Bill to the lawmakers were allegedly rebuffed.
This is the first time in six years that the lawmakers had confronted the governor, a situation which had resulted in the Assembly members being labeled Okorocha’s “rubber stamp.”
However, the game changed recently as the lawmakers shunned the Assembly complex on the day scheduled for the budget presentation, to draw home their demand. They had complained that the state government had failed to pay the backlog of arrears owed them.
Lawmakers insist their demands must be met first before listening to Governor Okorocha
Our correspondent gathered that the Assembly members drew the ire of the governor, when a delegation of the lawmakers, led by the Majority Leader, Hon. Lugard Osuji, came to the Government House on the eve of the botched budget presentation to the legislature, to make their demand known to the governor.
Government House sources said that the governor, who viewed the action of the legislators seriously, lambasted them, daring them to stop him from presenting the budget to the Assembly.
But the lawmakers were said to have maintained their ground, stressing that their demands must be met before they could listen to the governor’s budget presentation.
The lawmakers, it was learnt, said if the governor could organise such an elaborate party for more than three weeks, while hosting foreign presidents of other countries during his 55th birthday anniversary, he (the governor) should as well pay their entitlements “without delay or rancour.”
And so, last Tuesday, the lawmakers made good their threat, shunning the Assembly complex on the day Governor Okorocha was scheduled to make the budget presentation to them.
However, sources close to the Government House alleged that the lawmakers were “asking for kickback and not entitlement.”
“If they are sincere with their demand, why do they have to wait for so long before making their demand known to the governor?” a source queried.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers, last Thursday, also suspended the Clerk of the House, Chris Duru, for allegedly leaking their secret discussions to Governor Okorocha.
An inside source told our correspondent that the Clerk had allegedly been in the habit of divulging most of the closed door discussions held by the lawmakers to the state governor.
It was gathered that the lawmakers also set up a five-man committee to investigate the clerk, following the motion raised by the Majority Leader, Hon. Luguard Osuji (Owerri Municipal), prompting the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim, to raise an ad hoc committee, headed by the member representing Obowo Constituency, Hon. Kennedy Ibeh.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Clerk on the issue proved abortive, as he was said not to be disposed to speaking on the matter.
But an Assembly source described the Clerk as “a humble and intelligent man, who would not hurt a fly or get involved in any of the allegations leveled against him. They can investigate him; I know that the man is innocent of the charges against him.”
The Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, Mr. Marcel Ekwezuo, confirmed that a motion was moved by the Majority Leader, Hon. Osuji, to investigate the allegations against the clerk.
“Sequel to the motion which alleged under-performance and non-compliance with certain laid down rules and procedures of the house in the discharge of his duties as basis for the motion, a committee was set up to investigate activities of the Clerk, beginning from 2011 till date, to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegation against him,” Ekwezuo said.
On the botched budget presentation, the Speaker’s media aide said that the allegations were unfounded, but admitted that some discrepancies were discovered in the budget, which the lawmakers brought to the attention of the Executive for ratification.
“In the Executive, the budget is handled by various departments before it is brought to the House and when it comes to the House, various committees handle it before the governor can present it. So, it was in this process that the House discovered discrepancies in the budget, which they complained to the governor. That was why the budget presentation could not hold,” he told our correspondent.