|Chukwuma Nwazunku; Speaker, Ebonyi State House Of Assembly|
By Sam Asoluka
(Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere- Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Last year Members of Ebonyi State House of Assembly suspended one of their own, the Honourable Member representing Ivo Constituency in the state Assembly Mrs Lillian Igwe for ‘drunkenness and other spurious charges’. Moving the motion for the suspension of Mrs Igwe the member representing Afikpo South East, Blasé Orji, said ‘The House has been brought to ridicule by the member representing Ivo State Constituency...She does not only engage in excessive alcoholic drinking, she also boards commercial tricycles, popularly called KEKE NAPEP to the House, thereby not carrying herself as an honourable member; Mr Speaker, based on this therefore, I move a motion that Hon Lillian Igwe be suspended from the House.
After making the unsavoury statement above, Mrs Igwe was suspended and by extension, the Assembly suspended all her Ivo constituents. In short, Ivo Constituency has no representative in Ebonyi House of Assembly as at today. But our investigation revealed that Mrs Igwe does not drink alcohol but she sometimes rides KeKe NaPep as one of her ways of connecting with the people who voted for her. By riding in Keke NaPep she engages one to one with some members of her constituents who do not have time to attend her monthly constituency surgery.
The action of Ebonyi Male Dominated House of Assembly (EMDHA) against Honourable Igwe to say the least is senseless and immature. There are only 4 women out of the 24 legislators in the Assembly. Firstly, they slandered her, turned round and became the judge and the jury. If the members have any reputation at all left, the suspension of Honourable Mrs Igwe has turned it into shreds. If ‘drunkenness and coming to the Assembly in Keke Napep’ are the only allegations the members could come up with against Mrs Igwe, it shows they are lazy, chauvinists, incompetent and dishonourable. And, for this singular action their bums no doubt, irritate the chairs they sit on in that House of Assembly.
Good, they did not accuse her of incompetence because she is better, organized and more educated than most of them. Her crimes are that she is a woman and outspoken. She also defeated an ‘anointed man’ in PDP primary election and did not support the impeachment of the former speaker, Mr. Ikechukwu Nwankwo. If this unjust suspension is not lifted as soon as possible, Nigerians and the world will continue to see Ebonyi House of Assembly as hostile to women and a place where male chauvinism is a standing order.
These ‘boy legislators’ should grow up quickly and join real men in the real world. They can call themselves whatever name they like but their action says a lot about them and the type of laws they are making in Ebonyi State. And, come to think of it, the pedigrees of some of these legislators seem suspect and should be challenged by the people of Ebonyi state for the sustenance of democracy in the state.
If the House of Assembly members are not aware, let me quickly remind them here that Ebonyi State is one the least developed states in Nigeria and the challenges facing them are numerous and overwhelming. But male chauvinism is their greatest headache. The ridiculous allegations leveled against Mrs Igwe are nothing but stragglers tittle-tattle.
The suspension of Hon. Igwe is in bad faith and it beats the imagination of right thinking Nigerians that a state like Ebonyi that produced Statesmen like Dr Akanu Ibiam and a former Senate President who is now the Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria would ignominiously suspend a very hardworking Assembly woman on spurious allegations. The injustice against this Honourable woman must not stand. Women in Nigeria and Human Right Organizations should step forward now and defend this defenceless woman. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere. The House of Assembly members should wise up now and listen to Plato who once said ‘He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it’
(Asoluka is the President of Wind-of-Change, UK. and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org)