Imo Assembly: The ‘Jankara Market” Scene Continues

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“Jankara Market” is a well known boisterous market located in Lagos Island of Lagos State, otherwise known as Isale Eko. In Jankara market, any form of business transaction can take place. Anything possible is bought and also sold, making the Jankara name very famous among Lagosians.

In 2011towards the end of the life of the regime of the lawmakers, one notable member of the Imo State House of Assembly, Mike Iheanaetu came up with view that the business of the state legislature was more like a “Jankara Market” Iheanaetu popularly known in the political field as Akwaakwuru posited that ‘anything’ can happen anytime in the House. The Implication of the statement credited to the lawmaker was that conscience and morality may be back benchers in the affairs of the House.

Akwaakwuru’s expression came against the backdrop of a volte face members of the 6th House of Assembly posed moments after a new governor, Rochas Okorocha took over reins of power in Imo State in 2011.

Before the change of baton moved from Ikedi Ohakim to Okorocha, the PDP dominated House of Assembly under the leadership of Goodluck Nanah Opiah as Speaker were majorly pro Ohakim lawmakers and enjoyed enormous comradeship among themselves. Akwaakwuru, was one of the core loyalists of Opiah and would go miles to defend the former Speaker action during his first experience in the Assembly complex. But events that unfolded later when the Aboh Mbaise member quickly with few others jettisoned affinity with Opiah to join forces with others led by Amaechi Nwoha to cause a tempest in the polity.

Ohakim’s exit witnessed a palace coup against the Speaker from a section of the members who had worked closely from 2007 to 2011. When confronted on the sudden turn coat disposition of the lawmakers who had “dined and wined” with the Speaker in the past but only chose a late minute strike when a new governor came, Akwaa Akwuru offered that the Imo Assembly is a “Jankara Market”.

Eight years after, the Akwaakwuru Jankara Market coinage, another hilarious scenario is playing out as the 8th Assembly marches to departure point. Acho Ihim, the Speaker that almost had eight years to his credit just like Opiah of the 6th House, was forced to resign a day after a new governor, Emeka Ihedioha was sworn in to succeed Okorocha.

Ihim had been incharge of the proceedings of the House without his colleagues raising a hoot. Of the APC stock before parting to AA to run as Deputy Governorship candidate of the party in the 2019 election, the fair skinned Okigwe State constituency representative led about 19 of the members to AA while three PDP members also joined him later to pick tickets. Apart from five of his colleagues he suspended for nine months, others joined him to observe a robust relationship with the Okorocha led Executive arm of the state government. It was believed that the Ihim led legislature was more of an extension of the executive arm, judging from the later exposures of the House members who took over to unveil how Okorocha mortgaged the state assembly powers.

Obvious signs of a repeat “Jankara” system became manifest when Okorocha failed to produce a choice successor. The immediate past governor had favoured his son in-law, Uche Nwosu to take over from him after eight years in office. But Nwosu, the AA candidate came second behind PDP’s Ihedioha thereby ending the dream of Okorocha and his followers to have their own at the helm of affairs of the State after the Rescue Mission administration eight years reign.

On resumption of legislative activities after the elections that left the AA and APC as big time losers, the Jankara spirit resurrected among a section of the members who attempted a late minute rediscovery of the independence of the state legislature against executive arm control.

Apparently aware of the landmines laid on the way for him, Ihim before he call it quits commenced a micky-mouse game to outwit his colleagues into relaxing their plot to remove him. The furtive moves of the former Speaker was unsuccessful as the aggrieved members itching for action stormed the complex to demand for resumption of plenary session since the House was not on recess and had no reason to suspend legislative business at the instance of the Speaker. That was the beginning of Ihim’s travails and confirmation of Akwaakwuru’s Jankara market claims.

On resumption of plenary, Ihim was induced against his wish to take certain drastic actions that are contrast to the wishes of their former political oracle; Okorocha. When the heat to quit became tremendous after the lawmakers raised a nine-point allegation against, resigned leading to the election of member representing Ehime Mbano, Lawman Duruji as new Speaker. Duruji couldn’t last 48hours as number one lawmaker when his colleagues suspected he may not dance the Jankara market style tunes about to commence. The stage was set for Duruji’s resignation forcing him to humbly throw in the towel before impeachment threats. Duruji’s ouster opened chances for Chinedu Offor to step in as the new Speaker. At the beginning of push against Ihim, Offor of Onuimo had emerged acting Speaker of the House when Ihim was suspended. But at the resignation of the Okigwe lawmaker, Offor lost narrowly to Duruji.

Offor’s reign has necessitated political upheaval reminiscent of the early days of Okorocha in office when the 6th House after the illegal impeachment of Opiah and Deputy. In the spirit of “Jankara” style, Offor’s leadership is instituting cataclysm in the political system as it has temporarily suspended the Local Government Chairmen, Vice Chairmen and Councillors, by directing the new governor to quash all fresh appointments, the immediate past governor handled after March 9 governorship election.

The rampaging lawmakers against all expectations went further to ask the governor to invite the EFCC and anti-graft bodies to investigate the activities of his predecessor among other resolutions targeted against Okorocha and his team. For the first time, the House also made efforts to invite the troubled leadership and top management staff of the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, ISOPADEC.

More striking in their decision was an authority asking the new governor for the dissolution of all land allocations found improper.

In the few days left to wind up the activities of the 9th House, more earth shaking decisions are expected.

What is intriguing about the recent development is the background of the latest “Jankara Market” exponents.

Apart from Akwuaakwuru the designer of the Jankara Market word, others especially Chinedu Offor were former strong allies of Okorocha before the new dispensation.

Offor’s history in the politics of the State can’t be written without a space reserved to give credit the former governor for his growth.

The former Voice of America, VOA worker announced arrival in the local scene after Okorocha made him media aide as Chief Press Secretary. Later he was appointed Commissioner for Information before getting the Deputy Chief of Staff position in the first four years of the former governor.

In 2015, it wouldn’t be out of place to state that Offor was one of the intending lawmakers of the APC, Okorocha found worthy to be in the House. The rosy affair was smooth until things turned awry leading to the loyal lawmakers deploying the “Jankara Market” tactics for the last phase of legislative business. Many who are surprised that one of the products of Okorocha’s political structure, Offor is the tormentor- in- Chief of the latest Jankara Market approach may not understand why the Journalist turned politician is blowing hot against his camp. It may not be unconnected to the new culture in the House where aggrieved lawmakers wait for transition period to strike against House leadership.