There was political turbulence in Delta State over the weekend with an impeachment plot against the Speaker of the House of Assembly Speaker, Victor Ochei, culminating in the speaker’s resignation.
Several sources, among them one close to Mr. Ochei, accused the state governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, of orchestrating the impeachment moves. The sources revealed that there had been an underground political feud between the governor and the speaker which snowballed into a testy relationship. A close associate of the speaker alleged that the governor finally gave Mr. Ochei two options: to either tender his resignation or face impeachment.
“In order not to be disgraced and forced out, Chief Ochei had no option than to tender his resignation yesterday as demanded by the governor,” said one source. He added that the governor “will in no distant time regret his action.”
According to another source, “The whole problem was a fall-out from a recent political meeting attended by the governor, the state PDP chairman, the speaker and other PDP stakeholders outside the shores of Nigeria. At the meeting, the speaker was pressured to drop his governorship ambition.” The source added that some interests in the state perceived the speaker as a threat, and used the meeting abroad to persuade the governor to scuttle the speaker’s gubernatorial aspirations.
The source identified Ighoyota Amori, Governor Uduaghan’s chief political adviser, as one of the persons who ensured that the governor’s relationship with the speaker was messed up. “That led to plans to impeach the speaker who wisely resigned honorably, though under duress,” the source said.
The source stated that the governor had lined up a majority of the members of the house to go for impeachment if the speaker had resisted the pressure to resign.
Some House Assembly workers praised the former speaker for improving the conditions of the legislature, especially in the area of infrastructure.
The acting chief press secretary to the speaker, Mr. Nkem Osu, confirmed Mr. Ochei’s resignation. He however insisted that the speaker did not resign under duress. He disclosed that the resignation will take effect from Tuesday when the letter will be made open at the floor of the house.
“The speaker used the opportunity [of his resignation] to thank and commend his colleagues for all their support and robust relationship while his tenure lasted,” said the press aide. He added: “The speaker also used the opportunity to thank immensely the state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, for all the support given him.”
Mr. Ochei, who represents Aniocha North constituency in the state assembly, has been named among likely governorship aspirants in the 2015 election. In a recent interview with journalists in Asaba, the state capital, Mr. Ochei attributed his long stay in the speaker’s seat to his transparency and the cordial relationship with his colleagues in the house.
A new speaker is expected to be elected on Tuesday.