Anxiety and palpable tension have gripped the legislators-elect and staff of Abia State House of Assembly as it prepares to hold its inaugural sitting as well as the election of the Speaker and principal officers of the assembly on Monday, June 10, 2019.
The 24-man assembly whose inauguration will be the seventh for the state since it was created in 1991, has two contenders; the current Speaker, Barr Chikwendu Kalu and the Majority Leader, Engr Chinedum Orji. Chinedum is the son of Sen T A Orji, the immediate governor of the state.
However, the two contenders are from Abia Central Senatorial district whose turn it is to produce the Speaker. While Engr Orji hails from Umuahia axis of Abia Central, Kalu is from the Ngwa bloc of the zone. Both have supporters that cut across the three Senatorial zones.
But Engr Orji, largely seen as the frontrunner, appears to have bigwigs and stakeholders in the state backing him, while Barr Kalu, the underdog draws his strength from the Ngwa bloc.
However, while majority of the 19 legislators-elect from the PDP family may have penciled down Engr Orji as the candidate they would vote for, five others, three from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and two from All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), are undecided as at time of filing in this report. Some of them said they were for further directives from their parties on who to vote for.
Meanwhile, the supporters and aides of candidates are showcasing their idols and principals in the social media, x-raying their good virtues. For now, strategic meetings to woo the legislators-elect are being held by each of the candidates at various locations in the state.
Briefing newsmen, recently, former Senate President, Adolph Wabara asked the legislators-elect to choose Engr Orji as the next Speaker. He argued that for the interest of equity, justice and fairness, Umuahia axis should be allowed to produce the Speaker of the assembly.
Wabara who is from Ukwa-Ngwa bloc of Abia State contended that since the present Speaker is from Ukwa-Ngwa side, the Umuahia people should be given the opportunity this time around in the spirit of rotation.
After a meeting with some of his colleagues recently, one legislator-elect, Barr Jerry Uzosike announced that 12 of his colleagues have adopted Engr Orji as their consensus candidate.
For now, fillers from the PDP show that the party is favourably disposed to producing the Majority Leader as the next Speaker, Abia House of Assembly. The state chairman of the party, Sir Johnson Onuigbo had in a meeting with elected members of the party kept mum over whom the party was backing; even as he warned them against “fighting dirty in the social media”.