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Enugu State Gov., Peter Mbah’s Relationship With Speaker, Uche Ugwu Sours As Strike Threatens 2024 Budget.

Peter Mbah & Uche Ugwu.

The relationship between the Governor of Enugu State, Peter Mbah, and the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon.  Uche Ugwu appears to have hit the rocks following reports that he is not considered an intelligent person by the governor and his aides. This is even as a strike action which will likely be embarked upon on Monday by the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PSAN) is threatening to impact the expected swift passage of the 2024 Appropriation Bill of the State Government.

PSAN is an umbrella association of all civil servants working in the various legislative houses in the country, from government councillors through state Houses of Assembly to the National Assembly. They have scheduled the strike to press home their demand for the implementation of Financial Autonomy for Legislative Houses.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2020, signed the Financial Autonomy for State Legislature and the Judiciary Order into Law, but apart from Lagos State, no other state in Nigeria gas complied with the provisions of the Order, largely because state governors manipulate the legislature, using budgetary allocation and other fiscal means.

The situation is generating a lot of concern around government circles in Enugu where the Governor and his team would want an expedited passage of the 2024 budget by the house.

The governor, whose case with Chijioke Edeoga of the Labour Party is about to be decided at the Court of Appeal, is said to be hoping for a quick budget passage as uncertainties about the legitimacy of his administration heighten.

Our source said that should the House of Assembly staff embark on the strike action, the governor's hope of drawing down on the budget before the possible termination of his governorship could be adversely affected. 

Recall that the governor was reported to have drawn down, within a month, of the N58 billion supplementary budget that was approved by the House in September 2023.

“I don’t think the governor reckoned on this strike action. He wants that budget approved today and tomorrow. He needs the funds to do what he wants to do,” the source said.

Governor Mbah, who is reportedly not disposed to the implementation of the financial autonomy Executive Order, is also not sure of the leadership capabilities of the Speaker, Hon Uche Ugwu.

Mbah is said to habour very little respect for the Speaker, who he allegedly believes has very weak leadership qualities, and also appears to have been unable to rein in all the members of the Assembly despite repeated promises to deliver.

Our informant revealed that the goons in the Lion Building have decided to consistently humiliate the speaker each time he arrives to discuss one thing or the other mostly bothering on the “welfare” of the House members. They’d intentionally attempt to humiliate him by keeping him waiting for hours before allowing him to see the governor.

Government House workers were recently overheard talking in hushed tones in a nearby canteen about the governor’s cold shoulder to the speaker, revealing that the humiliation became so terrible that the SSG, Prof. Chidiebere Onyia allegedly called the Speaker and called him an "incompetent Speaker." 

No previous Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly has been so humiliated in the history of democratic governance in Nigeria, our source further said, adding that Hon Ugwu might possibly have sold himself cheap and thus lost respect quite early.

“How can a speaker who does not convene the sitting of the House of Assembly until he is ordered to do so by the Governor? What respect does he expect to have when all he does here is talk about money and personal gains? He has not presented himself as someone who is capable of adding value. In this their politics, playing good boy ha its adverse effects,” the source said.

 

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