A former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Austin Opara, has debunked the claim by Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State that he (the governor) made him a deputy speaker.
Opara, who was Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007, also noted that it was against the culture of Ikwere people to show disrespect to elders as Amaechi is currently doing to President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience.
Opara’s position was contained in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
Opara argued that Amaechi, who was then Speaker of the Rivers House of Assembly, displayed his ignorance of parliamentary procedure when he claimed that he was instrumental to his ascension to the position of the deputy speaker of the lower legislative chamber of the National Assembly.
He said contrary to the claim by the governor that he was betrayed by people, who he considered as brothers, in apparent reference to Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike and himself [Opara], Amaechi was the real betrayer having betrayed former Governor Peter Odili and the people of the state, who entrusted him with their votes.
Amaechi was widely reported as saying during the convention of Ogbako Ikwere in Omohua Local Government of Rivers State on Monday, that he begged President Goodluck Jonathan to make Wike a minister and that he also made Opara Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
But Opara said, “It is unfortunate that a public officer of the status of a governor can make such careless statement of that magnitude. He was the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
“How can a member of the state House of Assembly make a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives? It is a sign of ignorance on how parliamentary procedure works. Amaechi never made me deputy speaker so the issue of betrayal does not even arise.
“Presiding officers of the National Assembly are elected on the floor of the assembly by members. Amaechi was never a member of the National Assembly so whatever role he claims to have played and he is the only one that knows, does not mean he made me deputy speaker.
“I know that Amaechi was one of those who spoke to Peter Odili to support my aspiration. Even at that, Odili has never claimed to have made me deputy speaker of the House of Representatives.
“It is unfortunate that a governor can make such a statement. Amaechi requires our prayers and sympathy. I say so because Governor Odili practically forced me out of the contest for the Rivers State governorship election in favour of Amaechi. Today Amaechi is persecuting and prosecuting Odili”.
Opara noted that the Ikwere people, who are the largest ethnic stock in Rivers State, are known for their respect of elders, pointing out that if Amaechi was a thorough bred Ikwere man as he claimed, he would not be insulting the President and his wife the way he is doing.
“It shows that he is not a thorough-bred of Ikwere. Which Ikwere man answers Rotimi? Ikwere people respect elders. Amaechi owes Rivers people and Nigerians explanation on why all his personal physicians are psychiatrists because it is our public funds that he is using for whatever treatment he undergoes.
“No governor in his right senses from the south south will oppose, lampoon and abuse the president the way Amaechi is doing. No governor in his right senses will abuse the wife of the president the way Amaechi is doing.
“In Rivers State, we no longer have a legislature, we no longer have a chief judge; the political class is destroyed. Amaechi is an embodiment of betrayal. He is the one who has betrayed Rivers people, the confidence and the votes that they gave him. He owes them apology for the betrayal”, Opara concluded.