Crisis is currently brewing in Ebonyi State House of Assembly, following a threat by House members to impeach the speaker, Rt. Hon. Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru.
Nwifuru who is also the Governor- Elect in Ebonyi State has been the speaker of the House since 2015, when Gov. David Umahi was elected into office.
The crisis came to the fore on Thursday, 13th April, 2023 when it was reported that the Majority Leader in the House, Hon. Victor Chukwu, stood up during plenary to challenge the speaker and called on him to resign his position.
Chief Chukwu said the members of the House were no longer satisfied with the leadership of the House.
He urged the Speaker to resign forthwith to enable him concentrate on preparations for his inauguration as the incoming Governor of the State.
Sources said that Nwifuru, in his response said he had listened to their plea and thanked them for making known their grievances. He, however, urged them to trade with caution for the peace and development of the state.
Insider sources in power circles in the state have disclosed that the brewing crossfire in the House is not unconnected with a recent demand by Gov Umahi for the approval of a N33 billion loan by the State House of Assembly.
Gov. Umahi had written to the House, demanding an approval to borrow the money to enable him complete his projects before handing over next month, 29th May, 2023.
Already, tongues are wagging in the state as people wonder why Gov Umahi would apply for the release of such a whopping sum of money in a state that is already terribly indebted to local and international financial institutions, to the tune of N75 billion.
Moreover, people are wondering why Umahi should borrow such heavy sum for project completion when he has barely five weeks to leave office.
A source close to the House has said that Hon. Nwifuru is in a fix about his next step.
Political watchers in the state are taking the development in the House with a pinch of salt. Some people wonder why the House has only come to realize now that Umahi had used them over the years to impoverish the state.
Others argue that this is the first time the House of Assembly would be standing up to Gov Umahi.
If Speaker Nwifuru can stand firm to oppose this last by minute unnecessary loan, one observer said, he will warm himself to the minds of Ebonyians.
“He would have proved to them that he can be his own man.”
Efforts by our correspondent to get the reaction of the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor on the N33 billion request proved abortive, as he could not pick his calls.
Meanwhile, the House of Assembly has remained adamant in its refusal to approve the N33 billion request from Gov Umahi despite persistent pressures from the governor and his foot soldiers.
Instead the House has approved the release of N6 billion for the settlement of accumulated gratuities and pensions owed to civil servants in the state since 2015 when Gov Umahi came to office.