A quiet battle for the crown of Enugu House of Assembly Speaker intensifies in horse-trading targeting incoming members.

The battle is without regard to the numerical strength of Labour over the ruling PDP that produced the governor-elect.

The challenge is that the governor-elect is PDP while Labour Party holds most seats in the House.

PDP is therefore short of the number to elect a speaker from its ranks. With ten members in the 24-member Assembly (42%), the party needs at least three Labour votes to elect a speaker with a simple majority. Labour with 14 members-elect, on the other hand, has the simple majority to elect a speaker.

Beyond the speakership position however, both parties will need a bi-partisan approach to approve policies on constitutional matters. These are matters that require two-thirds majority votes to approve.

Labour will need 16 votes – and therefore two defections from the PDP – each time it wants to force through a vote on crucial matters.

This is almost impossible with Executive control in the tight grip of the PDP.

Search for a new Speaker

Although the Labour Party with a majority of 14 members (58%) has gone to court to contest the governorship elections, the search for a speaker has given rise to hard and shrewd bargaining with the incoming legislators.

Labour’s big challenge is that none of its elected members is a ranking legislator. Going by convention, and house rules, this may disqualify incoming Labour legislators from aspiring for the post of Speaker.

The position may not change even if Labour wins its case in court and takes over government from Mr. Peter Mbah.

Enugu Metro learnt that LP is strategizing on how to sidestep this rule to elect one of its new members as Speaker of the House.

This challenge, however, provides a window of opportunity for the PDP to fill the position of Speaker in May 2023 when the Assembly reconvenes.

The front-runners

Going by the zoning formular, the position of Speaker goes to Enugu West Senatorial District. This is because the governor-elect is of Enugu East while the deputy governor is from Enugu North.

The West District has two PDP ranking members, namely current deputy speaker Hon. Uchenna Callistus Ugwu (Udi North, PDP), and the Chief Whip, Hon. Jane Chinwendu Eneh (Awgu North, PDP).

If Enugu decides on gender balancing, Mrs. Jane Eneh has an advantage, given that the leadership of both the Executive and the Judiciary are populated by men.

However, Enugu Metro learnt that the current deputy speaker from Udi North is making a persuasive case for upgrading to the Speaker position, after serving a term as deputy.

The winner will however emerge from the quiet horse-trading of the moment as the two parties jostle for ultimate power in the 2023-2027 term.

Quiet battle for Enugu Speaker intensifies

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