ON FRIDAY June 14 evening, I met the new Speaker of Anambra House of Assembly, Right Honourable Uche Okafor. It was a sheer coincidence.
I was in the company of Honourable Ebere Ejiofor representing Anaocha I Constituency and Ifeomamebe Okey Ojiako, anchor “Sharing Lives Issues With Ifeomamebe” chit chat programme on Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS).
Hon. Ejiofor had invited us to have some drinks with him and on our arrival at the venue in Awka we met three gentlemen chatting heartily within the premises of our rendezvous; one was light skin fellow about to board his car, apparently on his way out while the other two unassuming fellows were seeing him off.
Hon. Ejiofor knew the gentlemen and stopped to greet them in the course of which he made some introductions to us: “Guys” He said, “Right Honourable Okafor… Oo ya bu Speaker Anambra House.”
At first I thought he was referring to the other ubiquitous gentleman instead of the unassuming young man on Shirt, Jean and Face cap. Interestingly, it was before the later that his swiping hand stopped for the introductions.
So we shook hands and congratulated the Anyamelum Local Government Area-born speaker on his recent election victories, but within seconds I quickly scanned my environment for the only Nigerian kind of evidence that the number 3 man of a State is around the corner, but I found nothing, no DSS, no Army, no Police and no Civil Defence . So I quickly replayed the introductory notes in my head to be sure it was not the Speaker of Anyamelum Town Union that we were talking about.
As we all stepped into the restaurant there were again salutations of: “Give it up to the Speakerrrr,” “Mr. Speaker sir”, “No Mr. Speaker you can’t sit there, this is not the House of Assembly, here I am the Leader…you do as I say…alright…move. That’s right…you may sit there!” thundered the booming baritone of Chidoo Obidiegwu my own brother and Senior Special Adviser to Gov. Obiano on Environment who was in absolute control of the evening rendezvous
The Speaker took in everything with knowing smiles and responded in this manner ” The Leader permit me to sit here”, with an air of one used to the setting and mood and one who believes that loyalty to the good old boys and friends is necessary irrespective of the position he now occupies.
It was then it dawned on me that this Young man is in Truth, the number three man in Anambra State!
And so we all joined the Speakers table as I sat back to enjoy the hangout and of course, Chidoo was totally in charge and there was no dull moments. As more friends of the house and casual customers dropped by for an evening hangout they seamlessly drifted to the Speakers table and the table grew longer as we all became “one big family.”
But my mind was on the number three man, a man whose decisions and indecisions has the capacity to steer the ship of my state in the right or wrong direction, to the harbour or to the bottom. So when Chido paddled the canoe of our conversation to the realm of the intellectual, I paid special attention to the new Speaker and took mental note of his contributions to the conversation.
As people drifted in and out of the lobby I paid close attention to the speaker…I wanted to see how he interacted with each person when the media is not watching, including the waiters. I was keen on observing the man in his true state “when no one was watching”
My focus soon shifted to a beautiful lady who walked in. I noticed how those who knew her recieved her…the hugs, the banters, the waves, the cheers, I observed her natural courteous manners, her beautiful smiles.. and how she made to sit by the Speaker on his left and how he carefully guided her away to his right hand side to take her seat beside him. She was the speaker’s wife! A brilliant lady I can tell you. Although a few hour outing may not be enough to authoritatively assess a man, but I dare say that “A chick that will grow into a Cock is known the very day it hatches”
And so I ended that day with an impression of our new Speaker: a young man who is simply in the streets, he knows the people and people know him. He speaks the slangs of the Streets and the poetry of Elite. A wholesome intellectual who is able engage you on any issue: From the cost of bus fare anywhere in Anambra to what each government ministry is doing right or wrong, to national and international affairs.
I was thoroughly impressed by his understanding of history and current affairs, and I noted how he easily submitted to a superior arguement when backed up with facts. He understands the simple issues of life: family, religion, individual rights and culture and tradition.
It appears Anambra State has gotten it right this time on the choice of a Speaker…the people’s speaker. I do believe that in matters of Legislation, this is a indeed a new beginning for the Light Of The Nation.