By BEN AGANDE
ABUJA—Former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr. Austin Opara, yesterday, dismissed allegations by the governor of Rivers State, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, that the governor made him Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, noting that Amaechi’s claim was a manifestation of his ignorance of parliamentary procedures.
In an interview with journalists in Abuja, yesterday, Opara said if anybody had betrayed his benefactors, it was Amaechi “who betrayed Peter Odili and the people of Rivers State, who entrusted him with their votes.”
Governor Amaechi had, during the convention of Ogbako Ikwere in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State, alleged that he begged President Jonathan to make, Mr Nyeson Wike, minister and also made Mr Opara Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives.
He had said: “By the grace of God, I made Chief Opara, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. God used me. Prominent politicians met me and told me that there cannot be two captains in a boat, if I make Opara Deputy Speaker, I might not be the political leader in Ikwerre, but I said I want my people to benefit and I picked Opara’s name and we battled to make him Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2003.”
Reacting, Opara said that Amaechi’s statement was a “sign of ignorance on how parliamentary procedures work. It is unfortunate that a public officer of the status of a governor can make such careless statement of that magnitude. He was Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. How can a member of the state House of Assembly make one a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives? It is a sign of ignorance on how parliamentary procedures work. 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 claimed 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 former 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,” he said.