•Says: ‘I know what impeachable offences are and there’s none against me’
By Josephine Agbonkhese
Rt.Hon. (Mrs) Rita Maduagwu is the Speaker, Anambra State House of Assembly; an assembly that has constantly been in the news since November 13th when news of its Speaker’s sudden impeachment broke.
In this exclusive interview with Weekend Woman, Maduagwu, a trained Lawyer who insists she remains Speaker of the house, speaks about the controversial impeachment which was however reportedly foiled, renders it invalid and declares there is no impeachable offence against her so far.
Some say your attempted impeachment is purely political and not any form of gender prejudice…?
Of course that’s the number one issue; my being a woman. They want a man who can always fight the governor of the State, Chief Willie Obiano. They don’t care whether there is stability or not in the state. They want things to be business as usual whether or not the governor is working. They feel a woman should not be a leader whether or not she is doing well. So, that’s the number one root of the problem.
What about the allegations of financial impropriety, high handedness and gross misconduct cited by the aggrieved lawmakers?
All those are stories. What I have told you is that I am being fought because I am a woman, one, and then two, because of the aftermath of the primaries held recently. All those fighting against me are angry that they lost out in the party primaries held recently.
(Cuts in) But you were also said to have lost out as well at the primaries?
That’s not true. I did not lose out. About eight of the people involved in this battle actually vied for the Federal House but did not get the ticket. As it is now, 14 of us are likely coming back to the State House. But because they vied for the Federal House and couldn’t get the tickets, they are now fighting. They feel they spent so much money and it is my head they will use to settle the scuffles with the governor. They feel that once they remove me, they will be able to fight the governor head-on. That is just the simple truth. They don’t have the two-third of the majority to be able to impeach me. They are only trying to take laws into their hands by bullying people around and making the state ungovernable. But that will not solve their problem.
But we learned they were 22 out of 30 who carried out your impeachment…
(Cuts in) That is a lie. We have a house of 30, including me, and 15 of us are coming back. So where did they get the two-third they are talking about? There are just framing all those rubbish to buy sympathy. But people from my state know the truth, so, nobody is buying from their useless sympathy. It’s actually the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that is using them to fight the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, because they feel my governor has a good relationship with the president and might not support the PDP in the coming election. You know the Vice-Presidential candidate, Peter Obi, is a former governor of Anambra State.
You argue they are angry about the outcome of the primaries, but they reportedly claim they were “tired of you being their Speaker” even before the primaries and that the governor had been the one preventing your impeachment…
How can the governor prevent them from impeaching me? That’s impossible. Like I told you, my being a woman is their problem and secondly, they are annoyed that the governor did not save them from losing out in the primaries.
The governor is not a house member that will come and vote “yes” or “no” for me; so how did he prevent them? If they had the majority (which luckily they do not have) my Speakership would have been a story of the past.
What’s your relationship with the governor aside that which should exist between the legislature and the executive?
We have a cordial relationship. In fact, the three arms of government—legislature, executive and judiciary—have very cordial relationships here in Anambra State. That’s the only reason we can make progress in Anambra and also have good development.
These aggrieved lawmakers believe the governor, being the Board of Trustees, BoT, Chairman of APGA, should have given them return tickets whether they won or not at the primaries. But this is a party issue and normally, a party has the upper hand in deciding who is going to be flag-bearer.
Next year will make it four years since I have been the speaker of the assembly and for some good reasons, my predecessor is also a woman. So, we know the truth and why the state decided to work with female Speakers than males; because of their (male lawmakers) antecedents and what they have been known for. You remember the case of Chris Ngige and Peter Obi?
Are you insinuating that female lawmakers are easier for the executive to work with or should I say manipulate…?
We are more humane; we understand more and are more transparent. It’s like in a household; a woman will know how to manage the little resources available so that everybody is happy. But for men, it’s business as usual; they can say “if the governor refuses to share money or do our bidding, then let us raze down this state.”
Ikem Uzoezie, the lawmaker who lead your impeachment process, has vowed that you must be impeached and has already dragged the executive to court concerning this…
(Cuts in) Power belongs to God, not to any man. You can see how desperate he is. It is the Lord that maketh kings and not any human being. Ikem has vowed to impeach me but God will be the one to give the final verdict concerning my office. He (Ikem) does not have two-third of the majority and he cannot. He just wants to sabotage the peace we have in this state. I tell you, the governor is doing very well and working tirelessly.
They are there crying about the money they spent fruitlessly at the primaries. Help me ask them: were their monies given to the speaker? So why should they transfer their aggression at me?
I am actually the only female speaker in this country today. If I had not done well, the governor himself will tell me to resign. I am here because I am doing well as a speaker. We are at the verge of going out of office so why would a group of persons want to put the state to a standstill because of madness?
In terms of achievement, how would you say you’ve stood out as a speaker?
Even if you’re not from Anambra, as a Nigerian, you must have heard about how peaceful this state has been. I tell you, that is an achievement. You can feel the difference between Anambra and any other state in Nigeria.
We have peace, security, we treat all our bills as and when due. I carry out my duties diligently as a legislator and I am the Chairman, Conference of Speakers, South-East Zone, currently. I cannot start blowing my trumpet but I know I have done well. I am a lawyer by profession and I know the law. I know what impeachable offences are but there is none that anyone can identify against me on this matter.
The only crime I have committed is being a woman. But my state knows what is best for them to have decided to balance the equation by having a female speaker.
But your predecessor was a woman and your colleagues elected you knowing you were a woman; so why should your sex be a problem three years down the line when your predecessor completed her tenure?
My predecessor got her own share of this victimization. I tell you, it was not easy for her. She was on hot seat and in fact, was celebrating the day she handed over to me. If you call her, she will share some of her experiences with you; I’m sure. My prayer is to complete my tenure without being embarrassed out of office for no reason. Like I said, power belongs to God and not to any human.