The South-East Caucus in the Senate is in the news for the bad reason as two of its members are using foul language against each other over alleged attempt to de-market an indigenous automobile firm in the region.
The arrowheads of the fight, which has already gone messy, are Senators Ifeanyi Ubah (Anambra South) and Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu State).
For informing the Senate that a certain South-East Senator had attempted to de-market and destroy the business of the indigenous automobile firm in the South East, the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited, Ubah, in a letter dated July 17th, 2020, asked Utazi to immediately tender an unreserved apology to the entire South East, the Senate and himself for misinforming the public.
He challenged Utazi to mention the name of the Senator who opposed the purchase of the Innoson vehicles by the Senate.
The letter read in part, “While I commend your acknowledgement of the importance of promoting the Igbo economy, which is my core mantra and one of my utmost priorities in the National Assembly, it is unfortunate that you failed to mention the Senator who committed such an unpardonable act by opposing the procurement of vehicles made by Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited during a Senate transport Committee Meeting which I never attended since I’m not a member.
“I find it most unfortunate and sad that till now, you are still unable to produce any evidence to prove that the alleged incident to de-market IVM occurred, or at least, apologise and inform Nigerians that you erred by bringing an unverified social media rumour to the floor of the Senate.
“As a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you should have contacted or consulted the leadership of the Senate Committee on Transport or any member of the committee which our highly respected brother and leader from Enugu, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, is a member, to find out if such happened.”
The trouble began last week when, on the floor of the Senate, Utazi had through a point of order drawn the attention of his colleagues to alleged disparaging comments made by another South-East Senator against the managing director of IVMCL, Chief Innocent Chukwuma.
Without mentioning any name, Utazi alleged that there were orchestrated attempts by that South-East Senator to run down the automobile firm
He had said, “It was highly disturbing and worrisome that such plots are coming from people within the same geopolitical zone with the industrial giant.
“Chief Innocent Chukwuma had done more than enough in getting the country industrialised as far as automobile sector is concerned than for some people to be ganging up against him and which must be condemned by the Senate.”
Senate President Ahmad Lawan was forced to interrupt Utazi’s submissions as some other South-East senators raised objections against Utazi’s allegations.
Apparently uncomfortable, Ubah made spirited efforts to raise a counter-motion but was not allowed, a situation that made him leave the chamber unceremoniously in anger.
He was followed by a few other Senators from the South East region who took side with him against Utazi. He later addressed journalists after the plenary to further condemn the action of Utazi.
Ubah said he remained one of the biggest customers of Innoson vehicles, having purchased many of them for private and official purposes and could not have disparaged a firm he was patronising.