BY Gbenga Ariyibi
THE Fourth House of Assembly of Ekiti State, a one-time homogeneous and united legislature that came into existence in June 2011 has now turned against itself. The chamber is enmeshed in an unprecedented crisis.
The House has 26 members with 24 from the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accounting for two. Only two members, Churchill Adedipe (ACN, Irepodun -Ifelodun Local Council) and Gbenga Odebunmi (ACN, Ekiti West) returned as old members.
With 40 bills passed into law in less than two years, the House has variously been adjudged as hard working and efficient. Led by a medical practitioner, Wale Omirin, a suave and witty politician from Gbonyin Local Council, things appeared rosy in the chamber until recently.
A sign that all was not well manifested mid last year when the two PDP members, who were then principal officers of the House, Bunmi Orilowo (Ido -Osi local Government) and Dele Ajibola also known as 50-50, were suddenly removed over an unsubstantiated allegation that they were acting as spies to the opposition PDP.
Since then things were never the same as the opposition legislators were sidelined in the House.
Build-up to crisis
The build up to the current crisis in the House started from the day Omirin emerged as the Speaker. in June 2011.
Majority of the lawmakers had no input into his emergence as he was said to have been imposed on them by the executive arm of the state government.
Some keen political observers, who have watched with keen in interest the day- to- day activities of the House, said it was a matter of time before the bubble bursts.
Now, some of the legislators are determined to change the leadership of the House, and the push has led to the emergence of two factions in the House: the pro-Omirin and anti- Omirin groups.
The anti-Omirin group, peopled mostly by some vocal amembers, have been meeting in Ado Ekiti, the state capital and outside the state on how to remove the speaker for his ‘’numerous sins,” Vanguard gathered.
They have not been uncomfortable with the speaker’s “closeness” with the state executive, which they said had robbed them of certain privileges and rights.
The anti-Omirin group wants as a speaker someone, who would always champion the cause of the House before the state executive and command the respect of the governor and other members of the state executive.
Christmas package trap catches Omirin
A proposal of N66million to the state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi for the celebration of Christmas and New Year festivities, unfortunately did not receive the blessings of the chief executive, as he slashed it to the sum of N53million.
The lawmakers viewed the governor’s refusal to approve the N66million for them as an affront occasioned by Omirin’s inability to do his assignment
One of the complaints of the lawmakers against the speaker is his inability to convince the governor on his stand on constituency projects. Hitherto, the lawmakers were mainly responsible for the execution of the constituency projects. That was before Fayemi came on board.
Under Fayemi, the legislators have been stripped of such executive actions being restricted to their legislative duties.
The anti-Omirin group is also complaining that the speaker has lately become very arrogant and not accountable to any one failing to carry members along on the issues concerning the administration of the House.
The state governor intervened by conveying a meeting of the caucus of the ACN leaders in the House where all the stakes holders were said to have spoken their minds freely
But the meeting was inconclusive, as some of the anti Omirin group failed to showed up at the re- conciliatory meeting
The governor was said to have pleaded passionately with the lawmakers not to cause dis- harmony in the House and by extension in the party
Since the beginning of the week, the tension escalated in the House due to the heavy presence of security operatives. Visitors to the House were searched to their pants before gaining access to the legislative complex.
Meanwhile, as a fall out to the crisis in the House, the lawmakers have forced the Clerk of the House, Mr Tunde Fagboyegun out,while his deputy has taken over in acting capacity. Also Mrs. Omowumi Ogunlola, the Chief Whip and the chairman House Committee on Information was said to have resigned her positions for “personal reasons”
It was not clear as at press time whether the speaker, Hon Omirin would follow suit
But the Special Adviser to the Speaker, Mr Wale Olujobi has dismissed all the allegations against his boss, saying the speaker was enjoying the best cooperation with majority of the lawmakers
He said the love and unity existing among the lawmakers has contributed immensely to the level of work done by the lawmakers based on the huge number of bills passed in the House.
He attributed the present crisis in the House to the handiwork opposition members in the state who are “jittery and disturbed” over what he described as ‘’monumental achievements being recorded in the House”.