April 19, 2010

Intrigues that turned Ondo Assembly table against PDP

By Dayo Johnson

WHAT to expect in the 20011 election in Ondo State is gradually unfolding going by the eruption that swept off the youthful Speaker of the the State House of Assembly Hon Taofiq Abdusalam and other principal officers of the House.

Indeed it was a day of many knives as 18 of the Lawmakers including those of his party PDP were against his continued leadership. The sins of the Principal Officers according to the lawmakers were ineptitude and the need for a balance in political zoning.

Happenings in the last one week in the political firmament of the state have shown that the governor Dr Olusegun Mimiko is fully in control of the state. Before now, the PDP although in the opposition no thanks to the ousting of the former governor Dr Olusegun Agagu by the Court of Appeal judgment, has been holding sway in the Assembly and have politically been holding the ruling party LP in “hostage” because it controls the highest number of members in the House of Assembly.

But the table was turned a week ago when the members of the hitherto largest party in Africa were caught napping and were swept off by human volcano.

Information pieced together showed that the governor had saved the neck of the former Speaker on three occasions .

It should be noted that the leadership of Abdusalam was popular in the beginning but the interest of many of the members to occupy the seat threatened his continued leadership. No fewer that three different groups are equally interested in the seat while the Deputy Speaker Mayowa Akinfolarin who has been occupying the seat since year 2003 is seen by another group within the Assembly as depriving others of the perks of that position by sitting tight. Specifically the new Speaker Adesina complained that he had been denied the seat of Deputy Speaker on two occasions by the former governor who asked him to allow Akinfolarin.

Another group within the House which is not happy with the  cordial relationship between the Executive and Legislative arms of Government in the State as evident by the quick passage of the 2010 budget and other Executive bills is also out to scuttle the former Speaker’s ambition to contest  for the Senatorial seat next year.

Investigation by Vanguard revealed that the idea to sack the principal officers has been on for over two months especially when some powerful hawks in the House were asking for the impossible from the governor Dr Olusegun Mimiko before they would pass the supplementary budget presented by him

While members of the ruling Labour Party pleaded with their PDP colleagues then in the majority to allow the passage of the budget, the opposition party members insisted that the governor should be whipped to line so as to dance to their tune.

After the arm twisting had dragged for weeks some PDP members in the Assembly capitulated saying that the state was greater than anyone of them and that they should do what was right in the overall interest of the state.

They were castigated and reported to a leader of the party who summoned and tongue lashed them for suggesting that a breather be given to a governor in opposition party.

It was after this ugly episode that the coup started taking shape and the number kept increasing by day until two weeks when it was executed to the chagrin of the principal officers of the Assembly who were cork sure that such a Coup could’nt have taken place without them having an inkling. In fact they had their ears to the ground but this time around they were beaten to it by the Adesina

A day previous, Vanguard learnt that a meeting was held in the House of Hon Fidelis Akinwolemiwa a respected member of the Assembly who is of the ruling party and it was perfected that another PDP member Fatai Adams be made Speaker.

But several other meetings reportedly held took place in the residences of those against the leadership of Abdusalam and one of such was said to have been held in the official residence of the only female member Asake Olubitan representing Ose constituency.
As early as 7am on that day, Adams who had joined the camp of the ousted Speaker because he felt betrayed by the other camp for not making him Speaker despite assurance arrived the Assembly and even called his personal friends including journalists on telephone that they should expect a big news today and should join him at a popular joint later in the day to celebrate.

Vanguard learnt that after he left the meeting where he was assured that he would be supported another meeting was held and the table was upturned when one of those present presented another reason why the new change in the leadership of the Assembly should reflect political balancing.

But unknown to Adams who was clad in his white traditional attire and a black cap to match entered into the chambers took his seat and was expecting his elevation to the exalted seat which never came.

When nominations were made he and the new Speaker Samuel Adesina emerged but after voting, Adams lost out to Adesina by six votes to nine even after voting for himself.

Infuriated by the result he stormed out and his staunch supporter Hon Asake Olubitan in protest left with him. But this did not stop the other members who brandished a list in which 18 of the 26 members had earlier signed calling for the impeachment of the Speaker and the Principal Officers of the Assembly.

Signs that Abdusalam would need divine intervention to survive as Speaker emerged when he was elected despite the fact that leaders of the party in the state were not comfortable with his emergence. In fact he was a child of circumstance because it was believed that the Speaker that was there before him Bakita Bello may not cooperate in the event that the Court of Appeal ordered for a rerun in the governorship election. Bakita is seen as a non conformist by the Agagu led administration. He has since not forgotten the leaders and the party for his downfall so when the opportunity came he was in support of those that called for the head of Abdusalam and had even decamped to the ruling party in the state.

But the judgment went the other way and since then leaders of the party are not happy with the Principal Officers of the House for not taking orders from them on how to tackle and frustrate the administration of Dr Mimiko.

Even within the PDP some are saying that the former Speaker and his officers deserve the treatment meted to them by the members because according to them they have compromised and cooperated with Dr Mimiko by attending ceremonies and events organized by the state government and the passage of the Supplementary budget and the 2010 budget without much stress

Speaking with Vanguard on the sins of the former Speaker, the Chairman House Committee on Information, Hon Kele Bolodeoku said that the Speaker was sacked for ineptitude and that the members have lost confidence in his leadership.

But the sacked Speaker Abdusalam fired back by denying ever resigning his appointment adding that his purported sack was orchestrated by the governor Dr Mimiko.

Abdusalam said that his mobile phone was stolen and text messages were forwarded to members of the public that he had resigned.

He said the action of the other camp was illegal and unconstitutional because they failed to make the 2/3 majority to effect the change in the leadership of the Assembly as only 15 members sat conducted an illegal exercise which is not binding.

While raising alarm that his security men had been withdrawn the former Speaker called on security operatives in the state to give protection to the ten members in the face of the unfolding scenario .

He said his sack was to preempt the list of the state Independent Electoral Commission ODIEC that was to be brought by the state government to the Assembly ahead of the council polls.

But Bolodeoku in his response to the constitutionality of their action said that the 18 members who signed the impeachment letter were above the 2\3 majority requested by the constitution to sack the leaders of the House.

He pointed out that the sacked Speaker after his impeachment rushed and tendered his letter of resignation which he is now denying.

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