By Gbenga Ariyibi, Ado Ekiti
In Ekiti State, there is no love lost between the All Progressive Congress (APC) dominated House of Assembly and the state government under the control of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since October 21 when Governor Ayo Fayose came on board.
Naturally, one expected the cat and mouse relationship between the two parties which engaged each other in the turbulent June 21 governorship election in Ekiti.
In the 26 -member state assembly, only one was a member of the PDP, while the remaining 25 were members of the APC until the day the governor was inaugurated when six APC members dumped their party for the PDP.
This brought the number of APC lawmakers in the assembly to 19 and PDP 7.
Before the face- off escalated, rumour flew about that the APC under former Governor Kayode Fayemi was working in concert with the state judiciary to remove Fayose through the court on the case on his eligibility for the October 21 poll filed by Ekiti-based socio organization, E-11.
The calculation, according to those in the PDP, was that after the removal of Fayose and the expiration of the four-year term of Fayemi, the Speaker of the state assembly, Hon Adewale Omirin, would naturally emerge as acting governor and be in office for 90 days.
Therefore, Omirin has been under surveillance by the PDP government.
This frosty relationship continued until November 11 when the governor wrote to the House to thrash three issues namely: The screening and confirmation of the three commissioner-nominees, the power to constitute caretaker committees for the 16 local government areas of the state, and approval to source for N2billion loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The House at plenary merely approved the raising of the N2billion CBN loan and tactically turned down the two other requests.
The reason adduced for turning down the confirmation of the commissioner-nominees ,according to the lawmakers, was that their curriculum vitaes were not available.
On the composition of the caretaker committees, the House refused to deliberate on the issue on the premise that the matter was pending in court.
However, Sunday Vanguard gathered that the lawmakers were only looking for excuses as they were said to have made certain demands ,some of which were considered ridiculous by the Fayose government.
Among the demands, according to Owoseni Ajayi, the new Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, was the issue of not reopening murder cases hanging on the necks of some top APC leaders in the state.
“Among their demands is they don’t want Fayose to review the case of nolle prosequei, on the murder case hanging on the necks of some of them,” Ajayi said.
The relationship snowballed into the crisis of Monday, November 17 when seven PDP lawmakers in the assembly and three unidentified people sat amidst tight security and ratified the list of the three commissioner-nominees.
The lawmakers, who appointed Speaker Pro tempore, Hon Dele Olugbemi, equally empowered the governor to appoint 12 Special Advisers and constitute caretaker committees to man the affairs of the 16 local government councils in the state.
The assembly witnessed no fewer than 100 riot policemen and a sizeable number of officials of Department of State Security (DSS) who came with armored personnel carriers to provide security for the lawmakers.
The lawmakers were later taken out of the assembly premises in a government bus.
The action of the lawmakers generated reactions from the opposition APC who not only condemned it but equally faulted the process the lawmakers adopted.
According to a statement by the party’s image maker, Taiwo Olatubosun, the APC insisted that only seven PDP lawmakers were in the House as against 10 claimed to have ratified the commissioner-nominees.
Also,the Speaker, Omirin, alleged that the account of the House was frozen on the order of the governor.
However, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Idowu Adelusi, denied all the allegations raised by the APC lawmakers.
Adelusi told newsmen that Fayose was not interested in dabbling into the affairs of another arm of government.
But the PDP lawmakers were not through with their APC counterparts yet. Last Thursday, at the assembly complex, they reconvened to impeach Omirin and Hon. Tunji Orisalade as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.
Hon Dele Olugbemi from Ikole Constituency1 was subsequently elected the new Speaker while Hon Abeni Olayinka,representing Ado Constituency 2, emerged as Deputy Speaker.
After the change in the leadership of the House,the leader of the Government Business, Hon Ajibola, moved a motion to effect a change in the slogan of the state from ‘Land of Honour’ to ‘Fountain of Knowledge’.
Speaking with the newsmen shortly after the session,the new speaker, Olugbemi,promised to work with the executive arm of government to fast track the development of the state.
The lawmakers adjourned till Friday, November 24.
In his reaction in an interview on AIT in Lagos, Omirin described his impeachment as unacceptable.
He said all the APC lawmakers would return to Ekiti on Monday (tomorrow) to resume at the assembly.
Meanwhile, Fayose has cleared himself of the allegation that he was instrumental to the happenings in the House.
According to a statement by his spokesman, Adelusi, the governor should not be linked with the change in the leadership of the House.
“It is not only ridiculous, but also sheer balderdash to link the executive arm of government with what is happening in the legislative arm. There is separation of power among all tiers of government and Governor Fayose is not a member of the assembly,”he said.
“One does not need to be a professor of mathematics to know that one third of 26 is nine and the rule of the Assembly is that nine members form a quorum and, when that number of lawmakers agree to sit and deliberate on issues, they are covered by the rule of the Assembly.
“For those having any doubt about the identity of the legislators attending the sitting of the assembly, I believe the best place to find out is from the assembly. Anybody interested in that can contact the Clerk of the assembly.”