By Dayo Johnson
THE less than a year tenure of the first female Speaker of the Ondo state House of assembly, Rt Hon Jumoke Akindele would have ended unceremoniously last week except for mother luck.
Ironically, the speaker of the 40-year old state was booted out by the male dominated Assembly on the exact day women across the globe were marking International Women’s Day. What an irony for the Princess of Idepe in Okitipupa area of the state.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko was the angel God sent to deliver her as she walked through the “valley of the shadow of death” at 10pm-an unholy time to stab her in the back by her supposedly trusted colleagues.
Mimiko’s, timely intervention gave her a breather at the eleventh hour as she was delivered from the claws of the members of the Assembly. But suspicion has set in between her and the “18 coup planners”
Although Akindele was their main target, the coup planners would not want to be unfair to the women folk if she goes down alone so they threw the baby and the bath water away by sacking all the principal officers in the assembly in a blanket sweep.
But political observers in the state argued that the last has not been heard on the hullabaloo in the 8th assembly.
Their postulation is that if the sack of the speaker by 18 of the 26 members of the assembly had the input of the opposition All Progressive Congress, APC, then the people of the state should seat back for the unfolding season drama that may ultimately target the governor.
However, Iroko according to one of his aides “ is too experienced to be caught unawares in such a game”.
Although some of the aides of the governor said that he was privy to the frosty relationship between the speaker and her honourable colleagues but prefers that they “sort themselves out.” He was however said not to have expected the matter to degenerate to that level.
The governor who was away in Abuja had to race back home to save the speaker and others from the mouth of the lions who were about swallowing them and consign their less than a year tenure to the dustbin of history.
His meeting with the warring lawmakers failed to resolve the crisis on the first day and had to continue the following day.
Vanguard gathered that the meeting which was held at the government house ground behind closed doors for over five hours, members reportedly tabled the sins of their prey and subsequently commitments were made by the governor and they came out beaming with smiles.
Few hours after the resolution the member returned to the plenary with the embattled Speaker presiding over the passage of the appropriation bill after jerking it up from N118b to N123.720b. It was amazing that the Lawmakers could not even wait till the following day to perform this constitutional duty.
The opposition APC cried foul and described the lawmakers as the walking stick of the executives.
Political analysts are of the view that the sack of the speaker, her deputy, Fatai Olotu and all the principal officers has created a sharp division amongst the members of the Assembly and henceforth things may never be the same again.
Timely intervention of the governor not withstanding, distrust will most likely prevail among them till further notice.
Vanguard learnt that the cup of the speaker became full a week ago and his “ boys” – as he, according to them, used to refer to them during official engagements – finalized their plan to boot her out.
But they chose an odd hour of the day which attracted condemnation across the sunshine state.
Questions were asked that if the lawmakers really wanted to go the hog by dealing with the Speaker they ought to have waited till the breaking of the day and not congregate in a beer parlour at 10pm to announce the sack of the Speaker, her deputy Fatai Olotu and all the principal officers.
Political observers in the state are also at a loss as to the involvement of 14 PDP members who are first timers and who could best be regarded as the “Iroko foot soldiers” in the Assembly sack saga.
The involvement of four of the five members of the opposition party in the Assembly was understandable but that of the Iroko boys sent some signals that the executives may be in the know and may want to shake the Assembly following allegations of the infiltration of the opposition party ahead of the November governorship election in the state.
But aides to the governor have dismissed this, saying, what happened in the Assembly was a storm in atea cup which is normal in a democracy and more so in a party which allows internal democracy to reign.
It was also being rumoured that the whole drama was orchestrated by the members including those sacked to arm twist the governor who has become tight fisted and deprived them of their entitlements including official vehicles, quarters, three months salaries and allowances among other benefits during his second term in office.
Those who signed the impeachment notice which was leaked to journalists at about 10:30pm include Arowele Ayodeji ( Owo 1), Iroju Ogundeji ( Odigbo 1), Olusola Oluyede (Ose), Akindiose Olusiji ( Ondo East), Akintimehin I Tuyi (Idanre) and Akinruntan Abayomi (Ilaje 1)
Others were Fajolu Abimbola ( Ileoluji –Okeigbo), Araoyinbo Olugbenga ( Akoko North East), Olusegun Ajimotokin (Irele), Jamiu Suleiman Maito ( Akoko North West 1), Felemu Olusegun ( Akoko South West II), Coker Adeniyi Malachi ( Ilaje II), Towase O Kuti ( Akoko South East) and Kazeem MOS (Akoko South West 1)
Also involved was; Obadiah Vincent ( Ese Odo), Ade Adeniyi (Ondo West 1), Olamide George (Akure North) and Mukaila Musa ( Owo II), who all appended their signatures to the sack notice.
Some of the sins of the speaker include high handedness, lack of vision and inability to represent them well before the executive. They are pissed off that she had become a stooge of the governor.
Not wanting a vacuum, the members announced the choice of Hon Iroju Ogundeji of Odigbo I Constituency and Hon Ayo Arowele of Owo I as the new Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively just as security was beefed up in the assembly to forestall breakdown of law and other.
The Chairman House Committee on Information, Hon. Olamide George after the “war” said they reviewed their situation and decided to make a U-turn on the impeachment.
According to George; “ Before plenary, Wednesday, 9th March, 2016, members at a larger and official gathering met to review the situation and consequently resolved to allow the status quo ante on the leadership of the Ondo State House of Assembly as at 7th March 2016 to remain.
“ The House of Assembly remains united, cohesive and alive to its. Constitutional responsibilities.
“ The issue of leadership of the house is an internal affairs and has been treated as such.
However reacting , a political movement in the state, Ondo State today, described the dramatic u-turn of the 18 lawmakers as an act of cowardice, mockery of democracy and show of shame on the part of the legislative members who set aside the rules of the House by impeaching the Speaker outside of the Assembly floor in a private residence at 10pm but was later reversed.
It’s coordinator Akinwunmi Bayode, explained that the reasons stated by the lawmakers for Akindele’s impeachment are not strong enough to deserve being impeached.
“The legislative members, especially the ruling PDP members, should perhaps share part of her blame of lack of focus, transparency, incompetence, arrogance and poor leadership also leveled against her for electing her for a second term in office as speaker and for staying this long before discovering all these traits,” Bayode said,
Bayode fingered the state governor as the brain behind the impeachment saying; “it is obvious the impeachment of the Speaker was ordered by forces outside the Assembly.
“ We believe Jumoke Akindele has overspent her usefulness to Dr. Mimiko, or must have fallen out of favour or offended him in one way or the other and he decided to use the impeachment as a warning.
“The legislators should be wary as this could just be a ploy to divide and disorganise them from finding a common ground to continue to demand their welfare, as since their inception, no official vehicle has been provided for them neither was their apartment furnished and other benefit due was made available to them. “
But the State Publicity Secretary of PDP, Banji Okunomo lambasted the group and the opposition party in the state for bringing Mimiko into the crisis in the House of Assembly noting that the opposition dream of seeing a disarray Assembly will never come to fruition.
Okunomo pointed out that the opposition alleged Mimiko of fuelling the crisis but when the governor quickly called the aggrieved members and the Speaker to a round table talk, the opposition still condemned the role of Mimiko in settling the problem within the state House of Assembly.
He absolved Mimiko from the crisis and said the governor had to wade in to guide against state of anarchy which may affect smooth administration of the state.
According to Okuomo; “The impeachment which we heard about had also been reversed by those who have the legitimate right to do so and it is the legitimate right of the 26 members to say they are impeaching or not, it is their constitutional power vested in them.
“We are in democracy and the House of Assembly is an independent, autonomous body which has its rules and regulation guiding it.
“ We are not privy to the reason why they choose to impeach the speaker, the government and party are not privy to it too, and the same set of lawmakers said they are rescinding their decision in the interest of moving the state forward.’’
He declared that “I know it has been a source of bitterness in the camp of opposition because the impeachment was not successful but they should not drag governor Mimiko into this”