By Dayo Johnson, Akure
Ondo State government has bought brand new sports utility vehicles (SUVs) for members of the state House of Assembly, a move interpreted as trying to break the ranks of the 16 lawmakers opposed to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.
In addition is said to be a promise of automatic ticket to parliament in next year elections made to some of the aggrieved lawmakers by the ruling party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It was gathered that the long awaited Kia Optima SUVs promised the lawmakers by Akeredolu on his assumption of office were delivered recently.
The cars, according to sources, were personally presented to the lawmakers individually by the governor.
Consequently, some of the aggrieved lawmakers may have joined the nine loyal to Akeredolu.
One of the sources said the governor had insisted that he would personally present the SUVs to each of the 26 lawmakers.
On presentation day, it was learnt that the lawmakers started to trickle into the Assembly Complex ostensibly to benefit before the expiration of their tenure in June next year because of the governor’s insistence to present the car personally to each of the willing lawmakers.
No fewer than 16 out of the 26 lawmakers, it was gathered, have been presented the official vehicles.
Sunday Vanguard also learnt that the APC has promised to give automatic ticket to some of the aggrieved lawmakers ahead of the 2019 polls to further divide them.
But those who won the last primaries, and are not lawmakers, and their names already submitted to INEC have vowed not to let go of their tickets.
A source hinted that such members may be directed by the leadership of the APC in Ondo to defect to another political party and would be backed during the elections.
The same scenario played out in Ondo North senatorial district where Lagos lawyer, Dr Tunji Abayomi, had to defect to AA following the automatic ticket given to ranking Senator Ajayi Boroffice.
Some failed House of Representatives aspirants in the party also defected to the AA to contest the 2019 election allegedly with the full support of the state APC machinery.
Meanwhile, Speaker Olamide George and some of his close colleagues were said to have snubbed the carrot dangled by Akeredolu, insisting that they have lost confidence in his preferred Speaker, Bamidele Oloyelogun.
The lawmakers had impeached Oloyelogun and his deputy, Ogundele lroju, about a month ago and elected George.
The governor has since then not recognised the new Speaker and deputy.
The aggrieved lawmakers fled the state over alleged threat to their lives when they were beaten up by members of a transport union hours after they sacked the two principal officers.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State waded into the crisis but all to no avail.
Akeredolu, according to a source, was not favourably disposed to the suggestion that the embattled Speaker and the new one (George) should resign for a new Speaker to emerge.
While both men (Oloyelogun and George) stuck to their guns, the governor pulled a fast one by insisting on presenting the official vehicles to them individually.
At their last plenary, reports had it that the number of lawmakers backing Akeredolu, which was initially nine, had jumped to 21.
Oloyelogun confirmed to Sunday Vanguard that the governor had presented the vehicle to the members.
The embattled Speaker said that “most of the contentious issues, which include official vehicles for the lawmakers, have been resolved and the governor has approved the constituency projects for the lawmakers”.
He assured the people of the various constituencies across the state that they would soon begin to see the constituency projects which would soon be executed.
Oloyelogun said that lawmakers, who had abandoned the Assembly in the wake of the crisis arising from the change of leadership, had returned to continue their legislative activities.
The arrow heads of the dissenting lawmakers, Gbenga Araoyinbo and Fatai Olotu, also confirmed that normalcy had returned to the legislature.
Others who attended the last plenary include the deputy Majority Leader, Olusegun Ajimotokin, former Majority Leader, Dayo Akinsoyinu, former Deputy Speaker, Samuel Arowele, and the Minority Leader, Sola Ebiwonjumi.
Fatai Olotu, who was a former deputy Speaker and presently the Chairman of the House Committee on lnformation, said Oleyelogun remained Speaker.
Olotu, one of those allegedly wooed with a return ticket, said the crisis is now over following the intervention of influential Nigerians within and outside the state.
“Most of the issues that led to the crisis are being addressed by the appropriate authorities, full legislative activities have resumed at the Assembly”, he said.
The embattled Speaker, who was elated, said that the attendance of the aggrieved members at plenary, was an indication that normalcy had finally returned to the Assembly.
Oloyelogun promised to continue to work for the welfare of all lawmakers and offer purposeful leadership.