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OSUN: The three-horse race for the speakership

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By Gbenga Olarinoye

The issue of who becomes the next speaker of Osun State House of Assembly is now in the front burner in the state and is generating debate among members of the public and the All Progressives Congress, APC, that has the majority in the coming assembly.

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The speakership position will likely go to one of the three members that are returning to the assembly. Only Olatunji Babatunde ‘Lekan (Ife North constituency), Timothy Owoeye (Ilesha East constituency) and Babatunde Festus Komolafe (Atakunmosa East/West constituency) are returning out of the 23 APC members. The Peoples Democratic Party, has three members.

From all indications, it is, however, very clear that Ife/Ijesa which is in Osun East Senatorial district will produce the next speaker because the incumbent governor is from Osun Central and his vice hails from the West. The battle for the position is mainly between Owoeye and Olatunji.

The APC, being the party with the majority, has a fourth timer who is the most senior and a second timer who some people believe is competent to lead the assembly.

However, Owoeye, who is the present leader of the House, is likely to emerge considering the seniority and interest of the former governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who also hails from Ilesa, the constituency Owoeye represents. Owoeye is retuning for the fourth term in the next dispensation and this has been the reason some people say that he is qualified to occupy the seat being the most senior legislator.

But some political gladiators have kicked against the agitation that seniority should be considered for a position that is likely to have a profound effect on the success of the governor. Those agitating for Olatunji believe that he is vibrant and talented.

Former governor Aregbesola still has grip of the party in the state and it would be too early for Governor Gboyega Oyetola to start having issues with him.

However, a social political group “Ife Advancement Agenda” warned the leadership of APC in the state to resist the pressure to further alienate Ife Federal Constituency in the distribution of political offices.

The group, in a statement by its convener, David Awotipe, made specific request for the post of Speaker of the House of Assembly to be given to Ife Federal Constituency to douse the rising discontent in the ranks of the ruling party in Ife Federal Constituency.

The statement read: “It is of concern to us in Ife Federal Constituency that some people would still be clamouring for the post of Speaker of the next House of Assembly, even when that position seems the last available that should ordinarily be given to a strategic political enclave like Ife Federal Constituency.

“In the last general elections, Ife federal Constituency out of respect for APC rotation policy, did not field candidate for Ife/Ijesa Senatorial election. Politically, the Ife federal constituency has always proved it’s penchant for progressive politics with it’s unwavering support for the ruling party as attested in the last Governorship election and recent House of Assembly election in the state.

The IAA stressed further that,” Ife Federal Constituency have quality lawmakers, that combine length of service and cognate experience in lawmaking and management that could fill the position of Speaker of Osun House of Assembly.

“For the sake of fairness and equity; more importantly in compliance with the spirit and letters of the 1999 constitution as amended in respect of its provisions in Section 14, sub section 4, we are of the opinion that distribution of political positions should not be lopsided. We advice our party to be fair and just in dealing with the issue.”

Similarly, a human right activist, Comrade Waheed Saka, said the involvement of party in the selection of assembly leadership is the best to institutionalise party democracy. Saka, who is the convener of Dialogue 365, said the practice all over is to consider ranking members as leaders of the assembly, stressing that those that have capacity can also be considered.

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