By Samuel Oyadongha, Yenagoa
After weeks of speculations, bickering and intrigues within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa, the peace of the State House of Assembly was desecrated last Monday with its Speaker, Rt. Hon, Tonye Emmanuel Isenah, ousted in what could best be described as a palace coup.
The assembly, which prided itself as an oasis of peace had enjoyed relative stability in the last eight years until the recent change of leadership in a controversial circumstance.
Genesis of crisis
Though many saw Isenah’s travail as self inflicted, having allegedly agreed to a gentleman agreement reached by the leadership of the Restoration Caucus of the PDP, a camp he was an active member, to serve for three months and step aside as part of the political permutation, should the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship candidate come from Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
Saturday Vanguard learned that given the voting strength of the area, it was the resolution of the party leaders to cede the Speakership of the House to Hon Monday Obolo representing Southern Ijaw II, who is also a ranking legislator, (third termer) like Isenah.
According to assembly sources, Isenah, having enjoyed the peck and glamour of the office of Speaker as the number three citizen in the predominantly riverine state where politics is the only thriving industry, reneged on the agreement reached and instead chose to carry on as Speaker.
This, according to an insider, angered the powers that be within his party who orchestrated his removal.
It was however learned that following the intense pressure brought on him to resign as speaker by some PDP leaders, Isenah penultimate Friday had a farewell meeting with staff of the assembly in a show of readiness to vacate his position when the House resumed sitting on Monday.
The source said: “Isenah hinted of his resignation while addressing staff of the Assembly after presiding over plenary on Friday.” He was quoted telling staff of the State House Assembly that the meeting with them may be the last in his position as Speaker.
“He was said to have reached an agreement with Dickson and other PDP leaders to vacate his office in the event that Senator Douye Diri, who hails from his Kolokuma-Opokuma Local Government Area, emerged the candidate of the PDP for the election.
“Following the emergence of Diri, PDP leaders were said to have asked Isenah to surrender his position to another lawmaker from Southern Ijaw to enable the party garner votes from the council.
“Hon. Monday Obolo was primed to succeed Isenah in an arrangement aimed at assuaging the people of the Southern Ijaw area where the flag bearer of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Chief David Lyon hails from. The idea is to ensure that Hon, Obolo influence robs off on the PDP and whittle down the high expectation of massive votes for the APC in the council area,” the source said.
But Isenah to the surprise of many did not resign when the House reconvened on Monday. Instead, he adjourned the House sitting sine die, and escorted out of the chamber by the sergeant at arm. Five other members of the House left with him.
An insider told Saturday Vanguard that the Speaker had fourteen members of the House on his side and that this might have encouraged him to want to assert his authority. “But he was let down by some he thought were with him,” the source said.
All hell was let loose following the alarm that the mace of the House, its symbol of authority had been taken away by the embattled speaker. Gunshots rented the air as staff and journalists who had been ordered out of the chamber so as not to witness the sitting scampered for safety.
Surprisingly, 18 members led by the Deputy Speaker, Hon Abraham Ngobere representing Brass III stayed back, brought out another mace and moved for the impeachment of Isenah.
Saturday Vanguard learned that contrary to claim that the new mace was brought in from the Yenagoa local government council legislative arm, the Bayelsa Assembly had three. The one used belonged to it. The Deputy Speaker asked if there was any member with any matter of urgent public importance and Hon Bernard Kenebai representing Sagbama II signified by saying yes and moved for the impeachment of the Speaker over alleged gross misconduct and dereliction of duty. The motion was supported by a unanimous voice votes from members.
Hon Ngobere immediately called for the nomination of a new Speaker and Hon. Oboku Oforji representing Yenagoa I moved for the nomination of Hon. Monday Obolo as Speaker of the State House of Assembly which was seconded by Hon. Naomi Igoli representing Ogbia constituency III.
I remain the speaker — Isenah
But Isenah, who is yet to see how relinquishing his office would make the PDP win the coming poll dismissed report of his impeachment saying he remained the speaker of the Assembly having successfully presided over its sitting and adjourned sine die and escorted out by the Sergeant at arm.
He said any member who sat back to do anything “was on illegal duty.”
“I went to the house, all members entered the chambers for our sitting, after addressing the house, as the presiding officer, I announced the recess, so the house is on recess.
“In the house that is adjourned, nothing is to be done in that house until we reconvene again, I presided over the house as a Speaker, I did not preside as impeached Speaker or Speaker that resigned, I presided as authentic speaker of the house and I have adjourned the house.
“Anything that happens in that house without me reconvening the house is illegal, and it remains an illegality, that is what I want all Bayelsans and Nigerians to know. Constitutionally, legislature is an independent arm of government, and that arm needs to be respected and the ideals of separation of power need to be respected, that house has been adjourned.
“Nobody can reconvene that house except me, but if anybody sits to do anything, it is an illegality, I’m not a violent person.
“I never had any arrangement with anybody to resign after three months as a Speaker. At the appropriate time, I will address Bayelsans and tell them what transpired. I never had an arrangement to resign, if there was such agreement, they should bring document about that.”
I am the new speaker – Obolo
Also speaking after his emergence, the newly elected Speaker, Hon. Monday Obolo denied the alleged disappearance of the mace of the House.
“The House of Assembly is a one united family. It is an honour to have me elected to lead the Sixth Assembly. We are meant to debate and 18 members elected me. Bayelsa should expect the dividends of democracy,” he said.
Tonye Isenah, representing Kolokuma-Opokuma I, a ranking legislator (third term) emerged as speaker at the first inaugural sitting of the sixth Assembly through unanimous decision, after being nominated by Hon Ebiowou Koku-Obiyai representing Yenagoa II and seconded by Hon Mitema Obordor representing Ogbia II.
No fewer than ten police patrol vehicles were stationed outside the assembly complex Thursday morning with operatives of the anti bomb and counter terrorism units of the state police command seen frisking staff and visitors as well as searching vehicles going into the premises.
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