Ondo Assembly sacks Speaker, deputy
Speaker of Ondo House of Assembly, Bamidele Oloyelogun and his Deputy, Ogundeji Iroju were on Friday impeached by 18 out of 26 lawmakers. They were accused of incompetence, highhandedness and misappropriation of public funds.
Efforts by the sacked Speaker to thwart the impeachment process were abortive, as observers noted it was the fallout of issues related to the congresses of All Progressives Congress (APC) and recent primaries that deprive many of the lawmakers return tickets.
In the ensuing melee, the first female Speaker of the state, Jumoke Akindele was attacked and engaged in physical combat, leaving her disheveled. Thugs, mainly members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) stormed the Assembly Complex to disrupt the proceedings after Olamide George, representing Akure North Constituency and Mr Abimbola Fajolu from Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo Constituency emerged the New Speaker and Deputy respectively.
It was alleged that the state NURTW chairman, Mr. Jacob Adebo, popularly called “Idajo,” invaded the Assembly Complex with his men.
Security operatives and officials of Directorate of Security Service (DSS) and journalists too were not spared, as the new Deputy Speaker, Fajolu and Former Speaker, Akindele, were manhandled by the thugs.
A journalist working for AIT, Abiodun Taiwo, who was also attacked slumped into coma, until he was rushed to an undisclosed hospital for treatment, even as security operatives led by the state Commissioner for Police, Mr. Gbenga Adeyanju, watched helplessly.
The Guardian gathered that the hoodlums, who promptly sprung into violence were mischievously misinformed that the lawmakers were planning to impeach the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
Consequently, four members of the Assembly were suspended; namely: the two impeached Principal officers, Oloyelogun and Iroju, alongside Abayomi Akinruntan and Suleiman Maito.
However, in a quick reaction, the impeached Speaker described the exercise as null and void, declaring; “I remain the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly.”
The embattled Speaker, who was rumoured to be among the few that secured return tickets for the 2019, expressed optimism that the action of the 18 members would be reversed, stating, “I will be reinstated as the Speaker of this great House.”
The confusion in the House is attributed to political rivalry and tussle for leadership between Akindele and Iroju, who hail from the same ethnic background, Ikale, and from the same South Senatorial District.
It is a common knowledge that the duo had been at each other’s neck politically, perhaps in their quest for leadership supremacy in the South District as well as preference for the latter by the immediate past governor, who favoured her to be the first female Speaker of the state in 2014.
The first onslaught in this Assembly was on March 8, 2016 when some lawmakers led by Iroju spearheaded the impeachment of the Speaker in a palace coup that Tuesday night, which fell on the International Women’s Day Celebration and few days to the April 23 local government election.
“Before plenary session today, 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 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 affair and has been treated as such,” he said.
Few days to February 24, 2017 when Akeredolu was sworn in, Akindele and her Deputy then, Olotu, were impeached over allegation of N15m fraud that was seized from the Assembly Paymaster, Mr. Makanjuola Adesina on Friday 27, January 2017.
15 legislators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and five from the All Progressives Congress (APC) carried out that action. They appointed Malachi Coker and Ayodele Arowele as Acting Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively, while George was elected as the Majority Leader to replace Ifedayo Akinsoyinnu.
Apparently, it was a drive for relevance by a House that had 21 PDP lawmakers while the APC had just five, but the numbers soon changed for the PDP as Oleyelogun and Iroju ditched their party to become Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively in the ruling APC.
Unfortunately, complaints of maltreatment in the hands of Governor Akeredolu became rife in the Assembly.
Rising from a plenary session on April 4, 2018, members made importunate appeals to Akeredolu to consider their plights and suffering by financial autonomy to the legislature. They lamented that they are financially “handicapped,” noting that they could not spend without the consent of the Executive.
Iroju, who raised a point of importance, enjoined the Governor to release fund for the House for constituency projects, which they never had the opportunity to execute in the last three years.
But less than 72 hours after the state congress of the APC, Iroju was impeached by 18 out of the 22 lawmakers in May 2018. He was accused of high-handedness and misappropriation of funds.
The motion for his impeachment was moved by Olotu and seconded by Coker, while the nomination of the new Deputy Speaker was moved by Mr. Sunday Olajide and seconded by Akindele to be replaced with Mr. Fajolu.
Analysts said what took place was a conspiracy to weed out the former Assembly chieftain because of his unbearable influence in the House.
Others noted that Iroju was caught up by nemesis and had reaped what he sowed in the political sphere. They say the impeachment serves him right as what goes around comes around.
Speaking on the present impeachment process, the current Chairman, House Committee on Information, Olotu, said it was done in good faith and in the interest of the state.
According to Olotu: “The two-third of the members of the Ondo State House of Assembly today removed the Speaker and his Deputy over their incompetence to run the affairs of the House.
“I want you to know that changing leadership is an inherent right of members of the House. The two officials have shown great incompetence in running the affairs of the House.
“They ran the House aground financially and committed a lot of financial impropriety that members can no longer condone.
“As at June this year, they have exhausted all the budgetary allocation for the house, which run to the tune of N1.5b without the knowledge of the House of Assembly.”
Olotu revealed that the suspension of the two principal officers would not in any form affect the relationship between the members of the Legislature and the Executive.
And contrary to speculations, he refuted any plan to impeach Governor Akeredolu, who is battling a court case for his removal due to the controversial September 3, 2016 governorship primary of the party. He is also contending with unfavourable lists sanctioned by the National Working Committee (NWC) and leadership for the 2019 general elections, which disqualified most of his candidates.