â€ŽRecently, the Kogi State House of Assembly was attacked by thugs. It however took the intervention of Senator Smart Adeyemi to stop â€Žthe crisis from plunging the state into chaos, Yekini Jimoh reports
By now, Kogi State would have been plunged into yet another political crisis following a recent invasion of the state’s House of Assembly by some thugs, but for the timely intervention of a former member of the upper chamber of the National Assembly who represented Kogi West senatorial district, Senator Smart Adeyemi, whose intervention brought the situation under control.
It all started when weeks ago some thugs who wanted to attack Hon. Friday Sani Makama stormed the assembly when the plenary had commenced. The armed thugs invaded the hallow chamber, chased out all the lawmakers and beat up anybody they saw as people ran for their dear lives.
The then Speaker, Hon. Imam Umar Ahmed also took to his heels. However, security operatives attached to him were able guide him to safety.
Unfortunately, the member representing Igalamela/Odolu, Hon. Friday Makama who was the target of the invaders was however not so lucky. The rampaging thugs descended on him, beat him and almost stripped him naked.
His aides were also attacked even as the chamber and vehicles belonging to some vehicles belonging to members of the house were damaged. The deputy speaker, Hon. Hassan Bewa Abdullah reportedly wept when the incident took place.
The unprecedented attack took place barely a week after the house members had passed a vote of confidence on the Hon. Umar Imam leadership of the state’s legislative body.
Though details of the cause of the attack remained sketchy, THISDAY reliably gathered that the former speaker became the target of the thugs for two reasons. First, for allowing the suspended Makama to resume, and secondly, for inviting the Commissioner for Finance, Auditor General and the Head of Service to come and explain to the house how the Paris Club Refund was spent by the state government.
Again, sources close to the state assembly also said that some times ago the former speaker granted an interview with journalists in Abuja where he told them that he was never a party to Senator Dino Melaye’s recall being spearheaded by the state government and that what the party needed was reconciliation and not in-house fighting.
All these were said to have angered the state governor, Yahaya Bella who eventually made up his mind to get him impeached even though he had consistently maintained that he had no hand in the assembly crisis.
Sources further disclosed that the former speaker would have been impeached if not for the quick intervention of Adeyemi who was said to have spoken to the governor, pleading with him to allow him resign rather than get him impeached.
Adeyemi, it was gathered, arrived the state capital at about 10pm on that fateful day to prevail on the governor and he was said to have left before 4am to avoid being recognised by people. He met with the governor and the former speaker and was able to broker a soft-landing deal for the lawmaker.
THISDAY sources said Adeyemi’s efforts finally paid off when the governor agreed that the embattled speaker should resign after several pleading.
In his resignation letter dated August 3, 2017, which was addressed to the clerk of the house the former speaker said: “When the Honourable members, last Thursday, showered encomium and passed a vote of confidence on me, I emphasised that my leadership would always enjoin peace, not only within the legislature but in every part of the state.
“Today, being the third day of August 2017, exactly a year, a week, and a day when you resolved to elect me as the speaker, I am resigning from the office to avert plunging the state into yet another round of crisis.
“I have within one year of my stewardship unified the house, provided a conducive atmosphere for legislative activities and, in the words of Hon. Pedro Obaro, won the hearts and minds of my distinguished honourable colleagues.
“Within the same period, I have revamped the integrity of this noble institution and redirect it on the path of honour, and in line with the democratic principle of separation of powers. Within the same period, some physical changes occurred. I therefore, enjoin the next leadership to consolidate on these humble achievements and sustain the tempo.
“What transpired last Tuesday during plenary sitting; thugs desecrating the sanctity of this hallowed chamber, was undemocratic, condemnable act of hooliganism, a criminal activity, and an attempted murder. This house should never have to experience a repeat of such barbaric acts. I still hope that the perpetrators will be brought to book.
“I thank you all, my distinguished colleagues for standing by me to the last minute. I appreciate the confidence you repose in me and, indeed, your support throughout. I equally thank the staff of this august asembly for their support and hope that they extend same to the next leadership.
“To my constituents, I thank them for their unwavering support and solidarity, and their willingness to stand by me always. I urge them to be peaceful and orderly while looking ahead for better days.”
With that intervention what would have been another round of crisis for which the state is well known was averted. Political analyst have been commending the political dexterity and initiative of Adeyemi for helping to douse tension in the state.
According to them, the manner the situation was brought under control by the former lawmaker is an indication that his presence in the All Progressive Congress (APC) will definitely help the party.
“When he dumped PDP for APC we knew that his experience in politics will help the governor in several ways.
“His intervention in the assembly crisis is one of such experiences or else the situation would have gone uncontrollable by now.
“We do hope that someday cabal in the cabinet of the governor will not see him to be too close to the governor and they will now start to fight him,” said one of the commentators.
There is no doubt that Adeyemi, a former stalwart of PDP who lost his third term bid to return to the Senate to Dino Melaye of the APC and left the former ruling party after allegations of political persecutions by PDP members, is a formidable force in Kogi State politics, particularly in his senatorial district. He has always maintained that his interest in politics is about his people and that as such, he would go any length to contribute to the well-being of the people in his constituency.
Justifying why he left the PDP back then, Adeyemi said: â€œIn fact, my supporters dumped PDP and joined APC before me. We are not looking at issue of party now but development for the people. I need to be in the APC so that we can jointly, with Hon Abiodun Faleke and my brothers, work for the betterment of our people. When I talk to the people in government about the deprivation of our area as a member of the APC, they will not see me as an enemy.â€
Adeyemi and Melaye have been at loggerheads since 2015 following the general elections. Adeyemi had claimed that he was the bonafide winner of the 2015 National Assembly election but that the results were manipulated in favour of Melaye. But Melaye disagreed accusing Adeyemi of desperation. He also said that Adeyemi lost the election because voters in the district were tired of his antics. With the political differences between the duo, both of them have remained in opposing camps even though they are now in the same party. They also sharply disagreed on the performances of the state governor.
When he opted to join the APC, observers were of the view that the Bello-led APC government had cause to celebrate Adeyemiâ€™s decision to pitch his tent with the party. The governor considers him as the only force capable of taming his former ally-turned foe, Melaye, who is from the same local government area of the state with Adeyemi.
As the relationship between Bello and his former allied Melaye who supported him against his kinsman Faleke for the governorship turned sour, Adeyemi is seen as someone who could act as a buffer to contain Melayeâ€™s onslaughts.
â€ŽAdeyemi was born on 18 August 1960. He earned a Post Graduate Diploma In Public Relations, Diploma in Law, Advanced Diploma in Mass Communication and a Masters In Public Administration from the Federal University of Technology Owerri, and became a journalist. He was National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists from 1999 to 2006.
He was elected to the Senate in April 2007. He was appointed to committees on Privatization, Industry, Federal Character and Inter-Government Affairs (Chairman), Federal Capital Territory and Appropriation. Adeyemi was also appointed vice chairman of the Northern Senators Forum.
Adeyemi won the PDP primary to compete for re-election as Kogi West Senator in the April 2011 elections. However, a court nullified the PDP primary election on 4 April 2011, saying it did not follow due process as defined in the electoral act. A fresh primary was run on 7 April, in which Adeyemi defeated his opponent Abiye Abinso by 1,124 votes to two. In the elections of 9 April 2011, Adeyemi retained his seat but lost in 2015.
The manner the situation was brought under control by the former lawmaker is an indication that his presence in APC will definitely help the party.