Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
In a manner similar to what played out in 2014 when Governor Ayodele Fayose took over power, crisis Thursday hit the Ekiti State House of Assembly as the Speaker, Hon. Kolawole Oluwawole, and his Deputy, Hon. Sina Animasaun, were removed from offices by lawmakers.
At that time, seven members of the assembly removed the then Speaker and member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Adewale Omirin, and installed Hon. Dele Olugbemi, who just defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the new Speaker.
At the plenary yesterday, the lawmakers subsequently appointed Hon Ebenezer Alagbada, representing Ise/Orun constituency, as the new Speaker. The assembly also reinstated the former Deputy Speaker, Segun Adewumi, back to his former position.
Hon Gboyega Aribisogan, former Minority Leader of the assembly was elected the new Leader of Business.
The lawmakers, made up of three APC and 11 PDP lawmakers, suspended other 12 lawmakers, including Oluwawole for 125 legislative days.
Those suspended were: Hon Oluwawole, Animasahun, Dr. Omotoso Samuel,
Hon. Wale Onigiobi, Hon. Wale Ayeni, Dare Pelem, Hon. Jeje Samuel, Hon Akinleye Dayo, Hon. Fajemilehin Ayodele, Hon. Fasanmi Temitope, Tunji Akinyele and Hon Sanya Aladeyelu. At the sitting, Hon Sunday Akinniyi of the APC was elected Minority Leader; Fajana Ojo-Ade, Deputy Leader; Hon Cecilia Dada, Chief Whip; and Hon Musa Arogundade, Deputy Chief Whip.
Addressing journalists after the plenary, the new Leader of Business, Aribisogan, said Oluwawole and other PDP lawmakers were suspended over alleged complicity in the disappearance of N60 million in the assembly.
He also added that they were also slammed with suspension for alleged ineptitude, saying they allegedly allowed the reputation of the assembly to be destroyed by the governor with their attitudes.
Aribisogan also stated that the assembly under Oluwawole was poorly funded, became practically subservient of the executive, and that the Speakership position was hijacked by powerful members, owing to their closeness to the governor.
He also accused the former Speaker of betraying the Ekiti populace by holding secret plenary last month with other suspended members to approve N10 billion supplementary budget sent by Fayose.
“Today, we held a plenary session which was a follow up to the parliamentary we held yesterday and we carried out changes in the leadership of the House.
“When the PDP members were busy doing the presidential primary in Port
Harcourt, we were here busy strategising on how best to make Ekiti State governance for the incoming government of Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
“14 members sat to carry out these changes out of which 11 were addressing this press conference. We have 26 members in this state assembly, and we just needed nine to form quorum.
“Our actions were guided by the standing orders of this assembly and we didn’t deviate from it, so the quorum was formed and our actions are legal and constitutional,” he added.
The leader of business added that the PDP still remains the majority party in the assembly and that those who carried out the removal did so in the overriding interest of Ekiti people.
The new Speaker, Alagbada, in his acceptance speech, appreciated the members for reposing confidence in him, saying he won’t betray the confidence and trust they have in him.
“You are aware that the assembly has since inception of the present administration becomes the property of the governor rather than an arm of the government. Ekiti State is yearning for a purposeful legislature that would be truly committed and independent to discharge its constitutional duties.
“We will no longer allow a situation whereby legislature would be pocketed or caged by the executive. Let me assure all and sundry that we will cooperate with the Governor-elect, Dr. Kayode Fayemi to move the state forward,” stated.