The impeachment of the Deputy Speaker of Ondo State House of Assembly, Honourable Iroju Ogundeji, was reversed in less than 24 hours by the lawmakers who removed him. Hakeem Gbadamosi, who witnessed the impeachment saga, examines the undercurrents of the development.
For the first time in the last 15 months, the lawmakers in Ondo State House of Assembly were in the news, following the removal of their Deputy Speaker, Hon. Iroju Ogundeji, over alleged friction with the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Bamidele Oleyelogun.
To most of the lawmakers, reinstatement of Ogundeji, who represents Odigbo state constituency 1, was impossible.
The news came as a surprise to the public who see the speaker and his deputy as Siamese twins during the struggle that ease out the immediate past speaker, Hon. Jumoke Akindele. Ogundeji was the arrowhead in the “Akindele must resign or Go’ campaign and was rewarded with the deputy speaker position.
During the plenary session last Tuesday, the deputy speaker was dazed with the announcement of his impeachment process moved by the lawmaker representing Akoko North-East constituency, Hon Fatai Olotu. The announcement was seconded by Hon. Malachi Coker, after which Olotu cited the “frosty relationship” between the Office of the speaker and his deputy as the reason for the impeachment.
Motion for Ogundeji’s removal was moved without delay by the lawmakers after submitting before the speaker a letter signed by 18 out of the 26 members, and was subsequently replaced by the lawmaker representing Ile Oluji/Oke Igbo state constituency, Hon. Bimbo Fajolu, who was sworn in immediately by the speaker.
The helpless deputy speaker stormed out of the Assembly complex and headed straight to the governor’s office, banking on a last-minute intervention from Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to rescue him. The lawmakers, after the process, also headed to the governor’s office, apparently to brief the governor about the new development in the House. Though the intervention came, it was almost too late as Governor Akeredolu was also caught unawares.
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A source within the House of Assembly said that the governor waded into the leadership crisis because of its political implications on his government.
The source explained that the governor knew and understood that the collateral damages of the impending crisis might be too difficult to manage if allowed to sail through, hence his plea for immediate reinstatement at a meeting.
However, the lawmakers turned down his plea because of what they called Ogundeji’s power-drunkenness, high-handedness, arrogance and disrespect for the leadership of the House.
It was gathered that the lawmakers who see Ogundeji as one of the untouchables in the House became more resolute in using his removal to settle political scores with the governor.
Governor Akeredolu, it was also learnt, was bothered that his political adversaries might capitalise on the crisis to hijack the control of the state politics. But the lawmakers stood their ground.
Apart from this, the governor was ruffled by the manner with which the lawmakers carried out the ‘coup’ without a clue, despite his strong network in the House.
Some of the lawmakers, who were irked by the outcome of the just-concluded ward and local government congresses, where some of them were shoved aside, saw an opportunity in taking back a pound of flesh from the governor.
They also saw the continued stay of Ogundeji in office as dangerous for Oleyelogun, who was himself a target of impeachment by Ogundeji.
The House, however, reconvened the second day to reverse the removal of Ogundeji but not without some shouting order which attracted the attention of security agencies.
It took the intervention of the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) , Hon. Ade Adetimehin, to calm the nerves of the lawmakers who insisted the impeachment must stay or the crisis should consume the speaker if he succumbed to any pressure.
Adetimehin, however, invited them to an emergency meeting at the party’s office Secretariat where they met for over three hours behind closed door.
The chairman allowed the lawmakers to vent their grievances, after realising it would be counter-productive to gag them. The source said “while the lawmakers insisted the impeachment could not be reversed, the chairman made them to understand why they should allow peace to reign in the House.”
Adetimehin eventually pacified the angry lawmakers based on his political integrity, coupled with the respect most of the lawmakers have for him.
They assured him of their cooperation but not without some demands on the state governor.
The lawmakers reconvened and invalidated its earlier decision, restoring Ogundeji as the deputy speaker, hinging their decision on the intervention of the governor; his Ogun State counterpart, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and the party leadership in the state.
On behalf of the lawmakers, Oleyelogun said, “in view of this, we moved the reversal of the impeachment of Iroju Ogundeji as the deputy Sspeaker of this honourable House, and he is hereby reinstated as the deputy speaker”
Despite the intervention and return of Ogundeji, most of the lawmakers were not at home with the decision as some of them grumbled that they had been disabled from taking important legislative decision.
Speaking after the reinstatement process, the erstwhile Speaker of the House, Hon. Jumoke Akindele, frowned at the development.
She said “you know we are in the minority, and what we are bearing now is the cross of minority, and it is okay. We had been in the majority before, but what we did yesterday met all the requirements of the law but the governor and the people they called Nigerians in their collective wisdom decided to prevail to reverse our decision. It’s been done. What more can we say?”
However, political analysts have said the saga has further confirmed the lawmakers as a “mere rubber stamp”.
Though many saw the development as a bad omen on the image of the House, they said it was good for the new leadership of the governing party in the state. According to them, the intervention of the new APC chairman in the state, Adetimehin, showed the seriousness of the new leadership to ensure unity of its members, and work together in order not to rock the boat of the Akeredolu’s administration.
But some pundits saw the reversal as an act of cowardice, likening the lawmakers to a toothless bulldog. According to them, the lawmakers had failed to assert their authority on two occasions in the last two months.
They recalled the decision of the Honourable members to dissolve the Caretaker chairmen across the 18 local governments in the state, after the expiration of their six months tenure which caught the governor unaware, but the reappointment of the chairmen failed to receive the blessings and approval of the house before the governor re- appointed the same set of people as local government chairman .
An official within the House of Assembly, noted that the lawmakers, especially those who were lured to the ruling APC after the exit of the former Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, had found themselves in political wilderness, having been left in the dark over the promises and juicy packages they were assured of, which had failed to come to reality.
According to the official, most of the lawmakers have been complaining about the way the governor had been treating them.
He said “The state of infrastructure in the Assembly complex is nothing to write home about. The lawmakers are not happy. They are just suffering and smiling; no official car, no special allowance, and it’s no longer business as usual here again”
It will be recalled that no fewer than 13 out of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s 21 lawmakers had crossed to the ruling APC in the state, while the APC lawmakers expanded from its initial five to 18.
Many of the lawmakers, as disclosed by political observers, jumped the ship in order to be relevant and secure their re-election ticket, which to their chagrin has become a mirage.
But despite the reinstatement of Ogundeji, political observers said he might have lost relevance, trust and respect of the House, while a more frosty relationship should be expected between him and the lawmakers in the nearest future.
They described the whole House, as a non-venomous snake with a fang that lacks the real bite, adding that it would be difficult for the people whom the lawmakers represent to continue to repose their confidence in them.Read Full Story