With barely five days to the change of government in Ekiti State, an ally of outgoing Governor Ayo Fayose, Mr. Kola Oluwawole, was impeached yesterday as Speaker of the House of Assembly.
Oluwawole was removed alongside Deputy Speaker Sina Animasaun by 14 other lawmakers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC).
An APC lawmaker, Mr. Adeniran Alagbada, was elected new Speaker while Mr. Segun Adewumi, retained his former post of Deputy Speaker.
Minority Leader Gboyega Aribisogan was elected new House Leader of Business while former Chief Whip Sunday Akinniyi is the new Minority Leader.
Ojo-Ade Fajana is new Deputy House Leader and Mrs. Cecilia Dada is Chief Whip while Musa Arogundade is Deputy Chief Whip.
The Assembly also suspended Oluwawole and 11 other lawmakers for 125 legislative days.
Other lawmakers also suspension are: Animasaun, Dr. Samuel Omotoso, Wale Onigiobi, Wale Ayeni, Dare Pelemo, Samuel Jeje, Dayo Akinleye, Dele Fajemilehin, Tope Fasanmi, Tunji Akinyele and Sanya Aladeyelu.
The leadership change was effected by three APC members and 11 PDP members at plenary attended by the Clerk, Mr. Tola Esan.
Addressing reporters after plenary, Aribisogan said Oluwawole and other PDP lawmakers were suspended for alleged complicity in the disappearance of N60 million from the Assembly.
The Minority Leader said they were also suspended for alleged ineptitude, following their alleged connivance with the governor to destroy the Assembly’s reputation with their attitudes.
He added that under Oluwawole, the Assembly was poorly funded, became a subservient of the Executive while the speakership position was hijacked by powerful members due to their closeness to the governor.
According to him, Oluwawole betrayed Ekiti people by holding a secret plenary last month with other suspended members to approve N10 billion Supplementary Budget Fayose sent to the Assembly.
Aribisogan said: “Today, we held a plenary session which was a follow-up to the
plenary we held yesterday and we carried out changes in the leadership of the Assembly.
“When the PDP members were busy doing the presidential primary in Port Harcourt (Rivers State capital), we were busy here strategising how best to make Ekiti better for the incoming administration of Dr Kayode Fayemi.
“Fourteen members sat to make these changes; 11 of them are addressing this media briefing. We have 26 members in this Assembly, and we needed just nine to form a quorum.
“Our actions were guided by the standing orders of this Assembly; we didn’t deviate from it. So, the quorum was formed and our actions are legal and constitutional.”
The Minority Leader added that the PDP remains the majority party in the Assembly while those who removed some principal officers did so in the overriding interest of Ekiti people.
In his acceptance speech, Alagbada expressed appreciation to his colleagues for the confidence they reposed in him.
The new Speaker pledged not to betray the trust.
He said: “You are aware that the Assembly, since inception of the present administration, has become the property of the governor rather than an arm of government. Ekiti State is yearning for a purposeful legislature that would be truly committed and remain independent to discharge its constitutional duties.
“We will no longer allow a situation whereby the Legislature is 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 Ekiti forward.
“You will recall that the Fourth Assembly changed its leadership in 2014 when some members of APC defected to the PDP to facilitate the smooth take-off of Mr. Ayodele Fayose. So, history is only repeating itself, and there is nothing extra-ordinary in what we have done.”
The new Speaker announced the dissolution of all statutory and standing committees of the Assembly, urging their chairmen to hand over to their secretaries.
But deposed Speaker Oluwawole accused the police of colluding with the new leadership and suspected political thugs for invading the Assembly to make the changes.
He described his impeachment as a rape of democracy and an a descent to the lowest level of lawlessness and illegality.
Addressing reporters at the new Speaker’s Lodge, Oluwawole said the lawmakers who removed him did not meet the two-thirds majority.
“This is bizarre! In a democracy? This is the height of illegality and it can never stand. As the Speaker of the Assembly, I supervised the last adjournment, which was carried out according to laws and laid down rules.
“I retain the power to reconvene the Assembly, but I have not done that yet. How then can some people say the Assembly sat? This is totally illegal.
“The role of the police in this siege is clear. It was enemies of democracy that purported the House sat. The Ekiti State House of Assembly has not been reconvened by its Speaker,” Oluwawole said.
Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose yesterday urged the lawmakers to put the interest of state first.
Addressing reporters on the State of the State, where he gave account of his stewardship in the last four years, the governor said the welfare of Ekiti people should be paramount to the legislators.
He said: “The well-being and the welfare of Ekiti people should be important to them, whether it is Oluwawole or Alagbada.
“What is important to Ekiti people is their welfare. In the next 72 hours, I will leave. Whatever it is, they are all members of Ekiti State House of Assembly.
“Whoever they agree to be Speaker, they should work with him. Honourable members should work together for the good of Ekiti State.
“I enjoin them to cooperate with the incoming governor. Ekiti State is bigger than all of us. I won’t dabble into their affairs, because whatever they sow today, they will reap tomorrow.”
By Odunayo Ogunmola