Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The build up to inauguration of the 9th Oyo State House of Assembly in June, this year, has been greeted with intrigues, and hi-tech politicking for the speakership of the parliament.
But the focus appears to be on two returning lawmakers. They are Mr. Adebo Ogundoyin, son of the late industrialist, Chief Adeseun Ogundoyin, as well as Alhaji Asimiyu Alarape, a former speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly.
But the political calculations seemed to favour Ogundoyin because he is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party that produced the governor-elect, Mr. Oluseyi Makinde. PDP won 26 of the 32 seats in the House of Assembly.
But among all the 26 lawmakers-elect from PDP, only Ogundoyin will be a returning member, the 25 others will come to the parliament for the first time. It was also observed that majority of them are young, though they have recorded varying levels of success in their chosen careers before venturing into politics.
However, the former speaker, Alarape, is one of the five lawmakers-elect on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Also, Action Democratic Party (ADP) will have one member in the 9th assembly.
Oyo State has five major political divisions, which are Ibadan, Oyo, Oke-Ogun, Ogbomoso and Ibarapa. The Ibadan division has produced the governor-elect, while Oke-Ogun has also produced the deputy governor-elect, Alhaji Rauf Olaniyan. Analysts, have however, ruled out Ibadan and Oke-Ogun divisions from the speakership race.
The remaining three major political divisions of Oyo, Ogbomoso and Ibarapa are the cynosure of all eyes in the race to produce the speaker. Already, Ogbomoso, according to political pundits, should be eliminated from the race because the only returning member, Wunmi Oladeji, from Ogbomoso North State Constituency, won the re-election on the platform of ADP, and she is the only lawmaker produced by ADP in the state.
The other returning member from Ogbomoso division is Oyeleke Simeon Adegbola from Ogo-Oluwa/Surulere State Constituency, but he is a member of APC that will have only five members in the parliament beginning from the next administration
Oyo zone, which comprises four local government areas of Afijio, Atiba, Oyo East and Oyo West, has only the former speaker, Asimiyu Alarape, as a returning member and he won the re-election on the platform of APC, more than 15 years after he presided over the parliament during the administration of the late Alhaji Lam Adesina as governor of Oyo State, from 1999 to 2003.
But the fear many analysts appear to be expressing over Ogundoyin is the fact that he is a young man of about 32 years, and that he came to the parliament in less than a year ago, through a by-election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday June 2, 2018 to fill the vacant seat of the constituency following the death of occupant of the seat, Michael Adeyemo, who was Speaker of the House until he breathed his last on April 27, 2018.
Some people believe that he has not garnered enough experience to preside over the House, and that if the former speaker, Asimiyu Alarape, could defect to PDP from APC, it would be a smooth ride for him.
But a ranking member of PDP, and a former Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly, Kehinde Ayoola, told our correspondent in Ibadan that the issue of who becomes the Speaker would be decided by the lawmakers themselves.
He acknowledged the fact that every House of Assembly has its own standing orders, which must give way wherever in conflict with the constitution of the country.
“The speakership is a matter that will be decided by the lawmakers themselves. There is no law that says a first timer cannot become the speaker. It all depends on what the lawmakers want for themselves, whether the person is a ranking member or not.
“The house rules exist, but the constitution of Nigeria is supreme. The position of the speaker can even be occupied by a lawmaker that is not from the party that has the highest number of representatives in the legislature,” Ayoola said.
His submission appears to lend credence to the emergence of Monsurat Sunmonu as Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly in 2011 and she presided over the House till 2015. Sunmonu was a first timer in the House when she was made the Speaker. In 2015, however, she was elected to represent Oyo Central Senatorial District in the upper chambers of the National Assembly.
Sunmonu was said to have enjoyed the backing of the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, to emerge the first female speaker of the parliament in the state.
In the same vein, sources from PDP are of the opinion that whoever will become the speaker among the lawmakers, whether a fresh member or a returning member, must have the backing of the governor-elect, Mr. Oluseyi Makinde.
One of the sources within PDP said: “I can tell you that whoever our governor gives backing to, is the one that will be Speaker. Of course, our party has the majority in the House and we are definitely going to produce the next speaker.
“But consultations are ongoing. Makinde will want a round peg in a round hole. It will be premature to disclose who is enjoying the governor-elect’s favour now. But by the time the new speaker emerges, he will not only be round peg in a round hole, he will also be a person that can work together with the other arms of government to take Oyo State to the next level.
“It is possible that the Speaker will be picked from Ibarapa political division and if so, Adebo Ogundoyin, will likely be the favoured candidate for the position of number three most important person in the state.”
When secretary of PDP in Oyo State, Mr. Wasiu Adeleke, was contacted for comment on whether the party has zoned the position of Speaker to one of the political divisions in the state, he simply responded by saying the decision of the party would be made known to the public at the appropriate time.
But some members of PDP still believe that Ogundoyin is probably the anointed candidate of the governor-elect and he believes in him to the extent that he is a member of a 10-man transition committee from PDP, who were among the enlarged 26-man transition committee inaugurated recently by the outgoing governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, ahead of May 29 handing over and taking over.
Ogundoyin of PDP is a graduate of Babcock University and an agronomist by profession. He worked as a principal consultant for Today’s Harvest Farm before his election into the parliament. Ogundoyin, who lost his father, Adeseun Ogundoyin, in 1991 as a teenager, is the founder and president of a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) named after his deceased father, Adeseun Ogundoyin Charity Foundation.
Also, the former speaker, Alarape, a native of Oyo town, is an astute and well-respected grassroots politician, who graduated from Metallurgical Engineering department of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State in 1990.
Though he won the March 9, 2019 Atiba state constituency poll on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alarape had at various times been a member of many political parties that included National Republican Convention(NRC), United Nigerian Congress Party (UNCP), All Peoples Party(APP), Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Alarape, who served as Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly from 1999 to 2003 on the platform of AD, also served as Special Adviser on Political Matters to Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State from 2007 to 2011.
He also served as Director General, Teslim Folarin governorship campaign organisation of the PDP in Oyo State from 2014 to 2015.
In an interview, Ogundoyin, who speaks impeccable English language, said he was ready to offer himself to serve the people of Oyo State as a speaker, adding that he has what it takes to be the speaker.
He stated further that the House would determine who would be the speaker, saying he was also ready to abide by the decision of the PDP on the speakership slot.
A source very close to the governor-elect, who preferred anonymity, however, ruled out the possibility of Asimiyu Alarape becoming the speaker, saying: “Alarape is from a minority party – APC, as far as the 9th assembly is concerned. So, he cannot become the speaker.
“But as things stand now, Adebo Ogundoyin seems to be the favoured candidate for the speakership, barring last minute changes. He is a ranking member of the House.
“The Secretary to the state government is likely to come from Oyo political division, which means Oyo zone cannot produce the speaker. Definitely, the Speaker will not come from Ogbomoso. Ibadan zone has produced the governor and Oke-Ogun zone has also produced the deputy governor. So, Ibarapa zone is positioned rightly to produce the speaker, and from Ibarapa with three local government areas of Ibarapa East, Ibarapa Central and Ibarapa North, only Ogundoyin is a ranking lawmaker.”
But Alarape, who is the most experienced among all the lawmakers-elect told Daily Sun that he is not from the majority party and he is not in a contest for the speakership, saying: “why will I cross from my party to another party because I want to become the speaker. I have been a speaker in the past. If my party did not give me ticket, I would not have been elected.”
He explained further that the House Rule says a ranking member should become the speaker, and a ranking member is a returning member, adding that whether a fresh lawmaker or returning lawmaker would be the speaker, depends on the position of the party that has majority in the House.