From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The current economic hardship in the country is not sparing the Ondo State House of Assembly as members of the Assembly currently complain of poor welfare, a situation which has rendered parliamentary activities to be at the lowest ebb in the state in the recent time.
Not many people of the state is aware of activities in the state House of Assembly as nothing much is heard of the parliamentarians. The situation has almost turned the people against their representatives as expectations of the constituents from the lawmakers are not met.
The situation is so bad that many members of the House did not even go to their offices or participate in any legislative function.
It was learnt that many members of the House of Assembly are not favourably disposed to the current situation in the parliament, but their hands are tied and could not do much to ameliorate the situation, owing to the general economic situation in the country.
The situation in the House of Assembly is so bad in the recent time that not many people of the state believe that there is a House of Assembly as the parliament has temporarily seized to function.
The situation had at a time caused serious crisis in the House as attempt was made to impeach the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mrs Jumoke Akindele, but for the timely intervention of the state Governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko who reportedly prevailed on the aggrieved lawmakers.
Although, the crisis in the House of Assembly was said to have been laid to rest and Mrs Akindele has continued to preside over plenary, it was gathered that some members are not comfortable with her leadership and are also displeased with their welfare, thereby making internal moves to remove the Speaker who they accused of being Mimiko’s stooge.
The House went on recess for months shortly after attempts to remove the Speaker was prevented through the spirited efforts of Mimiko who ensured that the Speaker continued in office and prevailed on all aggrieved members of the House to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign in the House.
Akindele, who is the first female Speaker in the state, faced the most challenging encounter of her life when 18 out of the 26 members of the House signed her impeachment and that of her deputy, Hon. Fatai Olotu overnight and elected a new Speaker and new Deputy Speaker to lead the House.
But for the timely intervention of Mimiko, who is the leader of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, the crisis in the House of Assembly might have been pronounced and the House might have remained in serious crisis till now, because Mrs Akindele also has her own supporters in the parliament.
But after few days of crisis in the parliament, peace finally returned, a situation which led the Speaker to approve annual recess for members of the House, which lasted for months. However, not many people can say when last the lawmakers sat as a result of the current situation .
It was gathered that the Speaker used the occasion of the recess to reach out to some members of the House who she perceived were aggrieved with her style of leadership and eventually scaled through her travails, a development which led to the resumption of the House.
During the crisis that engulfed the House of Assembly, 18 out of the 26 members of the House called for the impeachment of the Speaker and her deputy and they had their way, though the impeachment was announced at the private residence of one of them.
It was gathered that the Speaker reached out to both members of the PDP and those of the All Progressives Congress (APC), even as she reportedly reached out to various prominent traditional rulers in the state and political leaders who later intervened in the matter and prevailed on the aggrieved members to shelve their plan.
The lawmakers had claimed to have impeached the Speaker and Deputy Speaker after gathering their signatures during a meeting held at the private residence of one of them in Alagbaka area of Akure.
The aggrieved lawmakers, who alleged that the state government owed them three months salaries and allowances, accused the Speaker of not fighting for their interest but defending the actions of the state Governor, Mimiko, who they also accused of insensitivity to their plights.
While the crisis lasted, civil rights groups also joined in the battle with calls on the Governor and other political leaders in the state not to intervene in the crisis.
“One of such groups was the Ondo State Today, which called on members of the House not to allow themselves to be used by any individual to cause crisis in the state.
The Co-ordinator of the group, Mr Oyewumi Bayode, warned politicians not to intervene in the affairs of the state parliament, just as it enjoined Mimiko to stay off of the leadership crisis in the House of Assembly and ensure that peace reigns in the state.
Bayode said: “The puerile reasons of drunkenness and easy virtue given as excuse for her impeachment are at best laughable as these could pass for a comedy.
One would have expected Honourable members of the Assembly to be intelligent enough to know that Ondo State discerning public could not easily be fooled to believe that a woman so elected twice as Speaker could be a woman of easy virtue and a drunk in a state where women are seen as virtuous, diligent and responsible mothers.
“The legislative members, especially the ruling PDP members, should perhaps share part of her blame of lack of focus, transparency, incompetence, arrogance and poor leadership also leveled against her for electing her for a second term in office as Speaker and for staying this long before discovering all these traits.
“It is obvious the impeachment of the Speaker was ordered by forces outside the Assembly. The arrowhead of the 18 members that attended the secret meeting to impeach the Speaker and signed the impeachment notice and who later turned out to be the beneficiaries of the new leadership in their press release are all close allies of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko.”
Commenting on the situation in the Ondo State House of Assembly, Hon. Sunday Olajide, who represents Akure South 11 constituency in the House, said the crisis was fairly resolved, saying that the welfare of members was not well taken care of and the situation affects their functions and activities both at the Assembly and at their various constituencies.
He attributed the crisis that rocked the House of Assembly to poor welfare of the lawmakers by the executive arm of government, saying the executive is not taking good care of the legislators.
According to him “the problem in the House at that time was caused by the executive and this is because the House is not autonomous. The problem will continue unless the executive takes good care of the welfare of the parliamentarians.”
Also speaking, the National Secretary of the Oodua Peoples Forum, Mr Boluwaji Ore said the lawmakers have failed in their responsibilities to serve as the mirror for all the people of the state.
He alleged that the lawmakers are only after their personal welfare at the detriment of the electorate who gave them the mandate to serve.
In his own view, a veteran journalist in the state, Mr Ayodele Oni lamented the attitude of the lawmakers, describing them as failures to their constituents.
He said the lawmakers have kept mute on the non payment of salaries of workers in the state, but kept agitating for their personal interests that will not benefit their constituents.
He called on the state lawmakers to jettison their selfish interests for the overall interests of the state, even as he enjoined them to allow peace to reign in the state.
Also, a rights activist and lawyer, Mr Akin Titiloye condemned the recent developments in the House, alleging that the attempts of the executive to take over the legislature was the major cause of the crisis in the House.
He said the lawmakers are after their personal welfare at the expense of the suffering masses, who he said gave them the mandate.
The rights activist, who noted that the crisis was yet to be finally resolved within the members, urged the lawmakers to embrace peace in the interest of the state.