The unfolding political events in Ekiti State, assumed a worsening dimension on Thursday as seven Peoples Democratic Party’s lawmakers in the state House of Assembly impeached the Speaker, Dr. Adewale Omirin and his deputy.
The Minority Leader, Samuel Ajibola, who is now the Leader of Government Business, had told journalists on Wednesday that Omirin remained the Speaker and that there was no plan to impeach him.
Dele Olugbemi, who had acted as Protem Speaker during the controversial Monday’s plenary, was elected as the new Speaker.
The lawmakers also replaced the Deputy Speaker, Tunji Orisalade, with a female lawmaker, who recently defected from the All Progressives Congress to the PDP, Abeni Olayinka, representing Ado Constituency 2.
At about 8am, some youths, led by one Bello Ganiyu-Akande, had protested to the Assembly, calling for Omirin’s removal on account of alleged frosty relationship with Governor Ayodele Fayose.
Ganiyu-Akande described the APC lawmakers as enemies of the state, who should not be given any breathing space to actualise their alleged sinister intention.
Omirin has however insisted that he remained the Speaker because the PDP lawmakers did not meet the two-third majority required to impeach him as stipulated by the 1999 constitution.
He said his purported removal from office was “the greatest joke of the year.”
Our correspondent gathered that 10 people sat at the chambers of the Ekiti Assembly on Thursday to conduct the plenary. The 10 included the three whose identities still remained hidden.
However, only seven PDP legislators appeared in the Speaker’s office for the prayer session after the Assembly’s work for the day.
Journalists were barred from covering the session but a selected few were later allowed in after Olugbemi had taken charge in the chambers.
During Thursday’s sitting that lasted for about 45 minutes, the lawmakers repealed the Ekiti State Peace Corps established by ex-Governor Kayode Fayemi, describing the body as a burden to the finances of the state.
They also amended the Ekiti State logo and reverted the Ekiti’s slogan to ‘Fountain of Knowledge,’ which had earlier been tinkered with by Fayemi to “Land of Honour.”
Immediately after the plenary, the three lawmakers whose identities still remained unknown disappeared from the chambers as they did not follow others to the Speaker’s office, which had initially been under lock and key.
In his maiden press conference, Olugbemi, who promised to foster harmonious working relationship between the executive and legislative arms, said the change in leadership was due to “emerging reality.”
Olugbemi stated that he would continue to accord the ousted Speaker and his deputy the deserved respect and also draw from their wealth of experience.
“The event that brought me into office is historic. Whatever that might have transpired is democracy at play. There is a change in the leadership at the executive level, so the only thing that is constant is change,” he said.
Exonerating Fayose of complicity in the saga, Olugbemi said, “My emergence as a speaker is a prerogative of the lawmakers. So my emergence has no executive influence.
“As critical stakeholders in Ekiti project, we must fight hard to ensure that we return Ekiti to the path of glory. We will work closely with Governor Ayodele Fayose to achieve this for our people by making laws that will serve as frameworks for good governance.
“The era when the executive and legislative arms used to engage in fight was over. We have been adjudged the best and most productive in the country and we will not deviate from this.”
Olugbemi called on the members of the public to sponsor private bills that could fast-track development across the state.
Meanwhile, Fayose has washed his hands off the impeachment of the Speaker.
His Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, in a statement made available to journalists in Ado Ekiti said the governor should not be linked to the happenings in the Assembly.
The statement read, “It is not only ridiculous, but sheer balderdash to link the executive arm of government with what is happening in the legislative arm. There is separation of powers among all tiers of government and Governor Fayose is not a member of the Assembly.
“One does not need to be a Professor of Mathematics to know that one-third of 26 is nine and the rules of the Assembly is that nine members form a quorum and when that number of lawmakers agree to sit and deliberate on issues, they are covered by the rules of the Assembly.
“For those having any doubt about the identity of the legislators attending the sitting of the Assembly, I believe the best place to find out is from the Assembly. Anybody interested in that can contact the Clerk of the Assembly.
“It is double-speak for self styled critics to attempt to drag the governor into an affair that has nothing to do with him. The same critics are pretending to be blind to happenings in some states where the party they have sympathy for, the All Progressives Congress, rules. Edo and Rivers states are typical and what is happening there is better imagined.”
The Ekiti State Government has however congratulated the new speaker, assuring him of readiness to cooperate.
The Secretary to the Ekiti State Government, Dr (Mrs) Modupe Alade, in a statement on Thursday, called for a cordial working relationship between the new leadership and the Fayose’s administration in order to move the state forward.
Alade advised the rest of the lawmakers who had gone on self exile to return to perform what they were elected to do.
The SSG advised Omirin to return all government property in his possession with immediate effect.
Alade also called on the police to provide the full paraphernalia of office for the new speaker and the deputy speaker without delay.
The state government warned trouble makers to stay out of Ekiti, stressing that the law enforcement agents would not allow anybody to foment trouble.