Ekiti State is again the focus of attention as Governor Ayodele Fayose fights for his political survival even as the All Progressives Congress lawmakers appear bent to remove him from office ahead of May 29, when his Peoples Democratic Party takes control of the state Assembly
| By Olu Ojewale | May 4, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
ADO-EKITI, capital of Ekiti State, for a better part of the week was again like a bomb about to explode.
Supporters of Governor Ayo Fayose were seen parading the vicinity of the House of Assembly complex expecting the arrival of the 19 All Progressives Congress, APC, lawmakers who have been flexing muscles to impeach the governor.
Stern-looking security operatives were still keeping vigil on the parliament building to forestall an act of brigandage. But some suspected thugs were reported seen hiding inside the bush around the House of Assembly building wielding weapons and smoking marijuana.
Most civil servants stayed away from work on Monday and Tuesday, fearing for their dear lives. Many of them, however, returned to their duty posts having been assured that there was no conflict.
The current panic in Ado-Ekiti started on Monday, April 20, as members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and supporters of Governor Fayose laid siege to the Ekiti State House of Assembly complex in order to stop the resumption of the 19 APC lawmakers who wanted to remove him from office.
On Tuesday, Fayose disclosed that he had reported the APC to the United Nations, UN and the African Union, AU, on the imminent reign of impunity by the APC as from May 29, when the party takes over power at the centre. The governor insisted that there was a plan by the party to make Ekiti State ungovernable. The governor alluded to the current elections in which Ekiti people voted for the PDP, saying it was a clear demonstration of the people’s preference for him and the PDP, “to correct the ills of the last four years and set the state on the path of greatness.”
Therefore, he said that: “Since Ekiti people are certain to resist the planned plundering of their land, Nigerians and the world at large should know who to hold responsible in the event of anarchy in Ekiti State in particular and the entire Yorubaland.”
In any case, it was the governor himself that could be said to have caused the current tension when he announced in a state-wide broadcast on Sunday, April 19, that the lawmakers planned to take over the Assembly to start their impeachment proceedings against him. He, therefore, called on transport unions, market women and workers to rise up and protect the mandate they gave him.
The call was apparently in contrast to Fayose’s statement of extension of olive branches to his political opponents on April 13, when reacting to Supreme Court judgement affirming the validity of his election on June 21, last year. In the statement, he had pleaded with them to sheath their sword and join him in his determination of building a strong and virile state. “It is time to come together and channel all our resources towards the development of the State,” he said.
That appeal seemed to have gone with the winds as his broadcast on Sunday, April 19, effectively caused panic and anxiety across the state. Although there were no barricades at entry points to Ado Ekiti city as done in the previous protests, many government and private workers, stayed away from their duty posts on Monday, and some on Tuesday. Both private and public schools in the state capital also failed to reopen for the third term academic session as a result of the situation.
The governor’s supporters and the state PDP members who were said to have been mobilised by the caretaker chairmen of the 16 Local Government Areas in the state surrounded the Assembly complex, waiting for the 19 APC lawmakers to show up. They did not.
Nevertheless, security agencies were also seen at the entry points searching vehicles and frisking passersby for harmful weapons.
Also on Monday, the 25 newly elected PDP members of the House of Assembly, issued a statement alleging that the personal ambitions of Adewale Omirin, speaker of the current Assembly and Babafemi Ojudu, a current serving senator, were responsible for the aggravation of the political crisis in the state. They, therefore, called on the state stakeholders, especially traditional rulers, to prevail on the two lawmakers not to throw the state into chaos because of “their ambition to be acting governor and governor,’’ adding: “Whoever that is interested in the Ekiti State Governorship position should wait till 2018.” The statement was signed by Gboyega Aribisogan, Segun Adewumi and Adeniran Alagbada, representing other lawmakers-elect.
But Wole Olujobi, special adviser on Media to Omirin, denied that his boss aimed to become the acting governor of the state. He also said that it could not have been true that Ojudu collected money from anyone to ensure the impeachment of Fayose in 2006.
“He (Omirin) is the Speaker of the Assembly who must check the governor’s excesses in his flagrant trampling on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Olujobi stated.
On its part, the APC in the state has asked the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, and the International Criminal Court, ICC, in The Hague to prosecute Fayose for “inciting” residents to violence. Taiwo Olatubosun, publicity secretary of the party in the state, said this became imperative, following the killing of a man in Efon Alaaye and the near collapse of peace after the governor made a live broadcast on state media.
The party also commended drivers and motorcycle operators for their refusal to take part in the current crisis. “Fayose is used to protecting his own interest and keeping his children in safety while he distributes guns to the children of others to foment trouble,” the party alleged, adding: “Even during Sunday service in the church, Fayose, to the shock of everyone, was inciting worshipers to protect the mandate they gave him through violent resistance to the lawmakers. Why must a governor choose violence as a religion?”
The crisis in the state started in November last year when the 19 APC state legislators who refused to approve the list of commissioners sent to the House were effectively chased out of the state. Seven PDP lawmakers thereafter, approved the list and continued to carry out state legislations. The seven lawmakers replaced Omirin with Dele Olugbemi, a PDP legislator, as speaker. Omirin is in court over the purported removal from office.
Onyekachi Ubani, lawyer and former chairman, Nigeria Bar Association, Ikeja branch, Lagos, said it was very late for the legislators to impeach Fayose. “I can assure you, their efforts will be in futility because Fayose will not allow them access to the House of Assembly building to hold their meeting and without sitting in the parliament they cannot impeach him,” he said. Besides, he pointed out that Omirin was in court to upturn his purported removal from office as speaker and without the court doing that, his actions as speaker would not be recognised in law. “So, on what basis does he want to remove Fayose from office? I think they should find a political solution to the impasse,” Ubani said.
According to sources close to some of the lawmakers, their major grouse with the governor is that he has withdrawn their pecks of office and refused to pay their allowances since the crisis over the rejection of appointed nominees as commissioners in the state.
Nonetheless, a lot of people in the state would want sanity to return so that the state could face development issues. Hence, no matter which side anyone belongs, it is generally agreed that the state needs a breather from negative publicity it is made to contend with since the face-off started.