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Ekiti: Searching For Peace

Posted: May 13, 2015 at 1:30 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

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By Yaqoub Popoola, 

Ado-Ekiti

In Ondo State, the executive arm of government, led by governor, Ayo Fayose, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has been at daggers drawn over a series of constitutional conflicts with the All Progressives Congress (APC)-dominated Ekiti State House of Assembly. The battle of wit has led to the controversial removal of an APC chieftain, Dr Adewale Omirin, as the speaker of the assembly, while a former member of APC, Hon. Dele Olugbemi, who crossed over to the PDP assumed the mantle of leadership of the house. Attempts by stakeholders in Ekiti State to find a lasting solution to the complicated political situation in the nation’s Fountain of Knowledge have proved unsuccessful.

 

Dangling impeachment hammer

The 26- member assembly is made up of 19 members of APC while PDP has only seven members, even though it has always claimed that three members of the former (whose identities are yet- to- be known) are working in principle with the PDP.

The APC caucus was of the view all legislative dealings of Olugbemi-led assembly with the Fayose’s administration lacked legal fecundity since it has failed to meet the constitutional requirement to function in such capacity. And in a dramatic twist, the caucus commenced impeachment move against the governor to half the alleged breaches of the nation’s common wealth.

Several suits have been instituted by the contending parties in various courts to contest the legality or otherwise of the actions taken so far in the assembly since Fayose took over the administration of the state.

The Elders, the Council of Traditional Rulers and other notable groups have initiated many unsecured peace deals and their futile efforts have been blamed on a number of factors.

 

Fear of prejudice

For instance, many APC sympathizers believe that the body language of many groups that have indicated interest in mediating in the crisis were laced with some elements of bias. The APC, among other things, blamed the mediators for their alleged deliberate silence on some critical issues which, according them, led to the present political logjam. One of such was the illegal change of assembly leadership which the party claimed gave rise to the chains of illegalities being witnessed in the state in recent times. The banishment of the APC members in the assembly and repeated threats to their lives were also cited as issues that are not given the desired attention by the peace seekers.

The State Chairman of the party, Jide Awe, in a statement, expressed regrets that the traditional leaders, by their behaviour had confirmed the allegations raised against them in the media by a group of concerned Ekiti youths that the Obas agreed to support Fayose when he sought their cooperation while unleashing mayhem on the opposition.

“When we read in the media that the Obas agreed to keep quiet when Fayose unleashes violence on the opposition, we did not believe until events began to unfold. To respond to this clearly unfortunate partisan position by the Obas, we will like to ask the same questions that one Ekiti youth group, Ekiti Youth Vanguard, posed to one of the eminent leaders in Ekiti, who refused to talk while Fayose was abusing the Constitution and attacking his opponents but now came to his aid when the governor was about paying for his impunity and constitutional breaches.

“We ask:  Where were the Obas when Fayose stormed the court to desecrate the temple of justice? They kept quiet. Where were they when the 19 lawmakers were being hunted in their homes? What did they say or do when seven members of PDP held illegal sitting to purportedly impeach Omirin?

“The seven PDP lawmakers sat to approve the budget, Fayose’s cabinet nominees and pass certain laws that required public hearings, but they refused to hold public hearings on these laws. What did the Obas say about these illegal acts and what did they say or do as fathers of all to correct the anomalies?

“What did they say when Fayose withdrew Omirin’s security aides, seized his official car, locked up his office, cut electricity supply to his house, forced him out of his official quarters and illegally sacked his aides? They, however, argued that the current peace moves being championed by many groups can only address the effects of the crisis rather than the cause.

 

Speaking for PDP

But to those who share the political sentiments of the PDP, the impeachment plot is a pure political witch- hunt. In fact they accused the APC of attempting to regain power through the back door after a disgraceful outing in the recent elections held in the state.

The Ekiti Council of Elders, in a statement signed by its Chairman, Prof. Tunde Oluwasanmi, and the Chairman Committee For the creation of Ekiti State, Chief Deji Fasuan, begged the feuding groups to refrain from portraying Ekiti as a beleaguered state and disallow external forces from intervening in Ekiti affairs. The Council said the pendency of the case instituted by Omirin against his impeachment has been stalling their intention to settling the intractable crisis, saying “We get stuck. likewise our Obas, each time we make efforts to settle this matter, but we will continue to say the truth.

“Not that we had not put in efforts in the past to broker truce between the two warring groups. We had even gone further by appealing to our royal fathers, who continue to command regards and high respect in our society to intervene.

“Unfortunately we had failed in all these previous endeavours due to the apparent refusal of our difficult sons and daughters who are operating in the political space. We are now, for the umpteenth time, appealing to all politicians, especially those in government and the opposition in Ekiti State to bury the hatchet, think about our people whom they are serving and give peace a chance.

“Even our detractors, even in the Yoruba heartland and nation are laughing at us, remembering the inglorious wetie-e dais in the old Western Region of Nigeria. At that time, much of the trauma and dislocation was borne in Ekiti than in any part of the region, including Lagos. So, was also our experience during Ajasin and Omoboriowo struggle in 1983.

“In furtherance of our efforts and beliefs, we hereby renew our call for our brothers who are the combatants in this State to attend to another meeting which we are calling shortly,” the Council stated.

 

Babalola’s Peace Initiative

The peace meeting initiated by the legal icon, Aare Afe Babalola, was attended by prominent Ekiti leaders, governor Fayose and the state’s security chiefs. Even though the APC caucus members did not show up at the even stakeholders were unanimous in their quest for lasting peace in the feud, vowing not to be discouraged by the initial absence of members of the opposition party.

Some of the participants were Chairman of Ekiti State Creation Chief Deji Fasua, former secretary of Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide, and former Minister of National Planning, Chief Ayo Ogunlade and Heads of all security agencies in the state.

Omirin and his team had adduced security reasons for their absence at the meeting urging the leaders to reschedule it in a neutral place like Ibadan or Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Speaking at the occasion, Chief Babalola displayed several text messages exchanged between him and Omirin, where he assured the lawmakers that adequate security had been prepared to ward off any attack against them.

Chief Babalola said he decided to meddle in the crisis between the governor and the lawmakers because of his stake in the ‘Ekiti Project’, adding that he had earlier gotten letters from the Nigerian Labour Congress and Chief Kunle Olajide on the need to resolve the lingering impasse.

His words: “The Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase mandated the State Commissioner of Police and other security outfits to personally provide security at this meeting. So, I see no reason why the lawmakers were afraid of their safety.

“At my age, about 86, I don’t want to be seen meddling in politics, because I don’t want insult from anybody. I even assured Omirin that I will ask the CP and the Director of SSS to sign undertaking to lead his members in and out of Ekiti to ensure their safety, all for this parley to be successful.

“I want to tell you, Ekiti is my project. I am a big shareholder in Ekiti. There cannot be development when there is crisis. Ekiti is number 35th on revenue ladder and I am disappointed that this is happening. But I want to say that in any arbitration process, the two sides must be ready to shift grounds and that is the essence of reconciliation. I want to emphasize that we remain undaunted in the task to end this crisis. We will not be deterred to ensure that Ekiti of our dream is realized.”

 

More condemnations

In his opinion, a former Speaker of Ekiti Assembly, Rt. Hon. Tunji Odeyemi, decried the political unrest in the state advising the APC lawmakers to sheathe their swords and allow peace to reign.

Odeyemi urged them to put the interest of the State beyond parochial reasoning, saying any breakdown of law and order in the State would affect everybody, regardless of political affiliations.

He said: “The entire issue calls for concerns. As a former Legislator, I am quite aware of the rudiment of impeachment process, but far from this, the issue of the news any impeachment will bring to Ekiti’s credibility is uppermost in my mind.

“How would they perceive Ekiti as a people nationwide? So, I am calling on my colleagues to have a rethink because we are duty bound to contribute to the development of this State. I plead with them to embrace reconciliation and forget about heating up the polity unnecessarily.”

 

Future lawmakers vow to end crisis

Meanwhile, the newly elected lawmakers on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State House of Assembly have vowed to break the jinx of political turmoil in the state by fashioning out a harmonious working relationship with the executive.

The incoming legislators made this known at a joint Press briefing held at the popular Lady Jibowu Hall, Government House, Ado-Ekiti.

The lawmaker-elect for Moba Constituency 1, Pastor Kola Oluwawole, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said the incoming Assembly would protect the principles of Separation of Powers, in spite that they belong to the same party with Fayose.

The assembly, according to them, would not be a clog in the wheel of progress of the state as allegedly is the case in Ekiti now.

The lawmakers–elect said they won’t hesitate to disagree with Fayose on matters that have to do with the interest of the people, but reiterated that such disagreement won’t be allowed to affect smooth running of government at the executive level.

They said: “The next Assembly won’t be rubberstamp. We are going to give the people robust legislation through thorough and dispassionate debate of issues brought before us.

“We can disagree with the Governor, if that will make Ekiti better, but that will not truncate our relationship as brothers and sisters. We will do exactly what the constitution empowers us to do, which is to serve as checks and balances to the executive.

“The Lagos and Osun Assemblies in the Southwest were populated by members of APC, does that make them rubberstamp? So, it will be wrong for people to think we are going to be rubberstamp because we are Fayose’s loyalists. ”

 

Elusive Overtures

On the impeachment crisis rocking the Assembly, culminating in the 19 APC lawmakers abdicating their duties, the lawmakers claimed that they have reached out to Speaker Adewale Omirin on the need to tread the path of honour, but said the overtures were rebuffed.

“Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State inherited a PDP-dominated Assembly from Prof Osunbor, but he was not driven out of town because of this. Omirin and other APC lawmakers should forget about personal ambitions and give the needed cooperation to the Governor.

“It is an understatement to say that the APC has continued to find ways to destroy the government and make Ekiti ungovernable. You cannot but notice the underhand deals of these legislators, the scandalous and moral bankruptcy that had reduced Ekiti to a State of anomie in the last six months.

“It is disheartening to see supposed men of honour descend so low and bring shame and odium, not only to the government but also to their state and make their people a laughing stock in the eyes of other Nigerians.

“Ekiti people are people with high integrity. This unnecessary hullabaloo has dealt a devastating blow on our moral psyche and our image as a people has been seriously battered.

“We are calling on the people to Appeal to the conscience of the APC lawmakers and their sponsors to stop the demonization of our Governor and the PDP as a party. They are advised to stop these destructive campaigns and focus on issues of development.”

Meanwhile, stakeholders continue to find ways to resolve the crisis between the governor and the state lawmakers in Ekiti even as the May 29 handover date draws nearer and would constitutional terminate the tenure of the APC lawmakers.