Reports reaching elombah.com this morning say the leadership of the Ogun State House of Assembly has been changed. Hon. Tunji Egbetokun has been impeached. With the impeachment of the ex-speaker of Ogun State, the following are the new principal officer of the House; Hon. Soyemi Coker, Speaker; Hon. Gbenga Odugbesa, Deputy Speaker; Hon. Tolu Bankole, Majority Leader, while Hon. Moruf is the new Chief Whip.
The speaker was impeached with just 9 members meeting and carrying out the removal out of 24 members of the House.
The article below by Bolanle Bolawole of TRIBUNE provides the background information to the political crisis in Ogun State
THE Executive and Legislative arms of Government in Ogun State are hopelessly divided; since the impeachment of erstwhile Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mrs. Titi Oseni, and her replacement by the new Speaker, Mr. Tunji Egbetokun, the centre has failed to hold in the state. It is said that Titi’s removal did not receive the support of Governor Gbenga Daniel. The Assembly members reportedly ambushed Titi as well as took Daniel by surprise: they waited for the governor to travel out of the country before moving against Madam Speaker. According to those familiar with the hire-wire politics of the state, it would have been herculean, in fact impossible, to remove Titi if OGD, as the governor is popularly called, were in town. Efforts to persuade the legislators to back down from their high horse failed; neither could the governor muster enough muscles to stage a counter coup and rail-road the fallen Speaker back into office.
The stakes are high; ego, too, is involved. It was not Titi’s position alone that was at stake; reports were to the effect that the lawmakers’ actual target was Daniel himself. Titi, thus, was a victim of circumstance, someone whom those targeting the governor considered as a cog in the wheel of their progress. The “coupists” must have reckoned that with Titi as Speaker, it would be impossible, in fact a suicide mission, to move against OGD. Once in the saddle, however, the new House leadership confirmed the suspicion of the OGD camp with the spirited efforts it made to impeach the governor; although it boasted a majority of members of the House on its side, it nonetheless lacked the required two-thirds majority of House members needed to effect an impeachment. Both sides were desperate and left nothing to chances: we were regaled with disclosures of oath-taking as well as the nude photograph of one of the characters that benumbed the senses. Two factors, among others, however worked in the governor’s favour. One: He was tactical; he fought back spiritedly to deny the pro-impeachment lawmakers two-thirds majority. Once he realised he had lost control of the House, the next strategic thing to do was ensure the House never mustered the required number to pull the rug from under his feet – and he has, by whatever means, succeeded in doing that.
Two: There had been judicial precedents arising from earlier impeachment cases which had shot down the “jankara” methods adopted by desperate legislators and their backers to send some governors packing. For instance, the courts have ruled that two-thirds is not of the number of legislators present and voting but of the total number of legislators in the House. So, the contrived suspension of opposing lawmakers to arrive at a convenient two-thirds majority, which was available earlier on, was no longer in vogue when the Ogun legislators arrived on the impeachment scene.
Although it still tried this “Jankara” option with the suspension of two pro- OGD lawmakers, the futility of that line of action was not lost on the think-tank of the pro- impeachment group. So, stalemate. The House is unable to impeach the governor; the governor likewise is unable to effect the desired change in the leadership of the House. A cat-and-mouse game had since ensued. The Yoruba have likened the Ogun debacle to the case of a hen perching on a line: Neither the hen nor the line would be at ease.
Yet, both opponents must co-exist. The Legislature is usually the underdog in most battles for supremacy against the Executive branch of Government for the simple fact that the latter controls the purse. The Executive also makes most of the appointments and therefore has ample latitude to dispense largesse as well as blackmail and or woo the people to its side with promises of the provision of the everywhere elusive dividends of democracy. Therefore, it is unthinkable that a House would kick against the Executive, not to talk of engaging the governor in a test of will, which is what the Ogun State House of Assembly has done successfully in the past two years. How has it been able to perform this feat? As the Yoruba would say,”eniyan l’o wa ni idi Oro ti Oro fi n ke”. Put differently, “Oun t’o n lu ilu fun kokoro t’o n jo l’ori omi, isale omi l’owa” (apologies, Dr. Akin Onigbinde). The Ogun Assembly has been able to fight the Executive to a standstill these two years despite its claim that it had been starved of funds. Where has funding been coming from?
Ogun is, perhaps, the most endowed State in Nigeria in terms of human resource; being one of the first to embrace Western education, the State, made up primarily of Egbas and Ijebus, has recorded “firsts” in Nigeria in virtually all fields of human endeavour. The first Nobel Laureate in Literature in Africa, Prof. Wole Soyinka, is from there. Virtually all the notable political office-holders produced by the Yoruba – Awolowo, Obasanjo, Shonekan, MKO Abiola – are also from there. The best world-class musician that the country has produced, Fela, was from there. If you are to list the professions, the “firsts” would virtually come from Ogun State. The highest office-holder in the present political dispensation – Speaker of the House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole – is also from there. Regrettably, however, what should have been an asset has turned into a nightmare for the state. Little wonder, then, that OGD not too long ago described Dimeji Bankole as a curse to the state; that was even before the high-profile embarrassing show at the official commissioning of the Sango-Ota fly-over. Going by the nature of the Nigerian politician, it is doubtful if there are any of the gladiators who can fully escape blame over the state’s theatre of the absurd.
Hans Morgenthau defines politics as the art – or science, if you prefer that – of who controls what, when, and how. It is the struggle or competition for a given political structure’s commanding political offices, such as those of president and state governor, which office then empowers the occupier to determine who retains or is appointed into other offices and how the resources of the state are allocated. In emerging or developing societies where office holders are tin-gods who can do and undo, getting into high office equates into getting into instant wealth; it virtually also equates into making or marring anyone at will. That is why the competition for office is cut-throat here; in most of the cases it has very little to do with rendering service to the electorate. Some have said the internecine political warfare in Ogun State is over which zone produces Daniel’s successor as governor; that is just a symptom, not the cause, of the problem. The root of the Ogun problem is: who calls the shots, not only on the succession dispute but also on all issues and in all instances?
At the moment, it is the governor; but this does not sit down well with some politicians who think they, too, have the clout of so-called stakeholders. When former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in office, there was a limit to which OGD could exercise the powers of the boss in Ogun State without consulting with or looking over his shoulders in the direction of Baba Iyabo. With OBJ out of office, should that not change? Everything points to the fact that OBJ would have none of that; determined to continue to be relevant on the nation’s political scene as the powerful chairman of the ruling party’s Board of Trustees, he must have a home base. OBJ having a home base translates into an emasculated, figure-head OGD. As if that was not enough, Madam Patricia Etteh’s misdemeanour gifted Dimeji Bankole the position of the nation’s Number 4 citizen. With the way the National Assembly has helped itself generously to the nation’s resources, Bankole may, age-wise, still be a kid so to say, but pocket-wise he may have arrived in a big way, ready to muscle some elders out of the way if it is true that he, too, has his eyes on the Ogun State governor’s seat. This is the main Bermuda triangle at the roots of the political logjam in Ogun State. There, however, are very many sub-plots, alliances, shifting alliances, and scenes of epic battles. At a time, accusing fingers also pointed in the direction of Bourdillion, a euphemism for former Lagos state governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as a result of the reported estrangement of Tinubu from his erstwhile friend, OGD.
May be; may be not; but even without Tinubu, Ogun was a disaster waiting to happen, for as the Yoruba would say, two rancorous rams – not to talk of three or even more – cannot drink water from the same earthen ware at the same time without smashing it into pieces.
Ogun is the grass that smarts as elephants fight to a standstill. The bond issue is the latest pawn on the political gladiators’ chess board. A simple and straightforward economic issue has become politicised to the point of the ridiculous. Now, they are going for a debate: just imagine! Is that what is needed? Will it solve the problem? Rather than a debate, what I think the parties need is a panel of financial experts to which both should submit representations; each should also appear before the panel to defend its submissions. The decisions of this panel should be binding on both parties. If care is not taken, the proposed debate could end up a shouting match and a charade; it will resolve nothing but may further exacerbate tension between the warring parties. There is still time for the parties to reconsider.