Lere Olayinka is the Special Assistant on Information and new media to the Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose.In this interview with Senior Correspondent,
TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, he speaks on the political crisis in the state that has led to the controversial removal of the Speaker and his Deputy. Excerpts:
Latest development in Ekiti has it that the Speaker has been impeached by seven members of the House of Assembly and a new one sworn in. How do you see this development?
I am not a member of the House of Assembly. I work with the executive governor. They are two different arms of government. I heard the news the way you also heard it; that a new speaker emerged today (Thursday) by name Dele Olugbemi and a new Deputy Speaker, Abeni Olayinka, from Ado Ekiti. That is all I have heard. I cannot confirm the number of Assembly members that sat to carry out the impeachment process. It is not known to me since I am in Lagos. I also heard that the APC (All Progressives Congress) lawmakers in the House held a press conference in Lagos and I have been asking to know whether the
House of Assembly of Ekiti now resides in Lagos State.
The impeached Speaker, Omirin, claimed their lives are no longer safe in Ekiti and that explains why they relocated to Lagos. What is your take on that?
To say they are unsafe in Ekiti is the height of deception and falsehood. I do not understood the way they operate. That has been the attitude since 2007. In 2007, we had 13 AC lawmakers and 13 PDP. You all know that AC became ACN, which has again metamorphosed into APC. The House was inaugurated
on June 3 by the then governor, Segun Oni, who was in PDP then. But, the 13 APC lawmakers then refused to come to the House for inauguration. Instead, they came to Lagos and camped there for almost three months. They refused to come to Ekiti and insisted that they were making impossible demands from the governor, that they must be the party to produce the Speaker and so on. At a point, the governor had no
choice than to inaugurate the 13 PDP members and among them, the Speaker was elected as well as Deputy Speaker, Majority Leader and other principal officers. The House functioned for three months before the 13 APC lawmakers returned from Lagos and
joined them. And they didn’t join until there was a threat to declare their seats vacant.Because by the rule of the House, you must participate in the sitting by certain number of days in a year. If you don’t meet that requirement, your seat automatically becomes vacant. When the lawmakers
knew that will become their fate, they quickly rushed to the House. Out of magnanimity, the PDP lawmaker
who had already been elected the Deputy Speaker, had to step down for an APC person to take over the
position. The other positions were also shared and the House started functioning. Let me also add that on
December 31st 2007 when then Governor Oni was to present budget, the APC lawmakers made the Assembly to appear like a war zone. Their agenda was to prevent the governor from presenting the budget.
They believe if he was unable to do so, the government will not be able to spend money in 2008 and that will effectively cripple the government. They also believe that if the governor goes ahead to spend any money that has not been budgeted for, it will
become an impeachable offence. If they could do that then, you now imagine what they will do to the present PDP governor when they have majority in the House.Also remember that the Speaker did not attend the
inauguration of governor Fayose.
Immediately Fayose was sworn in, the first assignment of the Speaker was to send the House on one-month recess. When a governor just assumed office and you know that he will need the House of Assembly and you as the Speaker declared that the House should go on one-month recess. It shows that you are not ready to
work with that government. That is the genesis of everything we are having now. Out of the governor’s readiness to embrace everybody, he called the
Speaker and appealed to them and they agreed. They gave a lot of ridiculous conditions that one cannot
disclose here. One of such conditions was that their subvention, which is about N45 million that was not paid to them by the outgone governor, Kayode Fayemi,should be paid by Fayose. And in the interest of peace, the governor paid the money, which they collected and shared among themselves.
The governor also appealed to them that he only wanted to appoint threes commissioners, which are Finance, Works and Attorney- General. The state
government is going to access N2 billion from the CBN for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) facility. We all know that this cannot be done without a substantive Commissioner for Finance and Attorney-General. They
agreed that he should send the names of the three commissioners. The three commissioners, whose names were sent, were already seated in the Assembly waiting to appear before the House when the lawmakers came and said they got a call from their leaders in Lagos that they should not approve the commissioners.Then on the issue of Local Government Caretaker, they
suddenly realised that there is a case in court and so they declined from addressing that too. Immediately
they did that, they went out of Ekiti. It is either they are speaking on Adaba FM, Akure, owned by Tinubu or
they are on TVC tomorrow. As I speak, they are addressing a press conference in Lagos. You don’t expect the government to be grounded. You don’t
expect the people not to be governed. Anyhow,somehow, the business of government must go on.
Are you in essence saying these APC lawmakers are acting a script aimed at frustrating the Ayo Fayose’s
It is a script. And this is their Plan B. The Plan A was to prevent Ayo Fayose from assuming office. They filed several cases. When they know they cannot get an injunction in Ado, they went to the Federal High Court in Abuja to file another suit. When that became
difficult, they came to Lagos, two days to October 16 when the governor will be inaugurated. As at the morning of October 16, they were expecting that the injunction will be granted and the governor will not be sworn in. Omirin, the impeached speaker was already
preparing to be acting governor. That was the reason he didn’t show up for the governor’s swearing in. He thought the Chief Judge will not come and that there will be a court pronouncement from Lagos preventing Fayose from assuming office. So, when that failed, the Plan B, their next line of action was to use the House of Assembly to frustrate the governor. Whatever the
governor intends doing, they keep saying no. Their Plan C would have been move motion of impeachment
against the governor. So, it is an agenda, a script against the person of the governor and by extension, a
script against the good people of Ekiti State who overwhelmingly voted for Ayo Fayose.
The state government announced the sack of all the aides of the Speaker on Monday, while the Speaker was impeached on Thursday. Some people have likened it to the withdrawal of the security details of Aminu Tambuwal by the IGP, which generated widespread criticisms from Nigerians . Do you think
that is constitutionally right?
The situation can be likened to that of the man who invented gun, when he was doing that, the man would not likely have thought that the gun would be used to kill people. In Ekiti State, when Fayemi was governor ,he sent a Bill to the House of Assembly seeking to empower the governor to appoint aides of Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Local Government Chairmen, Vice
Chairmen, and Secretary to the Local Government.When that one happened, people like us cried and protested against it and told the House not to sign it,that what if tomorrow, PDP is the government in power in the state, then two, three four local government is under another party, are you saying the PDP governor will appoint aides for the APC chairmen?We raised all these issues but Omirin and others closed their ears. They passed the Bill empowering governors to appoint aides of the Speaker and Local Government chairmen. Fayemi then went ahead to appoint aides of the Speaker. All those people who were sacked, the aides to the former Speaker, were appointed by Fayemi. They got their appointment from
the Office of the SSG. A governor who appoints also reserves the right to fire. So, if a governor appoints, another governor feels the appointment is
unnecessary, can’t he fire? It is as simple as that. Just imagine the number of aides a Speaker has. He also
has Chief of Staff. We had Speaker from 1999 to 2005,Hon. Kola Adefemi of the AD. We had another Speaker when Fayose was governor, Friday Aderemi. We also had Patrick Ajigbolamu. Later we had Bamisile and later Tunji Odeyemi. There was no time a Speaker in Ekiti State had Chief of Staff. There was no time a Speaker in Ekiti State has Special Adviser, Political or Youth Affairs. If in Ekiti state, the Speaker has six aides, you can imagine the number of aides the Speaker of Lagos Assembly will have. Special Advisers is a cabinet rank, the salary is of the level of Commissioner. And you have the Speaker having six of them. That means the Speaker of Rivers Assembly will have 50 Special Advisers. It is simply outrageous. Now come to think of it, one of the aides happen to be the
son of the Speaker, Wande Omirin, SA to the Speaker on Youth Matters. The supposed Special Assistant on Media to the Majority Leader, Churchill Adedipe, was his own sister. Such profligacy is unheard of in a state like Ekiti with the kind of economy we have.
The former Speaker had also claimed he was unjustly victimised by the governor by shutting down his petrol station by the governor. What is your take on that?
Is he saying because he was the Speaker when he contravenes the law,he should not be touched? Four
filling stations were closed down. One of them belonged to an Igbo man. That man, was also a member of the House of Assembly or APC member?Was the filling station belonging to the man also closed down because he refused to join PDP? When you decide to use power negatively, use power blindly. There is two residential buildings together, but the Speaker picked a little space and erected a filling station there. Again, there is also the Code of Conduct Act that barred public office holders from running business while in office? By provision of that Act, the Speaker has no right to run private business while till in office. So, how can you now claim that you own filing
station? Is that not a criminal offence? That was why I said these people who are supporting the Speaker on this issue will send him to jail and abandon him. That was how they pushed Justice Isa Ayo Salami out of office into obscurity. So, it wasn’t victimisation. Four filling stations were shut down, not the Speaker’s alone. So, the question of victimisation does not arise.
With the recent developments, don’t you think we are gradually moving to the political crisis that plagued the state in 2006?
I left Ekiti for Lagos and I have been in touch with the state. The state is as peaceful as paradise. All these noise about the state not at peace is mere propaganda. Remember they said if Fayose won, they would relocate out of Ekiti. They have already done that and
are now operating from Lagos. We now have Lagos State House of Assembly II. The people who are fomenting trouble in Ekiti are already in Lagos. I even
heard during the press conference they had, they keep mentioning my name that I am the one causing trouble for them in Ekiti. But here I am in Lagos. Is it not even ridiculous that able-bodied men will leave Ekiti and be addressing press conference in Lagos?Were they elected to serve Lagos State? So, if you
abdicate your duty in Ekiti and come to Lagos, are you expecting the other lawmakers in Ekiti to also sit down
waiting for you to come back and not run the business of government? Ekiti State is peaceful. Ayo Fayose is governing and business of government of running smoothly.
What if the lawmakers return, don’t you think they can spring surprises since they are in the majority?
Who is saying they should not come back? Let us wait till they come back. Who says they even have the majority? Many of the APC lawmakers are only APC on face value, but PDP at heart. That is politics for you.