How Fayose Survived APC Impeachment Plot
LAST Friday, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State led thousands of his supporters for a victory walk around Ado Ekiti to celebrate the failed plans to impeach him by the 19 All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers that had their tenure ended with the 4th Ekiti State Assembly on last Thursday.
Indeed, there were reasons for the governor and members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to dance ‘Azonto’ round the major streets of the capital town to thank people for supporting them while the battle lasted.
Fayose rode on a commercial motorcycle to lead the victory carnival that ended with the inauguration of the new House of Assembly, dominated by PDP members. The last seven months had been traumatic for him.
He was not only being rattled with the impeachment crisis, but the state was almost grounded with high level of insecurity that forced many to be sleeping with one eye closed.
From the incident of jail breaking that increased crime rate in the state, to kidnapping of 11 people within a week, especially medical personnel, which forced the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to suspend all clinical services in all government owned hospitals, to inter-tribal war between the Hausa tribe and their host community, where 45 people were wounded and hospitalized for sustaining various degree of injuries. The crisis also saw over 80 shops razed while over 2,000 people were displaced.
The state was gradually degenerating into a state of one-week, one-trouble until things turned around for good. Fayose was elected on June 21, last year, having defeated Dr. Kayode Fayemi of the APC. The resounding victory recorded by Fayose in all the 16 local councils in the state dazed APC chieftains that still found it difficult to believe.
Though the party is still challenging the victory it described as ‘pyretic and aided by photochromic’ at the tribunal, but the result of the last presidential election and that of the State House of Assembly, where PDP did not only proof its superiority over the APC, but won all the 26 seats in the Assembly ought to have sent signals to the plotters of his impeachment that they were swimming against political tide in the state.
But the last Assembly, which had 19 APC as members and seven PDP became an albatross to Fayose’s regime.
The Assembly did not only factionalised along party sentiments, but paralysed activities in the state.
The impeachment plot nearly turned the 19-year old state into a theatre of war. It was not only a battle of wits, fought at the hallowed chambers and temple of Justice, but it was essentially decided at the court of public opinion where commercial motorcyclists, artisans, trade union leaders, market women acted as ‘jurists.’
If the governor, who the Supreme Court just declared that his 2006 impeachment was illegal, had relied solely on the judiciary to determine his fate, may be, history would have been repeated itself, because he would have gone into the records as a governor that was impeached twice.
But, Fayose, a tactician himself, carried his ‘foot soldiers’ along and, sometimes, ‘incited’ them against the lawmakers that wanted to impeach him and surreptitiously declared the lawmakers as ‘enemies of the state.’
The lawmakers were not only muscled out of the state, they were also prevented from performing their constitutional responsibilities by thugs, who blocked all roads leading to the Assembly. Their families became endangered species and temporarily relocated out of Ekiti State.
For four months, the second arm of the government was shut down and gun-wielding suspected party thugs kept vigil at the chamber, hunting for the APC lawmakers that would secretly entered the Assembly to perfect their plans to impeach the governor. The only time the lawmakers tried to force themselves into the town led to the death of one person at Efon-Alaiye, one of the boarder towns to the Ekiti State.
At his swearing-in ceremony on October 16, last year, Fayose extended hands of fellowship to the legislators and expressed optimism that since they were all working for the interest of the state, it would not be difficult for them to work together, irrespective of their political differences.
But that was not to be. The genesis of the crisis within the lawmakers and between the APC faction in the Assembly and the Executive began when Fayose sent list of four names – commissioner nominees to the Assembly for approval.
The governor disclosed that before the list was sent to the Assembly, he held a private meeting with the lawmakers, where he explained why he had to start the cabinet with only four members. Fayose disclosed that he provided them with the ‘logistics’ to enable them effectively perform their duties.
But on the second day while he was expecting the Speaker, Dr. Adewale Omirin, to read his letter on the floor of the Assembly and set up machinery for the screening of the nominees, Omirin did not do so.
And before the governor could know what was happening, the APC lawmakers were allegedly meeting in Lagos with some APC chieftains, where they got counter instruction. Though, Omirin denied the allegation and accused Fayose of not attaching the curriculum vitae of the nominees to his letter.
He argued that it would be impossible for the lawmakers to screen the nominees without their relevant documents, but the PDP immediately held a press conference where they claimed that APC lawmakers were only playing politics with the matter and displayed photocopies of documents presented at the Assembly.
While the rat race continued, the 19 APC lawmakers went on self-exile, while the remaining seven PDP members announced a change in the principal officers of the Assembly. Dele Olugbemi was then picked as the new speaker.
The governor immediately recognised the faction and sent his request to the factionalised Assembly constituted with seven members.
He got not only his commissioner nominees approved, but also the 2015 fiscal bill was passed into law and all other bills sent by the governor.
The APC lawmakers, however, considered all what the governor and minority members of the Assembly did as illegal and impeachable offences. They, therefore, passed a motion where they instituted an impeachment process and wrote the Chief Justice of the State, Justice Daramola to set up a panel to investigate the alleged offences.
Three months after the APC lawmakers had written the Chief Justice, the panel was not constituted while the Registrar to the Court said the Chief Judge did not receive any letter from the Assembly to impeach Fayose. However, the plot to impeach Fayose generated unbridled reactions in the state with various groups protesting against it.
Among those who kicked against it were the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, Ekiti Council of Elders led by Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), traders, artisans associations and commercial motorcycle riders that seem to have declared APC lawmakers persona non grata in the state; in fact, workers’ unions including Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), National Union of Teachers (NUT), staged a peaceful protest against the impeachment. Obviously, the APC’s desire to impeach Fayose did not enjoy the support of the majority of the people.
This is partly responsible for their failure to win re-election because they could not mingle freely with the electorate in their constituencies; in fact, none of them visited their constituencies to campaign during the election because of fears of being mobbed. All efforts to amicably resolve the impasse failed as both parties stuck to their guns.
The last of such meetings was held last week in Akure, Ondo State, where the governor offered to pay all the outstanding salaries and allowances of the lawmakers with the condition of allowing Odugbemi to preside over the valedictory session of the Assembly, but Omirin and his APC lawmakers would not be swayed by pecuniary interest to abandon the struggle they claimed was predicated on principle and to strengthen democracy.
They insisted that pre-November 11 position of the members of the Assembly should be sustained as condition for a peaceful resolution.
Omirin and his people had thought that with the swearing in of General Muhammed Buhari as the President of the country on May 29, the coast would be cleared for them to re-gain their entry and dominance in the Assembly, but they were disappointed as presidency kept mum on the crisis.
The APC lawmakers had since last weekend camped in a Hotel in Osogbo from where they were being expected to be led by heavy security to Ado Ekiti, but when such security arrangement did not come and desperation of PDP members in Ekiti that had blocked all routes to the town, some of them resigned to their fate and perhaps went back to the drawing board.
However, unknown to Omirin some of the lawmakers had betrayed the ‘struggle’ by collecting money from Fayose and when the governor on Monday displayed the cheques paid into the accounts of some of the APC lawmakers, Omirin knew that it was, indeed, a failed battle.
Though some elements in the APC still believe that the battle to remove Fayose is yet to be over because no one knows what they have up their sleeves, while others are already strategising for the 2018 election, struggling to hijack the party structure to achieve their dreams.
But Fayose has won the battle and had seen the unceremonious exit of his traducers from the Assembly. The new Assembly is constituted by 26 PDP lawmakers and all of them were allegedly hand picked by Fayose.
In fact three-quarter of them had either served as his personal assistant or domestic hands. The new Assembly now has Pastor Kolawole Oluwawole, as Speaker. Oluwawole was his Chief of Staff between 2003 and 2006.
For Fayose and his supporters, as the moment they have been waiting for has finally come, where they will be in absolute control of the state apparatuses, call the shots without any strong opposition, many are waiting to see what the new dawn will bring for the state and Fayose, who is still basking in the victory of surviving the onslaught of his ‘political enemies.’
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