The power play in the Ogun State House of Assembly has been intriguing to say the least.
The current House members are deploring judicial and legislative tactics in a battle steeped in party tussle.
All Progressives Congress (APC), faithful particularly from the Ogun East Senatorial district, were recently taken aback by the suspension slammed on two of its state lawmakers: Rt. Hon. ‘Dare Kadiri, representing Ijebu North II State Constituency and that of the Remo North State Constituency, Solomon Osho.
Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Olakunle Oluomo in plenary, penultimate Tuesday, announced the suspension of the two lawmakers “till further notice”, for breaching the provision of Sections 14 and 15 of the Legislative House’s (Powers and Privileges) Act, 2017.
He said Kadiri, former deputy speaker, and Osho were found to have “severely and contentiously” breached the rights and privileges of OGHA and its leadership.
Oluomo said the suspension, signed “by the appropriate number of people”, required no further voting.
However, observers of events in the state aver that Kadiri and Osho’s suspension may signal a repeat of the political upset in the state between 2008 – 2010.
Between May 15, 2008 and September 6, 2010 when Otunba Gbenga Daniel held sway as governor, the assembly had three speakers.
While all the impeachment drama lasted, the Daniel led executive had all its requests from the House met, fueling insinuations that the crisis was instigated by the executive.
Loyalty Test and Impeachment Saga!
The unfolding power game in Ogun State has many sides.
Alongside the power tussle within the political juggernaut in Ogun East Senatorial district, the political rivalry between the incumbent State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun and his immediate predecessor in office, Senator Ibikunle Amosun is at the heart of the power game.
While the embattled former speaker, Kadiri is at the centre of the intrigues, Oluomo is seen as a causative agent in the unfolding tussle.
LEADERSHIP investigation revealed that the incumbent state governor is not comfortable with Kadiri’s political status hence the move to weaken his political influence.
Further checks reveal that Kadiri’s travail started after an interview in which he was quoted to have referred to former governor Amosun as his political mentor.
This statement allegedly did not go down well with the governor’s camp, hence the plot to whittle his influence starting from his constituency.
Ijebu North local government, which Kadiri represents, is home to some powerful APC politicians in Ogun East Senatorial district, including two former deputy governors namely, Senator Adegbenga Sefiu Kaka (1999 – 2003), and Prince ‘Segun Adesegun (2011-2015).
The local government also parades the Senator currently representing the entire Ogun East Senatorial district, ‘Lekan Mustapha and the current secretary to the state government (SSG), Tokunbo Talabi.
But Hon Kadiri has a leverage which endears him to the grassroot level than others. His mother, Alhaja Adetola Kadiri, a strong political leader since the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) days, was the women leader in Ward 9 of Ijebu North II State Constituency before her recent suspension. Kadiri has been able to leverage his mother’s political status.
But the governor found a good ally in his SSG, Talabi, whom he is using to reduce Kadiri’s influence in the council.
In March 2021, Kadiri was arrested and detained by the Ogun State Police Command, Abeokuta over alleged sponsorship of hoodlums to invade SSG’s residence in Oru – Ijebu, Ijebu North local government area of the state. This was in addition to the allegation of leading political hoodlums to attack the residence of another politician, Hon. Adebiyi Odugbesan.
Although the matter still lingers, the dispute is clearly steeped in the political rivalry between Kadiri and the SSG.
Sources close to the lawmaker told LEADERSHIP that Kadiri’s believes that since he occupies an elective position, he ought not to be taking instructions from the SSG.
This explained why the lawmaker allegedly exposed the SSG when the COVID-19 palliative materials meant for Ijebu North Local Government was allegedly being hoarded.
Kadiri had also accused the SSG of keeping APC’s registration materials away from his supporters during the party’s recently concluded registration and revalidation exercise in the state. A dispute over the development led to Kabiri’s arrest and detention at Eleweran police headquarters in Abeokuta, the state capital.
By March 2021, the Assembly under leadership of Oluomo, removed Kadiri as the deputy speaker on grounds of “gross misconduct”.
However, sources close to Kadiri said he approached Oluomo to make amends and retrace his steps but the speaker allegedly told the former deputy speaker that he had no personal grudge with him and advised him to go and apologise to the state governor.
It was further learnt that Kadiri approached the governor, who was said to have noted that he doesn’t want to meddle in the affairs of the legislature, citing the principles of Separation of Powers.
Kadiri was not only removed as the deputy speaker of the House, the lawmaker also lost the opportunity of securing a return ticket in the APC for the year 2023 general elections.
His mother, Adetola, was also removed as the APC women leader in their Ward 9 of Ijebu North II State Constituency.
“This development made Kadiri to see himself as an unwanted politician in their midst”, a source in his camp told LEADERSHIP.
Kadiri however fought back by allegedly filing a petition with the EFCC, stating some of the atrocities committed by the Assembly.
In the said petition, the embattled lawmaker purportedly revealed how the Assembly under Oluomo allegedly mismanaged funds and even forged tickets to cover up for some of the funds.
One of such was the fuel tickets allegedly obtained from two petroleum filling stations.
In the EFCC’s letter of inquiry dated January 5, 2022 to the management of the two filling stations, requesting for authentication of the receipts, responses from their management of the two petroleum filling stations have denied issuance of the receipts.
Nevertheless, the development culminated in the arrest and arraignment of Oluomo alongside the Clerk of the House and the House Account Officer.
The case is at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
Kadiri was suspended by APC in his Ward 13 of Ijebu North II State Constituency shortly after the speaker’s arraignment.
While APC State Executive Committee upheld the suspension on account of anti-party activities, Kadiri was suspended by the State Assembly for contravening Assembly’s rules 10 days later.
Analysts have however, expressed divergent opinions on Kadiri’s travails.
A political pundit in the state, Abdul-Razaq Kushimo, who spoke with LEADERSHIP said Kadiri has a case to answer being deputy speaker at the time of the alleged deals.
He however also noted that Oluomo acted fast to suspend Kadiri from the House’s sitting and other activities indefinitely.
“As one time deputy speaker, who was privileged to certain documents of the House, he deployed that privileged information to get back at Oluomo and as such, he would not hesitate at writing a very powerful petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)”.
On his part, public analyst, Ola Animasahun decried the level at which the Ogun State House of Assembly has degenerated.
“The suspension does not, and can not absolve Oluomo from being investigated, tried or convicted; if found guilty. The speaker’s latest move can easily be viewed as a desperate retaliative/punitive attempt in the scheme of things. And it comes with a very high probability of it backfiring. Particularly if one takes cognisance of Iya Maba; Kadiri’s mother’s influence in their constituency in areas of Ogun East”.
Meanwhile, whether the lawmakers and their party, APC, will realise the enormity of the danger ahead is a matter for the party elders to decide.