Ondo Crisis: Mimiko shuns budget presentation as rebel members hijack Assembly

Thirteen members of the Ondo State House of Assembly sitting

The Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, on Wednesday stayed away from the State House of Assembly where he was scheduled to present his proposals for the 2017 budget of the state.

From the early hours of Wednesday, some members opposed to the leadership of the Assembly had taken over the chambers and conducted legislative business, with a view to receiving the governor for the budget presentation.

The police, which had sealed up the assembly complex since the leadership tussle broke out, opened the complex for normal business in expectation of the budget presentation.

The rebel faction had last week announced the suspension of the Speaker, Jumoke Akindele, and her deputy, Fatai Olotu, as well as the Majority Leader, Ifedayo Akinsoyinu, for allegedly authorising the withdrawal of N15 million without the consent of the house.

The improvised mace used during sitting at the Ondo State House of Assembly
The improvised mace used during sitting at the Ondo State House of Assembly

The lawmakers had appointed Malachi Coker as Acting Speaker; Ayodele Arowole, Acting Deputy Speaker; and Olamide George as Acting Deputy Majority Leader.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that on hearing that the governor would be presenting his budget, the lawmakers came as early as 7 a.m. to seize the chambers before the other faction led by Ms. Akindele could arrive.

The group stayed back at the chambers, refusing to leave so as to ensure the other faction had no the chance to displace them.

They had their breakfast within the chambers and when it was time for lunch, a motion was moved for a break and lunch was served also in the chambers.

They also had an improvised mace, (an eagle stand bearing the national flag) for their sitting at plenary as they deliberated on certain issues.

Although Mr. Mimiko was expected to make his presentation at noon, as at 3 p.m., there was no news of the governor coming to the house.

Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko  Photo Credit: Ondo State Government
Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko
Photo Credit: Ondo State Government

Ms. Akindele, who continued to insist she remains the speaker, with the support of 12 other members, however did not show up at the assembly complex.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Mr. Mimiko, who is in support of Ms. Akindele’s faction, has not succeeded in getting the aggrieved members to allow the status quo to remain.

Mr. Coker while presiding said a committee had been set up to investigate the removed speaker and her principal officers in connection with the alleged N15 million fraud.

He then adjourned sitting to Thursday.

In his reaction to Wednesday’s happenings, the Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Kayode Akinmade, said discussions were ongoing between the two factions to ensure that peace was allowed to reign.

According to him, the governor is working to ensure that the peace enjoyed in the state for the last 8 years is not truncated just three weeks to the end of the tenure.

“We are trying to present the budget to ensure that the incoming government does not have issues when it takes over,” Mr. Akinmade said.

“Even without submitting budget, the state government has the constitutional right to spend up to 75 per cent of the amount of the last budget within six months, so we are only trying to ensure a seamless transition.

“But some of them are trying to create problems, you are aware that they even brought thugs trying to destroy peoples cars.

“Nobody has a monopoly of violence, we know where this is coming from, but we cannot allow the peace we have built for eight years to be truncated in two days.”

He added that there was hope that the issues would be resolved amicably in the interest of peace as soon as possible.

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