The Minority Leader of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Olagunju Ojo, was on Tuesday sworn-in as the new Speaker after a rowdy session of heated arguments.
Mr Ojo (LP-Orire) emerged the new speaker following his unopposed nomination by Joshua Oyebamiji (APC-Akinyele I) and his being seconded by Gbenga Oyekola (LP-Atiba).
The election of a new speaker was necessitated by the sudden demise of the former speaker, Michael Adeyemo, on April 27.
Mr Ojo, a former Deputy Speaker in the fourth assembly (1999-2003), in his acceptance speech, promised to work in harmony with the other lawmakers in honour of the late speaker and in the interest of the people they represent.
“The unavoidable change that has taken place in this hallowed chamber must not be our undoing or source of discord, rather it should strengthen and spur us to continue to work together more than ever before.
“I have no doubt that doing so will be the best way to keep the spirit of our departed leader alive, as he will not have wished that the good works he started suffer any loss.
“I salute the principal officers who not only stood by our late Speaker while alive but also provided good leadership that held together the legislature in the state during the time of our intense mourning and sorrow.
“I therefore charge all of us to continue exhibiting this attitude of cooperation and maximally contribute to steer the affairs of the state. No doubt my predecessor has left an enviable record of performance and goodwill which shall be a beacon for us to follow,” he said.
The new speaker said that the cooperation of all members was crucial and vital to the progress of the legislative arm.
He also urged the lawmakers to be ever mindful of their conduct and actions as they were constantly under public scrutiny.
Earlier, the Majority Leader, Kehinde Subair, had called for an election into the office of the speaker.
But Muideen Olagunju (Accord-Oyo East/Oyo West), who opposed the call for the election of a new speaker, argued that constitution supersedes the Order of the Assembly.
Mr Olagunju, citing Sections 90, 92, 94 and 95 of the 1999 Constitution, said that in the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker shall automatically take over the office of the speaker.
“The section of the constitution makes it clear that an election is unnecessary and also it is clear about transition to speakership in case of any absence or vacancy.
“The constitution clearly states that the deputy speaker shall vacate his office and preside over the assembly,’’ he said.
Olusegun Olaleye who supported Olagunju’s argument, said a clear interpretation of the constitution showed that the absence of a speaker could also mean the death of a speaker.
On the contrary, Solomon Akande, representing Ogbomoso-South, said the argument of Mr Olagunju was irrelevant and was not applicable to the legislative arm.
According to him, that section of the constitution was applicable only to the executive arm because the governor and his deputy have a joint ticket while the same cannot be said of the legislature.
Fatai Adesina (Accord-Ibadan South East I) moved the motion that the argument on the floor of the chamber should be moved to the executive committee.
“The former speaker was a man of peace and in honour of his memory, we should not be seen by the public as fighting over who should take over the seat after his demise.
“There is always a lacuna in the constitution and rather than airing our differences in public, we should resolve this at the committee level,” he said.
The Deputy Speaker, Musah Abdulwasi, who presided over plenary, subsequently constituted a nine-member committee including the two contestants, Mr Ojo and Abdulwasi.
He suspended the plenary for 20 minutes to allow the committee reach a decision.
“History is being made today and it is good that a section of the constitution is put to test and whatever decision we arrive at today, will be a subject of many legal debates.
“We, however, know that we are here to represent the people and hold our responsibility seriously.
“This conflict over whether to have an election or not is not a conflict within us, but some external bodies are trying to manipulate and dictate our decisions to us.
“We must however put aside our differences in honour of the departed and for the continued peaceful coexistence of this assembly.
“It is worthy to note that in the event of an election, there will be a winner and a loser but the aftermath is that the assembly would have been polarised into two camps and that does not speak well for the existing peace in the house.
“No sacrifice is too much for the attainment of peace,” Mr Abdulwasi said.
He called on the Clerk of the House, Paul Bankole, to make a call for the election.
Meanwhile, Ademola Ige (Accord-Ibadan South East II), has emerged the new minority leader of the assembly.
Mr Ige, who was nominated by Mr Akande and Oyatokun Oyeleke of Afijio state constituency, promised to uphold the good works of the legislature.