The embattled Speaker of the Ekiti House of Assembly, Adewale Omirin, talks about his face-off with the governor, Ayodele Fayose
The factional speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Dele Olugbemi, said your impeachment was constitutional because the House had the number of people required to impeach you, which was 10. What do you say to that?
I’m disappointed in him because it shows he is not a legislator. He doesn’t know what the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria says. The constitution says the speaker of the assembly could only be impeached by two-thirds of the members of the entire house. In a house of 26, it will take 18 members of the assembly to impeach the speaker. So it was an illegal impeachment in the first instance because they did not form a quorum. You need at least nine members to form a quorum in a house of 26 and they were just seven. So the sitting was illegal let alone the actions that were carried out.
He alleged that after Fayose’s victory at the polls, the former governor of the state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, asked you lawmakers to frustrate him and not to give him any support. Is that why you tried to frustrate him?
I’m a medical doctor and we have people in the house who are learned; people with their own minds. So nobody can tele-guide us. We believe in the rule of law, and we believe the governor should do things the right way because as far as we are concerned, what is paramount to us is the peace of the state and we are all out to develop Ekiti State in conjunction with him. Nobody is out to frustrate him, but I think he has a very bad hatred for the APC. It is that hatred that is pushing him against members of the APC in the house, which I don’t think we need in Ekiti State. Before his inauguration as governor, I listened to him telling the entire world that I did not want him to be inaugurated and that I wanted to become the acting governor. He even went to the market place to tell the market women that they should help him to beg me. So, with this kind of picture in his mind, I don’t know what he is set to achieve by that. I was elected to be a member of the Assembly before becoming the speaker, I never contested to be the governor. The idea of being an acting governor did not even occur to me. They are liars. You can see the series of lies that the governor has been churning out to people on daily basis since he assumed the position. If he didn’t accuse us of demanding for N135m, he would say we are demanding for N200m. I’m not going to join issues with Olugbemi. Politically, he is empty; educationally, he is empty. So I can’t join issues with him.
He also said that Fayemi in a last minute rush approved funds for constituency projects and a N140m foreign trip that had not been previously approved, did they also get to the house of assembly under your leadership for approval?
We have not been receiving constituency allowance for the past three and half years. After the election, they gave us constituency intervention fund which we all collected including Olugbemi. We have a budgetary allocation that we should travel out once in a year. So getting the approval from Dr. Fayemi, I don’t think it was a wrong step. It is left for the new governor to honour or reject it. So, this allegation is all mischief.
Did the governor say he will not bankroll the approval?
Yes, he said so and we didn’t quarrel with him over that. Nobody is forcing him to do that.
Was there a predetermined plan to humiliate Governor Fayose which was instigated by the former governor?
Why did we have to humiliate him? He was elected by the people of Ekiti State as the Governor of Ekiti State, why do we have to humiliate him? There was no such plan in the house.
Is it true that within two weeks that Fayose became governor, you had collected N25m from him?
That is part of the lies we are talking about. The only money he has released to the house is our regular statutory allocation per month which is N45m and that is what we have been taking since three and half years ago for the running grant of honourable members and civil servants. He has not approved any money outside this for the house.
Olugbemi has said that you can’t return to the office of the speaker, are you going to force your way in like the federal lawmakers did?
I’m not going to force my way in. Olugbemi and others are just making the joke of the year. My impeachment can only be carried out by 18 members and not seven. So the purported impeachment was the greatest joke of the century. As of today, I’m still the Speaker of that House legally by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I’m the authentic Speaker of that House.
He said that on more than three occasions, you collected money from the governor. On one occasion, you collected N5.4m and that you took N400,000 while your colleagues took N200,000 each. On another occasion, you collected N500,000 while your colleagues took N200,000 and so on like that.
It is just a gift from the governor when we visited him. He said he was giving us money for fuel. Nobody demanded gift from him, he gave out of his own free will. He has not even given up to N400,000 since he became the governor. It is all about the political drama going on in Ekiti State. Even from what you told me now, does it amount to N25m. If you calculate it, you will know everything is a lie.
Is it true that the House of Assembly under your leadership demanded for N135m from commissioner nominees to approve them as commissioners?
That is not true! We have been in that house for the past three and half years, we have screened commissioners, we have passed many laws and we never asked Fayemi for money. And we never demanded money from any commissioner to screen them. I’m telling you clearly, if you meet Olugbemi, ask him to swear by his children if any member asked the governor or the commissioners for any money to screen them. If he can swear by his children, then know he is telling the truth. Nobody asked for a kobo. I have any even seen any of the commissioners in my life before. So if anybody is asking for money it is the PDP members and not members of the APC.
Is it also true that you claimed you needed to make as much money from the system as possible before the expiration of your tenure when he visited you in the lodge?
How do I make such money? And who did I tell that? If they have their fact, they should bring it. The APC members are not money mongers. The money mongers are those that defected. They felt the best way to make money is to cause disharmony in the house, so that the governor would continue to give them money. That is the problem. They are the people who want to make money and that is why they don’t want the house to settle. As far as I’m concerned, they are the problems the governor is having in the house. They are the people causing problems in the state, particularly, Olugbemi. There was never a time Olugbemi came to the Speaker’s lodge to discuss with me. The last time he visited me in the lodge was before Fayose came to me (before his inauguration) to promise that he would look after us (lawmakers) and send us abroad. I told him my loyalty was for Dr. Fayemi and that when he left office, if he (Fayose) behaved like a governor, I would work with him. That was my last discussion with Olugbemi. He cannot be trusted. Dr. Fayemi gave Toyota Camry to lawmakers, he was the only one who sold his own. He collected money from Fayemi more than any of us.
What if you lose the court case, what will be your next line of action?
I can’t lose in court, even the Chief Justice of Nigeria said it was a wrong action to impeach me. He said it openly that the impeachment was illegal. There is no way I can lose in court unless you want to tell me that the constitution is faulty. If there is justice in this country, no court of law, not even in Ekiti State, can rule against me because even primary school pupils know that what they did is illegal.
The factional lawmakers have said that you are free to return if you will be peaceful, are you considering that?
As I have said most times, I’m a peace -loving person. If you asked about me, people would tell you the kind of person I am. I don’t want to put Ekiti State in unnecessary problems. I don’t want Ekiti State to lose anybody because of the House of Assembly. If I’m coming to Ekiti, I will come under the law. If I really wanted to cause trouble, I would have gone back to the state. There is no way 19 of us will go back and seven of them would say they want to sit. We don’t want problems in Ekiti State, that is why we are still out to make sure we settle things so that there won’t be problems when we return.
Are you likely to return soon?
Very-very soon. I can assure you of that.
We hear that some APC lawmakers may soon be joining the PDP, are you also planning to do so?
(Laughs) That has always been the story everyday. It is either they are 10 today, 14 tomorrow or 13 another day. I can assure you that the 19 of us are solidly together. Nothing can separate us. None of our members is ready to move to their camp. Nobody is planning to defect.
Is it true that while you were in the House of Assembly, the former governor had a strong influence over the affairs of the house?
The governor did not have any influence over the Assembly. We believe we should work in synergy to move Ekiti forward. Some people have said the Assembly was a rubber stamp and I told them if we were rubber stamps, could Fayemi have achieved all he did during his tenure? I owe no one any apology for saying this. Any state where the House of Assembly is at loggerheads with the governor would not move forward. With our disposition to the former governor, we were able to achieve so much for the state and people can see it. During the past three and half years, we passed 71 bills into law and there was never a time there was a quarrel between the executive and the legislature. Not that he had any undue influence over us, but we were on the same page throughout.
Is it also true that APC lawmakers were striking deals with the former governor without the knowledge of the lawmakers from other parties?
There was no contract awarded to the house for three and half years. All these people that are now in PDP were together with us in APC, so if there were deals, they should expose them.
It was also alleged that under your leadership, the House of Assembly turned into a buying and selling place, based on ‘I rub your back, you rub mine’ kind of legislation. Is this the case?
What are we selling in the house? There was no such thing.
You have also been accused of being after your own selfish interest and not driven by the general interest of the house or the state, how true is this?
I challenge anybody who has such information in the house to bring it out. I’m a medical doctor with a successful medical practice. My hospital is still functioning even though I’m not there. They make money in my hospital on daily basis. I’m not on the same level with some of them. Secondly, I took a loan of N20m from two banks. So, if I have embezzled any money, by now, they would have published it for people to see it.
Is it true that the welfare of lawmakers was neglected under Fayemi?
What welfare were they looking for? Now that Fayose has become governor what has he done for the house. The N200,000 he gave to each member is what they are announcing on the radio. Is that welfare?
Is it true that there was a tentative plan by Fayemi to install you as the Acting Governor of the state?
Why would we be planning to impeach Fayose? What has he done to warrant that? These are some of the lies people are telling him. As governor, I expected him to call me. He believes the seven lawmakers so much that he told us to our faces that he will believe them even if they are telling lies. He even told us that he will tell lies against us because we don’t have radio and television to give us publicity. You know the governor was impeached in his first term, probably, he believes attack is the best form of defence; that is why he is attacking us. If he really wants to work with us, we are ready to work with him. But he must be ready to work with the rule of law and the fear of God in him. Secondly, he has stopped the salary of APC lawmakers. We didn’t receive salary for last month. He also released N12. 5m running grants for only the seven lawmakers, and nothing was paid to the APC members. I received alert for my November salary, but by the time I woke up the following morning, it had been removed from my account. The Accountant-General said he was directed to do so by the governor. I don’t think it is a right step. Fayemi came in when a PDP member was the Speaker and he worked with him. We have seen such leaders in the world. George Bush ruled the United States of America with democrats as the majority in the house, so I believe what we need is dialogue and understanding. The Assembly is a separate arm of government like the judiciary.
The governor has assured of your security, do you believe him?
I won’t say he is lying but I have to be careful. If my security is guaranteed, would he be putting thugs in the Assembly on daily basis?
They said the Assembly passed a law that the governor would appoint all the political aides including yours.
Let him bring out that law for the public to see. I have been in that house for three and half years, there was no such law passed by us.
Who appointed your aides for you?
I did that by myself. It is the House of Assembly that is paying them.
What has been the role of the police?
He is the governor of the state and I believe the police is working in conjunction with him. Otherwise, the police won’t provide security for seven lawmakers to impeach the Speaker. Members of the APC coming to the Assembly on that day were turned back by the police.
Have you been communicating with the police?
Well, we are communicating and I have been assured by the Commissioner of Police that he would provide security for me anytime I’m coming back. I will be coming with all other APC lawmakers.[Punch]