OGUN: ONE WEEK, ONE TROUBLE
What is the problem with Ogun State? At what point did things go wrong with the state? When will there be political sanity in the Gateway state? These are some of the questions residents and stakeholders ask daily as things appear to have fallen apart with the state that claims to have pioneered civilization in the country, a state with many records of firsts in human endeavours.
For the records, Ogun State, particularly Abeokuta, the capital, is reputed to have produced the first lawyer, medical doctor, educationist and several other professionals in the country. But in recent times, political rivalry among key players in the state has brought her into great disrepute.
The state has become notorious politically among other states in the South West as a theatre of trouble. In Ogun State, hardly a week passes without a rancour arising from what many political watchers described as high level of intolerance among the key players.
A once peaceful state has become a thorn in the flesh of indigenes some of whom are now lamenting what their state has become. It is only in Ogun State that the First Lady would storm the house of a former council boss with security personnel to register her displeasure.
In Ogun, where Otunba Gbenga Daniel reigns as governor, it is one week one trouble. If the executive arm of government is not at loggerheads with the legislative arm, then it is the factional leaderships of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) fighting one another. The issue of bond has also pitched the executive and the legislative arms against each other since 2008 when the N28.9 billion proposal was first presented to the House.
Only in Ogun State would an Assistant Commissioner of Police be killed with several other people during a mayhem that the state government had linked to political activities of some people believed to be working against her interest. It is probably only in Ogun State that a ''black book'' would be opened for individuals and organizations who consistently work against the interest of the state and its people.
The Executive Council of the troubled state unanimously endorsed the listing of Mr. Tunde Oladunjoye as the first individual in the black book. In the same vein, the leadership of the PDP in the state weilded the big stick last week by expelling the former chairman, Ijebu East Local Government, Oladunjoye from the party, over allegation of gross misconduct and acting contrary to the provisions of the party's constitution.
Oladunjoye, who was suspended from office early this year has been having running battle with the PDP and the state government since the last December mayhem that claimed lives and property worth millions of naira at Ijebu-Ife, within his jurisdiction. The party hierrarchy explained that the former chairman, who is the publicity secretary of the Omo Ilu Group, had brought the name of the party into disrepute by making unsubstantiated claim of bribery against some national officers of the party as well using the name and logo of the party in the offensive publication.
As if these were not enough, women, drawn from the various 20 local government areas of the state staged a peaceful demonstration in Ijebu East Local Government Area of the state to protest against what they described as invasion of privacy and the fundamental rights of the governor's children in a newspaper publication. The protesters who converged on Ijebu Imushin, under the umbrella of Concerned Women in Ogun State, condemned the action saying that the development was dangerous for the nascent democracy, especially as the 2011 general election was around the corner.
The women with leaves in their hands carried placards with various inscriptions: 'Oladunjoye, allow peace to reign.' 'Stop harassing OGD family.' 'Don't use our children to settle personal score.' 'Don't use our children to score political points.' 'Don't spoil the lives of our little children.' 'Women say no to do-or-die.'
The women led by the state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Tomi Soboyejo and the wife of the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Abosede Onakoya and the impeached Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Titi Oseni, visited the palace of the Oloko of Ijebu-Imushin, Oba Stephen Onafowokan, Chairman Ijebu East Traditional Council of Obas. According to the women, the publication of Daniel's children's pictures was an infringement on the fundamental rights of the affected children.
Since about three weeks ago that the protest started, hardly had a day passed without a protest in one or two local government council areas of the state. The funny part of this is that the protest is usually led by either the chairmen or wives, or both of the council areas. This is a common feature in the state. It has witnessed many political upheavals than any of its counterparts in the South West.
As the protests ravage the state, attempt by a group of protesters in Abeokuta, to carry fetish pots to the home of the father of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, was nipped in the bud.
The protesters were said to be protesting the dissolution of the state executive of the PDP by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
Reacting, Bankole's father said: 'It is nothing but a wasteful proposal. I waited for them to receive the fetish, but I am surprised that they could not dare me anymore. What they forgot to realize is that I am not just Bankole by name, I am a traditional chief in Egbaland and also a kingmaker. I want to see who will do that. Maybe it was some authority that advised them to desist.' Bankole, fondly called 'Caterpillar' said he waited to no avail to see the pots from the protesters who surprisingly made a detour.
The issue of bond which has pitched the executive against the legislature continues to generate controversies, assuming dangerous proportion almost on daily basis. Stakeholders across the state were and are still divided on whether the state government should access the capital market for N100 billion.
Only last Tuesday, the residents of Abeokuta woke up to a strange discovery of three fetish pots at the state House of Assembly complex. The strange discovery was made shortly after no fewer than 600 members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and another group led by the secretary to the Abeokuta South Local Government, stormed the complex.
Daily Sun learnt that the deposit of the ritual meals (ebo) was meant to protest the refusal of the House to approve the proposed N100billion. The deposit of the rituals, which came on the day members of the House were supposed to resume from one month vacation raised questions about the security lapses within the assembly complex.
The NURTW members had stormed the assembly complex at about 12pm to pressure the House for the approval of the bond. The political stalwarts masquerading as members of the state NURTW also threw several eggs on the assembly wall, boasting that they had symbolically put an end to the unity among the legislators which made it impossible for them to accede to the bond request.
A member of the group, who spoke with Daily Sun boasted that henceforth, there would be no unity among the lawmakers. The other group of protesters from the Abeokuta South Local Government, the constituency of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, laid siege to the complex as early as 7 a.m. As if the leadership of the House led by Tunji Egbetokun had a fore knowledge of the impending protest, it earlier in the day, released a public notice signed by the Clerk of the House, Mr. Demola Badejo, announcing the inability of the lawmakers to hold plenary for the day.
The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of the Ibara Police station, Mr. Muyideen Obe, led a team of policemen to the House before the protest began, to monitor situation. According to him, he was there on the instruction of the state Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr. Musa Daura, to assess the situation and forestall any possible act of violence.
The state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Sina Kawonise who was silent about those that masterminded the storming of the assembly by protesters last Tuesday faulted the lawmakers' suspension of plenary: 'The decision of the members of the Ogun State House of Assembly to suspend, indefinitely her plenary sittings based on an alleged starving of funds by the executive is frivolous, unfortunate and totally unwarranted.
'It is pertinent to reiterate that the House Resolution 167 banning every financial institution's support to the state government; its delay in approving the bond proposal as well as consideration of the supplementary budget appropriation has continued to hinder virtually all developmental and administrative efforts of the state.
'The precarious situation has more biting effects on the judiciaryand executive arms, more than the legislature. For the avoidance of doubt, it was only the legislative arm of government that enjoys her monthly allocations promptly than every sector of the state as it had already collected its monthly costs and other allocations up to April, 2010 while the judiciary's last pay was March, 2010.'
He added that the state ministries and government agencies had only collected their running costs up till December, 2009 while the state's tertiary institutions, survived till date with half of their March, 2010 allocation as their last collection. The commissioner said the state was aware that the action of some members of the assembly was a well-designed plot sponsored by a top political functionary of Ogun State extraction in Abuja to destabilize the Daniel-led Administration.
As the crises continue unabated, the question on the lips of observers is, when will this come to an end?