The All Progressives Congress, APC in Ondo state and the state government are trying to win over some members of the state house of assembly loyal to newly elected Speaker, Olamide George by offering them return tickets on the platform of the party for the 2019 election, SUNSHINE HERALD can confirm.
Different sources who are privy to the information, confirmed this to SUNSHINE HERALD on Wednesday.
The house of assembly had been in crisis since Friday, November 9, when some members impeached Bamidele Oleyelogun and Iroju Ogundeji as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.
The members subsequently elected Olamide George as their leader, while Bimbo Fajolu was elected Deputy Speaker.
But in a swift reaction, Oleyelogun while addressing the press noted that the quorum needed to impeach him and his deputy was not met. He alleged that the members had forged the signatures of two of their colleagues, Sunday Olajide and Feyi Oluyide.
While the 16 members loyal to George have been away from the assembly, the other eight on Oleyelogun’s side have been sitting.
To further break the ranks of the majority members, sources confirmed to SUNSHINE HERALD that pressures are being mounted on some candidates of the party to step down for some of the members who did not get return ticket so they can cross to the other side.
Specifically mentioned in the plan was the member representing Akoko North East, Fatai Olotu.
SUNSHINE HERALD can confirm that former Special Assistant to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Youths and Students Affairs, Banji Adewunmi, who is the candidate of the party for Akoko North East constituency is being prevailed upon to step down for Olotu.
Adewunmi while speaking with SUNSHINE HERALD confirmed that some people within the part have muted the idea to him.
He however stated that he has not stepped down, and he was not ready to drop his mandate for anyone.
“I will emphatically say that I am still the candidate of APC in Akoko North East in the forthcoming house of assembly election, and that I’m also surprised to hear the rumour. It will only continue to live in the realm of imagination.
“As we speak right now, a lot of party hierarchy have approached me, but I declined outrightly.
Efforts to get the reaction of the alleged beneficiary, Fatai Olotu was abortive, as he neither picked our call, or replied the text message sent to him.
The State Publicity Secretary of the party, Alex Kalejaye was also not reachable at the time of filing this report.
On the side of the government however, Information Commissioner, Yemi Olowolabi said efforts are being made by Governor Akeredolu as the leader of the party to restore peace to the assembly.
“The governor is the leader of the party, and has made several efforts with the view to reconciling the warring parties. Reconciliatory moves, with the view to bringing peace back there, and I’m sure his efforts are yielding fruits.
“I’m not aware of that (giving of return tickets to appease some members), what I know is that the governor has held several meetings with some of them, and the governor and other leaders of the APC have waded in the crisis, and we are very optimistic that very soon, peace will return to the assembly.
“Meanwhile, members loyal to Oleyelogun the speaker are going ahead with their legislative duties. What is required to form a quorum is one-third, and one-third of 26 is nine, so, the assembly is on. If you go there, sitting is on as expected.
“What is very clear is that we are committed to peaceful resolution of the crisis. In such situations, people will be asked to make sacrifices, for peace to reign. If that (stepping down) is what is required, I’m sure those who were asked to will do such. But I’m not aware of anyone being asked to step down, but if you say you have spoken with someone, what I will say is that efforts are ongoing to resolve the crisis. If anybody is asked to step down, if that is what it takes, I’m sure all parties are prepared to make sacrifices all in the overall interest of the party,” Olowolabi said.
In a related development, the George led faction has condemned moves to deplete it’s ranks with return tickets.
In separate interviews with SUNSHINE HERALD, George, his deputy Bimbo Fajolu and Majority Leader, Olugbenga Araoyinbo noted that such actions do not speak well of the party.
They also confirmed that although they have heard the rumour, no one has approached them as a group.
Fajolu said, “I wouldn’t know if the government is doing that on individual basis, but collectively, I will say no. But individually, I cannot speak for others, I can only speak for myself.
“And if government has such a plan, I am sure it is to hoodwink out people, and bamboozle them into submission, into deviating from the course of justice we are all pursuing. I have not been contacted by any government official or the party.
“The party has not even reached out to any one of us as regards the impasse in the Ondo State House of Assembly. Individually, I wouldn’t know, but collectively, talking to us as a group that has not been done. So I can say that for myself, nobody has contacted me, but I am in the know, I have heard the rumour that they are trying to reach out to a few of our members, so as to get them out of our group, and possibly consolidate their own group.”
When SUNSHINE HERALD asked him if he would give such offer any consideration if it comes, he bluntly declined.
“I am not interested, I want to remain focused.
“We are not fighting government, I want to make this abundantly clear to the global audience that we are not fighting government. We are supposed to work hand in glove, support government policies, the formulation and the execution. But if we feel uncomfortable with the leadership of our own arm of government, we don’t see why somebody from another arm of government should forcefully lord their interest over us,” he also said.
“People in our group are people of high repute, who will not chicken out, or be bribed, or be bamboozled with one position or the other. It is not about position, it is about the future, and our institution called house of assembly that we must protect and guide to the latter,” George likewise told SUNSHINE HERALD.
Araoyinbo while also reacting to the matter said, “Personally, I am not part of such an arrangement, I’m not aware of that, because nobody has ever informed me about such arrangement, so I cannot say such is happening. I am talking about myself, nobody has ever informed me, and as a group nobody has ever informed us as well.
“You know in this kind of setting, they might be contacting anybody, I wouldn’t know about that, and I’m not sure of it.
“I’m aware of the fact that INEC has already pasted the names of candidates, and it will be too difficult for them to change it, except of the candidate agrees to such arrangement. To me, I don’t see any reason why they should do that.
“It is not about return ticket, we just believe the leadership is not competent enough to lead the house, and we have been saying all these even before the issue of ticket came in.
“I believe it is our right. Changing of leadership is within the purview of the assembly, and I sincerely believe that we have every right to change our leader.”