The impeachment of Ali Olanusi, the Ondo state Deputy Governor after he defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress is still generating arguments within and outside the state. But the PDP in the state says his removal is in order and followed due process. OLUSESAN LAOYE reports
The impeachment of the former Deputy Governor of Ondo state, Ali Olanusi did not come as a surprise to watchers of the Ondo politic. It was something which was envisaged immediately he dumped his boss Governor Olusegun Mimiko after both defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the Labour Party (LP), which provided them the platform to be elected governor for two terms of four years each.
The relationship between Mimiko and Olanusi has gone a long way and that was why Mimiko found him a good partner to steer the ship of the state together. When Olanusi was nominated by Mimiko, it was a welcome development which was fully embraced and described as a good team that would take the state to the expected level of progress. It was in this vein that both Mimiko and Olanusi worked together for the first four years without problem and their relationship was a good example as to how a governor and a deputy should relate. In fact, nobody would have thought that it would crash some day.
Although, it was not expected that they would soon part ways only one year into their second term in office, events which culminated in Olanusi’s defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) showed that they have been having issues without public knowledge of it for some time now. What the general public was made to understand about the strained relationship between Mimiko and Olanusi was the issue of Olanusi joining the APC. That was what was being played up but there was more to that. Hallmark was reliably informed that right from the very day Olanusi was sworn in, and throughout the four years of service as Mimiko’s deputy, he has not been feeling comfortable. The recently held general elections were what exposed the cold war between the duo and which sources said, Olanusi has been tolerating.
What Olanusi said the day he declared for the APC was a clear indication that he and his boss have been at logger heads for a long time and that he only used that opportunity to speak out his mind. He said that the governor was starving him of funds and also relegated him to the background during the process of the campaign for the second term of President GoodLurck Jonathan. He pointed out that they were coaxed to join the PDP and he moved to the APC because he wanted equity which he argued was not available in PDP and with his former boss.
He accused Mimiko of not being a just person and he had to leave him and the PDP to join the APC where he would be fairly treated. He further argued that with Mimiko, and the PDP in Ondo state, ”there was no fairness, equity, stability and democratic liberty”. He also pointed out that he had to leave the PDP for APC in the interest of the people of Ondo state and to give peace a chance, adding that he was convinced that he took the right decision because he cannot go against the interests of the overall development of the people of the South West.
But those in Mimiko’s group viewed his action differently. It was believed that he had a sinister motive because his departure coincided with that of those who have been fighting governor Mimiko over the leadership and control of the party in Ondo state. This group was headed by the governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2014 election, Chief Olusola Oke and others who were angry that the outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan used the presidential fiat to impose Mimiko on them as the leader of the party, when he decamped from the Labour Party to the PDP. They further argued that it was wrong for the leadership of the PDP and the presidency to hand over the structure of the party in the state to Mimiko at the expense of those who had stood with the party MImiko abandoned it for the Labour Party, where which gave him the platform to rule the state.
Also it was argued that Olanusi’s departure from the PDP was in tandem with the plans of Chief Oke and others to impeach Mimiko if the APC had succeeded in winning the majority of seats in the state House of Assembly election and the impeached Deputy Governor would have been put forward as the new governor of the state.
Although Mimiko got to know about the plan he did not act and when Oke and others were decamping few days to the Presidential and National Assembly elections, he never knew to what extend these people had gone with their plans until he got the result of the Presidential and the National assembly elections.
It was after this that he realized that fire was on the mountain and the plan was real and if it had succeeded it would be disastrous for him. He then moved very fast to upturn the table during the state Assembly election, results of which gave him the desired confidence to have the total control of the state and the PDP. It was this result that also gave him the power to move for the impeachment of Olanusi less than two weeks after the elections.
Since the impeachment of Olanusi was carried out, the action has taken both legal and political dimension and it is still controversial. While some people in the state and across the country saw it as a right step in the right direction and a normal thing to happen, others believed that it was not legally carried out. The removal of Olanusi which was based on section 188(11) of the 1999 constitution was faulted by a legal luminary, Kolade Adefuyi who said that the section was not fully applied and it was done with bias.
He argued that Olanusi was not given a fair hearing and condemned the way the impeachment was hurriedly carried out. He said the section relied upon by the state House of Assembly headed by the Speaker; Jumoke Akindele was carried out to suit those who used it without putting the interest of the person affected into consideration. According to him, the former Deputy Governor after he was served without evidence that he received the service was not given the opportunity to defend or reply to the allegations against him.
The lawyer also argued that the state Assembly engineered by the governor should have taken everything into consideration before carrying out the exercise to prevent what could nullify the impeachment when it gets to the law court. He cited the cases of Rashidi Ladojqa, the recent judgment on Ayodele Fayose and the Adamawa state which they all won at the end of the day.
Despite the legal implications of the impeachment, it has pitched the PDP against the APC as leaders of both political parties have been engaging in war of words. As far as PDP leaders were concerned, there was no other way out than to give Olanusi a red card in the government controlled by the PDP.
The Director of Publicity of the party, Ayo Fadaka said that Olanusi had no business in the government of Ondo state immediately he defected to another political party different from that of the governor. He argued that the moment he left the party under which he was co-piloting the affairs of the state, his loyalty to the governor and the government remained in doubt. He said for a governor to succeed, his deputy must be loyal to him.
According to him, he should not have waited until he was impeached. ”He ought to have known that morally he should have resigned his appointment, more so that he was being suspected of plotting to take over the job of the governor who appointed him. His actions, he pointed out was a big threat to the governor, the state and the entire people of Ondo state
Also the Ondo state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade told Hallmark that Olanusi betrayed the people of the state and governor Mimiko who had so much respect and regard for him. He said his action was not expected as it was believed that he was with the governor who never knew that he was plotting with other people to destabilize the government. He was of the opinion that his exit from the party and the government in particular would not have any effect on the future of Mimiko’s government.
The APC has however stated that it would challenge the impeachment of Olanusi in court. The chairman of the party, Mr. Isaac Kekemeke told Hallmark that what the state Assembly did was against the interest of the people of the state.
Meanwhile, Mimiko while congratulating the new deputy governor who was the Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Lasisi Olubayo said that Olanusi’s exit would not have any effect and would not lead to any crisis in the state. He said his departure was a good omen for the people of the state and it would enable the government to do more for the people.