In the last few days, the politics and intrigues of snakes invading Ondo state House of Assembly complex and the alleged caving-in of the ceiling has taken many dimensions as BARNABAS OLABISI writes.
While some pertinent questions need to be raised with quick solutions, rather than placing sanction or instituting probe panel or politics of words without action, analysts are of the opinion that something needs to be done urgently about the alleged snake invasion in Ondo state House of Assembly complex.
Reacting to the development, a public commentator, Dr Femi Dada asked rhetorically, “What is the present state of infrastructures at the assembly complex, most especially the hallowed chamber; secondly, is there decay or notice of termites attacking the ceiling such that there could be fear of a possible collapse?”
According to him, if probably these two basic fundamental questions can be answered, other things would follow and the state government as well as law makers can find a lasting solution to the issue rather than politics of apportioning blames, as the case may be.
The state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, was said to have visited the complex over the alleged invasion, but queried how snake managed to enter the chamber. He also wondered about the alleged collapse of the ceiling that made the legislators to hurriedly adjourn sitting.
Since then, lawmakers, through its chairman House Committee on Information, Hon Gbenga Omole, on Tuesday last week, admitted that it was true a snake was found inside the hallow chamber while the termites-invested ceiling of the chamber caved in thereby preventing the plenary session from being held. This according to Omole, informed the assembly to adjourn sitting indefinitely.
Expectedly, the issue has started generating attention devoid of mere rhetoric.
The lawmakers, who had earlier claimed to have no financial capacity to carry out project on the complex, however called for total autonomy of the legislative arm of government for proper functioning.
While Governor Akeredolu, during the inspection visit, wondered why the funds released for development in the assembly was diverted into something else. He therefore called for probe, while agreeing that indeed the state of infrastructure in the assembly was appalling.
Law makers angry over biased video
In a twist of event, the lawmakers, on their part, accused the governor’s media team of doctoring the video tape of the event that happened when the governor inspected the complex.
While in a communiqué issued at the end of their parliamentary meeting held at the speaker’s lodge in Akure, the legislators reiterated that the assembly complex was in a state of dilapidation and need urged renovation.
The meeting was presided over by the speaker of the assembly, Hon Bamidele Oloyeloogun, while the communique was read by Hon Success Torukerijo, the lawmaker representing Ese Odo constituency.
According to the law makers, “We want to restate and reaffirm that on Wednesday July 24, 2019, a snake fell from the ceiling into the chamber of the assembly.
On Thursday July 25, 2019, part of the ceiling caved in and fell into the chamber, preventing us from holding a schedule meeting inside the chamber.
“We take exception to the doctored video released from the media office of the governor as it did not reflect what transpired when the governor visited the assembly on Friday July 26, 2019 and we will not want to join issue by releasing the original version of the tape.
“We reiterate the constitutional status of the legislature as an independent arm of government which, therefore, deserves to be accorded as such.
“We want to state without any equivocation that no fund has been released to the assembly for capital projects in the last five years in spite of the yearly budgetary provision and there has not been any cash-backing for the renovation of the assembly for the past 10 years.”
The lawmakers noted that it would also interest the public to know that the office of the speaker and the deputy speaker have no official cars.
The legislators who were visibly angered over the development also declared that they would not relent in their responsibilities as the representatives of the people of the state.
When contacted over the matter for comments, the state commissioner for information, Mr Donald Ojogo, was not forthcoming in response.
PDP blames APC-led government
The spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) in the state, Zadock Akintoye, while reacting to the development, however said, “The pictures posted online are definitely not of the chambers of the state assembly. However, it does not discredit the allegations that a snake was sighted in the assembly or that it fell from the roof.
“What should bother us all is the fact that a supposed independent arm of government which should also serve as the representative assembly of the people does not have that independence needed to achieve its mandate.
“Obviously, the honorable members should remember that each of them is a representative of our people (the Akures, Ikales, Owo, Ondo, Ilaje, Ijaw, Akoko, Idanre etc) and that their demeanor before the governor was akin to what transpired during slavery days where the defeated and vanquished natives cowered before their captors. Hopefully, this house would wake up to its mandate.
“Our biggest problem right now in the desire for proper representation is ‘political atenujeism’ which makes it difficult for those suffering to ever speak the truth publicly.
“I keep saying our dear state must benchmark itself against better environments. We now have an assembly were the majority are ‘Yes Daddy’ subjects of the incumbent governor. Yet, each member is expected to be representing their people. God will help us out. God bless Ondo state,” Akintoye submitted.
Former speakers bemoan situation
Another notable citizen of the state, Rt Hon Jumoke Akindele, former speaker of the state assembly, who bared her minds on the matter with reference to state of facilities at the complex said, “You, the Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu showed your contempt and utter disdain for the leadership and members of the House when you charged in there like a bull telling the whole world that they lied and were only trying to blackmail your government.”
She said further that, “Granted that there were no reptilian contingencies as widely reported particularly in the manner in which it was alleged, truth be told, that structure needs more than repairs. It needs to be evacuated, pulled down and another built from the scratch. At the very least, that building must be given a comprehensive renovation and face lift.”
The ex-lawmaker cautioned that the whole episode revealed that something was wrong somewhere, maintaining that the governor should not see the legislators as mere puppets as perceived. She said everything should be done to put the building in order.
Also, in his own response, a former speaker of the House, Rt Hon Bakita Bello said, “I served under the late Dr Olusegun Agagu. He did not neglect the House; in fact, our needs were met.
“So, the leadership of all arms of government should remember that the mandate of the people reposed in us is to be protected. We should be responsible to that mandate and the people and not personalise governance and administrations like personal entity, “Bakita noted.