In Oyo State, the fear of the possible impeachment of Governor Abiola Ajimobi heightened last week with a series of secret political moves by members of the state House of Assembly.
The development in Oyo is coming just as one of our correspondents gathered that there was apprehension in Borno State over the rumoured defection of the former Governor of the state, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff, to the Peoples Democratic Party. There are fears the defection might ignite a political crisis in the state.
In Oyo, a source told one of our correspondents in confidence that, at least, 24 House members had been meeting secretly and that more members were being wooed to join the group. He said 10 legislators from the APC had joined the 14 other legislators from the PDP and AP and that they were holding secret meetings on the modalities to impeach either the governor or the speaker, Monsurat Sumonu.
The House has 32 members with the All Progressives Congress having 18 members; Peoples Democratic Party nine; while the Accord Party, which had seven, now has five members.
The source said, “The House has been calm because the speaker is dancing to the governor’s tune. Once she is removed, the new Speaker can go ahead to implement the impeachment plan. But the problem is that the group has yet to agree on who will be the next Speaker. For the PDP to have that power, it must improve on its present figure in the house. I am aware that it is being worked on with a move to woo AP legislators and possibly some APC legislators in the house,” he said.
Signs early in the week that impeachment plans were being hatched were denied by the majority leader of the House, Oyeniyi Akande. Speaking on behalf of the 18 APC members during an emergency press conference, Akande said a report that APC members were part of a meeting held with the PDP and Accord last weekend could not stand the test of time.
He said, “I am using this period to debunk that statement that APC members were part of that meeting; they were not part of that meeting at all, none of our members was in that meeting. I am saying it categorically that we are solidly behind our governor, Ajimobi, beyond 2015. We have the positive opinion that he is going to win the second term election.”
The minority leader in the house, Rafiu Adekunle, however said that some members of the ruling APC were part of the meeting, and that for safety reasons, he would not give their names.
“For political reasons, no member of APC can boldly come out and affirm my claim publicly. Let me tell you emphatically, immediately after plenary, four other members signified their readiness to associate with the project.”
On Tuesday, a release signed by all APC members where they denied holding any meeting with a group was issued. This was a confirmation of the source’s claim which also backed the fact that there was an impeachment fear in the state.
The Chairman of APC in the state, Mr. Akin Oke, told our correspondent that he did not envisage an impeachment move in the state, confirming that the party’s members in the house were made to pledge their support to the governor.
He said, “This era of impeachment is not good for our democracy. If a governor’s achievement is not satisfactory after three years in government, why not wait till the next election to remove him through the electorate? Instead of sponsoring legislators to remove governors, the electorate should be allowed to decide that.
“In Oyo State or anywhere in the South-West, it is not possible to remove our governors. The 18 legislators in Oyo have come out to deny meeting legislators from the PDP and AP. It shows that such a move will not be welcome in Oyo. Ajimobi and the legislators have always enjoyed a good relationship so why should there be fear over his impeachment?” asked the chairman.
But the PDP chairman in the state, Yinka Taiwo, told our correspondent on Friday that there were six APC lawmakers holding talks with the PDP on how to move to the party.
“The minority leader who is a PDP member in the house is handling the matter. I am aware that six APC lawmakers in the house are talking with him. They said they were not happy with the APC and are eager to join the PDP. We are considering their proposal,” he said.
In Borno State, some political observers argued that the defection of Modu-Sheriff, the estranged godfather of the present governor, Kashim Shettima, would make it easy for the ruling PDP to effect the removal of the governor.
Already, the former governor has three members of the House of Representatives, AbdulRahman Terab, Peter Biye and Lawan Isa, who are set to move with him to the new party.
Though many of the members of the House of Assembly have not come out to associate openly with the former governor, they are suspected to be holding secret talks with him and may move with him to the PDP.
The permission given by the presidency to the former governor to land at the Maiduguri International Airport, which has been closed to all manner of flights for over two weeks, some observers have noted, is a pointer to the extent that the PDP will empower the ex-governor to upturn the political balance in the state.
The thinking is that with what happened in Adamawa State where the governor was removed and in Nasarawa, where the governor has been served with notice of impeachment, many believe Borno may be in the radar of the President and the PDP for a similar treatment.
But a member of the state House of Assembly, who spoke under anonymity, said Borno lawmakers would not mete out the same treatment to Shettima, saying, “He has been nice to us and we see ourselves as part and parcel of this administration. We have never had any major crisis under this dispensation and why now?”
The lawmaker said the current chairman of the APC in the state, Hon. Bukar Ali Dalori, was a member of the Assembly. “So, why should we betray such trust and go with the opposition who can never be trusted.”
Another respected politician in the state, who did not want his name in print, said, “2015 is still a long way away and if Sheriff brings enough money from Abuja, he could destabilise the system and even move for the governor’s impeachment.”
A top aide to Shettima, who would not have his name in print, said, “The issue of impeachment doesn’t arise in Borno State. The issue will only be a distraction and the governor is focused on delivering on his promises to the people of Borno State.”
He added, “Of course, you know that unlike what obtained in Adamawa, a PDP lawmaker in Borno State defected to APC. The State chairman was from the State Assembly, all of these confirm the level of cohesion between the two arms, and it will be difficult to change this.”