Impeachment is a serious business any day. It is not something to be toyed with. It is one of the checks put in the constitution by the drafters of the document to whip the Executive into line, to act as a check against arbitrariness on the part of the Executive, that’s why it is supposed to be used as a last resort by the Legislative arm of government. Impeachment is supposed to be employed when governors or deputy governors have engaged in acts that constitute gross misconduct.
The key word is gross misconduct. Whether it’s being used against a governor, deputy governor or used by the lawmakers against their principal officers, impeachment is supposed to be a serious issue. But since the resurgence of democracy in the country in 1999, the impeachment card has become a frivolous thing. It has become an option employed in some cases to arm-twist the Executive or demand for payment of their allowances or to demand for ‘ransom’ or extract ‘welfare’ from governors.
But the Ondo State House of Assembly members deserve the big price in the way and manner they have made a mockery of impeachment. How? Last week Tuesday, 18 of the 26 lawmakers, sitting late in the night at a location in Akure, the state capital announced that they had impeached their Speaker, Princess Jumoke Akindele, the first female Speaker in the state, and her deputy, Hon. Fatai Olotu. They claimed to have elected Hon. Iroju Ogundeji from Odigbo Local Government area of the state as the new Speaker and Hon. Ayo Arowele from Owo Local Government as Deputy Speaker. And wait for this: in moving against their leaders, the lawmakers claimed their allowances had not been paid for over four months and that some of them have resorted to coming for sittings on bike. The impeachment or is it threat of impeachment rattled Governor Olusegun Mimiko who quickly rallied the lawmakers to a meeting. And within hours of the meeting with Iroko at the Government House Alagbaka, the Honourable or is it the Dis-honourable lawmakers ate their vomits. They reversed what they had earlier christened irreversible; they announced they had restored the two officers to their positions. Hon. Olamide George, Chairman, House Committee on Information, had told journalists at the end of the meeting with the governor that the House had resolved to allow the status quo ante on the leadership of the assembly as at March 7. 2016 to remain.
“The House of Assembly remains united, cohesive and alive to its constitutional responsibilities; the issue of leadership of the House is an internal affair and has been treated as such,” he said. What kind of lawmakers are these? It means the impeachment was not well thought out in the first instance.