•Impeachment plot : Bayelsa lawmakers takes over Assembly to resist actions•
Against the backdrop of alleged planned impeachment of the Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Tonye Emmanuel Isenah, lawmakers –both those loyal to the Speaker and those loyal to Governor Seriake Dickson, have deserted the assembly solely to forestall crisis that may arise from their actions.
Isenah, who was elected on June as the speaker of the state assembly, is under intense pressure from Governor Dickson to resign his position or face impeachment to pave way for a lawmaker from Southern Ijaw local government to take over, in order to help his party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), win the area.
It was also alleged that the Speaker, who is a critical member of Governor Dickson’s led restoration caucus of the Bayelsa PDP, the family that produced the party’s governorship candidate, Senator Douye Diri, had last month refused the directive to commence impeachment process on the deputy governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah (Rtd) and that was when his predicament started.
Daily Trust recalls that the assembly sat last for normal legislative business on Friday September 13, 2019, before the crisis started.
Since then, attempt by the leadership of the house to sit has always been thwarted due to inability of members to turn up to form quorum.
Isenah, who is said to be fully backed by opposition members of the House, had convened a sitting last Monday to announced a long recess till after the governorship election, but lawmakers did not turn up, even on Wednesday September 25, 2019.
The Speaker also convened an emergency sitting for 10 a.m, but members could not turn up, even when the Speaker was spotted in the assembly premises around 10:45 a.m, and drove out after spending about fifteen minutes at his office.
When Daily Trust visited the state Assembly complex, the tension was high, staff of the assembly were seen discussing about the crisis in the House.
No lawmaker was in the office, while visitors and journalists were subjected to thorough security checks at the entrance.
Since the impasse started, lawmakers hardly go to the office; no committee sitting, no oversight function, the assembly complex is generally calm and quite compared to what it used to be.
It was learnt that lawmakers loyal to the governor had been mobilised to carry out an impeachment proceeding against Isenah, who had insisted that his resignation would not add any value to the PDP’s quest to win the November 16 election.
But, an insider in the assembly told Daily Trust Saturday that the major hindrance at the moment for the lawmakers loyal to the governor to carry out the impeachment is the mace, which he said had gone missing since the crisis started.
Also, some external forces, powered by the opposition, are planning to protect Isenah to enable him retain his office. The APC has about four lawmakers in the assembly, who are said to be against the move to remove the speaker, whom they described as a good fellow, and so they may possibly stand against any motion to impeach the Speaker.
The Speaker was said to have reached a compromise with Governor Dickson and PDP leaders in the state to relinquish his office in the event that Senator Douye Diri, who hails from his Kolokuma-Opokuma Local Government Area, wins the November 16 governorship election.
But after Diri won the primaries, PDP leaders were said to have persuaded Isenah to resign from his position to pave way for a lawmaker from Southern Ijaw local government to emerge in order for the party to garner votes from the council.
But Isenah is insisting he would not let go of his position before the poll. The speaker in his Facebook post and later a statement by his media aide, Mr. Aotendeike Boloigha, said he had served the PDP faithfully and was yet to see how his resignation would help the party in the poll.
He said: “My stand on the issue of resignation has been that I have served the party, PDP and Governor Seriake Dickson faithfully and will not resign as doing so at this time will not in any way help the party succeed in the November 16 governorship election.
“I call on my teaming supporters to distance themselves from making unnecessary statements and posts in the social media. When the need arises, I will make official statement on my stands,” he said. Governor Seriake Dickson, during a media chat yesterday dispelled any plan to impeach the Speaker or force him to resign from his position, saying that the Assembly is stable and united.
Dickson, who had earlier in the day inaugurated a 10-member PDP peace and reconciliation committee headed by Senator Inatimi Spiff, said in politics, there must be minor disagreements and misunderstandings, but it takes an experience leader to handle such situation. He said: “Speaker is a very promising young politician and I believe he has a great future, the assembly is stable and united, but because I’m not a member of that assembly, I won’t say more, the Speaker is in the better position to say more.
“You know in politics we have minor disagreements and misunderstandings, but we have experience on how we react and handle these things. We have a very wonderful House of Assembly and the leadership and members are doing very well,” he said.
A PDP source, who declined to be mention, said Isenah’s travails were based on his refusal to initiate an impeachment proceeding against the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah (rtd). “It is not just about an agreement to step down; it is about the deputy governor.
The powers that be accused the deputy governor of planning to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC) as an incumbent deputy governor. They don’t want that to happen.
“There are insinuations that Jonah wants to join the APC and contest the Bayelsa East senatorial election, which will be vacant if the APC wins the governorship election because the incumbent senator is the running mate to the APC candidate, David Lyon.
So, the party leaders want Jonah out of the way but Isenah is refusing to be used to carry out the process,” he said.
Meanwhile, Governor Seriake Dickson has said that the APC does not have what it takes to win any elections under a peaceful and democratic atmosphere in the state, no matter their antics.
The governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, also maintained that the People’s Democratic Party would beat its major opposition to retain political control in Bayelsa in the forthcoming polls as it has always done.
He said that the PDP candidate, Senator Douye Diri, has had a robust history productive public service driven by his passion and love for Bayelsa and the Ijaw nation.
He said the outcome of the APC controversial governorship primaries reflected the pitiable credentials of the party, and its level of unpreparedness in terms of engaging the PDP in a free, fair and credible political contest.
Describing the APC governorship candidate as unsellable, the governor called on the media to provide a platform for all the governorship candidates to debate on issues bordering on their party manifestoes, the polity and development of the state.
He said: “This election is a very important election where you will either vote for stability or instability, security or insecurity, development or retrogression. But knowing the kind of people you are, I know the party you will cast your votes for.
“The candidates are all there. As a party, we are preparing to kick-start our campaigns. I know the other side (the APC) is not prepared for election. They are preparing to kill and maim. They are preparing for a fight and intimidation of our people.
“As usual, they are also preparing to write and announce fake results. But my party will be going out to all the nooks and crannies to talk to the people,” he said. (Daily Trust)
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