Osun speakership zoning: The politics
Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
The struggle for the speakership seat in the Osun State House of Assembly has since begun.
Interested members are already consulting. But Daily Sun gathered that zoning will play a prominent role in determining the occupant of the seat. Those who hold this view believe that a culture of zoning has been entrenched in the state’s political arrangement.
Investigations revealed that the position has been zoned to Osun East for which two strong contenders – Timothy Owoeye – from Ilesa East and Babatunde Olatunji from Ife-North respectively are in hot contest for the seat.
Ordinarily, the race would have been between Owoeye and Olatunji, but sources said that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which will command the majority in the House, had settled for Owoeye for obvious reasons.
If therefore the party’s arrangement is anything to go by, then it will be safe to conclude that the battle for the speakership position will not witness any fierce battle.
Also, it is not likely to be a contest between the ruling party, and the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), since the former holds the ace, after winning the majority seats during the last elections. Among the 26 members, 21 are new. In all, APC has 23, while the PDP has three.
The APC, Daily Sun gathered, believes Owoeye, who is likely to emerge the speaker, is the most experienced member of the House, having served as a minority leader as well as currently serving as the majority leader. Cumulatively, by the end of the current House in June, he would have spent 12 years as a state lawmaker.
It was further learnt that the party appears more comfortable with him due to his loyalty, humility and commitment to party principles and policies over the years.
Sources close to the party also revealed that “with Owoeye’s pedigree, the party also reposes confidence in him that he would maintain a team spirit in carrying along the members of the House to drive the governance of the state through cogent legislative ethos when he becomes the speaker.”
The Osun zoning arrangement
In the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola’s tenure, Osun East produced the governor, Osun Central produced the deputy governor, while Osun West produced the Speaker.
However, in the current arrangement in the state, the governor, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola is from Osun Central and the deputy, Benedict Alabi, is from Osun West, as such, the Speaker is expected to come from Osun East.
The contenders at a glance
He became a member of the House of Assembly in 2007 and served till 2011, where he served as the Minority Leader. He was re-elected in 2011 and 2015 respectively. And on the two occasions he was elected Majority Leader. He has been re-elected for the fourth time after winning his recent election.
From his background, he has a considerable amount of experience as a member of the House. Suffice to say that he is the most experienced among the members-elect. He believes in party supremacy by following party’s decisions to the letter. He is loyal to the party, committed and very agile.
He is the incumbent Leader of the House. As the majority leader, he plays prominent role in ensuring stability of the House. He coordinates the activities of the House. He works closely with the speaker of the House to ensure harmony among members.
Interestingly, too, he has been anointed by the immediate past governor, Rauf Aregbesola, to replace the outgoing Speaker, Najeem Salaam, even before the 2019 elections were won and lost.
Owoeye is from Ilesa, the same constituency where Aregbesola hails from. Naturally, pundits say, the former governor would always be glad to favour a loyal member of the House who is also from his place to emerge as the number three man in the state after leaving office.
“With all these factors, Owoeye is good to go as the next speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly,” a party source added.
Olatunji is from a banking background. He was a manager of one of the new generation banks before he joined politics in 2015 and won his election into the House. The experience stands him out as a manger of people and resources and one with administrative skills that would naturally help him in asserting himself as a speaker.
He also possesses intelligence and eloquence which he will apply in carrying out the legislative responsibilities as the speaker, just as he has the political sagacity capable of helping the assembly to work harmoniously with the executive and the judiciary for the effective governance of the state.
But for the alleged party decision which Daily Sun gathered, had favoured Owoeye, he (Owoeye) would have had a very formidable contender in Olatunji.
Review of out-going Speaker, Najeem Salaam’s years
He will be rounding off his second term as Speaker of the state House of Assembly in June. Throughout his two tenures, Salaam has been able to leave his footprints in the sands of time in terms of maturity and diplomacy in the management of the House.
He ensured the House was not plunged into any form of political abyss over any form of agitation by the members.
It is on record that the Ejigbo-born politician has been able to steer the ship of the House in the direction of loyalty to the ruling party, just as he cooperated with the executive arm of government to enhance the smooth running of government and to deepen democracy in the administration of Rauf Aregbesola as the governor.
It was the robust relationship between the legislature and the executive as inspired by Salaam as Speaker that helped the executive to survive the crisis that would have resulted from the modulated salary regime introduced by the executive, following the economic recession that engulfed the state during the period.
If the members of the House had disagreed with the executive on the decision and pitched the labour organisations and leaders against the executive, the state would have been enmeshed in some political mess.
Owing to the recession, the state government was incapacitated to the extent that it could not purchase official cars for the members of the House during Aregbesola’s administration, especially from 2015-2017. It was only the old members in the 2007-2011 that had official cars.
The agitation by the legislators for cars, almost pitched the executive and the legislature against each other. But Salaam was able to quench the fire with his diplomatic acumen.
“He is a gentleman to the core and exhibits a high sense of humility. He has maintained the same spirit since the coming of the new governor, Gboyega Oyetola, so much that there has never been any crisis between the executive and the legislature in the last four months of the new administration.
“This raises the hope that the cordial relationship between the two arms of government (Executive and Legislature) would continue and quality governance would be achieved if such cooperation continues,” one of the APC chieftains said.
How the next House will look like
There would be no strong opposition in the House since the opposition party, the PDP, will be having only three members.
So, the activities in the House are, more or less, going to be a “family affair,” with the new speaker and the leadership of the House not likely to have much headache in the administration of the House.
Even if Ademola Adeleke of the PDP eventually becomes the governor in September, based on court’s decision, the APC would still maintain its majority status in the House. Therefore, whoever emerges as the speaker in June when the new the House will be inaugurated would enjoy the cooperation of the members who are predominantly from the APC. Though the PDP might be the ruling party, its three-seat minority status would not be enough to influence decisions in the House. This would certainly put the ruling party under Adeleke on its toes as the majority would always play the dominant roles in decision making.
But the reverse would be the case if APC legislators decide to defect to the “ruling party.”
The above scenario had played out in the state in the past when APC’s Aregbesola was declared winner of governorship election by the Election Petition Tribunal in 2010, when he displaced Olagunsoye Oyinlola of the PDP.
In that dispensation, the PDP, as the ruling party, had the majority seats, while APC was in the minority. But when Aregbesola came on board, he (the executive) was able to survive the legislature when Adejare Bello of the PDP was in charge as Speaker till 2011 when another election was held.