Controversy has continued to trail the recent discovery of a live snake inside the Ondo State House of Assembly chamber, as the legislature and the executive arm of government have been engaged in a war of words over the cause of the incident.
It was reported recently that members of the Ondo Assembly scampered for safety after a live snake fell from the roof into the chamber during plenary. The development which caused an abrupt end of the day’s proceedings made the Speaker of the House, David Oleyelogun, to direct members to go on an indefinite recess. The incident also drew concern from members of the public as many went to the Assembly complex to catch a glimpse of the environment.
But Governor Rotimi Akeredolu expressed doubts over the reports, saying the lawmakers were blackmailing him and are bent on ridiculing his administration to give the public the impression that he didn’t approve funds for the maintenance of the Assembly complex. The faceoff between both arms of government since the snake incident was made public has worsened the relationship between the governor and Oleyelogun, who until recently was his staunch loyalist.
At the moment, there is anxiety that the speaker may lose his position, as he is no longer in the good books of Governor Akeredolu who greatly influenced his emergence as speaker for a second tenure. Assembly sources told Daily Sun that already, different interest groups within the ruling party are leveraging on the crisis and see it as an oppourtunity to lobby for the removal and of the speaker.
The snake incidence which was initially considered humorous has turned into a full blown war and has become a source of worry for many lawmakers as the governor has concluded arrangements to probe it.
During an inspection of the facilities at the Assembly, the governor who was visibly angry, said he was disturbed by the news of the incident which went viral on both the traditional and social media. He said he decided to probe the incident to allow members of the public know the truth because he suspects foul play on the part of the lawmakers.
“There was blackmail in the scenario because my inspection of facilities at the premises of the House of Assembly did not suggest that snakes could penetrate the chamber, let alone falling from the roof to a place close to where the mace is put. This calls for questioning and we will certainly probe the entire thing,” Akeredolu said.
The governor alleged that the lawmakers diverted funds earmarked for maintenance of facilities in the Assembly complex to other things, adding that “the renovation of the Assembly complex was in this year’s budget but I don’t know why it was diverted to other things by the House.”
But the speaker denied the governor’s allegations, insisting that no funds were diverted but that even though there was no falsehood or lie in the ‘snake’ report, the issue was ‘exaggerated and blown out of proportion on social media’.
He said the House had requested for funds for the total renovation of the facilities at the House of Assembly complex before the incident occurred, adding that no money meant for the renovation of the House complex was diverted by the House of Assembly Service
Commission, a body saddled with the responsibilities of running the administration of the House.
The chairman, House Committee on Information, Gbenga Omole, confirmed to the media that the House had adjourned indefinitely following the deplorable condition of the chamber, and affirmed that indeed, a snake crept into the chamber during plenary.
Omole who said there is no cause for the House to raise a false alarm, as there exists a cordial relationship between the executive and the legislature. He said that the House was about to sit on Wednesday when a snake dropped from the termite infested ceiling at the center of the chamber.
He said: “When we were about to enter into plenary, a big snake just ran out of the chamber which disrupted our sitting and we had to hurriedly leave. We are about to sit again when a ceiling caved in directly where the speaker was sitting, the whole house was agitated and when we looked around, we saw the damage termites had done to most of the woodwork in the ceiling.
“At that point, we had to adjourn the sitting indefinitely because that place is no more safe for legislative business. We have decided to meet with Governor Akeredolu and officially inform him about this development. He is aware of the infrastructural decay here as most of the furniture and facilities are outdated and not too good for legislative business. For now, the House has not been given the financial autonomy we have been agitating for but if we had gotten it, we wouldn’t have the need to consult the governor on the issue of maintenance.
“But pending the approval of legislative autonomy, we have to look towards the executive where the governor is in charge and we will have to appeal to him to come to our aid because we have a lot of business to do and there are lots of bills to be treated. When I said we are going on recess, we will continue to come to our offices but sitting in that chamber is what is not going to happen.
“We eventually killed the snake but there are a lot of reptiles still hibernating in the roof of the chamber, and whenever it rains, the entire chamber is flooded. It is therefore important for the state government to renovate the structures and refurbish the facilities at the Assembly complex.”
But there are political commentators in the state who believe that the incident was framed in order for the governor to approve the renovation of the Assembly complex which is in a dilapidated condition as a result of poor maintenance.
The chairman, Yoruba Redemption Forum, Boluwaji Fadeyi said, “The issue might be political, because the speaker and members of the House have direct access to the governor. I don’t expect that the issue should be raised and given negative publicity in the media before the governor knows about it. I suspect that there is more to the whole story than what we
are seeing. Don’t forget that the governorship election is near and this kind of thing will have an effect on the election. I think the incident is unfortunate if at all it happened the way the lawmakers painted it.
“It is however pertinent to say that the Assembly complex has been untidy since resumption and no effort has been made to keep it neat. The environment looks unkempt right from the gate and there are weeds around the Assembly premises, a situation which suggests that the snake might have entered from the bush surrounding the complex. However, this has not been confirmed, but the facts about the incident may emerge with time.”