19th August, 2011
Â Immediate past Chairman, House Committee on Works, Oyo State House of Assembly, HON. ABIOLA TAOHEED AYORINDE, in this interview with GBENRO ADESINA, speaks on the ills of Adebayo Alao-Akalaâ€™s administration and how he succeeded in making the legislative arm a stooge.
What is your assessment of the Oyo State House of Assembly of which you were a member for eight years?
I am not in the best position to assess the house but I must confess that most of my colleagues were worse representatives of their people. It was only a few members that were active in the 6th Assembly. Those that agitated for a virile House became the target of the killer squad of the ex-governor of the state, Adebayo Alao-Akala.
This cannot be unconnected with the way all of us came into the House which is through godfatherism. There was an honourable who only talked thrice throughout the eight years in office but seconded several motions. It was sad that the executive did everything to incarcerate the legislature, more terrible was that we had a speaker in person of Honourable Moroof Atilola who could not decide on his own. For example, I and Honourable Kazeem Ayilara sponsored a bill on the pensioners. We were trying to see how statutorily their entitlements will be paid promptly without stress. After the public hearing on the bill, the Speaker at our back went to Akala to seek his input. The bill was messed up and that is why the senior citizens are still going through hell in the state. Another area where we had a problem was on the allowance for constituency projects. Each member of the House was allocated N20 million for constituency allowance.
One day, Akala called us to inform us that he would release half of the money which is N10 million because he has spent the remaining half, N10 million, to buy transformers to be distributed in the state on our behalf. The Speaker concurred with him because he was working for him. I objected to the move and since then I incurred his wrath.
He started looking for ways to deal with me. I told him that my constituency doesnâ€™t need transformers because there is no area that does not have good transformer. My constituency covers Foko, Isale Osi, Ojaâ€™aba, Gege, Idi Arere, Popo, and Isale Ijebu. There were enough transformers in these areas before I was born. The governor did not want who will constructively challenge him and that is why he succeeded in having rubber stamp lawmakers. Almost all the honourables were the governorâ€™s stooges.
To be specific, 75 percent of the honourables were Akalaâ€™s stooges because of ill-gotten money they were sharing among themselves. Akala ensured that competent hands did not get key positions. Most of Akalaâ€™s commissioners and aides were incompetent. Some could not even speak correct English. Most didnâ€™t know much about the ministry they were heading. He used half baked persons and touts as his aides. It was deliberate. He didnâ€™t want well groomed lieutenants who could question him.
What did the Assembly do as a second tier of government to check the corruption allegations levelled against the previous administration?
How do you expect the house that didnâ€™t know what legislation is all about to know what oversight function is? If legislators lack this skill, how can they play their role in ensuring good governance? It is only legislators that are not rubber stamp legislators that can do what is right.
That was why I said in my valedictory speech that whether we like it or not, we will give account of our tenure to God and God will fight for the vulnerable people of Nigeria and vulnerable people of Oyo State that we have disappointed and cheated. Nigerians are too vulnerable because the system makes them to be vulnerable. For instance, look at PHCN workers who always fail in their responsibility, who refuse to give meters to the customers, who will bring light like five days in a month, whenever they bring bill, it will be outstanding and crazy bill that will not reflect 10 percent of what you have used and the customers cannot do anything than pay the bill despite the fact that they did not use electricity. Police will arrest innocent ones, prosecute them and at times kill them for what they donâ€™t know about.
Political office holders who were not rich before they came into office will suddenly become stupendously rich by stealing peopleâ€™s money and the masses canâ€™t do anything. People are talking about Akala mismanaging N8.9billion belonging to the local governments but donâ€™t know that Akala mismanaged more than N8.9billion while in office. He mismanaged over N400b entrusted to his administration. When we received a petition that a local government mismanaged some funds, after the investigation, Akala said that we should not take action and the Speaker was so bold to tell us that the governor said we should leave the local government alone. Hardly there is a local government that constructed qualitative roads in Oyo State. As a chairman, Committee of Works, House of Assembly, I went to inspect road projects. I was there with an instrument that is used to measure the internal, external and thickness of asphalt. To my surprise, I discovered that it was below specification and so it was in all the local governments in the state.
Akala did not rehabilitate any road but surface dressed them. All the roads constructed are substandard and bad and that is why they cannot last more than a year before failing. As regards the House committees, you will feel like shooting them whenever they were giving reports on the floor of the House. The conclusion of most of the committees on the badly done projects is that some days should be given to the contractorss to correct them instead of taking punitive measures against them like forwarding their cases to EFCC. Akala always gave us no-go areas, telling us that he has interest. People like us are minority because we refused to join the bandwagon of those that are destroying the state. Look at the illegal removal of the deputy Speaker, Ayilara. Akala has to instruct the honourable members to support Jelili Adeleke who is from Oyo Central like the Speaker. Akala felt that if somebody from the area of Ayilara replaced him, he will not have the opportunity to be teleguiding the House as usual. In one of the meetings, Akala told us that Jelili has three qualities other members donâ€™t have. First, he cannot speak good English, he cannot coordinate and he doesnâ€™t come for sitting always.
When Akala started deducting money from local government account, eight of us pointed it out that it was wrong. When we eventually heard that Accountant General and some commissioners had been invited in that respect, we asked the Speaker to quickly summon them to come and explain things to us. Both the Speaker and Akala did not like that and they earnestly started looking for ways to destroy us. We then concluded that we had to stop Speaker Atilola from continuing to lead the House because he has disappointed the state and those that he was representing in the house. We decided to remove him and his cohorts. Akala summoned his loyalists and concluded plans to deal with us. The day we wanted to impeach the Speaker, when we got to the House we noticed thugs but we felt unconcerned because we did not have business with them. However, we informed the Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Adisa Baba Bolanta, who told us that his men were on ground and in control. But when it happened, we knew that his men were not in control. Policemen were giving us away to thugs to beat and harm us.
Where I hid, I heard my colleague, Honourable Lekan calling the attention of the thugs to where I was saying that I was there. They came and beat me and threw me from the balcony. Fortunately or unfortunately, I did not reach the bottom as I was suspended in between two walls. When they saw that, they raced downstairs to complete the job but fortunately about that time, the Area commander, Iwo Road, Mr. Ariyo, stumbled on the scene and fought to rescue me. He was injured in the process but he never relented until he succeeded in rescuing me, and arranged for me to be taken to UCH where I was for several months. My two legs got broken. I was operated upon but the legs are yet to be restored.
I am now using crutches to walk. Thanks to Akala. I did not go to the House as a disabled person but Akala made me a disabled person. More pathetic was that when he saw me when we went for reconciliation as the court urged in its ruling that reinstated us, instead of empathizing with me on my condition, he started abusing me and heaping blames of what happened on me and my progressive colleagues. He said he once bailed me out when I had problem with Adedibu and because of that I should support whatever he was doing whether they are right or wrong. Akala who could not afford to give the 18 legislators that were used by Obasanjo and Adedibu to impeach Ladoja N10,000 each. I was among the 18 legislators that Obasanjo and Adedibu used to illegally impeach Ladoja at Dâ€™Rovans Hotel. But now he has money to do all the devilish things on earth. The money that is not clean. The money he stole.
Are you justifying the beaming of EFCC searchlight on Oyo State, going by your allegations against the administration of Akala?
Without mincing words, Akala crumbled the economy of Oyo State. My problem with EFCC is how sincere they are in their jobs. For long, they have been carrying out investigation in Oyo State, residents want to know their findings. It is not only Akala that crumbled the economy. The civil servants too assisted him. Civil servants will come up with an idea and once the executive buys into it, they collect 40 percent while the politicians collect 60 percent. About or over N400 billion was made available to Akala while in office, what did he do with it. Can he justify the spending of the money? If the answer is negative, then let EFCC do its job. Not Akala alone, all the local government chairmen under Akalaâ€™s administration must be probed. Furthermore, the civil servants especially the senior ones who collaborated with the government to defraud the state must be brought to book.