Impeachment: Bayelsa Lawmakers Desert Assembly



Against the backdrop of alleged planned impeachment of the Speaker of
the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, 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, Daily Trust reports.

It was also alleged that the speaker, who is a critical member of
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 (retd) and that was when
his predicament started.

The assembly sat last for normal legislative business on September 13,
2019, before the crisis started, since then, an attempt by the
leadership of the house to sit has always been thwarted due to
inability of members to turn up to form a 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 September 25, 2019, the speaker also convened an emergency
sitting for 10 am, but members could not turn up, even when the
speaker was spotted in the assembly premises around 10:45 am, and
drove out after spending about fifteen minutes at his office.

When Daily Trust visited the state Assembly complex, the tension was
high, the staff of the assembly were seen discussing 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 quiet compared to what it used to be.

It was learnt that lawmakers loyal to the governor had been mobilized
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 to 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 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 an official statement on my stands.”

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 experienced leader to handle such situation.

He said: “The 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.”

A PDP source said Isenah’s travails were based on his refusal to
initiate an impeachment proceeding against the Deputy Governor, Rear
Admiral John Jonah (retd).

“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, 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, Fidelis
Soriwei, also maintained that the PDP would beat its major opposition
to retain political control in Bayelsa in the forthcoming polls as it
has always done.

He said the PDP candidate, 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’s 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 the 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.”

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