THE BIG STORY: The declining political glory of Omo-Agege as Delta central senator wades thru 90 days suspension

For the next few days, suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege representing Delta central in the national assembly will remain in the news. His political arch-rivals in Delta, especially in Delta central and those who have one grievance or the other against the only APC lawmaker both at the state and federal level may at this time be running commentaries on the political fortune of Ovie Omo-Agege. His suspension from the senate has removed the Urhobo people from participating in the lawmaking process for the period the suspension will last.

Yes, as far as law making is concerned and elected political office holders in Nigeria, Omo-Agege has been the only individual representing the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Delta state. Although his senatorial election was won under the platform of the Labour Party, after a legal battle that threw out former Senator Ighoyota Amori of the PDP through the Appeal court sitting in Benin City, the Edo state capital, he defected to the APC. Political pundits say he defected to the APC with the belief that the APC being the party at the federal level, it would be better pitching his tent with the federal might to have a big voice in the senate.

So far, Omo-Agege has been the only light through whom the APC family in Delta central, the stronghold of APC in the state, had rested. The governorship ambition of Great Ovedje Ogboru through the APC, it is believed, is being pursued through the support of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege. Though Olorogun Otega Emerhor has stylishly downplayed his support for a Delta central governorship candidate for the APC, Omo-Agege has stood firmly behind Ogboru to clinch the APC ticket for the 2019 governorship in Delta state.

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But as it is now, following his suspension, the hope of the party winning the senate in the senatorial district, let alone the governorship, is very slim and particularly his chances of returning to the senate appear very bleak. His hope seems to have been dashed on the fact that his power to pursue the election has been whittled as his political opponents may capitalize on his suspension as their campaign strategy.

This is what befell former speaker of the Delta state house of assembly, Victor Ochei. Ochei was powerfully positioned to win the PDP governorship primaries in the state. It was evident to all in the state. His moves and influence in the state house of assembly, was powerfully overwhelming.  He was loved by many and he had the financial muscle to pull everyone to his side. Even members of the state house of assembly had uncommon liking for him. But there was a grand plot against his ambition.

Powerful political bigwigs in connivance with one another had different plans for Ochei. While Ochei was busy building his ambition, winning people’s hearts, some PDP stakeholders and their cohorts were allegedly collecting signatures against the former speaker from members of the house. It was alleged that former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan said he cannot give Ochei money and power at the same time, hence the grand plot to block his aspiration to the office of the governor.

And unknown to him, he was impeached and forced to come down from his exalted position as speaker of the house. That was the beginning of his downfall and the beginning of the end. He was only lucky, he had an inkling of the impeachment, hence, he resigned his speakership few hours before the impeachment process was perfected by members of the house who were allegedly bribed to pull him down. Although he still forged on in the race, he could not win the primaries. He struggled to clinch third position in the PDP governorship primaries.

The sins of Omo-Agege which earned him the suspension are simple. He condemned the senate for trying to amend the electoral order for 2019 general elections. He said the senate was amending the electoral order against the plan of President Muhammadu Buhari to contest the presidential election in 2019. Omo-Agege was said to have kicked against it and later briefed newsmen saying that the move to adjust the electoral sequence was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.

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Although he was said to have apologized for his action, his comments which infuriated other senators were seen as unethical and the senate mandated its committee on ethics to investigate the matter. While the committee was doing its job, Omo-Agege was said to have approached the court to get a restraining order against the move of the senate to suspend him from the house.

His move angered his colleagues who pushed for his suspension which was effected at the plenary on Thursday. It was learnt that the senate after pronouncing suspension on the APC lawmaker, also asked him to withdraw his case against the Senate from the court.

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said that the Senate’s decision to suspend Senator Ovie Omo-Agege was because he took the legislative house to court. With the suspension, the senator may not participate in legislative activities till 2019.

With the suspension, Omo-Agege will stay suspended for 90 legislative days. This is not ordinary 90 days of three months but 90 sitting days. This means that if the senate were to sit without any interruption, recess or adjournment for committee works, it would take 30 weeks (7 months) for Omo-Agege to completely serve his suspension. Currently the senate is yet to take its over 2-months long annual recess as well as its December break during which times the suspension will not be counted.

A source in the national assembly explained that Omo-Agege’s suspension runs till February 2019. His reasons are clear. The Nigerian senate, as in the state assemblies, sits from Tuesday till Thursday in a week, thereby excluding Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  “And apart from that, national assembly always goes on almost three months break, between May, June and August after passing the budget, they will go on break.

“Those three months break will not be counted. Remove the more than two months break and remove the non-working days, you can now see how many days he has to go on suspension from the senate. It may affect his 2019 electoral fortune, because the people may not want to send a senator that will be suspended again to the senate.

READ ALSO: Governor Okowa joins issues with Ochei, rains attacks on former speaker

“People will use it to campaign against him. You cannot form a cabal against the leadership of the senate, it was the cabal he formed against PDP, if you want to trace the analysis from the back ground, the guy has always been having fallouts with those who made him. He was not having a voice in the senate as minority being in Labour Party, he then opted to join the APC to have a voice.

“But while there, he formed presidential support group, to run battle with the senate. The senate had to go ahead before the court would make any pronouncement. As it is now, the suspension stands, anything he does now through the court may no longer work for him. He came in through the court of appeal; he is now being suspended because of the court.”

On how the suspension will affect him, the national assembly source said it may affect his allowances but not his salary. “Allowances and other benefits will be affected. Committee meetings, committee allowances, those committees he belongs to, he can no longer contribute to them. Whenever there is money for sharing, oversight function, he cannot participate.

“The suspension does not sack him from the national assembly, his aides will still be functional. He can come to the office if he chooses but he cannot go to sittings, he cannot be involved in any legislative business. At his personal capacity as a senator, he can still give recommendation letters to those he wishes. But definitely by the law, he is not coming to the chamber until the suspension period elapses.

“And that is next year. And if INEC election timetable stands as it is stated, the election will be conducted while he is still on suspension. He will resume the senate after the election. If he wins he continues, if he does not win, he will pack his belongings and leave.

“The major issue is his political status, except he wishes to defect to PDP again. If he does so, he may secure the ticket. If he defects to the PDP, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state may give him some considerations. But he will examine him to know if he will be loyal to his government.

“Governor Okowa and Omo-Agege share a lot of similarities. Both of them were in Ibori’s cabinet, both of them were senators, they were former SSGs, they took part in the PDP governorship primaries in 2014. These are issues that need considerations as Omo-Agege’s suspension lasts.

But with this development, his chances of returning to the 2019 senate may be getting very slim and the power of the APC in the state also fading in the politics of Delta state.

 

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